NY Times story - page 3
I wrote about a year ago, looking for nurses to talk to for a story I was doing on the nursing shortage. Many of you asked that I post when the piece was going to run. It will be in this weekend's... Read More
Mar 18, '03Thanks so much, everyone, for the nice feedback. The NYT Magazine puts many of its stories on a syndicated wire, so there is a chance it will be published elsewhere. To those who rightly pointed out that the day I wrote about was a "good day," I want to explain, so that you might be able to help other journalists get the rest of the story out to the public.
I had a nearly impossible time finding a hospital that would let me in to follow a nurse. The hospitals that were willing were ones like the one I ultimately went with, where staffing ratios were far better than in many hospitals and support for nurses was, again, probably above average. Further compounding the problem was the fact that the hospitals wanted to hand-pick the nurses I followed. (I had the help of the Minnesota Nurses Union picking Karen Mitchell, the RN I ultimately followed. Nonetheless, my choice to follow her had to receive the hospital's blessing, too.)
When I posted here a year ago, looking for nurses who might let me visit them at work, many feared for their jobs and wanted to speak only anonymously--something I certainly understand, but which also makes it tough to report the stories they told, since the New York Times will rarely accept the use of anonymous sources. I must add, though, that these stories were incredibly useful to me as background information and I'm so grateful to those nurses who took the time to contact me.
I don't know the solution, but I encourage those who are comfortable doing so, to speak to the media and to the public.
Best of luck to all of you. Sara
Mar 18, '03Sara,
Your article is awesome! I am going to pass it on to my friends as we start out in the Nursing Program. Thanks for writing it and letting us know about it!
Mar 18, '03Sara, thanks for your reply. We had a feeling that was what was going on.
That is why we will write letters to the editor as I did about an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. They published an 'edited version' of my letter. I was very pleased because I feel that every thing we can get in the media is one baby step toward rescuing our profession.
Mar 18, '03Sara you do us proud. Thank you and congratulations on making publication. Good luck in the future. Look forward to hearing more from you.
Mar 18, '03<I had a nearly impossible time finding a hospital that would let me in to follow a nurse. The hospitals that were willing were ones like the one I ultimately went with, where staffing ratios were far better than in many hospitals and support for nurses was, again, probably above average. Further compounding the problem was the fact that the hospitals wanted to hand-pick the nurses I followed. (I had the help of the Minnesota Nurses Union>
That comes as no surprise to me at all, especially when you consider the fact that many of our employers have human resources policies that, in effect, force gag rules on us along with disciplinary action if we do dare to speak up. Its one of the reasons why nurses have been have fighting for and obtaining whistle-blower laws state after state. No hospital in its right mind would allow a reporter to come in and see the true story as it is today. They dont even let their own credentialling body - the JCAHO - do that. Everything is prepared for the visit & covered up - the "right" charts are chosen for review, the "right" nurses are selected to be interviewed, etc.
Its understandable that nurses in many areas of this country cannot speak out on the reality they see and give their names with that because the retaliation that would come is real. But unionized nurses and nurses in states with whistle blower laws have more protection.
Im an RN activist member of the United American Nurses (UAN/AFL-CIO), the national RN labor union which the Minnesota Nurses Assoc is a co-founding constituent, and the more my name appears in the newspaper, the more protected my job is. Thanks to my union rights and our states whistle blower law, I am free to speak and have my name attached to my comments, and I do so. Any retaliation directed my way for that would be cause for a lawsuit.
Our primary responsibility as an RN is to be the patient advocate. Isnt it amazing - all the roadblocks that are deliberately thrown in our way to try and prevent us from carrying out that responsibility? Its outrageous the things we have to go thru just to be able to speak up for the pt as we are required to do by the mere fact of our licenses.
We're between a rock and a hard place - required by our licenses to speak up for our pts but blacklisted, punished, and retaliated against by the employer for doing so. Until the national whistle blower law that the UAN and ANA are fighting for is passed, or until nurses in every state have this protection in their state laws, many of us will still be sitting in this catch 22 and many more pts will fall thru the cracks.
Mar 18, '03Yeah, nice article. I was one person who said that was an easy day considering what can happen. That was in no way meant to be critical of author. So glad to get a realistic story.
Mar 18, '03WOW. You got it exactly right. May I use this in my "clipping file" I need for my BSN program? I need to include 5 recent feature articles and write how and why the article touches my practice. I can't think of a better article to describe what it is like to work in a PCU short staffed, with 4 critically ill patients.
Aug 8, '04Quote from saracorbettHi Sara,I wrote about a year ago, looking for nurses to talk to for a story I was doing on the nursing shortage. Many of you asked that I post when the piece was going to run. It will be in this weekend's (Mar 16) Sunday New York Times Magazine, available online at nytimes.com. The story focuses on just one nurse, but I'm deeply indebted to everyone who took the time to share their insights with me. Thanks for your help.
You are truly a gifted writer and knows well how to get to the heart and soul of the matter. Thank you so much for being a stong advocate to all of us nurses.
Aug 8, '04Great article, really descriptive and truthful. Thanks for presenting our plight to the public. Mostly, thank you for caring.