Published Jan 2, 2001
I'm starting to think that we, as nurses, have always filled in when there was a problem- if housekeeping couldn't get to the unit to clean a room for an admit, we did it. If we were short a nurse for a shift, we'd fill in and work an extra shift. We have always been ready to pitch in and help out or make do with what we had. Have we just enabled the health care industry to use us and make us victims? Somewhere in the past 3-5 years, this job has become harder to do and we all seem to feel like we are being trampled and mistreated by administration. Add to that the fact that the patients are so much sicker than they ever were before, and suddenly we are all exhausted because we can't do it anymore. We are not respected as a profession, federal moneies for nursing education have been cut, and there aren't enough new people coming in to nursing. What is your opinion?
buckboomer, BSN, RN
Sounds like the truth to me! You should be on the MNA negotiating committee. We get poor retirement bennies as well, don't forget. Management knows their position very well. Fairview systems, were able to effectively deny unions at their new facilities. Nursing has always been fragmented, not organized. So until legislation changes, and there is a political agenda we will continue to lose more health care professionals at the bedside. Hopefully the pendulum will swing back to the workers. I am NOT holding my breath. But it will happen, IMHO.
Hey, Buckboomer, haven't heard from you for a while; how are you recovering from your workplace injury? I fell at work myself when we were shortstaffed 3 weeks ago and am slowly getting back in the swing of things again. That's what made me think about this: we have filled in and fixed so many things through the years; and now we are stretched to the limit and can't do it anymore. Did we cook our own goose? I've been active at MNA for years, not on the negotiating committee, but in many other areas, especially at the district level. That's why I believe we all need to be involved; the more people involved in their professional associations, the greater the chance of change. (P.S. I can't write what I think of the institution you mentioned on this BBS.)
Jenny P... yes we have enabled the hospitals to take advantage of our compassionate nature. Nurses need to learn to say NO! Especially to those non nursing tasks that are dumped on us that take us away from the patients. Like getting ready for a JACHO inspection.
JennyP and everyone: Haven't we created a monster? Let me tell you - I'm getting better. This should probably go under the "no med - aide post" but it fits here as well. When I work "rehab" (euphemism for nursing home), I stipulate I will not work without a med aide. When I arrived, I was told that I would have to pass meds only to 30 patients (plus treatments, diabetics, answer phone, put out fires). I stood up on my hind legs and said "No, if I don't have a med aide, I'm leaving." I was distinctly uncomfortable, but I stood by my guns. I kept thinking "I have to do this!" They found a med aide. It took me over an hour just to get through the treatment book - no actual treatments - just to figure out what I had to do. The med aide finished passing meds at 2230, faster than I would have been able to do the passes, as he is an employee and knows the patients. Of course,I have an advantage, because I work for an agency. But somewhere, sometime we have to learn to say no. I chose to start tonight. And I was thinking of all of us as I made this stand. Isn't it great to have this forum to come home to? Pray I have a job tomorrow!!
Nicely done,saying no does work. Remember to pick your fights wisely.
I stand guilty as accused!!! I have to say in my defense that in the last couple of years I have had my consciousness raised and have really become quite fierce. I assure you it has been a while since anyone crapped on me.
I like to think I pick my fights wisely, but at my age, I'm probably not going to change much. I based my decision on the fact that we had a prior agreement and having been in the same situation before and felt totally unsafe and used and abused, I felt I had to make this stand. The truth is that to exercise this stand, I chose a facility that is not near and dear to my heart. I had some concerns about how the rest of the staff would react since I was technically the charge nurse. They were very warm and helpful the whole evening. No, it was not fear! I brought them cookies!
Jenny P, I missed 8 weeks of work! I am still waiting for a court date, the injury was Oct 16, 2000, and is a felony in this state. ( Regarding an assault, in the ED. ) I have a new appreciation for thumb injuries, with a fracture and ligament damage of my dominant hand. I learned to play tennis with a brace on. MNA is a joke! I have very little regard for that organization. I filed grievances, made phone calls, that were NOT returned, and we could NOT even enforce the contract at the facility where I worked. Sorry to get off on a tangent, but I am bitter with the treatment we nurses get everyday. My coping skills are tested to the max, in this glamorous profession. I feel each nurse has to stop violence in the workplace. That includes abuses by our facilities,ie short staffing, mandatory overtimes, consistently rude MDs, poor scheduling, and limiting time off, vacations. We are nearly at the bottom of the health care food chain. Where do we start picking our battles? This profession, we call nursing, in my opinion, is NOT appreciated by management, administration, unless there is some customer service issues, or litigation. The frantic work settings are difficult maintain a healthy work environment. Where is there a proactive administration, that deals with the high RN turn over, or disgruntled staff? In this capitalistic society, we are just overpaid worker bees, to hospital administration. Competition, poor reimbursement, makes hospital administrations, search for ways to cut the budget. Historically nursing gets hit first. We get bruised and battered regularly, in this female dominated profession. Under pay, overwork, and under appreciate the tasks we do. Yet, we continue to show up to work in these conditions. This is a contract year in this metro area. However, each facility negotiates separately, in this market place. How convenient for management, divide and conquer. So we nurses will continue to enable management to continue the course. Now Tommy Thompson, a conservative is nominated by the Bush administration. Get ready for more cutbacks, and compationate conservatism, an oxymoron. We will have to continue to vent to each other, put our collective heads down, and survive another workplace crisis. I have a tough time staying optomistic. I savour the rare compliment. And I have cut back my work schedule, and sought mental health support. I have a supportive family, but I am considering our employment options. What do you do? Just identifying the nursing enabling behavior is a start. Informing others is also being done by you. Being involved with the (supposed union), justifies your activism. Get ready of more of the same, as mangement will continue to dictate on the one way street, this profession has historically allowed. Sorry for getting so riled up.
Way to go, Mustangsheba! Saying "NO" occasionally is healthy and it sure feels good, doesn't it? Especially when it is done in a positive way- by sticking to the agreed upon contract and defending yourself from someone's dumping on you. I hope and trust you still have your job.
Buckboomer, I'm sorry your injury was so bad. This is also one of those things we have allowed ourselves to be dumped on-- we have been compassionate enough to care for people in unsafe situations when we put ourselves at risk. One of the things you must realize is that your facilities' contract is as strong as the people who negotiated for you. If they were not assertive enough to get a decent contract for you and your fellow RN co-workers, then I don't think that your contract is very strong. Did you file "concern for practice" and "concern for unsafe staffing forms?" A grievance has to do with a complaint in the workplace situation; but the other 2 forms are for questionable nursing practice and unsafe staffing that puts you (the RN) or the patient in an unsafe situation. I don't know why your calls were not returned. I was aware of a glitch at MNA this summer- their phones and e-mail system were not working for a day or 2, but I did get a response once I got through to them.
I do believe that we all have to start saying NO, that we have to tell MDs we will not tolerate rude, hostile or impudent behavior, and that we have to stop filling in for everytime an area of the hospital is short (no more cleaning up after other departments). We are our patient advocates, and we need to be our own advocates also. We need to use whatever talents we have to make our workplaces safer. I do think we can go to the media and tell our stories-- after all CBS and CNN both reported about the nursing shortage; but neither asked US - the experienced RNs- what is happening and why there is a shortage. Nurses have kept their mouths shut too long.
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