Could THIS Be the Cause of the Nursing Shortage?

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    "...you haven't even been a nurse long enough to even have an opinion."


    "...she has nothing to contribute to the nursing profession until she acquires some more experience."


    "The nurse was created to assist the physicians with her or her duties, like wiping butts, emptying urinals, giving baths, giving pills."


    "...Diploma nurses are the only true nurses. The rest just don't stack up."


    "...you are glorified butt wipers, that's what you are...."
    -------------------------------------------

    These statements are just a sampling of what I collected from the short week I have been visiting this site. Reposting these statements is not meant to bring up old issues or further attack the individuals who said them. What it is meant to do is alarm you. These statements were said BY nurses TO nurses. As you can guess, these statements are hurtful, both to the person it was directed at, and the nursing profession itself.

    Could this be why nursing school enrollment is down?

    I am convinced that the nursing shortage has more to do with the lack of new nurses than with old ones leaving the bedside. Every profession has some amount of atrition, but when the average age of a staff nurse is in his/her mid 40's, it makes you wonder.

    These kind of statements and attitudes cannot go on. While we may disagree on if a Bachelor's degree should be the point of entry or if NP's should really be allowed to practice without so many years as a staff nurse, we can't continue to foster this type of resentment towards our own. We have to encourage younger nurses and make the profession attractive to others.

    We are not the only profession that has problems. Most people enter the nursing field and know full well that they will have to deal with crappy conditions, like a sudden influx of patients, or bodily fluids, mean and nasty patients, death and dying, emergencies. But those aspects of nursing are a GIVEN. What is NOT to be expected is the kind of attitude that is displayed above. It is this attitude that drives people to either leave the profession completely, or never begin it. I'd like to focus on those who never begin it. Those potential nurses that we lose because we constantly berate new nurses and make them feel inferior. Those nurses we lose because RNs are viewed as unskilled paper pushers and order givers. Those nurses we lose because we consider BSN prepared nurses "glorified butt wipers." Tell me what person would want to persue this career if this is what we think of it ourselves?
    Most high school students want to go to college, but how many really want to go to college to be a "glorified butt wiper?" I know I didn't.

    If we want to solve a piece of the nursing shortage, I think making our profession attractive to young people, standardizing nursing requirements, and showing a little bit of dignity for our own profession may be a start. Then, once we have ample staff in the hospitals, schools and community again, we can start to work on things like pay....

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  2. 37 Comments...

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    I don't think this is the reason that enrollments are down. I think that has more to do with the fact that women have more and better career choices out there. I wasn't exposed to the cattiness of nurses until I was already in school, so it didn't affect applying for nursing school. I do agree that we need to be nicer to each other though.
  4. 0
    I agree with some of your post - there have been some antagonistic words passed back and forth. There have also, been numerous supportive comments. All professions have drawbacks. I'm impressed with the survey answers that clearly show, despite the problems, nurses still love their jobs.

    What I don't agree with is that nursing education should be standardized. From what I've gathered in reading all the posts standardized education seems to mean one could be a nurse only if they obtained a BSN. Yet, from reading and understanding all the reasons people have chosen to become LPN's, Diploma, or ADN's and their huge contributions to the field of nursing; I would imagine a number of people would not have the resources to even entertain the thought of becoming a nurse. It's quite possible that stance could contribute to an even worse shortage. Because of the diversity in nursing education, you have a much larger pool of people attracted to nursing. Pay needs to increase first. Having listened to my high school age daughters and their friends MONEY is a top priority for young people today when selecting a career.

    Last, those of us in their 40's still have many years of service to offer. While I would continue to encourage young people to enter nursing; those who have raised their families should be encouraged to look into nursing as a second career to ease the shortage for the next 20 years.
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    If you read the articles about mandatory overtime (www.healthleaders.com) bill, you will see 55,000 RNs and LPNs in California are choosing not to work in hospitals. There are many nurses across the country of the same opinion. I think you can safely say the reasons for the shortage have to do with mandated overtime and short staffing. Many nurses are leaving and have left. New nurses are finding other better-paying positions both in and outside of nursing and hospitals. I think nurses need to develop more respect for each other and unite; however, I would not attribute the shortage to this. It is directly linked to conditions in the hospitals.
  6. 0
    I go out on recruitment a couple times a year.and the feed back alot of times we get is if their going to put their blood and sweat(not counting the cost)in for 4 years why not do something else that gets them more pay,more benifits,and more time off for theirselves?A lot of students are taking up business and computor classes.My daughter is in college and we have this conversation all the time.Most politicians dont even give nurses the credit they should have.But one good thing is there will always be a job there if you need it even in the toughest of times we need nurses.
  7. 0
    Originally posted by Susy K:
    "...you haven't even been a nurse long enough to even have an opinion."


    "...she has nothing to contribute to the nursing profession until she acquires some more experience."


    "The nurse was created to assist the physicians with her or her duties, like wiping butts, emptying urinals, giving baths, giving pills."


    "...Diploma nurses are the only true nurses. The rest just don't stack up."


    "...you are glorified butt wipers, that's what you are...."
    Susy K,

    You and others, give people waaaaaay too much power. The nursing shortage didn't just come about, it has been around in one form or another for a long time. The reasons are as varied, as there are nurses.

    There are those who don't wish to wipe butts, or deal with body fluids, and no longer have the caring for their fellow human being, as once may have been the case. I mean this profession has come along ways, from where it used to be. My instructor told me about how, they used to have to live in dorms at the hospital, and their day was 16hrs long. They were dietary, housekeeping, Lab, Respiratory Therapy, Physical Therapy, Central Supply, and so on. They were allowed to go the beauty parlor once a week. I could go on, and on. But what they were paid, was next to nothing. How many of us would have come into the profession if this were still the case. Not me, I have to be honest, and say. Yes, sometimes it feels, like we're all the other services at once, but we have a lot more help now, then they did then, and more freedome, than they did.

    In this era, young women have many more different choices in life, than women did during that time. Even what was available to them when I first started out, has changed greatly. Women no longer see this as one of the few options out there anymore. There is a desperate need for teachers also, as women are no longer seeking this profession as they used to .

    Susy, there is no panacea for what is wrong, or right with nursing. If someone feels they have a calling to come into nursing, NOTHING is going to stand in their way, as evidenced by some having to scarifice greatly to continue their education. If they can't deal with what they see here, maybe they probably shouldn't come into the field.

    We deal with people who are distressed, and angry, all the time. Frustration is the biggest problem I see on this board. Frustration, at one's work not being valued, not understood, not respected, not paid for the value of their services, etc. And yes, there is the infighting, but what would you expect when a group of people are continully mistreated. A group, that no matter how much they give to others, they're giving continues to be devalued, by those they work with, for, and along side. I haven't yet heard of one nurse going in and shooting up a hospital! I don't see any postal jobs going lacking either. I don't see anyone not going into the stock market, even though after seeing people jump out of windows, losing their entire savings, and shooting their co-worker haven't stopped people from dealing with the stock market.

    We live in an imprefect world with imprefect people. I feel that the opinion you expressed here, while true in form, does nothing to promote unity, but serves to rub salt in wounds already opened. There are many wounded nurses walking around, not even aware of how deep their wounds are. Please don't continue to brow beat us, with our imprefections. As we aren't perfect, and never will be. You can't expect anyone to remain ON, at all times. Everyone should be allowed to vent, become insulted, angry, and even down right ignorant at times. But there should always be someone, who tried to see beyond what the person has said, and use the same compassion, they would give to the patients they care for. Many of us give our all to this profession, and at times, our all comes from a much higher place, than ourselves. We, who are weary, know that we much draw on a power higher than ourselves to prove care, and a gentle touch to those in need. I think what is needed, is a gentle touch here. If someone is turned around from coming in this profession, by anything they have read on this board, which I doubt, I would question their resolve, and their motivations. If they want to be a caregiver, than maybe their caring, understanding,and empathy, should first extend to those who have been on the front lines before them.
    Yes I have become angry, and struck out at someone in words, before thinking it through. But I'm human,...NOT SUPER nurse, and neither is ANYONE else here on this board. Maybe allowing each other not to be perfect, would be a start to better communication between each of us. Please,..I give your own words back to you...just let it die.

    Brownie
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    Suzy, I'm wondering if you can explain what you mean by "standardizing nursing requirements"? That has me puzzled. I agree with most of your post, just would like some clarification.

    Thanks,

    Laura
  9. 0
    I agree with you... Sunshine and Tiara.
    I think there are many reasons for the nursing shortage.

    The government, who makes nursing work conditions DISGUSTING is one big reason. We are not paid what we are worth! (I am from Quebec.....so even more so!)
    Money and working conditions are in students minds. There is a lot of media coverage that does not make nursing seem "pretty". It is true that a person who TRULLY wants to be a nurse, will become one, despite the bad reputations......but this dedicated type of nurse may go elsewhere where conditions are "better". In my case, Quebec nurses are going to the USA, because it is apparently better in most areas by far!

    When I got into nursing school, there were no jobs. Many people told me I was brave and maybe crazy to spend all this time and energy in school, with no jobs.......Boy times have changed!
    Being in the field, I know why nursing is special, (despite all the bla bla).....because of the way it feels to help someone, and that patient tell you that they appreciate you.
    It may be stressful, but the personal rewards are priceless.....no matter what paper you have as a diploma.

    We are simply not treated like we are worth!!
  10. 0
    Hi Brownie-
    You are a very articulate person, I enjoy reading your posts, even if we disagree. I hope we can continue to disagree as we have so respectfully done thus far.

    You have my attention with a few of your points. Nursing has come along way since the 1920's. I remember learning how nursing was an option for women who weren't housewives; as a nurse they had a reliable job with a steady income. Nowadays, yes, there are many career paths to choose from that weren't always open to women, namely business, etc. But then I guess I wonder, why are young girls choosing these career paths over nursing? How has nursing become so unattractive? That is why I feel like the hostility we hold contributes to the perceived, and I emphasize the word perceived, lack of professionalism and advancement. Do women nowadays gravitate towards other career options simply because they can? Or is it something deeper? That is what I'm trying to get at. Men have also started to penetrate the nursing profession, as they have never before. So that's why I don't necessarily think the other choices are all that much better - I just think nursing doesn't look make itself look that much more appealing than the others.

    The hospitals have mandatory overtime, yes. I am a victim of it every week. But we have mandatory overtime because we have no staff. We have no staff because...why? The mandatory overtime? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

    To Laura and Sunshine: what I mean by standardized nursing requirements are one unified educational track to become a nurse. Sunshine, I don't mean to imply that the BSN should be the minimum. The ADN could be the minimum for all I care. It's more so the principle of having some standard by which to judge other nurses. Those nurses who choose to get graduate degrees, obtain certifications and further their education above and beyond the standard should be able to expect a higher salary. But the problem is, what IS the standard? We don't seem to really have one, or at least one that the profession as a whole can agree on.

    Brownie, I don't know how long you have been a nurse, but I get the impression it's been quite a long time. I'm sure you've seen shortages come and go. But this shortage is proported to be the worst yet. Why? Nurses leaving the bedside yes, but every profession can absorb this type of flux with new graduates. We don't HAVE any new graduates. To me that seems to be where the problem lies, or at least where to start.

    [This message has been edited by Susy K (edited March 30, 2001).]
  11. 0
    Originally posted by Susy K:
    Hi Brownie-
    You are a very articulate person, I enjoy reading your posts, even if we disagree. I hope we can continue to disagree as we have so respectfully done thus far.

    You have my attention with a few of your points. Nursing has come along way since the 1920's. I remember learning how nursing was an option for women who weren't housewives; as a nurse they had a reliable job with a steady income. Nowadays, yes, there are many career paths to choose from that weren't always open to women, namely business, etc. But then I guess I wonder, why are young girls choosing these career paths over nursing? How has nursing become so unattractive? That is why I feel like the hostility we hold contributes to the perceived, and I emphasize the word perceived, lack of professionalism and advancement. Do women nowadays gravitate towards other career options simply because they can? Or is it something deeper? That is what I'm trying to get at. Men have also started to penetrate the nursing profession, as they have never before. So that's why I don't necessarily think the other choices are all that much better - I just think nursing doesn't look make itself look that much more appealing than the others.

    The hospitals have mandatory overtime, yes. I am a victim of it every week. But we have mandatory overtime because we have no staff. We have no staff because...why? The mandatory overtime? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

    To Laura and Sunshine: what I mean by standardized nursing requirements are one unified educational track to become a nurse. Sunshine, I don't mean to imply that the BSN should be the minimum. The ADN could be the minimum for all I care. It's more so the principle of having some standard by which to judge other nurses. Those nurses who choose to get graduate degrees, obtain certifications and further their education above and beyond the standard should be able to expect a higher salary. But the problem is, what IS the standard? We don't seem to really have one, or at least one that the profession as a whole can agree on.

    Brownie, I don't know how long you have been a nurse, but I get the impression it's been quite a long time. I'm sure you've seen shortages come and go. But this shortage is proported to be the worst yet. Why? Nurses leaving the bedside yes, but every profession can absorb this type of flux with new graduates. We don't HAVE any new graduates. To me that seems to be where the problem lies, or at least where to start.

    [This message has been edited by Susy K (edited March 30, 2001).]

    Hi Susy K,

    Beleive me, I have no intentions of having anything but respect for you. I feel, we can all agree to disagree. I thank you for your compliment, and I must say I enjoy your spunk. I believe you're are the future of nursing, and even though I feel there is much you need to experience yet, this doesn't detract from your competence, or your abilities.

    Yes, I have been in this a looooong time, well at least I think I have. Memory fades sometimes, but I remember having some of these same conversations waaaaay back then. Two of the big topics were, BSN vs, ADN, and Diploma nurses. The other was the shortage. When I first got my license, hospitals were offering CARS, for you to come on board with them. One hospital offered me as a new LPN, a NEW CAR, with the option to trade each year I renewed my contract with them. Travel nursing was also big at this time, and one hospital was housing nurses in a dorm, providing them with A DRIVER on their off days to take them on shopping trips! While on this assignments, they would work all the overtime they wanted, because this hospital was just that short. Nurses came from all over to work there. It was a time, when if you had a license, you had the job! I worked on floors, where ALMOST ALL the nurses working there, were agency nurses on the DAY shift! I became an agency nurse over 20yrs ago, after working at a hospital with mandatory overtime. If no one volunteered, they would come over to you, and say.."you're staying"...period! Nurses were leaving in droves to go into Real Estate, Business, etc, etc. The reasons were many.
    Money, family obligations, quality of life, lack of respect, and plain old burnout.

    The Old shortage of nurses, and how things were then!

    I did a shift on a 30 bed oncology unit, with just one other agency nurse (LVN), and an RN charge nurse, on a nite shift. We ran so hard, we never even had time to think about going to the bathroom, or even getting a drink of H20 let alone take a break!
    Do you know what? Some nurse, had the nerve to call, and ask me if I had did a Bld sugar on a pt.!!!! I felt it that's all I missed caring for 15 PTS, and that patient was alive, and still breathing, I was blessed!!

    I have walked onto a floor to see an LVN, who was the ONLY nurse on the floor when I arrived, after getting a late call from the staffing office. This nurse had about 10 IVs lined up in the med room, and was walking down the hall, with several IV bottles(no bags then), in her arms, trying figure out which way to go first!! As I watched her, I suddenly realized, we were the only staff on the floor!!! Believe me Susy K, it was all I could do, NOT to run for the elevator, and keep running! All this was over 15yrs ago.

    Susy K, there have been many times, I thought about doing something else, when I saw other less demanding positions offered with the same or more money than I was making. In fact, I went to work for American Airlines for 6 mos.. Even though American was a great employer, the benefits were excellent, I just couldn't stay away from nursing.

    As for the men coming into the profession, here is my opinion on that. I feel that men no longer feel, they have to be doctors in order to care for patients. It used to be, if a man was in nursing, some thought something was not quite right about them. False thinking I know, but that is how many felt. The men I have worked with have been excellent nurses, and the profession is blessd to have them.

    Next, I do agree, we should have a standardized entry level for nursing. But I don't agree it should be at the BSN level. A loong time ago, when making the BSN the entry level for nursing was being touted as the next coming thing, it was proposed, that LPN/LVNs & ADNs, be grandfathered in as Technical nurses. I feel that clinical ladders would be the best way to go. Many people understand career development levels, as you have associate managers, assist. managers etc. Why not the same thing in nursing? Make the techincal level the start of nursing, and then allow those who want to continue on, the advantage of having a income, while they pursue advancement.

    And YES I strongly support higher pay, for higher education, as it's the only fair thing to do. But, to make the BSN the inital level of entry, "I" feel would only serve to discourage even more potential students, and only increase the shortage at this time. Maybe in the future when healthcare has truly been reformed, and treated with more than just bandaids, this could be feasible.

    How things have changed!

    It used to be, if someone knew you were a nurse, you were given respect. Now, they see you as a lowly paid servant, who deserves to be used, and abused. One guy told me, I should expect pts, to holler at me, and abuse me!!!

    Because of the media, and some publized medical incompetence, the public, no longer respects us. Instead they are susupicious of us, and more demanding. Now they'er customers instead of patients.

    Also the acurity of patients on the floors have increased greatly!
    Now you see pts. with Nitro & Dopamine drips on the med/surg floors! Talk about things being scary, in a world where lawsuits have become the norm.

    Hospitals used to require an agency nurse to have at least one or two days orientation before working on a floor, or unit. Now they throw you in there without even showing you where the bathroom is!

    How does our young view us?

    I have watched children, and teenages who are visiting, watching me, as I provide care of their love one. Many times I wonder how they see what I do. Do they look at me with awe, and wonder, desiring to emulate me, or do they make up in their mind never to be me, as they watched me running from room to room, never stopping?

    Susy K, these are some of the big reasons, nurses are leaving, and why new students aren't coming on board. When people struggle to go to school, it's to better their situation, and most see nursing as no immediate return on their investment. When you have high school students making over $1,000 a week in the high tech fields, that rewards them for their knowledge, and have weekends, and holidays off, nursing becomes a very hard sell.

    Respectfully, Brownie


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