For those of us who wake up every morning, put on our suits and ties and head off to our risk management jobs only to spend the day thinking about fat tails, ISO3 1000 or business continuity, compared to the risk management that nurses perform everyday, we are nothing but a bunch of well paid prima donnas.
Because in nursing there is pretty much one rule: Don’t kill your patient.
Before putting on my French cuffs and Cole Haan shoes I have the pleasure of waking up every morning to the beautiful face of a recovery room nurse. And while there are perks to going to work in your pajamas (read: scrubs), I will gladly take my starched collar because while I am staring at Excel and PowerPoint, she’s doing some pretty amazing and often gross stuff including wiping asses. (To learn more about this, read Theresa Brown’s new book, “Critical Care” where she writes how nurses often sit around with other nurses over lunch and explain how “I’m really in the shit today”.)
And unlike our corporate world where we worry about trying to classify risks into appropriate risk categories (market, credit, operational or reputation), nurses are often classifying poop by its “colour, consistency, constancy and smell.” Nursing is a world where liquidity risk has an entirely different meaning.
Earlier in my career, I used to run daily VaR (Value-at-risk) reports and hope that there wouldn’t be a limit breach because sometimes tracking down and getting a sign-off from the Managing Director was such a pain. When I read about the real pains that Brown’s chemo patients have to deal with including “mouth pain, nausea, vomiting, rashes, breathing problems, infections, cardiac trouble or nerve pain”, I am a little ashamed.
I also had a brief stint in internal audit once. There, one of my managers liked to remind us that this was audit and we weren’t saving lives. Having read about Brown’s experiences administering chemo and heard those of my honey in the recovery room, I implore you to remember that nurses actually do save lives.
Let’s try to remember that while our risk management skills and functions are important to the success of our clients, organizations or regulators, compared to what nurses do day in and day out, what we do is really not that important.