The solution to nursing problems - page 5

I posted this before and it seems to have been lost. I think we can corrent all of the major problems in nursing by simply having all of us take the same day off. Let's say February 11th, 2003,... Read More

  1. by   ceecel.dee
    -jt hit the nail on the head.....How do we get all nurses to stand united?
  2. by   rncountry
    Aw, Julie I wondered how long it would be before we saw the invoking of the supervision thing. I hope to hell it is not successful because if it is than I would anticipate others jumping on that bandwagon.
    We will never get all nurses together. But it is possible to get some nurses. Depends on how things are done. I just think that there has to be a way to reach more nurses than we currently do. And that takes money. Any takers out there will ideas?
  3. by   RN-PA
    There's the biggest problem, IMHO. I'm tired of sticking my neck out, talking to management, speaking up at staff meetings about problems, encouraging co-workers to speak up and to not just gripe constantly about conditions and problems. I feel like the voice in the wilderness sometimes and I'm tired of it. What I've observed is many women are working part-time and have busy lives outside of work. Once they're away from work, they focus energy elsewhere and the work problems fade into the background until they come back to work again. They just don't care enough or have enough energy to unite, let alone, fight. Many I work with are very young, too, and fear authority or aren't very experienced in handling much conflict. Heck-- they're just trying to keep their heads above water in their jobs like all of us.

    I once tried to get involved in a union forming at a hospital where I previously worked and we could get no momentum, again, because not enough nurses cared. Day shift was well-staffed and it often felt like we evening shifters were crashing a party when we'd arrive to the floor. They had few complaints so we could get no support from them.

    On the 3-11 shift I work on our 65-bed Med/Surg unit, there's one RN and 1 LPN who are working full-time 8-hour shifts. The rest are 12-hr shifts (full-time), and lots of part-time and casual/pool nurses-- Many who pick up 4 hours here and there. I'm working with new nurses all the time and can barely keep up with learning names of the GN's, and other new hires. I think there are approximately 150 employees just for our floor and I can't even imagine how to unite the few I work with on a fairly regular basis. We barely have time to talk and exchange pleasantries each night let alone figuring out a strategy to improve conditions. I'm at the point where I'm trying to just focus on caring the best I can for my patients and trying to pull away from the politics and drama-- easier said than done, but better for my sanity and spirit.
  4. by   ceecel.dee
    EVERYONE IS BUSY!

    You never hear anyone say, "I've got oodles of spare time and will fight the fight for everyone that is too busy".

    It's a matter of priorities. How important are these issues to you...really?

    If everyone skipped one Friends re-run a week, and spent that 30 minutes on a united effort to better their profession....WOW could we make a difference!
  5. by   RN-PA
    EVERYONE IS BUSY!

    You never hear anyone say, "I've got oodles of spare time and will fight the fight for everyone that is too busy".

    It's a matter of priorities. How important are these issues to you...really?

    If everyone skipped one Friends re-run a week, and spent that 30 minutes on a united effort to better their profession....WOW could we make a difference!
    Ceecel.dee is right and therein lies the problem that I stated in my post. People apparently don't care enough to DO something to try to change things-- they usually "vote with their feet" (quit), and so we will probably never make much headway. I think legislation is our only hope for changes and I recently signed a petition through PASNAP to help with nurse to patient ratios in PA. (See link below.)

    http://pittsburgh.bizjournals.com/pi...01/focus3.html
  6. by   -jt
    <How do we get all nurses to stand united?>

    Educate & inform.... inform & educate.

    But you know what? Im at the point where it doesnt matter to me anymore if some nurses would rather complain than DO anything about the problem. If some cant (or wont) lift a finger to help themselves for whatever reason, so be it. Their uninvolvement (&/or apathy) does not make the rest of us ineffective.

    Just because most RNs are not politically active or involved in nursing activism, doesnt mean we cant accomplish (or arent accomplishing) our goals. It just is a little harder & takes a bit longer than if there were more of us doing the work.

    Sure it would be nice if there were more nurses out there who would, at the very least, send an email to their Congressman in support of some of the legislations that will help make a dent in a lot of the problems nurses are facing - but there arent - and still, the rest of us are getting those legislations passed one by one & state by state & getting the laws we need made.

    As we go along like the-little-that-could, more nurses who are standing on the sidelines become educated & informed about how they can make a difference, & they start doing something - even if its just as simple as sending an email to their Congressman. They make a difference.
  7. by   Youda
    -jt, I agree with you in part. But, I think we have to also look at the psychology of this. Nurses have been hammered on for so many years, fighting against unfair admin practices and problems in their own facility or hospital. And that has resulted in nothing, except being labeled a "troublemaker" or whistle blower. It's hard to imagine a good outcome when all we've experienced is negative consequences to the efforts that we do make.

    I'm going to liken this situation to spousal abuse, just because it makes an easy metaphor. A wife who is constantly beaten and threaten, begins to believe it's her fault, and after awhile buys into the idea that there is nothing she can do except try to appease her tormentor. She doesn't even realize that she can just open the door and walk away.

    YES! Education is very important. But, part of that education is not jumping steps in the process. We have to first education nurses about how they SHOULD be treated before we can help them understand how to ACT. It's like the post on another thread about the nurse working through Hurricane Lili and security guards prevented her from leaving the hospital, make them sleep on the floor, refused to feed them or give them water, then also refused to pay them.

    There wasn't anger there until other nurses jumped into the thread. There wasn't information about how these nurses SHOULD have been treated. The concept of hazard pay wasn't even imagined, because they had nothing!

    I've posted payscales at allnurses, to make a point. An air traffic controller makes an average of $36/hr. The air traffic controller has the same high stress as a nurse, has the same responsibility for the lives of others, but is NOT required to have a post-secondary education or to be routinely exposed to hazardous materials and disease. So, shouldn't the average pay for a nurse be AT LEAST as high as an air traffic controller?

    But, routinely we are grateful if we simply get the day off we requested three months ago, because we've been pounded, abused, so much that our expectations are too low. We don't compare ourselves with other professions. We don't demand routine time-and-a-have for weekend and holiday pay as EVERY other profession would get: ie; electricians, plumbers, auto mechanics, executives. We think that just because nursing is a 24/7 job, that we don't DESERVE those kinds of benefits.

    What about retirement plans. Check out any newspaper and most jobs, even at hamburger joints, offer 401K plans and matching employer contributions to retirement funds. How many nurses have that now? Why don't we have this?

    This opportunity comes along only once every 15-20 years, when a nursing shortage forces some changes. These changes can't be at the corporate level, but at the legislative level, so corporations won't cut back in nursing care the next time they make a bad financial decision (see Karen's post on mergers).

    -jt, I don't want anyone to give up. But, we have to become more supportive of each other before we can ACT together. We have to point out unfairness, and fight unfairness as a matter of our daily practice. We have to continue to fight for our patients. We have to take care of ourselves. We have to understand the dynamics of depression and burnout, so we can help each other out of the mire, so we have the energy to be ABLE to fight.

    If I could propose anything, I would propose something that is easy for someone to do, out of respect for the crushing fatigue we all feel at the end of our shifts, and the families who still need us even though we have nothing left to give, something inexpensive because we don't have the money to donate. The answer isn't to struggle along with few numbers! The answer is to look at the NEEDS of nurses and design a protest or action that accommodates our limitations! How about a website? List the names, addresses and email addresses of these legislatures and senators. Give a place to post a message anonymously to certain workplaces, so a nurse's lifelihood isn't jeapordized by participation (and you and I both know for FACT that retaliation is a very real thing in this). Find what MOST nurses CAN do, and you'll have all the numbers you need.

    What can I do to help?
  8. by   -jt
    <I'm going to liken this situation to spousal abuse, just because it makes an easy metaphor. A wife who is constantly beaten and threaten, begins to believe it's her fault, and after awhile buys into the idea that there is nothing she can do except try to appease her tormentor. She doesn't even realize that she can just open the door and walk away. >


    I totally agree with you & Im going to separate pieces of your post to respond to.

    First, your statement above. Yes. Its called "Battered Womans Syndrome". Brought to attention by the NYC Hedda Nussbaum child abuse case. Hedda was so oppressed & beaten by her violent husband for so long, that she stood by & did nothing while he did the same to their children - eventually killing one of them. During the trial, medical experts dx Hedda as suffering "Battered Womans Syndrome" - and was deemed to have been rendered INCAPABLE of taking any action to protect herself & her children because of it.

    At an RN picket line a few yrs ago, I saw nurses carrying a sign that said "Our RNs Do Not Have Battered Womans Syndrome!".
    Another RN was walking the line telling everyone "Let them understand - there are no Heddas here!".

    I completely agree with you that too many RNs have a form of this affliction for the same reasons you gave - which is why I dont think that we can go from that to massive, proactive unity overnight & why trying to pull off something so severe as a coast to coast wildcat walkout - with all its risks to pts & RNs - would be an effort in futility. We cant expect RNs who have been where you describe for so long to all of the sudden be ready to do something so drastic. We have to recognize that before you can be an expert diver, you have to first step into the wading pool. Besides that, after the 24 hr walkout is over, everybody goes back to work & what was accomplished? Spending the energy & effort on getting the legislation we need would be more effective & have more long lasting, permanent effect.


    <<If I could propose anything, I would propose something that is easy for someone to do, out of respect for the crushing fatigue we all feel at the end of our shifts, and the families who still need us even though we have nothing left to give, something inexpensive because we don't have the money to donate. The answer isn't to struggle along with few numbers!
    >>>


    Exactly. And every one of the State Nurses Associations already have days throughout the year where they rally at their state capitols. The association does all the work organizing it & getting it together & the members dues pay for stuff like this, but you dont have to be a member or even an RN to attend, participate, & support the issues for nurses & pts.

    All people have to do is find out the day, & show up. Or if they cant get to their state capitol from where they live, they can send emails or phone calls to their legislators on that day telling the staff who we are, what the issues are, & why we need the legislator's support. And they could also make an appointment to see their rep in his local office in their own city soon after that day to keep the ball rolling. It makes an impact. And its inexpenisve enough. The legislators dont charge anything for the visit.

    We have hundreds of thousands of RNs in NY state - but just 34,000 are members of our state association & only 500 showed up for our last state capitol legislative day. But hundreds more filed into their reps local offices in their own towns, sent them letters & phone calls --- & the bills we wrote like the one to ban mandatory ot & the one for safe staffing guidelines got sponsored by many of those legislators, were introduced, & are now in various stages of the legislature for passage into law. Thats also how we got the governor to pass our healthcare whistleblowers protection law this year after he rejected it for 4 yrs in a row. Hes up for re-election & all those RNs are potential votes.


    <<The answer is to look at the NEEDS of nurses and design a protest or action that accommodates our limitations! How about a website? List the names, addresses and email addresses of these legislatures and senators.>>>

    The website ALREADY exists - its the website of the American Nurses Association - and my membership dues help pay for it, but its free for all to use, so Im not about to try reinventing the wheel on that front. The info is there on its GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS page to give enough background for nurses to compose their own letters, cut & paste, or copy sample letters, click onto the link for their representatives email address, etc etc etc.

    Click on the Fact Sheets in each topic under Legislative Activity at: http://nursingworld.org/gova/federal/gfederal.htm
    and the Legislative issues state-wide at: http://nursingworld.org/gova/state.htm

    View the info, then go to www.congress.org to email a legislator.

    Also, on the home page of the ANA website, there is a legislations email alert that nurses can sign up to receive. It will send them automatic emails at the time Congress is considering one of nursings issues. The email will contain info on the issue & a sample letter already composed that the RN can then send off to her representative at the right time or compose her own using the info provided. Congress is already flooded by thousands of these all at once & paid attention. If we all sent one, with just the click of a wrist, we could make it hundreds of thousands.

    Cant get much easier than that. And it doesnt cost non-members a dime.
    Last edit by -jt on Oct 12, '02
  9. by   Youda
    THANK YOU! I have visited the ANA website several times, but didn't click on that link for government.

    I've worked for 28 years in nursing. I can honestly say that I've never been exposed during that time to INFORMATION about nursing issues. What I know now, it's because I searched for it myself. Only this week I discovered that the ANA made contributions to political campaigns. Without Karen posting "What has the ANA done for me lately," I wouldn't have known how active the ANA is.

    I know of no one who is a member of MONA (Missouri Nursing Association). I didn't even hear of a state association until I decided I wanted to join something and did an internet search for nursing organizations.

    How can someone's ignorance be so complete as mine? As thousands of nurses? We go to work, we try to get by, we try to cope, we eat and sleep, then go back to work, we try to get by . . .

    There may not have been any Hedda's on the picket line, but there sure is everywhere else; and I'd guess that's what happened to a lot of the potential participants.

    All day at work I take faxes from doctors off the fax machine . . . along with the faxes alerting management of bills in Congress to fight against. There's a strong anti-nurse network. An information network is sadly lacking for nurses. That's what needs to be changed.

    Time for an ANA membership drive? Download a flyer with membership info and a mail-in or fax form? (Then, xerox it at work at let the facility pay for it? he he he). Encourage every member to get 10 more new memberships? The principle of pyramid schemes could reach every nurse in the nation if this was done.

    We are really close in our thinking. It's so good to "talk" with you! Thank you, again!
    Last edit by Youda on Oct 12, '02
  10. by   -jt
    <How can someone's ignorance be so complete as mine?>

    Because nursing activism & politics is not taught in most nursing schools along with A&P & technical tasks. In NY though, a lot of nursing schools require their students to attend our state nurses association lobby days at the state capitol as a part of their course.

    Nurses CAN

    (Nurses Campaign Activity Night)

    Is happening this year on Oct 29th. The link for it is not working so Im posting an old one to explain what it is.

    http://nursingworld.org/ajn/2000/sep/wawatch.htm

    Contact the state nurses associations for more info. You dont have to be a member to participate. You just have to be a concerned RN.

    PS
    Our dues money is not donated to political campaigns or to support the candidates our associations endorse. Those are separate donations made by nurses to the Political Action Committees specifically for that purpose. It would be nice if our professional association had the clout of all 2.7 millions members of the profession but

    RNs dont have to join a group to make a difference. Once they have the information & are educated on the issues, they just have to take the initiative & make an effort to be heard by the legislative powers that be in their city. They can do that without joining anything & without even ever leaving their seat at the computer. And it doesnt cost a cent.
    Last edit by -jt on Oct 12, '02
  11. by   ceecel.dee
    Originally posted by Youda
    [B
    YES! Education is very important. But, part of that education is not jumping steps in the process. We have to first education nurses about how they SHOULD be treated before we can help them understand how to ACT. It's like the post on another thread about the nurse working through Hurricane Lili and security guards prevented her from leaving the hospital, make them sleep on the floor, refused to feed them or give them water, then also refused to pay them.

    There wasn't anger there until other nurses jumped into the thread. There wasn't information about how these nurses SHOULD have been treated. The concept of hazard pay wasn't even imagined, because they had nothing!

    ---My response:
    ---I have a hard time believing college educated, professional adults didn't know they should be compensated! Is there some individual responsibility involved in how we are treated....in how we can expect to be treated? If your management raises their eyebrows about requests involving basic human decency, you are not doing your job in letting them know what you won't tolerate, they obviously aren't doing their jobs with the correct checks and balances involved, and you are making it okay for them to get away with it by staying!---


    But, routinely we are grateful if we simply get the day off we requested three months ago, because we've been pounded, abused, so much that our expectations are too low.

    ---My response:
    ---You are allowing this, if this is what is happening.---

    We don't compare ourselves with other professions. We don't demand routine time-and-a-have for weekend and holiday pay as EVERY other profession would get: ie; electricians, plumbers, auto mechanics, executives. We think that just because nursing is a 24/7 job, that we don't DESERVE those kinds of benefits.

    ---My response:
    ---Time and a half for overtime and double pay for extra weekends worked are routine in my facility because we feel we do deserve it.---

    ---Let's not sell ourselves short! We are intellegent, assertive people or we couldn't do the jobs we do. Expecting and getting basic decency from administration is your personal responsibility to yourselves. The issues of respect, recognition, more reasonable monetary compensation, increased autonomy, working collaboratively rather than subserviently, etc. are what we need to band together collectivly to show a united front about.

    [/B]
    just my 0.02 --- C
  12. by   -jt
    <<An information network is sadly lacking for nurses. That's what needs to be changed.>>


    I think the problem is nurses not making the effort to get the information that is so readily available. (Look at how much info you found out when you did).

    Right now there is a ton of info on state assoc & ANA websites, especially on their government affairs pages. The ANA free email newsletter can go to any RN who wants it - not just members. And then you have people like NursKaren posting an enormous amount of info & websites like this one. All these websites can be read by anyone.

    More info is in publications like the AJN. If they subscribe, that info comes directly to them at home. Otherwise they have to go to their local hospital's library for it. Either way, RNs have to pick it up & read it.

    Theres info in newsletters, statewide publications, & legislative alerts that are regularly mailed to members of nursing organizations but the majority of RNs dont join any organizations. But there is a lot of information out there.

    The thing is RNs have to take the initiative to go to it , rather than it coming to them. How do you get them to do that?

    It would be great if there could be regular mailings sent to the homes of each of the 2.7 million RNs in this country but who is going to pay for all that paper? We cant ask the ANA members to do it & spend the dues money of their 180,000 RNs on stamps for 2.7 million others who may or may not even be interested.

    My $185/yr can only go so far.
  13. by   Dave Frederick
    Could it be that Nurses don't join professional organization because they have a track record of maintaining the status quo?

    The only professional group that has trully effected nursing are the Nurse managers. They have done a great job in selling nursing short, promoting the use of GED educated individuals to take over nursing functions with on the job training, doing anything to suck up to upper administration for their own benefit including the "do more with less" at the detriment of patient care, mandating over time , and on and on. The very nurses that should role models for advancing Nursing sells us out for status (very litle) and pay.

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