Charmaine Briggs, 23, angrily took to Facebook to champion the dedication and empathy shown by all medics after a man commented that she may as well “just be a health care assistant”.
The post has since been shared more than 45,000 times, with thousands of people sending the Taunton woman messages of support.
“At the time, I didn’t say anything because I was just shocked that he joined into a conversation that did not involve him,” Briggs told news website This Is The West Country.
“But the words went around my head all day and to think people see it as ‘just a HCA [health care assistant]’ really got to me.”
Briggs worked as a health care assistant for five years before starting training to become a nurse.
Writing on social media, she said: “No one is ‘just a HCA’ for a start.
“You are your patients’ only support in some cases. We are the staff with the patients 24/7.”
Listing the numerous tasks health care assistants carry out for patients, including changing beds and cleaning commodes, Briggs continued:
“We are up close and personal with our patients – we hold their hands when they fear the unknown, we listen to them when they need someone to talk to, we’ve cried with them.
“We work around the clock 365 days of the year, we sometimes sit with patients who have no family so they simply don’t pass away alone.
Emphasising that it is not just doctors who save people’s lives, the 23-year-old concluded:
“Everyone comes together as a team and doctors wouldn’t be able to do their job without nurses, as nurses wouldn’t without HCA’s.
“Some people really do need to stop and think what they say to people, as one day you might need that life saving help from the people you run down.”
Briggs’ post, which has been liked 142,000 times since she wrote it last week, has garnered massive amounts of support from both NHS staff and the public.
A woman named Dena Mogridge commented: “I don’t know you, but very well said.
“I have been a HCA for 30 years and unless you work in this field, people have absolutely no clue what we do and what we go through on a daily basis. So thank you for defending us.”
Another added: “Very well said - all health care staff from the cleaner up to the very top consultant deserve to be valued.”