Sounding off!!!

  1. I have been reading all of the posts about the nursing shortage and one of the inescapable conclusions that I have come to is the fact that most of the nurses complain out loud too much. I'm not trying to offend anyone, but if you want to recruit new nurses it starts right here at home.
    Every job I have ever worked has had a down side, but I found the ones that were complained about the most were the ones that had a shortage. It's just human nature to not work where there is alot of negativity.

    When a relative of mine was in the hospital I overheard several nurses complaining about a whole gammet of things from each other to administrative. Made me want to pack this relative up and take her home where I knew she would be well cared for.

    At one place I used to bartend the complaining got so bad that they couldn't find anybody to work there...consequently closing the place down. Is that what people are trying to accomplish?


    POSITIVE THOUGHTS BRING POSITIVE OUTCOMES!!

    ....what a concept!!

    OK..now I can get off my soap box...thanks!!
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  2. 25 Comments

  3. by   fergus51
    I like the idea, but I think the shortage is related to a lot more than our complaining. I don't think positive thought will solve it all. I don't like complaining alone, but if it brings action with it then I am all for it.
  4. by   PeggyOhio
    Essarge,
    How exactly would that positive thing work? Something like this?

    “ Gee! I just can’t wait to get back to work this morning. I just love racing around for 16hrs. with an empty stomach, full bladder, aching back and sore feet. This morning while I was cleaning up Mrs.Y after she was incontinent of black tarry stool in the bed, Mr. X became so confused he pulled his foley out and chewed through his IV tubing. What a hoot that was! There was blood everywhere! And I was positively thrilled when they chose me to be mandated! What an honor! My family was so proud I was chosen to work 16hrs. they celebrated with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner! They told everyone at school the next day. But the teachers still weren’t happy their homework wasn’t done, how positively unpositive of them. I am so eager to get back into work this morning and play another round of “keeping up with the call lights”. Time just seems to fly by when your running your a** off. And oooh, oooh another one of my favorite games at work is “move ‘em out, get 'em in”. It’s so much fun seeing that caravan of eight patient’s from ED hit the floor at one time, about 30. min before shift end. The only thing that could make it even better is if they call a called a code right in the middle of it all! OHHH the glorious chaos! OHHH! OHHH! POSITIVELY ECSTACY…….!”

    Essarge are you a nurse? I’m a bit curious as to why you would be interested in reading what nurses are saying about their work environment. Do you have any idea what you are referring too? If you really want to do something to improve the care your Aunt gets when she is hospitalized, write your Congressman. Support legislation to ban Mandatory overtime, and increase staffing to appropriate levels that the workload is realistic, not impossible. And spread the word to others to do the same before it gets worse. I can honestly say that when this whole deterioration in the work environment started, we tried our damdest to make it work. We are just reaching the point of critical burnout, and if the environment doesn’t change soon there will be no nurses left that are willing to abuse themselves this way.
  5. by   Jason-ACNP
    It's unfortunate that you listened to nurses complaining outside of your relative's room, because it does give the wrong impression. However, I am willing to bet that their complaints were well founded.

    I respectfully disagree with you on two issues.

    1.) Positive thoughts will not bring about positive outcomes in nursing. Positive ACTION will bring positive outcomes in nursing. And positive action is not necessarily analogous with political correctness.

    2.) While I agree that nurses complaining “out loud” leaves a negative impression to those in earshot, I must say that it is only because those persons who overhear the conversation cannot even to begin comprehend the issues that face nurses today. Furthermore, the nursing profession is incomparable to probably 95% of other fields of work. Once you are faced with the legal ramifications attached to an overwhelming patient load, in conjunction with mandatory overtime and poor pay, you might begin to understand. With all due respect, I don’t believe that the burdens of bartending are even remotely related to the burdens of nursing. The point is that nurses aren’t leaving because of colleagues complaining. Instead, nurses are leaving because of the conditions.

    In the end, it is nurses who hold the power. Their reluctance to act is why negativity exists. Positive thoughts aren’t going to change this. Unification is the key. I mean unification of ALL NURSES. Not just BSNs nurses and APNs. We are all cut from the same cloth. Should we not have the same goals, regardless of our roles?
  6. by   essarge
    I read all of the response and I think that it was great. Now please let me respond to all of you.

    fergus51- you are right positive thought won't solve it all...but it is a start!

    res04lly-a union has some good points and some bad as i'm sure that you all know, but an organization that recognizes all branches of nursing would be great. Changes in the nursing schools..I'm all for that. At my age I'm not really concerned of being "eaten alive", but I'm sure it does intimidate some of the younger people! I, for one, will bite back if someone is trying to take a chunk out of me as I am always willing and wanting to learn! The problem I see with schools, perhaps, is that the instructors are the nurses that are burned out and that attitude trickles down to the students. By the way, I copied and printed your thoughts on nursing and am going to put it on the board at school because it sums REAL nursing up very well. I hope you don't mind.

    CEN35 While I understand money is an issue, it shouldn't be a main focus. I know that wages have pretty much stayed the same since 1992 and that in and of itself is not fair, but the main thing in nursing is the patient isn't it?

    Which brings me to burnout. Burnout and I are old friends. When I was a CNA taking care of an entire wing (40 patients) by myself, because of staffing cutbacks, I fully understand burnout. They finally brought in agency, which only helped a little. This went on for almost a year, and I left, but couldn't stay away. That was 8 years ago. The only ones that can fix that are the "powers that be"!

    Agency numbers have increased because of the reasons that you said and as one nurse told me "why should I work for $15 and hour here when I can work in the same facility for $24 an hour through an agency"!

    PeggyOhio, I'm sorry that you described such a "bad" shift, but that is where the "positive thoughts" would help.

    Cleaning up Mrs Y because she was incontinent-you are helping her maintain her personal integrety by not allowing people to see her in such a disarray. Mr X-imagine being in that confused state of mind yourself and someone stepping in to help you and make you feel safe again. Kid's not doing their homework-no positive thought except (depending on their ages) it is their responsibility to do their homework. We take things away (starting with the favorites) for missing assignments and they still have to do them and turn them in..credit or not. "keeping up with the call lights"-you don't have to pay for a gym..you've already done your aerobics!

    wildtime-you are absolutely right about being able to complain at work...but at the right time, right place. Not in an ICU ward or an ED or anywhere a patient or their family can hear you. An appropriate place would maybe be and empty room with the door shut or (when you get one) the break room with only employees present. And by the way, I did listen to what they were saying and I understood, but my brother in law questioned whether his mother was going to get good care, given how unhappy all of these nurses were.

    Jason-ACNP-I only agree with you partially on the "positive thoughts will not bring about positive outcomes in nursing"....I feel that positive thoughts are the beginning of positive actions. How you you have negative thoughts with positive action? I only used the bartending as an example of negative thoughts and actions, I know that nursing is a far cry from that. Nurses do hold the power, but so far the complaining hasn't helped any has it?

    So...just a thought...why not have an national e-mail day? All nurses, in every field e-mail their congress people and the white house with complaints, suggestions, and solutions. If nothing else it will clog up their mail for awhile and they will have to pay some attention!!! In order for it to work it would have to happen all on the same day. Anyway, there are some really good positive thoughts here...but actions (positive) along with those thoughts are what are going to work. Stop working against and work together for the common cause!

    p.s. yes I was a nurse, LPN, until 1985 (and no, not much has changed) and I am returning to the field, BSN. I did not leave because of the reasons stated here...it was personal circumstances at the time.
  7. by   PeggyOhio
    essarge
    Glad to hear your coming back. You'll get first hand experience on how it is. And that is way different than 1985.

    My kids are MY RESPONSIBILITY and spending time helping them is more important than mandatory overtime. IMHO we should start a class action suit against hospitals that force us to choose between our jobs and our families.

    You miss the point entirely. Positive thinking cannot overcome unrealistic expectations.

    But hey, it worked for Wendy, John and Michael. Maybe we should all take a little fairy dust to work to help. And it worked for the "Little Engine That Could" too! So let's all just repeat, "I think I can, I think I can."

    It's real easy to be an armchair quarterback. But it doesn't give you much credibility here. Good luck with your positive thinking. Give us an update on how it's working after about 3-4yrs at the bedside.

    [ April 29, 2001: Message edited by: PeggyOhio ]
  8. by   Q.
    Essarge-

    I hear what you area trying to say - but seriously, I have tried positive thoughts and it really doesn't work. And no, I don't agree that it is a start at all. What positive thinking in this situation translates to is rolling over.

    Pay is a big, big part, and unfortunately, when staffing shortages don't allow you to spend time with your patient and bond, then money becomes the main focus. I've said this before - most health care professionals went into the field because of some amount of altruism - but when your facility continually runs you dry, what is there left to make you want to continue to work there? It's not the patients - because you don't even get to know them anymore. I get through the day by accepting my job as simply a paycheck and nothing more. That is not the attitude I started with when I graduated from school. I was an eager nursing student wanting to "cure the world" -unfortunately, the hospitals turned me into a machine instead of a caring human being.

    The simple fact is, at least at my facilities, they don't care about you as a person with a family, obligations and a life. You are a small gear in the big machine - and that is all. These facilities know how to run the units just lean enough to not cause deaths daily and still turn a profit. The old addage of hospitals being "not for profit" is a big crock to me. My hospital is a huge corporation that runs like a business: watching thier bottom dollar and all the while buying and buying up property and failing health care systems throughout Wisconsin for a multi-billion dollar price tag.

    I think the start to nursing is pay at this point, to recruit more people into the field - that will ease the shortage a bit - and then we have to unite somehow to demand changes that will last, even when there isn't a shortage anymore.
  9. by   essarge
    PeggyOhio,
    Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you and make you think that your children are not your responsibility. I agree, they are your responsibility, and if possible you do need to be there to help them. I was addressing the homework issue only. Like I said, with our kids, "missing assignments" lose something you like. Doing it wrong is better than not doing it at all.

    I still think that a national e-mail day will at least make them sit up and listen ... at least more than they have been, especially if their e-mail is clogged up with mail from nurses from all over!!!
  10. by   nurs4kids
    Good job, guys..wonderful responses! Of course, I must add my $.02 worth

    Idealistically, it isn't about money, it's about the patient. Realistically, it's about being capable of caring for your family, and this requires money. As much as we love caring for people, I for one would not do it for free.

    Peggy, wonderfully postitive not post! I was able to laugh at how awful it really is.

    Wild, in reference to management hearing enough that they react..Last week we were in a staff meeting with the head nurse (one that night shift had to request). The head nurse said his part, which was filled with anger over a rumor about him being on another unit and talking negatively about our unit. As he finished his "speech", he left the floor open for any comments or concerns. Of course, you could have heard a pin drop. So, one of the other nurses (one of those who nurse by charm, not by caring for a patient), speaks up and gives this nauseating positive speech about how wonderful things are, etc. Keep in mind, he's one of the first to bit*& during the nurses' station discussions. After he finished his bull sh@#, I spoke up and said, "ok guys, if you have a problem speak up now, don't wait until we get on the floor and then start up..now is the time to bring it forth". One other nurse spoke up about something bothering him, then the meeting ended. The nurse that spoke up at the end was reprimanded in the HN's office, after the meeting, because the HN didn't like his attitude, was "disrespectful". The nurse that gave the BS speech? He was sent an email and thanked for his contribution to the staff meeting. One of the charge nurses spoke with the HN the next day and stated she felt the positive speech was an attempt to end the meeting because the nurse didn't want to be exposed as the one spreading the rumor(original reason for meeting). HN defended him by saying, "No, i felt he was sincere".

    What does this prove? Management doesn't want to hear the problems!

    sorry to get so longwinded, just venting..
    <repeating...i love nursing..i love nursing..>
  11. by   essarge
    wildtime,

    yes, we did complain to the charge nurse and the administrator, who in turn called these nurses on the carpet....seems like that would have been the perfect time to "air things out" since they were already face to face with the "enemy"!
  12. by   RNPD
    essarge

    I agree with one thing-that no patients or families should be subjected to hearing complaints from any hospital staff. They have enough problems w/o worrying whether or not the staff will be concentrating on their loved one or their job woes.

    That said, nursing today is a LOOOOONG way from 1985!!! The past 5 years especially have brought about so many issues that were unheard of not too long ago. Many of those issues are discussed on these forums. Money is a big one-it would be nice if we all could do the job "for the patient", but most of us have mouths to feed and kids to clothe and shelter and transport. All of this entails MONEY! The less we make, the less attractive the profession becomes, the shortage increases, and a vicious cycle is begun. There will eventually be no nurses if this keeps up!

    Congrats on going for your BSN and good luck. But please believe what you read here-the real world is VERY different from school!
  13. by   essarge
    wildtime,

    I was an LPN for a short time and now I am returning. I am in a BSN program with a psych minor. But even though I am a student at this point, I am still very concerned about what direction nursing is going and who it is affecting.
  14. by   PeggyOhio
    essarge
    Thank you for the apology. But are you for real? Yes you bet it offends me when someone like you thinks it's alright to force a nurse who got up at 5am to be on time to work by 7am to work until 1am and then be expected to be back by 7am the next day, after 4-5 hours of sleep and not being with their kids in over 40hrs. And then suggest punishing the kids because they weren't responsible enough, when their parent was forced to stay at work rather than be home supervising and taking care of them.

    What right does any employer have to keep a nurse from being home with her family? It is despicable to defend such abuse and think "positive thinking" will make it all better.

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