Is this a violation of the new whistleblower law?

  1. I need advise re: an issue that has come up for me. I teach in the local nursing program as an Adjunct Professor. (I teach maternity, L&D, newborn care) They have a shortage of clinical instructors and they asked me if I would like to help out one day a week with this. I am very close to my students, so of course, I said yes. The clinicals take place in the local hospital. I worked for this hospital for 12 years and left there about 2 years ago on good terms.
    So, here's the problem. I go to my first day as a clinical instructor and everything goes very well. My co-workers are very glad to see me again. I enjoy helping the students and the students are glad to have me there also. However, the next week I have to meet with the dean of the nursing school because the VP of nursing at this hospital called them up and said they felt "uncomfortable" having me in their hospital because of an "editorial that I wrote" after leaving the hospital. I think it was an article about how managed care has changed nursing and about how nurses need to become active in healthcare reform, etc. The hospital was never mentioned in the article. At the time, the nurses were attempting to unionize and there was a fierce battle going on. The hospital spent nearly a million dollars and hired an outside company to bust it up. The unionization efforts were unsuccessful - 700 nurses voted and they lost by 40 votes. Anyway, I had voiced my support of the union, even though I wasn't an employee there any longer.
    I do have a law degree and I have been very active in healthcare reform. I was active in the passing of the nurse-patient ratio bill.
    I am respected for my integrity and ethics in regards to patient care and I consider myself to be a nursing advocate/activist.
    Has this hospital violated my freedom of speech rights or the new nursing whistleblower law in any way? Can they call up my present employer and keep me out of there hospital as a clinical instructor? I have always suspected that this hospital was black balling me, but this is the first real evidence that I have regarding this. What do you think? I don't really need the money, I do this part-time teaching for the personal satisfaction that I recieve from it. I love it!!
    Last edit by fiestynurse on Oct 11, '01
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  2. 28 Comments

  3. by   BrandyBSN
    I am not familiar with the whistleblower law, but I do feel that you are in an unfair situation.

    Your contract is with your employeer, not with the clinical site, correct? If so, I do not believe that hospital administration can bar you from being a clinical instructor. You are there to supervise students, not to debate their policies. I feel that this is discrimination for an opinion you hold, but that should not reflect your ability to teach.

    I hope things work out in your best interest.

    BrandyBSN
  4. by   fiestynurse
    Well, I just found out that it's not about the editorial that I wrote during the nursing union fight. It's in regards to an upcoming article in "Self" magazine regarding the nursing shortage. My story is featured, along with a picture. I commented on the reasons why I left bedside nursing. I mentioned short staffing, etc. "Self" magazine contacted the hospital to check the facts of my story.
    Well, I can no longer work as a clinical instructor at the hospital. Now, you know why nurses don't speak-up about patient care issues. Out of the 100s of nurses that "Self" magazine interviewed, I was only one of a few that would agree to be named.
    Last edit by fiestynurse on Oct 5, '01
  5. by   Rustyhammer
    Fiesty-
    You are such a "rabble rouser"!
    Makes me dig you even more.
  6. by   spudflake
    Fiesty - you go girl!! Major problem the admin staff always has...they just don't want to know the truth about what's going on. I know your situation, have been there myself. I admire your spunk. It's too bad you can't do clinicals at that hospital. And they wonder why there's a shortage of nurses What would they have done if a Doc had written a similar article and was on staff. I bet NOTHING!!!-
  7. by   essarge
    Feisty,

    Pass go and collect, collect, collect!!!! This is discrimination at it's best!! Need I mention the constitutional guarantee to speak your opinion? You were not employed by this hospital when this interview was done right? You did not mention this hospital by name right?

    They thought it cost allot of money to keep a union out of there??? Just think what the cost is going to be with a lawyer of your choosing nipping at their heals!! As an activist (if I were you) I would definitely find a very LOUD lawyer to handle this.

    Geesh!!! The nerve of some of these administrators amazes me!!

    Just a thought.....if you didn't mention the hospitals name, then what makes them think that you were talking about them???? HMMMMMMM!!!!!!
  8. by   P_RN
    Shouldn't this be seen as the hospital depriving you of the means to make a living?

    I say go find a lawyer and let them lawyerize that hospital.
  9. by   OC_An Khe
    Feisty,
    Did the place you teach for back you up? Besides restraint of trade against the hospital, what about academic freedom at the educational insitiute where you teach? Is there a faculty union there who can give you assistance. I would think long and hard about teaching in that institution if they didn't support you.
  10. by   fiestynurse
    **********
    Last edit by fiestynurse on Mar 31, '04
  11. by   Jenny P
    Feisty, don't have the magazine pull your story-- call a lawyer instead! And THEN have the magazine article write about that too! I don't get it. You are setting an example for future nurses; and this is the stuff that happens? Sure, we know the hospital wants nothing to do with the story, but don't they want new recruits? Why would they jeapordize their supply of future nurses by not letting you teach? Maybe the students need to learn about this and dirty hospital politics, besides their regular classes.
  12. by   canoehead
    Please let us know which issue of Self to buy, and perhaps we could get in a few strongly worded letters of support. If it is possible with your financial situation I would encourage you to let the magazine know what is going on, and yes, call that lawyer. "Politics" does not excuse stepping all over your right to free speech. Absolutely unfair- and you will be doing us all a favor by fighting it out.

    You have a great source of support here for letter writing and support/advice, please use us, and let us know what happens. If I can help I am only a PM away.
  13. by   nurs4kids
    Feisty,
    I agree with others that you have been a victim of discrimination. I'm not sure how I'd handle the situation. You have to weigh your options: 1) You can continue to be a nurse/patient advocate and fight this, or 2) You can become a "me" advocate and withdraw the article, which allows the hospital to win, again, but you may save any further repercussions with potential future employment.

    I THINK if it were me, I WOULD call 'Self' and let them know how their call has impacted my career. I would consider having them to edit my comments and add that because of this interview, I had been denied the opportunity to teach in a local hospital; showing how this type behavior by management further stresses the nursing shortage. Regardless of your decision, your reputation with this hospital has been damaged and you're not going to repair it by withdrawing from the article.

    I admire you and your courage, but admiration and courage will not pay bills. Do what's best for you personally. If you're stable enough that it can't drastically impact your personal security, then be a nurse/patient advocate and fight like hell. Whatever decision you reach, you've got my respect.
    Best wishes,
    Tracy
  14. by   Zee_RN
    I too am in favor of contacting the magazine and letting them know how this has impacted you. It does not look good for the hospital. While it is not a whistleblower issue, it certainly is a freedom of speech issue.

    Of course, then there may be more repercussions...*sigh* You may want to talk to your employer before you do that. Maybe contact the ACLU? Actually, maybe contact the ACLU and just discuss it with them (you don't have to act on anything) and then tell your employer your plans and in your conversation with your employer mention "My lawyer at ACLU said....." Sometimes that's enough for them to decide that silence is the better part of valor. (I did this with the public school system once and just using that line worked.)

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Is this a violation of the new whistleblower law?