Poison Control

  1. I found this editorial on another web site. I thought it was well written and wanted to share it.

    Poison Control
    Respect the value in diversity to help strengthen the nursing profession
    By Beth Ulrich, Ed.D, RN, South Central Editor
    September 3, 2001

    It's September and school's back in full swing. Across the country, new groups of nursing students will begin their clinical rotations. What they experience in those rotations will determine not only their clinical competence, but how they view the nursing profession.

    The nursing environment they are about to enter concerns me. During the last year or so, as I have talked with nurses around the country and visited nursing message boards and chat rooms on the Internet, I have come to believe that we must consciously and deliberately address an insidious problem that is beginning to weaken the foundations of our profession.

    Without a doubt, we are a profession in turmoil. The present shortage, rather than bringing us together, instead appears to be bringing out the worst in us. Spinning off into individual orbits, we seem to be proving wrong the psychological mantra that a group attacked from the outside solidifies from within.

    More than ever, we see nurses bickering and taking potshots at each other for being different. A growing number of nurses seems to believe that only those nurses like themselves have value. Nurses are arguing over which degree is better and more worthy, rather than trying to figure out how nurses with all types of education and training can best work together.

    Some nurses are questioning whether nurses not at the bedside really are nurses, rather than appreciating the power of having nurses in various positions of influence. The value of a med/surg nurse is compared with the value of a critical care nurse that is compared with the value of a home care nurse, rather than being thankful that nurses are drawn to different specialties and practices so that we can provide a wide spectrum of care.

    Some nurses seem to spend more time sharpening their talons on each other than they do sharpening their skills and becoming better nurses. They forgo constructive discussion and instead resort to personal attacks. They spend more time fighting among themselves than collaborating with each other for the good of the whole. In their backbiting and squabbling, they undermine that which they believe they are trying to improve.

    How do you think it would feel to be those nursing students who are coming into their first clinical rotations in this environment? Would you want these nurses as role models?

    These nurses are not in the majority, but they are beginning to poison the profession. Most nurses still believe in what they do and derive joy and intrinsic reward from nursing. Overworked, overstressed, often underpaid and underappreciated, they nevertheless believe in the value of nurses and nursing. When asked what they do, they proudly say that they are nurses and that-yes-as nurses they help people and save lives. They look for ways to fix the problems in nursing without resorting to bad-mouthing each other.

    I am not saying that we should not disagree. Healthy disagreement can and will strengthen us. What I am saying is that the infighting weakens our potential for collaboration and is viewed by those outside the profession as indicative of a lack of direction and disrespect for our peers. If we don't show respect for each other, how can we expect the public and other health care professionals to respect us and our work?

    We must finds ways to encourage the betterment of the nursing profession, to stimulate creative and soul-searching discussions while at the same time ridding our profession of the bickering and personal attacks. Those nurses who value the profession must make it clear that constructive discussion is fostered, but that sniping at each other is unacceptable.

    We must find a way to come together. We are all nurses. We come from many backgrounds. Our educational experiences are varied. We have chosen different specialties and different paths. We may have differing views on what got us where we are and what will get us to a better place. Our diversity makes us stronger. Only our ignorance of that strength can make us weak.

    For nurses and nursing to succeed, we must find a way to work through these tough times without destroying each other and-in the process-our profession.

    United we stand. Divided we fall.

    NurseWeek Publishing

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    Joined: Aug '01; Posts: 997; Likes: 23
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  3. by   P_RN
    I'm sorry but I don't look at it as poisoning, but rather as coming out of a covert operation.

    It's past due for the public to see just what danger they are in from the understaffing, overworking, penny pinching that is done to the Nurses. Ultimately done to the CONSUMERS/PATIENTS/CLIENTS (whatever the buzzword the suits have going that day.)
  4. by   Jenny P
    P_RN, I don't think that we, as nurses, are doing thepublic any favors by ripping ourselves apart and trying to tell others that one type of nurse is better than another type of nurse.
    We shouldn't have to graphically eviscerate any other type of nurse, nor even eat our young, to prove that we are as good as- or better than- anyone else. We are ALL nurses and should be attempting to work together as NURSES to let the public know that we are hard- working professionals who CARE deeply about OUR PATIENTS and how we are affected by our work environment. That is what I think the author of this piece is trying to say.
    It's kind of like when I was young and growing up in a large Irish Catholic family; you can have your squabbles and arguements with your own kith and kin; but if anyone outside the family started to mess with one of us, we would all be backing the one who was in trouble. Why isn't nursing responding like that?
    We should be pulling together instead of imploding; we should be building ourselves up instead of self-destructing; we should be leaning on each other and showing what we CAN do instead of pointing fingers at who or what IS the problem (be it levels of education, job positions, unions or non-unions, management or underlings).
    I look back and realize that I am as guilty as the next person for some of the griping and complaining in my own workplace in the past. And I am as guilty as the next person for some of the shortstaffing that has occurred there; by thinking that "just this once, I can take this assignment"..... and then we find that the tough assignment was continued for days- or worse!- unit policy! because "Jenny and Deb did it" (or whatever). We thought we were doing the PATIENT a favor, when in reality, we did ourselves a disservice by trying to do too much more than we were capable of.
    I wonder what would have happened if we had told the bean-counters back 10 years ago that NO, we CAN'T do it this way? Where WERE our spines back then when we buried our heads in the sand like ostriches while "managed care" took over? And is there a way we can fix this problem now? How do we manage to get the money away from the greedy CEO's of hospitals and insurance companies and return it to the bedside to pay for the care the patients are paying for and need? How can the COLLECTIVE BODY OF NURSING work together and improve health care across the globe? We can do it if we work together; but we are dividing and losing our identities with all of this infighting.

    Sorry I'm so long-winded; not enough sleep today I guess. I'll get off my soapbox for now.