Listen, Nurse - page 4

I am going into 4th year nursing, and this was in one of our labs in first year. I love this thing, it really makes you think about how you are caring for your patients. In the rush of everything,... Read More

  1. by   kurtz
    Listen "Client"

    I was hungry and could not feed myself. But I could not take my breaks because you only complain to me, never to the people in authority, then you discussed the demise of my profession with your friends.

    I was thirsty and helpless, but you forgot to ask the people in authority to get more staff so that I could get a drink. You later wrote a letter of complaint about me instead of staffing shortages, because I was "lazy" in your eyes.

    I was in financial difficulties but you didn't care because "nursing is a calling" so why should I get paid enough to support my family?

    I was the problem in your eyes. You did not bother to take the time to see the problem of "big business health care"..

    I hurt my back lifting you and thought I was never going to be able to work again, thinking I could not hear, you said you hoped I wound up in the same ward because you would like to see me suffer the treatment you had, had. You never thought I might be distressed, not just by my own pain but yours as well.

    You seem so well educated, well spoken, and lovely in your new pyjamas. But when you see me, you seem to think I only have you to care for, that there are not seven other patients under my care just like you.

    You seem so ill, and lacking in dignity. But when I speak, you abuse me with vigour. I smile and take it and go home late to a family who cannot understand.

    You worry about me getting you to the toilet in time, but I am yet to change my incontinence pad that I have to wear because of the years that I have worked without time to use the toilet.

    You worry that you may be dying, you think I should have time to hold your hand, so do I. But what do you do? You blame me for my not being able to do my job the way I (and you) would like.

    Help me, help yourself. Care about the staffing levels in this hospital. I am so tired, so lonely. Talk to them - reach out to them - take their hands and drag them into the wards to see what is happening here. Let what happens to you matter to you and complain to the right people. Not me.

    You become angry with me because sometimes I can be heard laughing at the nurses desk. But I was only laughing because I had been insulted (yet again) by one of the medical staff. If I didn't laugh I would cry. I would cry buckets.

    I loved my job. I wanted to do it because I care. I really do. I love to hold those frail hands and talk to my patients I have done it for years now. But with your unseeing eyes you say I am callous and too busy with my own life to care about you. You could not be more wrong.

    I am sick of the abuse. Abuse from you, abuse from the medical and other staff, abuse from the faceless people in authority. I will go and work at K-Mart where I get paid the same amount and have less stress. And you? You will complain to your friends about how "nurses aren't what they used to be".

    Please, "client", listen and look, and sit up and THINK!!!!!
  2. by   kurtz
    I hear what you are saying. Perhaps as an adminstrator you have allowed enough staff to staff your ward. Although that would seem unlikely as you relieve the staff so that they can take breaks. This seems to indicate that you go without your breaks so that your staff can. This does not seem fair either.

    You son is a nursing assistant as such he does not do the work required of a fully qualified nurse on his ward. He only does a small part of it. I can remember during my training thinking, "what are they all whining about?, it doesn't seem that busy to me". Little did I know how much work these people were doing while my back was turned.

    I think you are wrong. Sure I am at the other side of the world (in Australia) but it seems to me that things are the same here as they are in America. Very bad.
  3. by   joyskiana



  4. by   frustratedRN
    i still think that poem sucks...
  5. by   monkijr
    Originally posted by panda_181
    I am going into 4th year nursing, and this was in one of our labs in first year. I love this thing, it really makes you think about how you are caring for your patients. In the rush of everything, would one minute really kill us?

    Listen, Nurse

    I was hungry and could not feed myself. You left my food tray out of reach on my bedside table, then you discussed my nutritional needs in a nursing conference.

    I was thirsty and helpless, but you forgot to ask the attendant to refill my water pitcher. You later charted that I refused liquids.

    I was in financial difficulties and in your mind I became an object of annoyance.

    I was a nursing problem and you discussed the theoretical basis of my illness. And you did not even see me.

    I was thought to be dying and, thinking I could not hear, you said you hoped I would not die before it was time to finish for your day because you had an appointment at the beauty parlor before your evening date.

    You seem so well educated, well spoken, and so very neat in your spotless unwrinkled uniform. But when I speak, you seem to listen but do not hear me.

    Help me, care about what happens to me, I am so tired, so lonely, and so very afraid. Talk to me - reach out to me - take my hand. Let what happens to me matter to you.

    Please, nurse, listen.

    ---Roth Johnston, RN

    Let me know what you think!

    Listen, Patient

    I know you are hungry and cannot feed yourself. I will assist you as soon as I finish suctioning this trach in the room next door and getting a pain shot for your roomate. I did not know that dietary left your food tray out of reach. I am sorry, thank-you for being so patient.

    The doctor wanted me to push fluids, but my nursing assistant called in sick and I haven't had time to refill the water pitchers, yet. I would get written-up if I tell you just how short staffed we are today. I will get to it as soon as I can, I promise.

    I hear that you are having financial difficulties, but they just eliminated several social worker positions and we have no financial consultant at this facility. I will try to find out what other resources are out there to help you.

    I am a well educated, well spoken nurse, but when I speak nobody seems to listen. You would rather wait and see what the doctor has to say.

    Another of my patients died today. No family was present. I stayed to hold her hand, so she wouldn't have to die alone. I want to cry, but I have to get home to my kids and get dinner on the table.

    I hope you don't mind my wrinkled scrubs or the fact that I haven't been to a beauty parlor in months, but I had to work another double shift last night.

    I want to help you and take care of you, but sometimes I am tired, lonely, and afraid of what is happening to our healthcare system. Caring for you is the reason I became a nurse, but it is getting hard. I hope you understand.

  6. by   SmilingBluEyes
    BEAUTIFUL URSULA>.and oh so real.
  7. by   jnette
    How depressing. I believe where there is a will, there is a way.
    I speak from experience..not necessarily in nursing, but other life experiences. Surely nursing is cannot be worse than things I've experienced and come through. How long does a smile and a wink take, or a pat on the hand? Even "fluffing" that long, truly? How much "time" is involved in placing the callbell within reach, or seeing to it that a pt.'s food is within reach? How long does it take to not "talk over" a pt. or to wish them well or comment to their family on their progress ? It's these LITTLE things the above poem addresses. If we can at least do these LITTLE things, we have made someone's day brighter.
    I, too, am saddened that nursing has regressed to "assembly line pt. care", but I still believe with all my being that where there is a will there IS a way ! Perhaps not the big ticket items, but most people will happily settle for a smile, a touch, an occasional tucking the blanket around them , and a lot of little things we think we don't have time for, when in all reality, they take no time at all.
    Doing for others does not reduce me to an "idealist" or a dreamer.
    Doing is MAKING IT HAPPEN. By DOING I am also caring for myself and my emotional wellbeing. I can go home feeling good about myself AND my pt. ...and not have to stress about all I am not able to accomplish. The focus of the poem/letter is the LITTLE THINGS. I KNOW I can do at least those. Let's not miss the forest for the trees.
  8. by   monkijr
    Originally posted by SmilingBluEyes
    BEAUTIFUL URSULA>.and oh so real.
    Smiling blue eyes, sorry can't take the credit for that, found it in an old post, and just brought it up to current, thought it may have been missed by some. :angel2:
  9. by   P_RN
    Said by JNette
    How depressing. I believe where there is a will, there is a way.
    I speak from experience..not necessarily in nursing, but other life experiences. Surely nursing is cannot be worse than things I've experienced and come through. How long does a smile and a wink take, or a pat on the hand?......clipped
    OH My! What can I say?

    When do you graduate?
  10. by   TheLionessRN
    That poem made me feel simpy ineffectual. I am actually not "guilty" of those points, but I know who is. Administration is guilty of making this profession look like that to the patients. We are not allowed to tell them that we are understaffed, cause they complain and if they complain about anything, it is always blamed on the nurse. I have been a nurse for 4 years now. I was raised by a nurse, and worked as a ward clerk, tech, and monitor tech/secretary up until I graduated. I went in with open eyes.
    My goal during the first year was to learn how to have organization. I had some fantastic teachers in that area and I can honestly say that no matter what I did on some days, there was no keeping up with it all.

    I left the hospital I started nursing at because, when I got my position on day shift, I felt like I was living with an abusive drunk and never knew when the abuse was going to start. The day normally got downright horrible after 3 pm, when the staffing office cut our staff with regularity. Our first admissions usually came right after the person cut was sent home.

    Nursing is responsible for passing trays in this hospital. When there are 22 patients and only 4 nurses to do the work, you have to just pass the trays and get them out before you can go back and actually feed someone. Then you have to turn around and pick up the trays, or complaints start coming in from dietary. In this hospital, the guy who brings the trays to the floor and back is either brand new or from the home for functionally delayed men. The person comes at a certain time and rolls the cart away regardless of whether it is full or not. Three meals a day.

    For some reason, that part of the poem ticked me off. With 22 patients, two teams with an RN and either a tech or LPN, if just one is lazy, then the whole thing falls apart. A team is only as good as it's members. Dropping what you are doing to pass trays was a major thorn in my side, and for once, I would like the blame to be laid where it belongs!!!
  11. by   pebbles
    I didn't like this poem because I thought the entire goal of the poem was to make nurses feel guilty and inadequate for not being perfect. Yeah, there are things that may get forgotten or neglected (or perceived that way by the pt). But as other posters have already said, most of the stuff that is missed is because we are overworked, shortstaffed and not given enough consideration by management to let us do our jobs properly.

    Do we really all need another guilt trip? Half the profession facing burnout over not being given time and resources to do things that are at times, way more serious than water jugs, and somebody feels the need to write this piece of drivel... ! I find it hard to believe this was actually written by a nurse and not a pt or family member.

    As far as sensitizing us to the fact that the pt's are the ultimate victims of our hurried care... we all know that already. That is partly why nurses leave this profession - they are sick of feeling responsible for that inadequacy that is not created by them. The nurse is as much a pawn in this game as the pt... and this was a grossly unfair poem.
  12. by   TEXASWAG
    Yeah when I read the poem I felt guilt too. Like why can't I be more attentive and do it all for my patients. I remember crying like an idiot one day at work because I just could not do it all.
    Well, that was my first job. Now my mantra is "There are 24 hours in the day and I can't do everything". I really do care but I'm not superwoman.
    A friend of mine, who was recently a patient himself, told me that he had nothing to do but lay in that bed and he couldn't help but notice everything the nurses did. Patients really do notice a lot.
    Recently, I have been feeling lost as a nurse and that management just doesn't care, and that the public is lost too. I called in sick last night because I needed a mental break. I realize that calling in is not a solution to the problem, but I feel more rested. Peace.
  13. by   jnette
    P_RN....sorry..didn't mean to get sappy there. My point was merely that I think we're reading a whole lot more into that "letter" than is actually there..and with the way things currently stand re shortages and all, we are all hypersensitive to anything even smacking of criticism...certainly understandable. Just trying to get our focus on what the "letter" really says..not what we THINK it's saying. Just the "little things"..which I know we all at least try to do and all of us WANT to do !
    Not graduating for another couple months yet, but doesn't mean I'm a "pie-in-the-sky idealist", unaware of what's happening out there. I've been in the medical arena 30+ years (in numerous and varied settings) and have witnessed the pitiful stripping away of all that nursing holds dear. It truly is hard to watch and even harder to accept. Yet it makes me all the more detrmined to do what I CAN... the little I know every other nurse out there does as well, or they wouldn't be so distraught about the way things are in the "real world".
    I agree wholeheartedlywith all the above posts..couldn't agree MORE! In just the past 5 yrs. I've seen things go from bad to worse to downright unacceptable in my own work setting... I (and my patients) have been victimized by the same "system"...always wanting more for less. Pt. care has been placed on the backburner, and the almighty $$ is number 1 priority, and they are SHAMELESS in their approach, requests, expectations, and even demands.( I'm referring to the "system.")
    Just thought I'd clarify. last thought...since this "letter" was written for nursing students in a lab and first year, is it not merely an "awareness trng. tool" to get the new nursing students to develop sensitivity to pt. needs, and nothing more sinister or critical intended? And if so, do not ALL the nursing books, manuals, materials we all have to study include the SAME idealistic themes..even today, knowing full well that is only idealistic and has nothing to do with reality in nursing today? Should we revise the material in Nursing Education and omit the basics all together..? State that the ideals of good nursing care no longer apply or are possible in the current nursing world?
    Or should we still attempt to reach the hearts of those new students in hopes they might be sensitive to "the little things". I'd say go ahead, include it... whether it applies or not. Use it as a tool, a guide. It certainly doesn't hurt... better than the alternative.."new & revised edition: Drive Thru Nursing" or "Assembly Line Nursing Today"...? Let's at least keep the ideals, even if we CAN'T always perform that way due to no fault of our own, or lack of desire, to be sure !
    Last edit by jnette on Sep 12, '02