Nurses hold own destiny in their hard-working hands...from the opinion column

  1. This was sent to me by a nurse in Florida,this ran in the opinions section of the Palm Beach Post, I can not authenticate the article at the post (it costs to search the archives) but based on the posts going on over here I wanted to share this.

    Opinion Saturday, May 5
    Letter: Nurses hold own destiny in their hard-working handsThe Palm Beach Post
    Saturday, May 5, 2001
    In response to Fran Hathaway's April 29 column "What do nurses want? Read on": Nurses are their own worst enemy when it comes to their profession. Just look at what the five nurses said when interviewed: They asked to remain anonymous. No positive changes in the labor movement ever happened because employees wanted to remain anonymous, but in nursing, this is the prevailing view. When it comes to improving their own working conditions, they rely on someone else to do it. The perception that a caring hospital administrator will come to their rescue (like in a fairy tale) is the perception of most nurses in the field. Asking an administrator to treat nurses like professionals and improve their working conditions would be the equivalent of asking Hannibal Lecter to skip a meal; it just isn't going to happen. In simple economic terms, nurses are overhead -- plain and simple. If administrators can "get the job done" with less overhead, they get a bigger bonus. They are not concerned about patient care; their only interest is the bottom line, that's their job. The nurse is concerned about being a patient advocate, and the administrator's only concern is maximizing profits. When the two agendas collide, the outcome is clear: Nurses quit, and patients die. If nurses truly want to be patient advocates, they will organize themselves. Nursing is a "blue-collar" profession. Nurses are fighting over the same issues that men fought and died for in the labor movement of the early 1900s: improved working conditions, wages, hours, job safety, benefits). Nurses have only to look at history to solve these problems. The choice is theirs; they now have the perfect opportunity to take control of the profession. But do they have the courage to fight for what they believe in?

    JOSEPH AMENITA, RN
    Jupiter
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  2. 15 Comments

  3. by   Charles S. Smith, RN, MS
    Thanx for the informative letter. I sense the passion that the author has for fighting for what he believes in. My question to all is: Why are we fighting to remain employees of institutions, corporations, hospitals, etc.?

    I am concerned that nurses are holding on to employment status as the only viable way to have a fulfilling career. There are far more options available if we think clearly about them. INDEPENDENT NURSING PRACTICE can move you out of the ranks of the employed so you can truly actualize your value system to have a fulfilling nursing career and life. It is not easy, but it is worth the effort. I speak from experience.

    I want nurses to know and believe that we, as a collective, can drive the nursing boat and not ride in it or be dragged behind it! Take the time to learn about Independent Nursing Practice so you can make an informed decision about your future. Contact me via my website listed under my profile and check out the teleclass offerings on the site. You have nothing to risk but an hour out of your life!

    This is your LIFE you are living! What more important work can you do?

    best regards to all
    chas
  4. by   JennieBSN
    Originally posted by Chellyse66:
    <STRONG>Nurses are their own worst enemy when it comes to their profession. Just look at what the five nurses said when interviewed: They asked to remain anonymous. No positive changes in the labor movement ever happened because employees wanted to remain anonymous, but in nursing, this is the prevailing view. When it comes to improving their own working conditions, they rely on someone else to do it. </STRONG>
    I have said this kind of thing many times on this bb, however, this author said it better. This article is right on. I am in the process of taking on my management for gross violations of ethics and confidentiality. I am putting my neck on the line, but as a trusted 'elder' said to me in discussing whether or not to pursue it, 'I'm the one who has to go to bed with myself every night.'

    I have multitudes of evidence and witnesses to the charges I am making against management, however, only 2 of the witnesses are willing to be named and speak to management. It is so sad. When I began gathering evidence, nurses came out in droves to give their testimony. They said to me time and time again, 'somebody has got to stop her,' as apparently, this kind of blatantly unethical and unprofessional behavior has been going on for a little over a year now. I am simply the first person to stand up and fight. Why? The things my manager has done are HORRENDOUS. I have every right to SUE her, and could easily win, as could the other nurses she has done this to in the past. It simply boggles my mind that the nurses on my unit have been content to sit back with their tails between their legs and 'take it' instead of taking action against this woman.

    I have always held the philosophy that if something is so bad that you b**** about it constantly, complain about how horrible something or someone is, and it is seriously affecting your life, either work to enact change, or SHUT UP. Words are so easy, yet they mean nothing. It is ACTION that moves mountains.

    Part of me is terrified of what is about to happen. I am scared of personal and professional retribution. The thought of sitting face to face with this person and management to pursue disciplinary action against her is enough to make my legs feel weak. But more than anything, I feel that I cannot let her actions go unpunished. I cannot lie down and be a victim. I cannot allow such gross misconduct and abuse to continue and NOT do anything. I could never stand to look at myself in the mirror again if I didn't. Having to face myself in the mirror every day, knowing I allowed myself to be a victim without putting up a fight, is much more sickening and terrifying than facing this woman and administration could EVER be. It simply amazes me, however, that it has taken until NOW for someone to stand up and fight.

    This is a major part of the problem with nurses. They are more content to sit back and allow abuse, mistreatment, and take on dangerous assignments all in the name of job security. They would rather come to work with a sick, burning feeling in the pit of their stomachs, b**** and complain the whole 8-12 hours about how horrible things are, but in the end go home with their precious paycheck and job security intact only to return the next day and do it all over again. AND FOR WHAT? It simply isn't worth it to me. If I get fired, so be it. There are a million other jobs out there, and I will most certainly have another job within a day. My job isn't what's important. My paycheck is meaningless if I know it comes without honor.

    I would rather have my dignity and self-respect, thank you.
  5. by   PeggyOhio
    Charles,
    Are you suggesting that nurses at the bedside, working in hospitals are being hired as "Independent Nursing Practitioners"?

    What I mean is are you suggesting we as nurses only need to walk into a hospital human resource department and say I'm an R.N. this is my specialty, I would like to work for you, my price is 70K/yr, one weekend/mo, one holiday/yr, no floating, no rotating, no MOT, 20min break qd and 45 min lunch, 6 weeks paid vacation (no qualifications when it can be taken), 401k, retirement package, paid health, dental, and vision coverage, disability coverage, and an escalating by $500 longevity bonus q yr starting at 1G? Like that? And they do it?

    Or are you suggesting nurses leave the hospitals and bedside nursing for alternative careers opportunities?

    If it's the latter your just encouraging the "flight" of nurses from the intolerable work environment in hospitals.

    Instead we need to be insistling on better working conditions for the nurses at the bedside.
  6. by   cargal
    Kday, are you able to discuss with us some of the unethical actions of the manager you mentioned? I too suffered at the hands of an unethical manager. Please email me if you want. Please continue to be true to yourself, not only do you go to bed with yourself, you must live with yourself. Good Luck!
  7. by   BFlag
    I think he was referring to a form of your first example. Incorporate, get your own 401K and your own insurance package and contract out to the highest bidder. Of course, that's an over simplification but the concept works. It has it's drawbacks but it puts you in control.
  8. by   fiestynurse
    I agree with parts of Joseph's article, however, he forgets to discuss the fact that nursing is a female dominated profession. This is still a man's world!! It is very difficult for us as women to feel empowered to make changes and speak-up. We are not only disrespected in nursing, but in so many other areas of our lives, we are disrespected as women. When we do speak-up we remain anonymous because we are afraid. This fear is real, it is not imagined!! Nursing is still seen as women's work and undervalued!
    HOWEVER, recently I have seen some real changes going on the mind set of nursing. We are starting to slowly speak-up for ourselves. I feel a "nursing movement" is brewing!!
  9. by   JennieBSN
    Feisty nurse, I hear what you are saying, but I have a hard time swallowing the old 'oppressed woman' argument. How does having a uterus and ovaries somehow cripple a person's ability to stand up for themselves? Yeah, there are folks out there who don't listen because of gender, but I'm sorry...it's a tired argument, and the old 'victim of oppression' mentality has never gotten anyone anywhere. Determination, hard work, standing up for what you believe in, and refusing to back down are the things that get results. Playing victim and keeping your mouth shut does nothing but perpetuate the problem.

    Cargal, I can't discuss the details right now, as it may turn into a legal thing. When it's over I'll let you know.

    [ May 08, 2001: Message edited by: kday ]
  10. by   fiestynurse
    The "oppressed" argument is not "old,", it is still very much alive! How many of your hospital CEOs are Women? How many women sit on the Board of Directors at your hospitals?
    How many women are Medical Directors at your hospitals? How many female judges sit on the U.S. Supreme court? How many female presidents have we had? O.K, I,m getting a little carried away, but I am just trying to say that it is difficult for many nurses to feel empowered. We really have to help each other and the more outspoken ones, like us, need to lead the way.
  11. by   CEN35
    Feisty nurse......"we women"? Ummmmm excuse me but there are others here that are not women. BTW, we have one female CEO, one female COO, and a ass. female COO, and one male CEO, with 1 woman as Med director.

    Rick
  12. by   Charles S. Smith, RN, MS
    Originally posted by PeggyOhio:
    <STRONG>Charles,
    Are you suggesting that nurses at the bedside, working in hospitals are being hired as "Independent Nursing Practitioners"?

    What I mean is are you suggesting we as nurses only need to walk into a hospital human resource department and say I'm an R.N. this is my specialty, I would like to work for you, my price is 70K/yr, one weekend/mo, one holiday/yr, no floating, no rotating, no MOT, 20min break qd and 45 min lunch, 6 weeks paid vacation (no qualifications when it can be taken), 401k, retirement package, paid health, dental, and vision coverage, disability coverage, and an escalating by $500 longevity bonus q yr starting at 1G? Like that? And they do it?

    Or are you suggesting nurses leave the hospitals and bedside nursing for alternative careers opportunities?

    If it's the latter your just encouraging the "flight" of nurses from the intolerable work environment in hospitals.

    Instead we need to be insistling on better working conditions for the nurses at the bedside.</STRONG>
    Peggy..thank you for your questions. I am suggesting neither of those options. What I am suggesting is that nurses learn business skills to move them into professional practice groups so that they can provide nursing care they want on their own terms. The only reason to have hospitals is for nursing care, otherwise all care would be in offices and at home. Nursing in healthcare settings is not limited to employee roles.

    But there is a reason for some nurses to leave the bedside. I prefer to work with nurses who are happy providing care than to work with nurses who are miserable. Each nurse must come to terms with what will work best for her/his life and if it means another nursing role, then so be it. Simply look at all options, search for alternatives to really enjoy a fulfilled nursing career.

    regards
    chas
  13. by   NRSKarenRN
    Dear Colleagues:
    Back in the late 1980's I worked with Sally Sumner RN and Pam Grau RN and their nursing agency, Critical Care Registered Nuring Inc. in PA as independent Nurse. These two nurses took their right to be hired as independent nurses all the way to the Supreme Court and won the battle to be declared indpendent contractors. They contracted with nurses and with Philadelphia hospitals to provide staffing for some hospitals as supplemental pool and to staff entire nursing units. I chose to work with them as supplemental pool. I chose which facilities to staff , shifts I desired and was paid a higher rate as no benefits provided and didn't mind as my husbands insurance carried me. I did this while my children were infants and toddlers during the week and worked every other weekend at the hospital. During the summers, I worked at a childrens camp for 9 weeks straight, nothing for the agency; did this for 5 years. They were well known for the calibur of their staff. The nurses were responsible for maintaining credentials,paying their own taxes and meeting hospital requirements. It was a win-win situation. I would let them know weekly what days I was available and if I din't want to be called for short staffing /call outs,they respected that and didn't call. I got a chance to try out various facilities, and found my nich in repiratory/stepdown care. Five years ago I returned to full time work as children older, and desired to work in homecarea gency with tuition reimburesment and pension plan while at a different stage of life and career.
    So if the situation is right for you, give it a try.
  14. by   PeggyOhio
    BFlag
    Charles is using the word "independent". You on the other hand are saying "incorporate". I find this confusing.

    Is Charles suggesting each "independent" nurse can negotiate their own contact. I doubt that hospitals would go for that. Too much paper work and time.

    So I must assume you are suggesting that nurses affiliate with someone/something such as an agency, or scab.com. I don't find anything unique or novel about those ideas.

    Frankly I don't see these types of organizations improving the work environment for nurses or patients. Agency nurses are in the same soup as the rest of us the only difference is money.

    While I wouldn't say no to more money and believe nurses should be paid more, money has never been a big motivator for me. If it was I wouldn't have stuck it out this long.


    Is "Independent Nursing Practice" just a fancy name for agency nursing. And I have worked with and followed a lot of agency nurses lately. I have to say if this is the future for nursing I want out NOW. IMHO nursing floors staffed with agency nurses have no loyalty to the floor they work on
    frequently have not been to the floor before and rely heavily and slow down regular staff who have to act a resources for them from everything such as "where is this" to "what is your policy on that". I for one do not have time to spoonfeed agency nurses.

    However having said that, I believe that as more nurses have moved into agency's it has made administration start to give more attention to "recruitment and retention" of staff. So perhaps there has been an indirect benefit felt.

    Also how long to you think it will take for hospitals to catch on to playing this game. For all I know they may already have and started their own "agency" under a different name. Once more pitting nurses against one another.

    I want safer patient ratios. I want to go home with a clear conscience, knowing I gave my patients the kind of care I would want for my own family members. I want to have TIME with them to treat them like human beings that need some human compassion and caring. I can only do that if hospitals improve the staffing levels and improve the work environment.

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