I know where you are coming from. Though, I guess you would call me a nurse who "sucks" because sometimes I have charted on my lunch break so that I can get off work on time. And yes, that's wrong, that we don't have enough staff so I can take a "real" break. But as you know, most hospitals don't staff by acuities (though we fill out all this paperwork for it).They staff by bodies in beds.
When the situation merits, nurses where I work will fill out an assignment under protest, and we almost always get the extra help we need. Even if we merely "threaten to fill out" an assignment under protest (I work at a union hospital, and the staffing ratios are usually pretty safe), that usually gets an extra nurse to the floor.
Not all nurses are spineless doormats.I am one of many nurses in our state (Calif) who has HAD IT w/ unsafe staffing! We aggressively supported a safe staffing bill that passed into law recently, and are currently arguing against the hospital industry over what the maximum safe nurse patient ratios should be. Our new safe staffing law will go into effect in 2002, and will cover all the main acute care floors.
It's still an uphill battle, b/c like you said, even here in CA, many nurses would rather complain than lift a finger to write a letter to government, or attend a rally/meeting to support the safe ratios.And the public still has images of nurses from several decades ago. I think many people have no clue of what a nurse "really does." We need to enlighten the public and voice our opinions. It's definately a frustrating situation.
The California Nurses Association (largest nursing union in our state) has tons of great info about AB394 (safe staffing bill, that now will be law).CNA is a strong force in our state, and has some great info on their website. Here's the Calif. Nurses Association website:
Here's the address to a recent news article about the struggle to implement the new safer CA ratios(It's called, "State, Nurses Scrap on Staffing):
The comment (in the article above) from Jan Emerson of the Hospital Association really made my blood boil! I'd love for her to work as a staff nurse on the floors for just one shift & she's change her tune fast!
SUBQ, you are not alone in your anger. If we want to make nursing better, we have to FIGHT!