Apathy in nurses and students

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    I've always been a very involved person; admittedly I am a little biased on this subject. But I have noticed, both through my experiences working as a CNA, EMT and ER tech and as a student RN, that nurses can be very apathetic when it comes to anything outside the requirements of their 12-hour (or whatever) shift. I hear day-in and day-out the complaints from co-workers about the injustice of the system(s), without a single offer to really do anything about it. In America, there are roughly 3 million nurses. Only about 175,000 are members of the American Nurses Association. That is about 5.8% of nurses who care enough to give money annually to their professional organization. And how many of those are even involved? I understand that there are other professional nursing organizations, but I'm willing to bet you see similar rates regardless. At my own school, of my class of 50 students fewer than 4-5 ever participate regularly in the NSNA chapter and it's almost impossible to get anyone to do anything not required for a grade.

    I'm venting about this massive apathy because I need help. I need some ideas on how to address this. I know you can't get everyone involved, but the numbers need to be higher. I'm looking at increasing, in particular, participation in my school's NSNA chapter and need ideas. Thanks! And also, discussion on this topic is appreciated as well.
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    The majority of RNs in the U.S. are educated at the associates degree level, and a significant number of nurses are LPNs/LVNs. As long as the ANA continues to alienate these two massive segments of the nursing workforce, the ANA is going to continue to have relatively low membership numbers. This organization should be doing more to promote unity instead of separation and division of labor.

    Always remember that united we stand and divided we fall.
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    Sounds like you have a really great support system that affords you the time to do outside activities. Good for you and consider yourself blessed.
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    Quote from herasheis
    Sounds like you have a really great support system that affords you the time to do outside activities. Good for you and consider yourself blessed.
    I have no support. My parents are divorced and well below the poverty line. I work 3 jobs for a total of ~ 52 hours/week. That doesn't include volunteer time. I sleep an average of 4 hours a night right now. I choose to do outside activities because I feel it is important. I don't have kids, though, so maybe it balances out.
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    Quote from TheCommuter
    The majority of RNs in the U.S. are educated at the associates degree level, and a significant number of nurses are LPNs/LVNs. As long as the ANA continues to alienate these two massive segments of the nursing workforce, the ANA is going to continue to have relatively low membership numbers. This organization should be doing more to promote unity instead of separation and division of labor.

    Always remember that united we stand and divided we fall.
    I'm new to this arena, so please help me understand. Is the ANA an organization for only RNs? It seems to me like LPN/LVNs and RNs are splitting off into two separate disciplines, but that's mostly an uneducated, outsider observation. I know the ANA is really pushing for RNs to get a higher education, mostly because studies are showing that it lends to better patient outcomes from what I've read. And the Institute of Medicine report shows that as of 2008, distribution of RNs that are educated at the level of BSN or higher and those who are ADN/Diploma RNs is 50/50 (36.8% BSN, 13.2% MSN or higher); so "most" are not ADNs as it was in the past, but almost an equal distribution. Also, for the record, that 3 million nurses number was RNs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2,655,020 RNs working in May 2010 (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291111.htm#%281%29). Anyway, I do agree with you that we should all be united, even from CNAs all the way up. Personally I think CNAs and LPN/LVNs (and I'm not equating the two, simply stating they are both as important as RNs and APRNs) are seriously under-represented.

    But, the focus of this topic is: what are some things I can do to get my fellow students and co-workers to be more engaged?
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    I think it is important to be a member of a professional organization. However, I think the low enrollment stems from the “what is the organization going to do for me” mentality. You are asking for a yearly fee to join the organization. Generally, people want to see something tangible for their investment. I read the subscriptions that come in the mail as it helps me to stay abreast upon current research. However, others don’t see the value in the same way as I do.
    So, the question is how you can increase the number of participants in your school’s organization. Simple, illustrate how it will personally benefit them. To say, “you will have a voice in some of the campus decisions” will not be enough. Do some research on the topic. For example, do those who join school nursing organizations secure more desirable employment and at a quicker rate than those who don’t? Are nurses who are members of ANA chosen for promotions over those who are not members?
    You will have to show something tangible to pursue people to join. When my school promoted the school organization, the only marketing tactic used was the fact that our input would be taken into consideration while developing policies and procedures. If my vote doesn’t hold an equal amount of weight, what is the point of joining?
    freki likes this.
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    I agree that you have to bring value to get students involved. I am going to be applying to schools that are at least an hour commute although I'm also looking at public transit options that would take me 2 hours each way (but would give me study time). I'm hoping to be involved in my school but my time will be limited.

    In this economy, you might want to focus on things that might help with getting a job. Resume workshops, networking with local hospitals and nurses, etc.
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    Thanks for your input, Parker. The rate of nurses who receive promotions that are active in their professional organizations is a statistic I hadn't thought to pull. Perhaps pay differences too? I'll go look at that.

    I agree with your take on the value. I personally enjoy being part of professional organizations and learning...I'm a bit of a nerd that way. But it seems that for most, the educational and networking opportunities aren't a big draw.

    Our school does push the whole "jobs are harder to find" bit a lot, but it hasn't seemed to help. I also wonder if our marketing is lacking a bit. Ideas for promotion as well?
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    This will likely not be the constructive answer you're looking for, but you could use me as an example of the people that frustrate you. First, I commend you for your enthusiasm for what you clearly think is a very important topic (and maybe I should as well, but I'll tell you why I don't).
    I am a second career student in my third semester of an ADN program. I work full-time and I have three kids at home. I'm in my late 30s, and the school environment is no longer where my interests lie, nor am I willing to take time away from my family for almost anything these days. While the nursing organizations may have a lot to offer me, I feel about them the same way I feel about politics- i just don't have the time or energy to bother getting involved. As far as the working world, I've been in a corporate environment for the past 12 years, and the politics and crap that fly around are endless. Do I have a voice? Maybe. Do I feel that involving myself will get me anything other than a headache and frustration? Nope. So, at the end of the day I turn out the lights and go home. I work hard at my job (although not nearly as hard as I will in nursing), and I take pride in doing my job well. I hope that when I get into the working nursing environment that I will be able to continue to do my job well and be proud of myself. Everything else, while maybe not beyond my control, is beyond my scope of interest for expending time and energy.
    I wish you good luck, but I'm one student that you just wouldn't be able to reach, and I would imagine I'm not the only one.
    Aurora77 and Despareux like this.
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    Thank you for your input, JBMommy. I don't think your comment is without warrant. It amazes me that people can even stay sane and alive in circumstances such as yours, and I highly respect that. I mentioned in my previous post that while I am busy, I don't have kids (or a wife, for that matter). I think that does make it much easier to be available to do things like volunteer. We have individuals in our program in a similar circumstance; it's certainly rough. My question to those individuals is: what will your involvement be once you graduate? What are your motivations for going into nursing? My experience is that it boils down to money in most cases. I'm not trying to speak for your situation; I know many excellent nurses just like you. However, if I come into the ED or need an ICU, the last nurse I want taking care of me is the one that is there just for the paycheck. If you had to take your ill child in, I dare to say you would feel similarly.

    It's not the nurses that are passionate about what they do but just don't have time to be active due to family or whatever else they have going on that frustrate me. It's the ones that, whether busy or if they have all the time in the world, show a total apathy for the profession. It's an attitude, not a circumstance, that bothers me.

    Anyway, I feel like this thread keeps getting detoured into why people don't want to participate. It's valid for consideration, but I'm looking for ideas to get people involved. So, instead of why you don't/can't/won't, how about ideas for what would change your mind? For some, there is nothing. The rest of you...let's hear it!


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