In the television premiere of Grey’s Anatomy, there’s a line that Dr. Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) says that still rings true to this day. She tells her interns on their first day of clinicals, “Don’t piss off the nurses.”

But that’s exactly what Senator Maureen Walsh of Washington state did when she spoke in the Washington state senate on Tuesday, April 16, 2019. Washington State Senate was considering passing a bill, SHB 1155, that would provide nurses with uninterrupted meal and rest periods. Walsh opposed the bill by criticizing how she believes that nurses don’t really need mandated breaks.

“By putting these types of mandates on a critical access hospital that literally serves a handful of individuals, I would submit to you those nurses probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day,” Washington state Senator Maureen Walsh said on Tuesday during a debate on the Senate floor.

Nurses are the backbone of healthcare and Senator Walsh should be ashamed of herself.

Whether you’re a hospital regular, or have never broken a bone in your body, there’s a good chance you’ve come in contact with a nurse before. Clinical nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, registered nurses — the list goes on. There are over 20 different specialties nurses can go into, and as a profession, nurses are known for being flexible and accommodating throughout their 36 to 48 hour long shifts.

Nurses work tirelessly for hours on end to make sure their patients have the best care, and their doctors have easier jobs. Nurses are the people who check up to make sure a patient is taken care of every hour of the day. They draw blood, monitor vitals and that’s just their hourly duties. If a patient stops breathing, a nurse is most likely going to be the one to notice first and then be the person starting CPR. Their jobs are ever-changing but they adapt to everything they’re thrown in to because they want to help people and save lives.

The death and disparity nurses see every single day will make anyone want to curl into bed and sob the day away. These incredibly strong men and women watch patients take their last breaths, help family members cope and then have to deal with their own emotional struggles as well. It’s not a job to be taken lightly.

Their lives don’t start and end at their offices and hospitals either. Nurses have families, spouses, pets and are still responsible for making sure they’re all taken care of too. Nurses are caregivers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, not only to those who are ill but to everyone around them.

Not all nurses are saints, and I’m sure that people have had less than excellent encounters with nurses, but this isn’t an “easy” profession. There’s nothing easy about dealing with death, illness and suffering for a living. But these incredible people chose to dedicate their lives to helping others. They practically kill themselves during school and clinicals to ensure they are extracting every last drop of knowledge from their teachers so they can have the best chance at helping the most people.

Nurses aren’t considered first responders. They aren’t grouped in with police officers, firefighters and emergency medical services personnel. But they are second responders, and they deserve all of the merit that goes along with being someone who has placed themselves within the chaos only to help those around them.

Nurses deserve the utmost respect and Senator Walsh should probably take a step back before she wants to slander another noble profession.

Opinions expressed in The Nevada Sagebrush are solely those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of The Sagebrush or its staff. Jacey Gonzalez is a student at the University of Nevada and studies journalism. She can be reached at jaceygonzalez@sagebrush.unr.ed and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.