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by Abigail Van Buren

Dedicated Nurses Could Use a Pat on the Back

DEAR ABBY: It seems every week I am reminded in some form or another that teachers are the least respected, least compensated, most noble persons in our country. Exalted by politicians and the media, they are consistently portrayed in a positive manner. I believe this is deserved. They have a tough job with great responsibility.

However, Abby, there are other professions just as noble. I am a registered nurse, and along with police officers and firefighters, we do not receive the respect that teachers do. We perform tasks that no one else would want to do. We see people at their worst and are often the target of other people's frustrations.

Nurses do not get summers off, and few of us are home on holidays. Hospitals must be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The pay is fair, but the work is extremely stressful. As health-care spending decreases, nurses are asked to do more and more. The rate of back injuries among nurses is well above the national average. Many nurses suffer from "burnout" each year and transfer to other professions.

Like doctors, nurses must have continuous training in order to stay up-to-date on the latest medical treatments and protocols.

At least once in our lives, every one of us can remember being helped by a nurse. Please, Abby, tell your readers that if they know a nurse, to give him or her a hug. Take the nurse to lunch and tell that person just how special he or she is. -- PROUD TO BE AN R.N.

DEAR PROUD: Thank you for reminding my readers -- and me -- how terrific and dedicated nurses are. I urge everyone to give nurses the attention and praise they deserve during National Nurses' Week, May 6-12, 2001, and EVERY day.

DEAR ABBY: I feel like I'm in a free fall. I'm unemployed and attending school to better myself. I'm living with a girl I care about, but she has a child, and I am at a point in my life where I'm still trying to discover what I want.

I don't want to hurt this child in any way, but I've found someone else I would like to spend time with. I don't want to deceive my girlfriend, but if I tell her about the other woman, she'll kick me out of her house and I'll have no place to live.

Abby, I need to find out where I want my life to go, but I also want to make the right choices. What should I do? -- FRED IN SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR FRED: First, get a part-time job. Second, start looking for your own place to live -- perhaps student housing. Third, level with the woman with whom you're living. The sooner you are out of there, the better it will be for everyone. To stay and pretend you are committed to her and her child when you're not is dishonest and deceitful.

DEAR ABBY: Here's one for your "Can you top this?" file. A friend planned a 50th birthday party for his wife. He hired a male stripper to "entertain" the guests.

His mother was terminally ill, but gave her approval for the party to take place whether she was alive or not. Shortly before the party, she died. The party took place before she was buried. The only change was that the guests were asked to wear black. -- WHADDAYA THINK IN SEATTLE?

DEAR WHADDAYA: Even the strippers?

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

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