A new book is coming out which details the history of the California Nurses Association. Just a union...of nurses
This book is now available on Amazon
. It details how and why the California bedside nurses managed to get staffing ratio laws, and how we can do it all around the country.
It is readily apparent the industry will not do it (provide truly safe staffing levels) unless there are fines for not doing it. Don't worry, they'll still make tons of money, and no, hospitals won't close because of this.
Dr. Laura Gasparis Vonfrolio (well known nurse activist and clinical expert ER nurse) has called this book the one book every RN in the U.S. needs to read.
We are not powerless
Apr 1, '13
by John Silver
It is unfortunate that each state has its own challenges, but it does take some great grass roots organization and coming together to collaborate for the safety of our patients.[/QUOTE]
Yes, it does take grass roots organization. That is what this book really talks about. How to do this.
We are nurses and are not necessarily educated in how to achieve political victories. The model examined in this book presents a way to organize and become politically effective.
Not sure what state you are in, but good luck with the ratios.
I would also argue that our political "foes" are very strong and politically well connected. That requires a special effort in achieving political results. Opposing the AHA and/or the AMA is daunting. SO, it is not really a level playing field and it requires special tactics to get success.
So in that sense, powerlessness is not necessairly an internal thing so much as it's a structural thing. I do not feel powerless as a person, but we are politially powerless in many cases as nurses.
Last edit by John Silver on Apr 1, '13
: Reason: addition
I was educated on becoming a part of the political process in my PN and my BSN program. I was involved in NAPNES as a LPN. There is a heavily influential Nurse-Dr union that works with the state nurses association that has full support of the ratios.
In my years in healthcare as a nurse, If I was not working in LTC, unsafe staffing was NOT the norm, nor is it now. I work in CC now; usually 2:1 ratio or 1:1 ratio.
When I worked in Rehab, 5:1, 4:1 with one T/V patient; on nights 6:1. Only one time I recall having to split the floor because there was a turnover problem, two people quit, under suspicion of abandonment and neglect, and one was fired. The nursing supervisor rounded two hours with us, and passed meds...it had to be done.
My previous job had a set ratio, 3:1 for LPNs, 6:1 for RNs at a pediatric extended day center. If there were not enough RNs due to turnover (over salary) supervisors took a full assignment, even the head administrator would split an assignment with an LPN.
When speaking about activism, feelings of powerlessness, we also have to have an honest conversation about that time...about the year 2000, where in my area, corporations were taking over hospitals, closing them down or consolidating and building health systems seeing the dollar signs in healthcare on one side, and the many students who changed their major to nursing because "Nursing is where the money is at". There are people who do not think that nursing is a "profession" or value the investment that we do for our clients health, or have another ulterior motive when coming into this profession, to say "I didn't sign up for this, but I'm trapped." A lot of these people are on the side of powerlessness. There are a finite number who do not fall in that category. I know 2:200 nurses that I do know that feel powerless-only two, who ADAMANTLY do not want to get involved in nursing associations, attending meeting at our state Capitol, and believe "it's a waste of time"; yet they feel powerless. I truly believe in a systems theory; if intrinsically powerlessness is ruling you, and you have enough power in your powerlessness, it can create a systems problem.
If you are surrounded by nurses who are empowered who support you and TEACH you the power of your profession and create and environment of empowerment, the system can work.
We have to find a way to meet with these two tracts...do we encourage those "who didn't sign up for this...I have my worth in dollar signs" with the ones who love their pts, have theorists like Benner, Orem and Watson and countless others as their basis of practice, who are invested and have better ways and ENJOY nursing, and want to ensure it is about the pt?
I don't have those answers, but I can honestly say I have been powerful to my patients. I want EVERY nurse to feel that way. BUT we have to have this discussion and come together powerfully.
Last edit by LadyFree28 on Apr 1, '13
Apr 2, '13
by NRSKarenRN, BSN, RN Moderator
I started the Activism forum in 2001 to educate nurses on understanding political process and flexing their political muscle.
My training wheels for activism started with discussions from RN Educators at ANA/PSNA district nursing association meetings, later state nursing conventions, split of nursing union from our state association along with education sessions at State Nursing Association, ANA conference/conventions and state hospital association meetings. More you understand the process, greater impact you can have on influencing legislation passage, rewritten/amended or blocked from passage at state level--easier than federal level.
Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Apr 2, '13
Apr 2, '13
by nursel56 Guide
I'm one who has evolved from being anti-union, as I've related here in the past the union actually got enough signatures for a vote in the first hospital I worked in and lost because we felt at the time management, pay, and benefits were comparable to union hospitals of the day.
Not so in any more, sad to say.
Also, I'm sorry if my question sounds dumb, but it was my understanding that the force behind ratios in California was not the ANA, but a group that is now known as National Nurses United.
Anyone who can shed light on this thanks in advance!
Edit: have discovered since asking that the CNA broke off from the ANA in 1995 and is now affiliated with NNU.
Last edit by nursel56 on Apr 2, '13