Taking out the trash - page 5

Are any of you expected to take out the trash at work? I'm not talking about picking up after yourself in general, but taking the bag of trash to the soiled utility room. I got offended when a... Read More

  1. by   RNPATL
    Taking out the trash is but a task that is performed. However, it covers a bigger issue for nurses. If we are to recruit and attract bright young people into the profession of nursing, how appealing is it going to be for them to know that after they paid $25-35,000 (or more) for their education, they will be picking up trash! Sorry, whether you like it or not, young people do not consider picking up trash a professional job responsibility once they have worked for and earned their degree. I would venture to think that their parents (probably the ones who paid the tuition bill), would also not find this task appealing for their young daughter or son either.

    If we, as nurses, allow administration to dictate our professional (and in this case - non-professional) job duties, then we are missing the point of what a profession is and can be. There is always so much talk that if nurses united and spoke with one voice, we could accomplish so much. Perhaps taking out the trash is not the issue that will unite us, but please understand that something this small can and does define who we are as professionals. If we are going to do this task, then administration is going to keep cutting ancillary help and before you know it, nurses will be required to take out the trash all the time. Like other posters have said, today it is taking out the trash, tomorrow it is cleaning and mopping the floors and the list will grow. Trust me, it will grow.
    Last edit by RNPATL on Mar 16, '04 : Reason: Way to many typo errors :)
  2. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Quote from RNPATL
    Taking out the trash is but a task that is performed. However, it covers a bigger issue for nurses. If we are to recruit and attract bright young people into the profession of nursing, how appealing is it going to be for them to know that after they paid $25-35,000 (or more) for their education, they will be picking up trash! Sorry, whether you like it or not, young people do not consider picking up trash a professional job responsibility once they have worked for and earned their degree. I would venture to think that their parents (probably the ones who paid the tuition bill), would also not find this task appealing for their young daughter or son either.

    If we, as nurses, allow administration to dictate our professional (and in this case - non-professional) job duties, then we are missing the point of what a profession is and can be. There is always so much talk that if nurses united and spoke with one voice, we could accomplish so much. Perhaps taking out the trash is not the issue that will unite us, but please understand that something this small can and does define who we are as professionals. If we are going to do this task, then administration is going to keep cutting ancillary help and before you know it, nurses will be required to take out the trash all the time. Like other posters have said, today it is taking out the trash, tomorrow it is cleaning and mopping the floors and the list will grow. Trust me, it will grow.

    Whether i take out the trash or mop the floors will not make me any less of a professional. What WILL make me a professional will be my konwledge, competency, skill, professional attitude, etc.. And i can live and strive for the best of that.


    Signed, an LPN student
    Last edit by Marie_LPN, RN on Mar 16, '04 : Reason: Ooops
  3. by   orrnlori
    I went back and re-read the originial post and no where in there does it state that the management was asking her to take out the trash, it was another nurse. The gripe was with the other nurse. Sheesh! So we are stand back and decide what we think is in our professional realm to do each day and do only those things? Come on. I'm paying to put my son through college and then he'll go to grad school, courtesy of my pocketbook. I hope he never thinks that he is too good to help out when needed no matter what he ends up doing. This has been blown all out of proportion. I don't feel demeaned by occasionally pulling trash bags. I know who I am and what I'm capable of, bagging trash hardly demeans me as a person or nurse. I reiterate --- Sheeeshhh!
  4. by   CCU NRS
    Who takes out the trash at your house? I do it and I have the kids do it and Imhev even on accassion seen my wife do it. Hmmmm I guess the perspective is just different I mean you do keep your house clan and thrash emptied don't you?
  5. by   kellilou3
    Quote from RNPATL
    Taking out the trash is but a task that is performed. However, it covers a bigger issue for nurses. If we are to recruit and attract bright young people into the profession of nursing, how appealing is it going to be for them to know that after they paid $25-35,000 (or more) for their education, they will be picking up trash! Sorry, whether you like it or not, young people do not consider picking up trash a professional job responsibility once they have worked for and earned their degree. I would venture to think that their parents (probably the ones who paid the tuition bill), would also not find this task appealing for their young daughter or son either.
    I haven't even started nursing school yet but hold the idea that my job as a nurse will be to fulfill the patient's needs, and if the trash is nasty and overflowing, then I will empty it as a courtesy to the patient. The thought that I may have to empty trash does not discourage me from entering the nursing profession, nor does it make me feel any less of a professional. What makes me, personally, feel professional is knowing that I am doing my personal best to meet the patient's needs, and I'm sure my parents wouldn't care what the heck I was doing for a career, as long as I was doing my best. The general consensus on this topic seems to be that no one person can speak for everyone, so there really isn't a point in debating this further. If you're unhappy with your situation, whether that be pay, workload, or even taking out the trash, then you need deal with it on a personal level because it may not be the same everywhere else.
  6. by   roxannekkb
    Quote from CCU NRS
    Who takes out the trash at your house? I do it and I have the kids do it and Imhev even on accassion seen my wife do it. Hmmmm I guess the perspective is just different I mean you do keep your house clan and thrash emptied don't you?
    Well you also cook and wash dishes at home, mow the lawn, and take care of your kids. You vacuum and dust, wash windows, do laundry, iron, go food shopping, and scrub the toilet bowl. But does that mean you're going to do it at your job? Unit clerks, doctors, respiratory therapists, and social workers also empty trash at home, and clean their house. But do any of them do it at work?

    Although, maybe things are different at your job. Maybe you've got docs who launder, bleach and iron linens, and unit clerks who mop the floor.

    All of that once did fall into the realm of nursing. Nurse was cook/janitor/doctor's helper. The point of this discussion is not whether one should help out on occasion, but whether nurses should readily pick up the slack. If nurses don't complain, and refuse to be laden down by non-nursing chores, then hospitals will keep trimming away at ancillary help, and expect nurses to do it.

    I've seen it happen, when one hospital I worked in decided to turn over washing isolettes to the nursing staff--it was part of their plan to cut housekeeping staff. Most of the nurses refused, although a few did clean them (the martyrs, as always). But as the dirty ones accumulated in the hallways, and the hospital was forced to rent a few to accomodate new arrivals, they relented. They hired the extra staff housekeeping wanted, and the isolettes were cleaned.

    Now, no one minded cleaning one if things were crazy and babies were pouring through the door. The problem was having it enshrined in our job description.

    Hospitals can hire enough housekeeping to empty trash at regular intervals, empty laundry hampers, mop the floors, and do the sort of job that they are paid to do it. I have been in hospitals where nurses never touch the trash, and never need to--save for the rarest occasion. If nurses are pulling trash, linens, cleaning bathrooms, etc, regularly or even semi-regularly, it is because the hospital is refusing to hire sufficient staff. That's the bottom line.

    And if nurses do it, and pick up the slack elsewhere, there is no motivation for a hospital to change. Nurses complain of burn-out and not being able to adequately care for their patients--I wonder why, since many of them seem to be so busy doing everyone else's job.
    Last edit by roxannekkb on Mar 17, '04
  7. by   smk1
    i was a nursing assistant in an assisted living facility and had a similar experience. The aides started helping the servers clear the dining room after breakfast because most of us were friends and the server had to get to school in the morning. Well after doing this of our own free will and helping spirit, there came a time when we were too busy to help. THe Kitchen manager complained and we were REPRIMANDED for not helping clear dishes after meals! I about blew my top, this was not my job and in fact is an entirely other PAID POSITION and yet because i was being helpful when i had the time, I was in trouble when my ACTUAL job demanded that i be elsewhere helping a resident. Now Im not saying this is always going to be the case in all facilities, but everybody knows the attitude of their administration and what the likely outcome will be in their facility. for me, i learned to be a team player in a "pinch" but to not always be "overly" helpful "just because" because in that particular job i WOULD be taken advantage of. It is a sad way to look at things but I know that i will remember this (and a few other similar experiences) in future endeavors.
  8. by   RNPATL
    Quote from kellilou3
    I haven't even started nursing school yet but hold the idea that my job as a nurse will be to fulfill the patient's needs, and if the trash is nasty and overflowing, then I will empty it as a courtesy to the patient. The thought that I may have to empty trash does not discourage me from entering the nursing profession, nor does it make me feel any less of a professional. What makes me, personally, feel professional is knowing that I am doing my personal best to meet the patient's needs, and I'm sure my parents wouldn't care what the heck I was doing for a career, as long as I was doing my best. The general consensus on this topic seems to be that no one person can speak for everyone, so there really isn't a point in debating this further. If you're unhappy with your situation, whether that be pay, workload, or even taking out the trash, then you need deal with it on a personal level because it may not be the same everywhere else.
    Kellilou3 - while I can respect your opinion, you are not a nurse yet and you are not faced with the challenges nurses are faced with. Please print this thread out and put it in a safe place. After you are an RN and have some practical nursing work experience, pull this thread (which you printed earlier) and read your response. I am sure your opinion will have a dramatic shift from what you have sumbitted here.

    I applaud your positive attitude and also applaud your entry into nursing. It is a wonderful profession to be in and I am proud everyday about the work that I do and the contribution I make to the patient's life. The issue here is a bigger issue than just picking up trash or helping out once in a while. I am very much like other nurses and I do pull trash and do help out as I am a part of the team. However, I take issue with being required to perform these duties as a part of my professional role as a Registered Nurse. I have to agree with the post by smkoepke .... once you do something in the name of team work, suddenly it becomes expected of you routinely.

    Nurses have many clinical responsibilities and make many decisions on a day by day basis that impact and effect the lives of the patient's under their care. Making these decisions often involves time and coordination. Today, I had several issues with administration of potassium for couple of patients that were in need of replacement and several that had orders that were inconsistent with their original plan of care. It took time to contact the physician's, draw new labs and make new clinical decisions for these patients. If I was worried about taking out the trash more than I was concerned about my true clinical responsibilities, then I do not provide a quality or safe service to the patient.

    I have learned through posts on this thread that taking out the trash is a personal choice and that is fine. Again, I will do it as a part of the team but I will not be a part of this type of job responsibility being added to my professional duties as a Registered Nurse. When you are in practice as an RN, you will then be able to make those choices. But I do appreicate your comments.
    Last edit by RNPATL on Mar 17, '04
  9. by   kellilou3
    RNPATL, you're right, I have no idea what a typical day will be like for me as a nurse, and I would take offense to having trash duty added to my list of responsibilities if I didn't even have time to perform the basic necessities of the job. The point that I was attempting to make was more specifically in reference to your statement that young people do not consider picking up trash a professional job responsibility once they have worked for and earned their degree. As a young person, I feel that a professional opinion of myself comes from the high standards at which I perform, regardless of the profession or task. Of course, I can't speak for anyone else.

    I appreciate you, and everyone on this board, being respectful and open to my and other future nurses' opinions, however limited and unsubstantiated they may be at this point.
    Last edit by kellilou3 on Mar 17, '04
  10. by   Hellllllo Nurse
    Quote from smkoepke
    i was a nursing assistant in an assisted living facility and had a similar experience. The aides started helping the servers clear the dining room after breakfast because most of us were friends and the server had to get to school in the morning. Well after doing this of our own free will and helping spirit, there came a time when we were too busy to help. THe Kitchen manager complained and we were REPRIMANDED for not helping clear dishes after meals! I about blew my top, this was not my job and in fact is an entirely other PAID POSITION and yet because i was being helpful when i had the time, I was in trouble when my ACTUAL job demanded that i be elsewhere helping a resident. Now Im not saying this is always going to be the case in all facilities, but everybody knows the attitude of their administration and what the likely outcome will be in their facility. for me, i learned to be a team player in a "pinch" but to not always be "overly" helpful "just because" because in that particular job i WOULD be taken advantage of. It is a sad way to look at things but I know that i will remember this (and a few other similar experiences) in future endeavors.
    You learned a lesson that will really help you in your nursing career.
  11. by   RNPATL
    Thanks Kelli and good luck in school.
  12. by   Farkinott
    I don't think we pay all that money for a Bachelor of Nursing to do somone elses job. Sure, exceptions will occur but in general, do you see anyone helping nurses when they don't have to?!
  13. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Quote from Farkinott
    Sure, exceptions will occur but in general, do you see anyone helping nurses when they don't have to?!

    Why yes i have.

    All the time, at my job. Never have i heard so many people say to each other (and hold various job titles): "Can i help you with anything?"

    The kind of teamwork where no one sits the bench. Or leaves a stank pile of garbage in a room spilling out of the can. Despite whatever degree they hold.

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