Since participation here seems a bit sluggish I will go ahead and employ a technique that has become popular in contemporary journalism; i.e. I will first ask myself a question, then volunteer to answer it.
So, req_read, you have stated that we are all connected. If that is true, what might be some examples of the practical consequences of such a realization… here in the real world I mean?
Well Michael, since you ask… it means, in a very real way, that all humans are one. True, we are also each unique… and that is the great paradox. It is a profound spiritual truth. We are both unique and one simultaneously.
You can see this paradox in operation when you observe people going through their personal dying process; i.e. they review their life and feel (whether in a dreaming, wakeful or “hallucinatory” state is irrelevant) what they have caused others to feel. The fact that the dying actually feel what they have caused others to feel suggests some sort of direct connection to others, and this connection is corroborated by some of history’s greatest spiritual teachers, and now, by modern-day physicists. One might argue this point, but to do so would necessitate arguing against the likes of both Jesus and Einstein. So if you propose to undertake that task you had better be a clever fellow.
But req_read, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. What, for example, does this have to do with the nursing shortage?
Actually Michael, the fact that we are both unique and one has enormous impact on the nursing shortage.
First you have to understand that the 2 (paradoxical) aspects of self are often at odds. The part that is unique strives to revel in its unique-ness… to accentuate it. This is the urge to “individuate.” The individual “me” basically wants just 2 things; 1- to be ‘better than’ (better than all other individuals) and 2- to be in control. As it turns out, the object of both these urges is quite impossible to achieve.
Why is it impossible req_read?
Well Michael, we are one. The self cannot be ‘better than’ its own self. The self IS the self.
As for control, we are part of what physicists call “unified consciousness.” This is a concept that fits hand-in-glove with the concept of God. Physicists say that all things are made up of energy. Energy is there, cannot be created or destroyed, but it can change its form. Enlightened spiritual leaders would say the same of God. So we are really talking about the same concept here. The universe according to physicists is dominated by principles of cause & effect. In other words, it is created, not controlled. Enlightened spiritual teachers say the same of God; i.e. that God is a creator, not a controller.
Yet humans are driven by the urge to control and to feel ‘better than.’ This manifests as addiction.
But req_read, what does this have to do with the nursing shortage.
Keep your shorts on Michael, I’m getting there.
Addiction, among humans, is endemic. The degree varies considerably from person to person, but it is very nearly universal. However, many addictions are not recognized as addictions at all. In fact, some addicts are looked up to, admired, envied even. Take workaholics for example.
The majority of physicians are workaholics. Like all addicts they are driven by the 2 core causes of all addiction; i.e. 1- the urge to prove themselves ‘better than,’ and 2- the urge to be in control. Their preferred technique for attempting to achieve these 2 unachievable goals are to memorize vast quantities of data; e.g. countless diagnostic tests, signs & symptoms of diseases and a mind-boggling array of algorhythms. Doctors like to think they are intellectual. Actually they are not. To be a doctor one must have a very good memory. Doctors memorize enormous quantities of data, but if memorizing stuff makes one ‘intellectual’ my little ol’ computer is a freaking genius. However, there is a great deal of difference between having a good memory and being able to think. Did you ever have lunch with a doctor? I don’t recommend it… unless of course you enjoy being bored to tears. Most doctors could memorize their way through a maze, but could not think their way out of a phone booth.
But req_read, what does this have to do with nurses?
Well Michael, the profession of nursing has been constructed, from the very beginning, beneath (as-it-were) doctors. It is an hierarchal association. Doctors want to feel ‘better than’ others, so arranged to have someone handy to feel ‘better than’; i.e. nurses. The type of person who has traditionally been attracted to nursing was one who nurtured her/his self-esteem by ‘caring’ for others. These people were willing to put up with being looked down upon by doctors in order to avail themselves of the opportunity to ‘care’ for patients. They derive a great deal of satisfaction from ‘caring’ for others and will absorb a tremendous amount of emotional abuse in order to do so.
So req_read, GET TO THE POINT! Why do we have a shortage of nurses now? Have nurses lost their psychological need to care for others?
No Michael, they have not… quite the contrary. It’s just that in today’s bottom-line, profit-oriented business climate, nurses simply do not have time to ‘care.’ Obsessive pursuit of the almighty dollar by agency CEO’s keeps patient census high and staff low. The financial system as currently conceived and practiced dictates that the less service agencies provide, the more money they make. CEO’s are a different breed than nurses… they don’t ‘care’… they make money.
So nurses are denied the one thing they crave; i.e. the opportunity to ‘care.’ So they quit. Which feeds directly into the downward spiral of the shortage / overwork / I’m-getting-outa-here mindset. Actually, there is no nursing shortage. There are tons of nurses out there… they just refuse to work in an environment where they are denied the one thing they crave… the opportunity to ‘care.’
What about the nurses who get out of nursing by going into management and administrative positions req_read?
Well Michael, some nurses reach the conclusion that doctor’s preferred drugs of choice (control, ‘better than’ status and workaholism) are superior to the nurse’s preferred drug of choice, (caring for others) so they switch.
One of the hallmarks of addiction is that when one’s drug of choice no longer seems to be working the first thing the addict tries is to get a different one. George Bush for example began to realize that beer had some definite drawbacks, so he switched to religion. He thought he had solved his problem. Actually, all he did was change his drug of choice. He thinks he was cured, but his thinking patterns are just the same as they were before, (addictive thinking) he just has a different drug of choice is all. Actually, we would probably all be better off if he went back to beer. At least then he would know he still has a problem.
But I digress.
Nurses who conclude that ‘caring,’ for whatever reason, no longer seems to be floating their boat look around and see doctors. Doctors have things like status, respect and money. That looks like fun! So nurses go back to school, get more degrees and start memorizing stuff hand-over-fist. By-n-by they get their degrees and then look down upon their one-time peers; i.e. working nurses (still stuck in ‘caring’.) Now that they are ‘in control’ (not really… but think they are) they advise (demand) that working nurses memorize more stuff. Forget about all that caring junk. The secret to success is memorization.
And sure enough, it works. Those who memorize minutiae get the degrees, the good jobs, the BIG money… and if one of their underlings happens to come up with a good idea they write about it in their scholarly journals and claim the credit. The downward spiral is perpetuated. The doctors work themselves to a frazzle, (while neglecting their families) make tons of money and are happy as pigs in slop. Hospice CEO’s get richer and working nurses keep quitting. It is all perfectly logical.
And that, my dear Michael, is a practical example of what can be learned by hanging out with dying people, then applying that knowledge to your current situation.
So req_read, what’s the solution to the current nursing shortage situation?
Ah-h-h-h-h… good question Michael. The short version of my answer to that is, “I don’t know.” However, I would add that the chances of coming up with a solution to a problem, any problem, are greatly enhanced if one is at least aware that the problem exists. Additionally, the more thoroughly and accurately nurses understand the precise nature of the brine in which they are currently being pickled, the more likely (God bless ‘em) they will figure a way out.