Do nurses have a voice?

  1. Or are nurses bullied, harassed, frightened, or coerced into silence from discussing nursing issues?

    If we report conditions as we see them, are we still risking our licenses?

    If we lodge complaints and nothing is done, is there a remedy (besides "voting with our feet")?

    Do you feel that nursing, as a profession, really has a voice, that we are able to effectively get action regarding our profession's issues?
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  2. 19 Comments

  3. by   askater11
    Nurses have voices.

    We must stand in unity for something to get done.

    The nursing shortage is in the news. (occasionally) This is the time to use our voices. I've read many articles regarding nursing medical errors.

    This is the time to use our voices. Tell our congressman, administrators, newspapers and etc.

    The conditions must change. And we need to do it for the patients. And our families.

    I work with nurses that work overtime. They don't write for overtime, because they don't feel they "deserve it" or will get "in trouble" When I acted in charge one evening...I said write for your overtime. 3 nurses were working overtime....(one being me) Of the 3 nurses I was the only nurse that wrote for overtime.

    Another thing when I'm "acting supervisor" and we don't have enough staff per patient...I ask to redirect patients or get us more staff. It has always worked for me, but my fellow staff frown at me. The say, "You're going to get in trouble.....XXX, our floor manager, said even if we don't have enough staff we have to accept patients." (she does push for that)
  4. by   spineCNOR
    Sleepyeyes,

    You have pointed out what is , in my opinion, the biggest problem we have in nursing-that nurses do not have a strong voice in the workplace.

    Why?? I am not expert on the issue, but I think it is from a combination of factors. In the hospital where I work, bedside nurses are not respected, by the hospital and nursing administration, or by other professionals, doctors in particular. Unless nursing is perceived as essential to patient care and to the hospital's bottom line, no one in a position of authority is inclined to listen to nurses.

    Another factor is fear-many nurses are afraid to speak up for themselves or their patients becuase of fear of retribution from management. This is not just fear of being fired, but fear of getting more difficult assignments, not getting requested vacation days, etc.

    Nurses make up the largest number of healthcare providers in this country--it is in the best interest of hospital administrators to keep nurses on the bottom of the hospitals "food chain". Look at the HUGE salary and benefit packages that CEO's of healthcare companies get-G_d forbid that they should have to give up money to hire more nurses, pay better benefits, or improve working conditions!

    If we would all stick together to support each other and advocate for our patients we would be incredibly powerful--until the day comes when we do just that we will continue to be treated poorly by hospitals.
  5. by   adrienurse
    As far as I'm concerned, we have one here. As for politically, more nurses (energetic nurses) need to lobby for change. Without this, we are unlikely to see change.
  6. by   Youda
    Do nurses have a voice?

    Individually, NO!

    Collectively, YES!

    Get involved in the "activism and politics" on a state and national level. That's the ONLY solution.
  7. by   JailRN
    I will get my reward in Heaven.
    I will get my reward in Heaven.
    I will get my reward in Heaven.
    I will get my reward in Heaven.
  8. by   Youda
    Originally posted by JailRN
    I will get my reward in Heaven.
    I will get my reward in Heaven.
    I will get my reward in Heaven.
    I will get my reward in Heaven.
    :kiss Heck, you'll probably be assigned to watch over some nurse with too many patients to take care of!
  9. by   Nurse Ratched
    In another post I referenced the nurse who had been intentionally injured by a patient in his right mind. She has had 2 surgeries and still isn't 100%. When the incident first happened, she told the manager she intended to press charges and was informed that the facility "discouraged" that. So she didn't. She has been a nurse forever but hasn't figured out that SHE is the only person who can be counted on to look out for her own best interest. And the attitude by mgt that it's ok to abuse nurses is perpetuated - don't talk about it - just take it, whether it's physical or verbal abuse, or just plain overwork and unsafe staffing conditions.

    So we all have a voice. Whether or not we choose to use it is up to us individually. We are all role models to our fellow nurses, and to students coming behind us. I believe in the snowball effect of one nurse inspiring others, who then go out and encourage still more, but sometimes with the pace of it, it seems more like the glacier effect!
  10. by   fergus51
    YES!! Nurses here are very vocal, especially around contract time.
  11. by   live4today
    right on, nurse ratched! preach it sister!!! :hatparty:

    i......have never felt like i did not have a voice when working as a nurse! one of my nursing instructors put that fear to rest during my second clinical rotation in college. ever since that point in time......i have always exercised my voice......loud and clear....with much assertiveness......not needing another voice to speak for me.

    nurses talk a good game......but when it comes down to sticking up for what we believe should or should not occur in the nursing field.......silence like a lamb can be heard in the staff meetings called for us to voice our very important complaints. ya'll know that i am right on this one......i've been in too many staff meetings where i could hear a pin drop. nurses are constantly complaining outside the staff meeting.......and as soon as the staff meeting comes to order.....and the nm ask......any complaints??????.........a solemn hush-code is in effect in that meeting. :chuckle
    Last edit by live4today on Sep 15, '02
  12. by   kmchugh
    Originally posted by cheerfuldoer:
    "Nurses talk a good game......but when it comes down to sticking up for what we believe should or should not occur in the nursing field.......SILENCE like a lamb can be heard in the staff meetings called for us to voice our very important complaints."

    Exactly right, Renee. Everyone consider. How many times have we heard a nurse complain about this or that, only to do their best clam imitation when there is an opportunity to constructively register their complaint with management? It happens all the time.

    I firmly believe that if nursing ever got its act together, and nurses banded together as one, unified PROFESSION, the changes needed in health care would come fast and furiously. For example, consider what happens now when a nurse is mistreated by a physician (in most places). IF the nurse complains, and IF the complaint is forwarded, and IF the complaint is acted on, the offending physician is asked in no uncertain terms could he (and I admit, it's nearly always a he) please be a little nicer when he is treating nurses like excrement. But, what would it be like if nurses banded together, and demanded action against the offending doc. As a group, nurses could find themselves in the position of seeing multiple offenders having their priviliges at the hospital suspended, and even terminated. Now, wouldn't that be something. Docs forced by nurses to act like grown up professionals, and expected to treat nurses the same way!

    I have had all kinds of theories in the past as to why we can't seem to accomplish this, but in the end, the answer is I really don't know. Between the back stabbing, the worry that "if I rock the boat, they'll fire me, and I'll never work as a nurse again" and what have you, nurses as a whole can never seem to get their act together. Even the ANA reminds me of a roomful of economists: Lay em end to end, and they'll still point in every direction (Harry Truman).

    Kevin McHugh
  13. by   Sleepyeyes
    Originally posted by kmchugh
    Originally posted by cheerfuldoer:
    "Nurses talk a good game......but when it comes down to sticking up for what we believe should or should not occur in the nursing field.......SILENCE like a lamb can be heard in the staff meetings called for us to voice our very important complaints."

    Exactly right, Renee. Everyone consider. How many times have we heard a nurse complain about this or that, only to do their best clam imitation when there is an opportunity to constructively register their complaint with management? It happens all the time.


    Kevin McHugh
    JMO, but I think it's more than "divide and conquer." I think it's more like "blame the victim." Because nurses are victims of the systems we belong to, as much as housewives were before workplace equality laws began to have teeth.

    In almost every scenario, the nurse who vocalizes concerns, in or out of the workplace, about the workplace, is opening herself up to retaliation from mgmt, the BON, lawyers, you name it. We don't wanna take the risk that we'll be targeted if we do speak up about specific problems.

    Which as I see it means, we don't really have a voice.

    --if I'm wrong, I'd truly welcome the enlightenment.
  14. by   Youda
    Recently, I was cornered in a med room with an angry male co-worker, another nurse. The man has about 12 inches up and about 70 pounds bigger than me. No contest here physically. And since he blocked the door, I could not just walk away. I could only back up about 4 feet, still well within striking range.

    He began with loud shouting and ended with some threatening body language. I kept my voice soft when I spoke at all. "I understand you're upset . . .blah blah blah."

    I filed a grievance against this coworker for disrespectful and unprofessional conduct. I later found out that there had been other "incidents" with this male nurse by other female nurses, but he continues to work there, and apparently doesn't pay much of a price for his behavior.

    I have no idea if he was disciplined as a result of my grievance. However, ***I*** was disciplined, because the NM believed that since I was there, I must be responsible and as guilty as the male coworker. I got a long lecture about professionalism when I hadn't done anything wrong. I was also written up for 3 other very minor infractions. In other words, I made some waves by speaking up.

    I'm not one to keep silent when I feel strongly about something or when something is wrong. But, it's real easy to talk about speaking up here, and give each other support and encouragement. It would be VERY nice to believe that by my grievance I would give others the courage to do likewise. Yet, somehow I don't think that's what's gonna happen. Other nurses will see that *I* got a write-up for speaking up.

    I have given you ONE time when I have spoken up. Some of the others are more heinous, but they have mostly all ended up with me finding another job. Sorry to be so pessimistic here. But, that's been my experience. I fully agree with SleepyEyes. If we don't get together, we're gonna have to put up with these kinds of things from here on out.

    Joan of Arc was burned.
    Norma Rae lost her job.

    Do we have a voice?
    Individually, NO!
    Collectively, YES!
    Last edit by Youda on Sep 15, '02

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