I understand this missive will sound droll and boring as h3LL, but it is germane to this discussion, so I hope you'll bear with me.
First, a lecture about me. Then a warning for you.
After a bout with Lung CA (never a smoker BTW), and a prolonged "relationship" with various nurses, I gave serious thought about crossing over to the dark side, and becoming a nurse.
Please allow me to tell my story, and why I've basically decided to abandon that goal. I'm going to offend sensibilities here, and I don't mean to, but I have to say what I feel as clearly, and as plainly as I can...I'm not going to be pretty, but I'm going to try to keep it real.
A long time ago, when I was a young person, my life revolved about airplanes. I grew up near a metropolitan airport and nearly all my young life was spent there.
It was good. I made friends (connections) and after extensive and expensive (>$50,000) training, I began to progress.
Started instructing, teaching newcomers how to fly. I'm a good, patient instructor and students preferred me to most all other instructors based on my instructing style. I built time (which is how experience is judged) and I found my way to a new job.
Small single-engine aircraft, flying in the middle of the night, ferrying cancelled checks and undeveloped film from Chicago to Indianapolis / Louisville. Some nights Chicago to Moline / Des Moines. Fighting bad weather, ice and the natural need to snooze I continued to build time, in substandard aircraft and VERY unglamorous conditions.
After a couple of YEARS I was offered a new job with larger aircraft (but no additional money). Then I flew as a single pilot in twin-engine aircraft...still in the middle of the night with all the attendant "icky parts".
A couple of years later I'm offered a co-pilot position on a small corporate jet out of Chicago. The money's better, and the owner is invested in his crew so we stay in some pretty nice places.
Life is good.
A couple of years later, I apply for and am offered a co-pilot job at Midway Airlines...the airport where I grew up. Time passes, and I slowly work my way up the seniority ladder. A few years later I get busted on a mandatory semi-annual medical due to vision issues and I eventually lose my license.
Please listen carefully...later you'll understand where I'm going.
I've left the airline industry, but I still stay in touch. It's a tough industry...for a lot of reasons to be sure. One major issue is SCOPE.
RN JANE takes a flight from Chicago to Denver on a major airline flying a Boeing 757. Jane's Captain makes an average of $100,000. Jane's First Officer makes an average of $75,000.
The next day RN JOE takes another flight from Chicago to Denver...same airline, but this time on a Regional Jet. This aircraft flies in the same airspace and at the same airspeed with the same sophistication as the 757...just fewer passengers. But this time Joe's Captain makes an average of $35,000, and Joe's First Officer makes an average of $25,000.
I know this is painful, but go with me here...
I'm VERY linear, when the fecal matter is on fire people call me FIRST. That's my life...it always has been and that's the cross I bear.
When I leave aviation I go into IT (surprise!).
Let me summarize:
Programmer - C / C+ / PowerBuilder / Visual Basic
Network Administration - A+ / MSCE / CNE
Help Desk Manager
During the dot.com boom, folks would call me asking if I was interested in defecting to another employer. They would cold-call me, not having a clue about my status.
Then the media declared a "high-tech shortage". And hiring subsequently went crazy. I stayed where I was, however.
In response to the "shortage" the Federal Government "helped" the situation by creating the H-1B Visa program whereby immigrants could apply for, and receive legal status to ameliorate the perceived shortage.
Guess what happened next? Wages go DOWN.
Jobs that would've paid over $50,000 per year are now lucky to get $30,000.
"Oh, you're exaggerating" you say.
"That can't be true" and you laugh.
I'm sorry, but it IS true and sadly, Nursing is next.
Don't you guys understand? You're squarely in the crosshairs. Academia LOVES luring more students into their businesses (truth be told, I'm a big fan of education, but most hospitals as well as higher education ARE NOT non-profit organizations regardless of the crap they spew...look at some of the management salaries).
"Many" healthcare organizations look at this situation and smile. Increase nurse / patient ratios to dangerous (and unethical) levels. Squeeze the nickel so hard you can hear the buffalo scream.
Whine and moan about the "nursing shortage", but refuse to hire newly minted nurses...saying it costs too much to train them to proficiency. It's a red herring folks.
The insourcing will begin sooner than you think. Take nurses from your (name your favorite) foreign locale. (No, I'm not being zenophobic here.) Bring them all over and pay them crap. They'll be understandably grateful. It's WAY more than they could ever make back home and the conditions here are much better.
Drive costs (wages) down. It's the "in" thing, don't you understand? ALL the kids are doing it! And the average patient won't have a clue.
Or will they...but will it be too late?
When I was in the hardcore ChemoClub, and all my "friends" went away...I understand, they didn't know what to say or what to do, and there was "nothing" to blame since I led a pretty clean lifestyle.
When my friends went away, you know who was there?
I had a second-degree black belt in Karate, but I couldn't fight my way out of a paper bag.
Guess who took care of me.
Guess who touched my hand.
Guess who spoke to me at 3:00am or 3:00pm.
There was a time when a passel of young people walked in accompanied by a Nurse I recognized. Now I realize they were probably on clinical.
Deer-in-the headlights, they're all anxious. I look like hell, and feel worse. The Nurse's charges are taken a bit aback by my appearance, but I wave them in closer and touch a couple of hands. The Nurse says nothing and we start to talk (the instructor kicking in!) and the mood relaxes. What's the old saying?
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
If you're ready, more in the next post about the action you MUST take, both individually and collectively to avoid the decline into the "Pink Ghetto" in the next 10 years.
Apr 14, '09
Moved article here more appropriate
Apr 15, '09
Interesting view, I'll be looking for your next post.
Apr 16, '09
It took several readings but now I "get it." Thanks
Apr 17, '09
Well written and hence the reason I continue to maintain nursing training should have been kept as an apprenticeship!
Apr 17, '09
No offended sensibilities here -- I've said the same things many times over many years, and I wish more nurses would get the big picture. We are our own worst enemies.
Apr 18, '09
Not xenophobic or paranoid. I know too many nurses who have had difficulty finding jobs to ever have believed there is/was a nursing shortage. It's interesting how the 'shortage' began to peak as salaries began to climb...(though I know some will have it that salaries went up in response to the shortage).
Apr 18, '09
Maybe the offensive stuff will be in the OP's next post. Nothing in the first post said anything we haven't been saying for years -- but it's a good story and I look forward to reading the next installment.