Are we experiencing mass burnout in healthcare? - page 2

This was written in response to a thread where a nurse experienced lateral violence at the hands of her preceptor. I thought it would be an appropriate discussion to start in this area. Thoughts? ... Read More

  1. by   SheaTab
    Quote from inshallamiami
    Unionize, aka the elephant in the room
    Hi Inshallamiami:

    Again, how do you propose such a massive undertaking and what if unionization isn't the panacea for the burnout phenomena? I'm not arguing for or against unions here, I am wondering how unionization will breathe new vitality into our wounded souls? How can we confront burnout in an honest, deliberate, effective, widespread, and meaningful manner? Do you have unions in your area? If so, how have they impacted this particular issue? Thank you very much for your thoughts.
  2. by   VivaLasViejas
    Quote from arelle68
    We are powerless ONLY because we are not united. We think that we can't do anything about any of this because the corporations have all the resources. Nurses have forgotten that we ARE the resource. If nurses would unite, we would have safe ratios, better benefits, higher wages, and less abuse to put up with, and our patients would only benefit.
    Not necessarily.

    I worked in a hospital where the nurses' union was all about the pay and bennies---nothing even remotely connected with sane staffing or ergonomically friendly working conditions. Probably because what passed for 'leadership', both in the union and on the floor, were nurses in their 20s and 30s. They apparently didn't need protection from being forced to push heavy beds around carpeted hallways unassisted, or take more patients than they felt safe caring for. They also didn't seem to wind up with back injuries from lifting and turning 500+ pound patients, or need decent security to back them up when violent patients or visitors threatened their safety (our "security" consisted of an elderly gentleman and a 400-lb. boy wonder named Tiny).

    To say the least, I wasn't a bit impressed with the union, for which we all had nearly $100 deducted from our paycheck every month. Sure, the pay was good and the benefits even better, but when you go to work every day knowing that you're one injury away from winding up in the food stamp line and your union couldn't care less.......well, the "union" can go take a flying leap at a rolling donut.:angryfire
  3. by   mamamerlee
    I agree with so much of what has been said here. I have been fired more than once because I spoke up about inappropriate work loads. Once, when I refused an admission, one of the other nurses got really angry at me. She only heard part of the conversation- I had agreed to work overtime with my current caseload, and would not take an admission. I said if they insisted on giving me an admission, then I would not work the overtime. All she heard was that I would not take an admission. She ranted and railed at me. This was a so-called progressive care unit - not quite ICU, but too sick for the regular floor. Had 12 beds, and traditionally been staffed with 3 RNs, 3 aides. I said over and over we needed 4 RNs. When my chronic complaining finally resulted in 4 RNs being the norm, I had managed to get fired. And none of my peers ever thanked me NOT ONCE for speaking out in meetings, committees, etc.

    The best place I ever worked was a UNIONized hospital. There were STANDARDS set for staffing ratios, mandatory OT, etc,etc. If there were questions, there were people who were not management that you could turn to for answers. Many issues were not merely money - they were pt and staff safety, they were how to handle inappropriate docs or other staff, there were seniority issues. There were fairness issues. I loved working there, and I left only because my spouse finished his schooling and got a job out of state.
    I would love to work in another union house.
  4. by   lindarn
    Quote from meandragonbrett
    we are a necessary evil that the hospital has no choice in having. We are a line on an expense report and that is reflected in the current state of the profession.
    If hospitals have their way, there will not be a nursing profession to have to deal with. They, Nursing Homes. and Asisted Living Facilities, are doing thier best to de skill the nursing profession. And as long as nurses don't bill for their services, OUR professional services will continue to be rolled in with the room rate, housekeeping, and the complimentary roll of toilet paper. Folks, we can do better. We ALL have to join in with the California Nurses Association, and the NNOC, to form a Super National Nurses Union, to take back our profession. JMHO and my NY $0.02.

    Lindarn, RN, BSN, CCRN
    Spokane, Washington
  5. by   inshallamiami
    Well, as a nurse working in Florida ( a "right to work state") I actually WAS involved in the new "unionization" of a hospital. Personally, I felt that this particular union (SEIU) was weaker than I expected, but it was a good first step. At least there was some job protection, that is, they couldn't fire you without a good cause and the union helped "defend" you, you had someone on your side.

    My feeling was it was a start, and that, if we stood together we could bargain for improvement. Of course, there were many nurses philosophically/politically against unions and had no intention of standing together. Many couldn't articulate why they were against them--I suspect a conservative frame of mind disliking unions as "socialism". Anyway, no, they are not a panacea, but individually we have NO power, except to stay or leave.
    I, myself am leaving, I have had to deal with too many nurses crying in the med room. No more.

    Part of me feels totally without hope, so maybe i see unions as a kind of revenge (childish, i know.) Management types absolutely HATE unions, it gave me a chuckle:chuckle to see them freak out.

    But OP I am giving your thread a lot of thought. There HAS to be a way.....
  6. by   inshallamiami
    My husband has an interesting theory, he feels "they" are trying to "destroy" nursing as we know it, so it can be replaced by something (or someone) cheaper, more compliant, more obedient.

    It's almost like, in our quest for professionalism we have become "too big for our britches" and probably too costly too.

    I used to think he was paranoid, now I'm not so sure.......
  7. by   SheaTab
    Quote from inshallamiami
    But OP I am giving your thread a lot of thought. There HAS to be a way.....
    Thank you for your consideration. I believe that if we'd all come to the table and think long and hard about this, we can fix the problem.
  8. by   inshallamiami
    the key word is "all come to the table", management/administration ONLY cares about money
  9. by   coffee4metech
    Yeah I totally agree management and administration only see $$$$$ , and could careless about us "common folk" who work our fingers to the bone and constantly deal with abuse and understaffing !!!
  10. by   SheaTab
    I'm not sure I agree with the statement that all management/admin care about is money. I have met some incredible administrators who care very much about patients and healthcare. As I said before, it is unfortunate that our system is set up the way it is. We are still trying to turn an enormous profit when we have no business doing so. I believe that until we can effectively repair our system such that we stop harming patients, we should reinvest any revenue toward the safety and well-being of our patients. This must include implementing minimum nurse-to-patient ratios and also in addressing through creative means the burnout which is prevalent throughout healthcare. In healthcare, it is estimated that at least 98,000 patients die as a result of mistakes that we make and many believe this is an underestimate today since this statistic was obtained from data in 1984. Consider that in all of our years in Vietnam, the number of soldiers killed and who remain missing in action is around 40,000 less than the number of patients who die at our hands every year. We should all be appalled and desperate for a solution. Millions more acquire infections and sustain non-lethal injuries. I read that a medication error occurs every five minutes in healthcare. Research supports that safe levels of nurse staffing has a positive impact on patient outcomes and failure to rescue and it's time to do what is right for our patients. I am weary of sitting in meetings that seek to "creatively" improve matters with "what we have." I'm sorry, but you can only improve matters so much by moving the location of the printer and supply room. Things will eventually break beyond repair and we will be forced to do the right thing; however, it may take another 50 years, and I would be delighted to see this through to fruition in my lifetime! How about you all?

    Thanks again for your input. I value it tremendously.
    Last edit by SheaTab on Nov 20, '09
  11. by   Riseupandnurse
    Can't for the life of me think why we put up with this. The situation is worse than with the coal miners in the last century. I get so tired of people whining about administration and management. It's us!! We have the numbers, we have the power, if we would only use it and stop just looking out for #1 all the time. Part of the problem is the ANA. Their dues are so high and they are interested in pushing liberal politics and attracting the "right" kind of nurses to the organization; ie., management and academics, not much at all for the bedside nurse. Maybe we need a People's ANA. Or could that be the California Nurses Union?
  12. by   arelle68
    Quote from SheaTab
    My best friend, who happens to be a medical malpractice attorney, said it best when she said that she didn't know if she would personally be willing to stand up for her patients rights if it meant that she would not be able to put food on the table. With that in mind, how would you propose uniting a middle-class profession?
    I couldn't begin to tell you. I don't know if I could unite the nurses at my facility. For one thing, it would have to be done on the sneak. The first problem is just what you mentioned, nurses have to eat, and pay the bills. I would lose my job so fast, it would make my head spin. One nurse or two speaking out, or saying the "U" word, would be fired summarily. The second problem is that trying to unite nurses is like trying to herd cats. Everyone has their own ideas how it should be. It would be a challenge to get nurses to work together. It would be like trying to get Lutherans and Pentecostals together on a Sunday morning. (Not at the ball game.) See how nurses treat each other? Unity would mean that nurses were out for the best interest of other nurses. People would have to put themselves second, and the good of the profession first.
    The problems with unions is that nurses have hired business people to run the unions, and the unions have sold the nurses out to the corporations. I don't know what the solution might be. Let me pray about it a while.
  13. by   coffee4metech
    So its our problem interesting......