When someone in my family has a question or problem, they call a relative for expert advice. I have siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles, who collectively, represent every profession known to mankind. And when someone in our family has a health care question, they call me. I’m the family nurse.

It’s odd how family members start coming out of the woodwork once you become a nurse. Relatives you only met once in your entire life, when you were two years old, start dropping by your house and calling you on the phone. During family reunions, my relatives have been known to stand in line for hours, just to tell me where it hurts. I’m sure this phenomenon happens to every nurse on earth. You listen quietly as relatives go into painstaking details about their aches and pains, not to mention their bowel habits, and when they are done, they sit silently, waiting for you to utter health care words of wisdom. My words are, “Call your doctor.”

Surprisingly, Lystra Gretter, the author of the Florence Nightingale Pledge, didn’t include a clause about dealing with family members when she was writing the pledge. I’m sure that Lystra, who lived in the 1800s, fielded plenty of questions from her family about consumption, rheumatism, and the vapors. I’ve often wondered if Florence, herself, felt overwhelmed by family questions. Did she head off to the Crimean War just to get away from her kinfolk? That’s something we may never know.

I predict that as access to health care continues to diminish thanks to greedy HMOs, the family nurse will continue to reign supreme in the family tree.