Nurse/patient ratios, nurses and the ANA

  1. It doesn't take reading the post on this site for very long to notice a few common themes: stress, burn-out and nurse/patient ratios vs. safety and quality patient care.

    I confess. I never joined the ANA while I was practicing (returning to nursing soon....maybe) because the dues were so steep. However, I would consider joining if my bucks made a difference in advocating for some better conditions for nurses and patients. I've been out of nursing for 10 years, and I really hoped things had changed for the better. It didn't take a day on this site to know that things were no better and maybe even worse.

    Why, when we are professionals with a professional organization, are these conditions allowed to continue? Why isn't the ANA wielding some power and being more vocal about these concerns? What would it take for nurses to effect change? Why are we willing (and I'm including myself) to accept conditions that we state over and over are unsafe?

    Could we change things?
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  2. 8 Comments

  3. by   RNinSoCal
    Elisheva-
    I don't know how to answer your question. What I do know is that it made a big difference in work environment, adherence to ratios and pay when I went from a non-union hospital to a union hospital (CNA). I have been wondering lately if there are hospitals out there that have made the changes for the better without being unionized. So far I have not heard of any. Now that I have experienced a union hospital and talked to many nurses from other states I know I am staying in California and in a CNA hospital.
    I would love to hear from anyone who is happy with a non-union hospital outside of California and what they are doing to make it work.
  4. by   Elisheva
    I've never been fond of the idea of unionizng nurses, however, I think I may be changing my mind.

    I can't think of any other group of college educated professionals who would tolerate what we tolerate for our patients and ourselves. I will admit that I am part of the problem - at what point did I just say to myself "this is the way nursing is." ?

    However, I really would like to know why the ANA and other professional organizations aren't in front of Congress complaining about staffing concerns and patient care. If Michael J. Fox and Cher can lobby, for Pete's sake, why aren't we?
  5. by   augigi
    It took a massive nurse exodus and widespread striking to get safe nurse-patient ratios in Australia. I can't imagine it any other way now. It is that way because nurses mostly can't strike due to the guilt over patient wellbeing. The administrations have us over a barrel and they know it. Also, nurses are not a cohesive group - you rarely hear a doc criticising another doc, but nurses cannot wait to pick at each other.

    We have to unite and support each other before we can ever effect change in a wider setting. Who wants to go to war without someone watching your back?
  6. by   ZASHAGALKA
    Simply put the ANA doesn't have the power to wield because they only have a 5% membership of RNs, and much less when you factor in all nurses.

    They only have a 5% membership because they don't faithfully represent all, or even, most nurses.

    That's THEIR decision, but make no mistake: this decision robs them of the power to address just these types of situations.

    What we need is a REAL nurse's association, one that faithfully represents the interests of all nurses. The ANA isn't it.

    ~faith,
    Timothy.
  7. by   Elisheva
    Quote from augigi
    It took a massive nurse exodus and widespread striking to get safe nurse-patient ratios in Australia. I can't imagine it any other way now. It is that way because nurses mostly can't strike due to the guilt over patient wellbeing. The administrations have us over a barrel and they know it. Also, nurses are not a cohesive group - you rarely hear a doc criticising another doc, but nurses cannot wait to pick at each other.

    We have to unite and support each other before we can ever effect change in a wider setting. Who wants to go to war without someone watching your back?
    So well said. I think the guilt over patient care and our lack of cohesiveness are two of the main issues that prevent change from happening. I am guilty of both.

    I think some of the posts on this site reflect our quickness to "wing" each other at times. I am, at times, chief of sinners in this respect. I'm turning over a new leaf. I would love to see nurses become even more supportive of each other. We can only effect change by starting with ourselves, and I am going to work on that.

    Thanks for taking the time to reply.
  8. by   Elisheva
    Quote from ZASHAGALKA
    Simply put the ANA doesn't have the power to wield because they only have a 5% membership of RNs, and much less when you factor in all nurses.

    They only have a 5% membership because they don't faithfully represent all, or even, most nurses.

    That's THEIR decision, but make no mistake: this decision robs them of the power to address just these types of situations.

    What we need is a REAL nurse's association, one that faithfully represents the interests of all nurses. The ANA isn't it.

    ~faith,
    Timothy.
    Timothy, do you think it would help if more of us joined the ANA, or are you implying that even if we did, the ANA would not be an effective organization to promote nursing concerns? I'd like to hear your thoughts.
  9. by   lindarn
    Quote from Elisheva
    Timothy, do you think it would help if more of us joined the ANA, or are you implying that even if we did, the ANA would not be an effective organization to promote nursing concerns? I'd like to hear your thoughts.
    It is a Catch 22. The ANA does not do anything to improve the "Quality of Life", for nurses, in terms of staffing ratios, pay, etc. So no one joins ANA. But if more nurses joined ANA, they would have the money to afford lobbyists on our behalf to effect the necesssary changes.

    If the ANA had at least spoken out against the massive changes that were introduced in the 1990's, given nurses "permission" to refuse unsafe staffing, and working conditions, I would have at least given serious thought to at least do a "test" membership, for a few years, to give it time to work out.

    But as it stands, we continue to have unsafe changes made to our working conditions, staffing ratios etc. When the average person with a brain would have stood behind their constitency, given them the utmost in support, the ANA, in all of its dysfunction, in stead, told its nurses to just "suck it up". "Learn" how to "safely delegate" our professional practice to HS drop out nurses aides, and they now wonder why only 5% of the RNs in this country belong to their organization. "Scratch Head", and exclaim, DUUUHH! Once again, JMHO, and my NY $0.02.

    Lindarn, RN, BSN, CCRN
    Spokane, Washington
    Last edit by lindarn on Sep 26, '06
  10. by   Elisheva
    I've been to the ANA website. Not very user friendly. I've never heard a single representative of the ANA on the news, in print, anywhere. Kind of a depressing situation.

    Maybe it's time to get more involved, and that's another problem. Nurses are so drained by the kind of work they do, it's really hard to find the energy to be an activist.

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