A Day Without Nurses

  1. I am sure this has been done before, but yesterday after my third 12-hour night shift it occurred to me that I work in a profession that is indispensible. It is summer holiday weekend here and our census is low. This means workloads are manageable and I really had the time to do everything I needed to do including making sure pt's had water at their bedside, things were tidy and the ward looked fairly presentable. I looked up my patients labs, had a look at their labs and xrays and actually was able to think ahead and anticipate needs.

    In three nights, I called the house officers for fluids and panadol (tylenol) they had not charted, to report that pt X had a stone in his ureter per CT and that pt Y had a SBO per his xray. I drew a repeat troponin on pt Z and did an ECG(no change); less than 15 minutes after the results were back (positive) he was being weighed and the Clexane (Lovenox) ready to go while I paged the house officer. We just needed him to chart the drug.

    In those 3 shifts, we could have worked without a unit clerk, a healthcare assistant and a housekeeper. If I would have had to, I could have worked completely without a physician. It is not my intention to brag as that is not my style. My point is that experienced nurses are indispensible and able to function independently at a level few people appreciate. Even I forget (and am never reminded) that I am not just another wheel in the machine.

    So yesterday I had a moment of clarity and realized that what I do is important and that my education and experience are indespensible. However, most days, I feel like I am just another healthcare worker who needs to keep his head down, his mouth shut and do what he is told to do by anyone with a hole in their face.

    I am taking practical steps to leave nursing and this epiphany won't change that as these moments are few and far between. But, wouldn't it be nice if...?
    •  
  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   Tweety
    Without us people die.

    Being a nurse is an awesome responsiblity and it rocks!

    I'm sorry to hear those moments are few and far between and you're leaving nursing.
  4. by   jjjoy
    Trying to lower costs by stretching nursing care only goes so far. I think this is the biggest factor driving folks out of nursing. In too many places, it's simply impossible to regularly give the kind of care one can feel proud of.

    In regard to outsiders appreciating the level of skill experienced nurse bring to the job... on paper, it looks like an experienced nurse and a new nurse are providing the same amount of work/pay unit. The valuable experience of the nurse mostly comes from work experience, not from schooling. Since degrees and years of formal education tend to be more highly valued in the workplace in terms of wages, experienced nurses tend to be undervalued. It would be nice if the continued learning of a practicing nurse were better acknowledged.
  5. by   Cattitude
    Quote from jjjoy
    trying to lower costs by stretching nursing care only goes so far. i think this is the biggest factor driving folks out of nursing. in too many places, it's simply impossible to regularly give the kind of care one can feel proud of.

    in regard to outsiders appreciating the level of skill experienced nurse bring to the job... on paper, it looks like an experienced nurse and a new nurse are providing the same amount of work/pay unit. the valuable experience of the nurse mostly comes from work experience, not from schooling. since degrees and years of formal education tend to be more highly valued in the workplace in terms of wages, experienced nurses tend to be undervalued. it would be nice if the continued learning of a practicing nurse were better acknowledged.
    i just wanted to say thanks from an experienced nurse for the words above and whatever your title is, you must be awesome to work with!!!:1luvu: :icon_hug:
  6. by   anne74
    I worked as a corporate PR consultant before I went back to school and became a nurse. In that role, I received more money, more benefits and more respect than I do now as a nurse - although my work as a nurse is MUCH more important and a more crucial need to society. What's wrong with this picture?

    It really burns me that the public is so clueless as to the amazing responsibility we carry out every day. I had a patient last week ask me if I went to school for a year to become a nurse. I was like, "No - I went to school for four years". He said, "Four years? To be a nurse?" Ugh! I never had to deal with that in the corporate world. It's really very sad.
  7. by   jjjoy
    Technically, compared to other health science degrees, the entry requirements for most nursing schools isn't all that advanced. Intro level college science courses are what most require. The high GPA needed in many schools is due to a large of number of otherwise qualified applicants applying for just a few spaces in the nursing programs.

    Many nursing programs, not including prereq/non-nursing courses, provide (just) one (LPN) or two (RN) years of instruction. Still, that shouldn't discount the time and effort to complete the pre-reqs. In many facilities, the LPNs responsibilities are almost identical to the RNs, adding to the confusion of how much education is "needed" to become a nurse.

    Also adding to the confusion, these new accelerated BSN programs just have one year of nursing coursework to earn an RN.

    If these different programs create safe nurses, then I've no problem with relatively low entry requirements and a quick training program. However, that's all the more reason that experience really ought to count for more in one's nursing career. We all know that the nurse several years out is (in most cases) a better nurse than one fresh out of school, yet the remuneration and workload is almost identical in many places.

    I can see why people advocate BSN as entry, simply as a way to communicate to the public that nurses need to be smart - that it takes more than a year or two to become qualified to practice. I can see where Joe Public would see that Physical Therapists require masters degrees and figure that they must have to learn more and know more than a nurse who doesn't even have a bachelor's degree. However, I do see nursing as a practice - a field that you learn primarily through experience. More years of education will not necessarily turn out better nurses. On the other hand, if new nurses are expected to know what experienced nurses know (what the doctor's going to order for this or that, catch every possible MD mistake, etc) then they DO need more education - a medical education!

    By the way, for the sake of full disclosure, let me explain that while I have an active RN license that I don't practice nursing. Still, I hate to see people who have the aptitude and desire for clinical nursing to be turned off by the work conditions. I have the utmost respect for bedside nurses and want to see them acknowledged and rewarded.

close