Reading these threads and evaluating my OTJ frustrations, I wonder what we really think we deserve. Quantitatively the big issues seem to be pay, patient load and hours worked every week. Qualitatively patient acuity and respect seem to be the big intangible frustrations.
Qualitatively I require enough free time to unwind from work _and_ have some fun as just a plain old human. I don't think I am super-nurse, but to clock in and really throw myself into doing the best job I can, there has got to be some time for me to relax. Mandatory overtime ain't it.
On the respect issue I think we really need to put out own house in order before we look to outside sources for support. There is no reason for anyone in the general public to have any more respect for us than we have for each other. Read some of the random invective on this site, imagine we were all plumbers, and try to imagine hiring one of the posters here to fix the pipes in your basement. While we are failing to respect nurses, no one else is going to respect nurses.
I thought my pay as a new grad was pretty good until my student loans came out of deferment. I held on for six desperate months for my first annual review (hahahaha), and had to leave the field for a little while to go make some money. With five years in the field I think I am worth about double what I am making now. That is assuming I don't go into a higher tax bracket because of the big raise. The warm fuzzies I get from helping other people make up for some of the difference; but at the end of the day all the warm fuzzies from helping other people and all the respect I get from participating in an honorable profession don't pay the phone bill.
I can't imagine anything happening in the US that is going to change rising acuity. The only way I see that we could actually do that would be to demolish the entire healthcare system, and rebuild from the ground up as a social rather than capitalist system.
I am not holding my breath for that one. Americans don't want to lead healthy lifestyles. They want to eat greasy food, drink too much beer, smoke cigarettes, and then be "fixed" during a ten minute appointment with an MD as an outpatient so they can go out and drink more beer, eat more greasy food and smoke more cigarettes while complaining the MD was ten minutes late for the appointment. What is a caring sharing underpaid professional to do?
The only solution I see, the only solution the system in place can provide is money. The big money invested in healthcare is capital invested with the reasonable expectation of financial return on the investment. In a nutshell, that is the state of healthcare in the US. When the root is evil, it does not matter how good the grafts are, the vine will be afflicted.
I am oficially infected. I don't expect less acute patients, I've given up on getting respect from the public, nursing hours are always going to suck. Pay me what I am worth or have your colonoscopy with no sedation.
I really hate having come to this place, but my ideals have met the real world and the real world won. It was no contest. If someone knows of a profession where I can have more responsibility while getting less respect and make even less money, I would like to know what it is.
How much do you think you are worth, what would it take on your paycheck for you to go back to work tommorrow doing the same job you did today, only going going in glad to be there? As a percent I mean, 50% raise in takehome, double? Half the patients you had today and 50%? Keep it general like that please, the cost of living does vary dramatically in places. How long have you been in practice?
Feb 19, '01
Scott-o your post is awesome. I laughed out loud about being "infected"--with the desire for better pay???!!! True, warm fuzzies don't pay the bills. I don't see ANYTHING wrong with wanting more cash for our efforts. In fact, first, I want more CONTROL of my working environment. If I need more help, I don't have to wish for it, it is granted. My rooms would be stocked appropriately, systems problems would be eliminated in a timely manner. In essence, staff nurses would run the whole thing. Who knows better how to get the job done right anyway? In addition, I want financial security in my retirement. I want to know that after making tons of cash for hospitals and helping others in their time of need, I will be assured the BEST health care available in my old age..As a tangible way of saying, "THANKS NURSE SMO...You were there for me now we'd like to be there for you...cuz you're worth it!.". Wouldn't that be great? It is really great letting that out. Thanks Scott for asking...
Feb 19, '01
Great posting Scott!I was getting scared it was just me!What I find more unbelievable is that I am Canadian,and although our health care system is not profit based we have the exact same problem!I am so frustrated and disheartened more so by my cooworkers than the system.A system is a system and one person can make a difference but at what cost?I decided to become involved in our union and focus on strengthening our membership(700 nurses in our hospital)through education.I truly felt a body that is educated and aware of the issues could stick together and advance up the food chain.What did I get?Migraines!Lots of interest and demands but no back up when it was needed.You must have encountered that?Going to bat for a group and then when you turn around and say "right guys?"....their heads are buried in their laps?!So,I quit the union.Then,we started a "staff appreciation"committee which consisted of recognizing birthdays,babies,a tough shift,etc.Harmless right?We were attacked by the cooworkers and there were so many "yangers"it's been squashed.I totally agree that the respect MUST start within ourselves as a profession and that's just not going to happen!Nurses are still going to skip meals to chart,over compensate and resist change no matter how good or bad it may be.I am perplexed as to why improving your worklife is a bad thing.I get frustrated at the paramedic ,firefighters,Dr's etc.specials on TV and we are still regarded as bedpan specialists!What happens to these people after they"saved them?!"I think besides somehow breaking through to each other,the government has to address this nursing shortage.Besides incentives, a massive PR campaign must occur.I know through desperation to maintain sanity,I focus on my patient soley.I avoid charge($5.00/shiftLOL!) and staffing issues altogether.It's helping,but unfortunately I am going to school part time with a goal to GET OUT!Underpayed,Underappreciated and OVERWHELMED!Thanks again Scott for having the courage to say what alot think.I just wish nurses were as proactive as reactive.
Feb 20, '01
I want 20 bucks an hour! I'm an ER nurse with 4yrs experience and new grads 70miles away are making at 18.50 an hour. So I deserve 20 bucks. I'm only making 16.70.
I'm fairly content with my benefits, although I've had better. I love my job and my cooworkers, and my house so I'm not moving any time soon.
Feb 20, '01
We are all worth what someone (the market) is willing to pay for us. The key is to get the market to want to pay us more. Respect for nurses and recognition of our professional value will lead to larger rewards.
Feb 20, '01
I am starting to think most nurses are total morons. All you hear out of my clinical leader's mouth is how lousy nursing admin. is; how we aren't supported; how we're understaffed....on and on....but, look at what goes on on the floor. She doesn't support the nurses either; if you need help, she won't help you and she made a nasty remark to me the other night that just ruined my entire shift. I am getting fed up; ever since I've worked there, I've pitched in and helped anyone but when I need help; I don't get it. I'm finally getting the idea and I'm going to stop being a patsy. I'm there for my kids, to make their living, and if they don't like me then they know what they can do.
Feb 20, '01
My biggest problem with nursing is stagnation of your salary.
I started nursing in 1984 at $12.00 per hour. I thought this was a fair wage - it seemed midline between what my nursing and non-nursing bachelor degree friends made.
Now in 2001, I make $19.00 per hour. 17 years of experience is worth little more than inflationary increases. My non-nursing bachelor degree friends have doubled or tripled my current salary.
So, my expectation would be to have experience recognized and rewarded. How many excecutive director/CEOs would take this - they demand adequate compensation for the ?work they do.
50% raise would be ideal. 35% would be minimal.
Thanks for the interesting topic.
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