Why dont we get respect as LTC nurses?

  1. Hi everyone,
    I am hoping for some input to a questions that has been really burning my butt. I am a new nurse, and recently switched from med-surg at a local hospital (loved the job, hated the 12 hour shifts and the 45 minute commute), to a nursing home in my home town. I have spoken to numerous people about my new job, which I have, by the way, found to be very different but no less challenging than the work I was doing before. I am learning every day, and I truly do enjoy the job. I made the choice to change focus due to the fact that I have small children, 5 and 8, and the opportunity I had was a 7-3 shift, mon-thur. The money was less, but the savings in travel and not having to pay daycare made up for that.
    Soooo, My big problem is, why is it that it truly seems that so very many nurses seem to look down their noses at long term care and geriatric nursing? I have even had one of my fellow graduates, (we both graduated May, passed the boards in June) actually say "I'm so sorry."
    I couldnt believe my ears. And after I picked my jaw up off the floor, all the things I could/should have said came to me. Of course.
    Has anyone else had this experience, or is it just me? And if you have, how do you deal with it? It is bad enough we undervalue and dont respect our elders, but now, I feel as if I have lost respect in the nursing community, (I am generalizing, I know, and I DO know that not every nurse feels this way, please dont feel that I think all nurses feel this way, cuz I do not).
    I have been reading the nursing posts from so many of you on this specialty, and I can see that people who have worked in LTC understand. So sorry, I just needed to vent and get some understanding and hopefully advice from some of you more seasoned LTC geriatric nurses. During my med surg experience I felt more like a waitress than a nurse, it was kind of like 'turn em and burn em', without any time to connect with any patients, you were scrambling so hard just to meet their basic needs. I also realize that as a new nurse, I would have gotten better at the scrambling part, but still, after just two weeks at my new position, I already know almost all my 24 residents names, many of their likes and dislikes and have already been able to forge connections. So back to my question, how do you deal with it when you feel like other specialties look down on us?
    I have also had ER nurses from the local hospital be VERY condesending to me when calling. Just twice, same nurse both times. And in case you are wondering, I am pretty thick skinned, I dont get my panties in a bunch over any little comment.
    Any input would be sooo appreciated.
    Thanks,
    KristyBRNfortruenow
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  2. 104 Comments

  3. by   **nurse**
    Awwwww, honey. Nurses will look down on geriatric/ltc nurses, prison nurses, nurses without husbands, nurses with the wrong purses. Just wait till you have the joy of some EMT trying to make you feel like crap!!!

    It's because MANY (not all) nurses suffer from low self esteem, which is why such a helping occupation appeals to them. But just because they managed to get through a tough course and get a license wasn't enough to erase those low esteem feelings and so they elevate themselves by being "better" than other nurses. Sometimes you can just stay on track with the subject on hand (if it's a professional encounter), sometimes you need a direct confrontation (someone in your personal life or that you work with professionally). Then, there is always asking them to give you thier full name, make note of it and take it to your (or thier) supervisor. All nurses have the potential to do wonderful things in thier career and it's not the specialty, it's what you bring to it. As you grow in professional confidence it may bother you less and those kind of people may try less frequently. I hope that for you, no matter where you go. It sounds like your facility got themselves a great new nurse. Good luck!
  4. by   rjflyn
    Well let me go from the ER nurse prospective. Please dont shoot the messenger.

    We often get patients from LTC that their care often times leaves alot to be desired. Often times we get a patient whos condition does not match the report/paperwork we get from the facility. If we get any paperwork that is. When we call to get more information we get met by staff who have no clue about the patient or their history.

    So you who may have nothing to do with said problems get lumped in to the same boat. Personally I give everyone the benefit of the doubt until you prove otherwise.

    All this I beleive is a symptom of our health system. Personally no nurse should be responsible for that many patients (24) is the number you mention. Of course its like everything else it comes down to money. Just imagine all the healthcare one could buy with the money that we are pouring down the rathole called Iraq.

    Rj
  5. by   suebird3
    i have worked at the same facility for over 7 years, and have done agency at many other places. i will tell things from the ltc side of things.

    i have heard the same thing. i see that the baby boomers are 'getting there', and we will need more ltc nurses. as the average life expectancy is going up, i doubt that many will be cared for at home; especially with technology being what it is.

    yeah, i hear about the little to no paperwork being sent with patients. i have had residents sent to my facility from a 'sister facility', and have had to send the resident out as they are in need of it. i can't send information i don't have. to be honest, this situation doesn't always happen. what really means alot to me is when the resident returns and thanks me for caring.

    in ltc, i figure we need to be 'jacks and jills of all trades' and know something about everything. when in doubt, call the md and describe the situation.

    i am glad to know you enjoy ltc. keep us posted!

    suebird
  6. by   leslie :-D
    i think much of it is the little reverence tributed to our elderly population.
    they are a devalued cluster in u.s. society.
    i will never forget the time a young doctor turned and said to me, "God, everyone is soooo old".
    there you have it.
    compound that with the gen'l misconception of what actual nsg care entails, it doesn't sound very appealing to many.
    but for those people who have always respected and enjoyed the wisdom and character of our seniors, then nsg is merely the icing on the cake.
    it's very rewarding when such highly fulfilling relationships are formed between nurse and resident.
    just continue to do and be your personal best.
    nobody can make you feel inferior w/o your permission.

    leslie
  7. by   suebird3
    I love learning from our Elders also, Earle.
  8. by   lvs2nrs3535
    Thanks so much for the encouragement, I do feel a little better already. RJFlynn, thanks for the perspective from an ER nurse. That is honestly my goal and ambition, my short amount of clinical time in the ER was wonderful and I loved it. In the meantime I have so much to learn, and since I am in the first 3 weeks of my career in LTC, I am going to focus on this and give it my best. I have been glued to the computer reading posts about geriatric and LTC nursing, and have already gained some perspective as to the differences we face in our practice. I will keep on reading and keep asking questions, Thanks SO much!! It helps to know that answers and encouragement are just a click away. I love this website!
    Now if I can just figure out how to change my login name, (since I am no longer RN2B), I will be a happy little camper.

    Thanks again
    KristyBRN
  9. by   lvs2nrs3535
    Hi, does anyone know how to get your PM's? I went to the tutorial on the website but it looks like you need sound, and my speakers are still packed after our move to a new house. sorry to be a pain.
    Thanks
  10. by   suebird3
    Upper right hand corner.....above the yellow bar that has User CP, FAQ, etc. Shows 'Private Messages'....click there.
  11. by   lvs2nrs3535
    Found it, thanks so much!
  12. by   subee
    Quote from KristyBRN2B
    Found it, thanks so much!
    It would be a nicer country if we respected our elders more - but that's our loss. I never thought more or less of LTC until my mother got admitted to a LTC and then I really gave the big picture some thought. Just to keep a patient ambulating, if only to the bathroom, is a really big deal and you multiply that thousands of times a day. Then you start to see how valuable this work is to all of us since it saves us lots of bucks and means so much for the patients.
  13. by   VivaLasViejas
    I hear you! It's even worse in assisted living..........hospital nurses and EMTs sometimes think I'm dumber than a whole BOX of rocks, until I prove that I know my "stuff" as well as my residents by producing a complete and current set of vitals as well as all the proper paperwork, and giving a thorough verbal report. Well, I don't hold certification as a Medical/Surgical nurse for nothing, but even if I didn't have that experience, I'd still demand respect because all nurses deserve it, no matter what kind of work they do. It's simply a myth that nurses go into LTC because they can't hack it in acute care; some do, of course, but there are many of us who enjoy the long-term relationships we have with our residents and co-workers, the feeling of being part of a big family, and the knowledge that we actually DO make a difference in these peoples' lives.

    Hold your head up and don't let anyone make you feel inferior---you are no less of a nurse because you chose to work in long-term care! Be proud of what you do, and the respect WILL come.
  14. by   TheCommuter
    I am a LTC nurse and possess a profound fondness for my career. Prestige is not significant to me, so I am not too concerned that nurses and others in the medical community think so poorly of LTC. Hospital nurses, doctors, paramedics, EMTs, and others have referred to LTC nurses as 'attendants' and 'sitters' when these derogatory labels are uncalled for.

    The lack of LTC respect is related to the devaluation of the elderly in America. When emergency departments receive elderly patients I've heard them state, "Get this G.O.M.E.R. out of my ER!" It seems that the elderly aren't worth our precious time. Today's new nurses want to watch life enter this world via working in L&D, yet few newbies want to be there for the end of an elderly person's life.

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