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If Nurses are "Essential", Why Can't We Be Treated Like It?

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Specializes in Psych/Med Surg/Teaching. Has 3 years experience.

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BillieReuben

Specializes in Pediatrics. Has 21 years experience.

The thing that made me want to leave nursing behind ... 

we were promised a great one time bonus for working during the pandemic. It ended up being about $200.   Nice, but not really “great” .. at least in my mind ... but whatever.  Better than nothing. 
 

then I found out that all the teachers at my kids school got a $7500 bonus.  That’s when I decided I’m in the wrong profession. 

Catalin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psych/Med Surg/Teaching. Has 3 years experience.

hello all,

My point in this post is that its all just incredibly disappointing how we're treated even worse now than we were before, and the public is paying attention to us now. I picked up this Overtime because I had an emergency before christmas that ended up costing a lot. I needed all those hours to pay for it. Everyone else seems to have it much easier. Especially that post where teachers got a bonus. It's unreal

Sour Lemon

Has 9 years experience.

4 minutes ago, BillieReuben said:

The thing that made me want to leave nursing behind ... 

we were promised a great one time bonus for working during the pandemic. It ended up being about $200.   Nice, but not really “great” .. at least in my mind ... but whatever.  Better than nothing. 
 

then I found out that all the teachers at my kids school got a $7500 bonus.  That’s when I decided I’m in the wrong profession. 

They can't give the kids ativan, you know...

I feel elated dropping my son off for school. You'd have to add several 0s to that amount to make me consider switching over.

brandy1017, ASN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care.

There's a lot to unpack with your story.  First cut back on your OT to help you de-stress.  You can change your W4 tax withholding status usually online at HR so the govt doesn't take as much from your paycheck.  This is a very good idea if you already get a tax refund!  Other things, at least put 6% in a 401k/403b so you get the hospital match and lower your taxes and if you can increase to 10%.  If you have a high deductible health insurance plan, you can save in an HSA tax free for medical expenses.  I would also start a Roth IRA if you can afford it.  A Roth could become your emergency fund if needed as well!

Since you have credit card debt you can do a 0% balance transfer for 12-18 months, usually with a nominal fee of 3-5%.  Shop around on the internet.  You can check out bankrate.com for example.  Also mint.com is a free personal finance budgeting site where you can track all your bills and they sponsor ads for credit cards, banks, etc as well.  I love mint.com!  Make sure you have a free checking account, consider a credit union as they usually have the lowest rates on loans etc.

Now to the work situation, take a break from OT.  Do not let them guilt trip you into working more than you are able.  Take it one day at a time.  Many systems are offering free counseling services thru their EAP and stress reduction tips.    There are many relaxation and hypnosis video's for free on Youtube.  Headspace is a subscription services that offer the same type of thing and they were free last year for nurses, but I guess that deal ended.  Get enough sleep, take walks, journal your thoughts and listen to your favorite music.  If you work nights you may even be able to listen to your music quietly at the nurses station. 

As to the hazard pay it is up to the hospital system to offer it.  The govt has given a lot of money to healthcare systems to offset the loss of revenue from forgoing surgeries to take care of expensive Corona patients.  They were supposed to use that money for their employees, but many haven't or haven't done enough! 

My system has refused hazard pay, even though they got over a billion dollars from the govt!  A year into the pandemic they are offering some relatively small bonuses to a few front line staff.  During this past year they offered paid hotels for staff that needed to isolate from family.  They paid staff for low census rather than making them use PTO, but that was a short term situation and didn't last long. 

As I've said before, my hospital was unprepared for the pandemic because of the layoffs a year before of PCA's that lead to a massive exodus of both nurses and PCA's. Their solution was not to listen to staff and bring back the old ratios or hire more nurses and PCA's, but offer $20/hr to pick up shifts.  It was a poor bandaid as most nurses weren't interested!  Now they are offering $40/hr to pick up shifts, but still no hazard pay. 

A petition was sent to them re the shortage of workers and mass exodus and their reply was that we meet national industry standards and we were told if you don't like it leave, so more did and I quit as well.  The only positive thing they have done is utilize a labor pool comprised of staff that were slow ie PT/OT, PACU, surgery, clinics to act as helpers ie glorified PCA's.  The nurses even on the Covid wing would have up to 5 pt's without a PCA, although they started using helpers as I was quitting.

You have to do what is right for you.  If your hospital doesn't provide adequate staff, I would look around to other systems.  Check with friends that work elsewhere if they have better staffing.  Check out glass door and indeed for nursing reviews to try to find a better place of employment.  Look for a clinic job if you are tired of the poor staffing at the bedside.  Put yourself first and walk away if you have to!

Good Luck

Edited by brandy1017

brandy1017, ASN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care.

On 1/7/2021 at 8:46 PM, Catalin said:

Where is the incentive to work during this time!? I'm not in it for just the money, when the patients praise me for the work I've been doing, it feels great. But I am burnt out from the increased workload and now I have to ask my family for money to pay off my bills. There are those making significantly more than me on unemployment while just sitting at home. I know this because they brag about it. There is no doubt in my mind that covid has made things significantly harder on all of us working bedside. But what's the point of it now!? The government can't even give us hazard pay or even a measly tax break.  If we, as nurses, are so essential during this time, why can't we be treated like it? 

I don't believe the people telling you they are making more money now.  It simply isn't true.  For a while in the Spring people were getting $600 a paycheck extra plus state unemployment, but that ended months ago.  Most state unemployment is less than $300 a week.  Congress just added a $300 a week bump but that is only till March.  Many people have even been unable to get any unemployment for months as the state systems were overwhelmed with the record unemployment, tens of million.  I believe we had 40 million unemployed at its peak!  Worse than the great depression!  Some people only got their unemployment after going to the media.  Believe me I wouldn't want to have to depend on the govt for money!  People have been waiting in line at food banks for miles!

Democrats had proposed giving nurses extra pay, but Mitch McConnel and the Republicans nixed it.  The Republicans are even trying to get corporate liability protection passed so no one can sue for injury or death due to unsafe working conditions!  Hundreds of healthcare workers have died in our country alone due to lack of proper PPE!  It is sickening!  We are even denied paid corona leave as we are considered too essential!  Sad and disgusting state of unfairs.  But the CDC gave hospitals blanket immunity in the Spring when they stated we didn't need N95 or PAPRS, but simple masks and even bandannas were OK.  They knew and we knew that wasn't safe, but it was to offer cover to the healthcare system and its lack of preparation and adequate PPE!

While the govt and healthcare systems has let us down time and again, other companies have been offering nurses freebies and discounts.  Check out https://www.registerednursing.org/articles/nurse-freebies-covid-19

Many people and companies are grateful for the work we are doing and want to show their appreciation to nurses.  Neighbors even put signs up on their front lines thanking the "Healthcare Heros".

Edited by brandy1017

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 28 years experience.

17 hours ago, Catalin said:

Everyone else seems to have it much easier

I think your stress from OT and general situation is playing havoc on your perception of others. You truly don't know what someone else is going through behind closed doors. Some of those that may seem to cruising on easy street may be in debt to their eyeballs. Some may be suffering unknown depression. You never know what is going on that may be unsaid.

Don't compare yourself to others. It will steal your joy

amoLucia

Specializes in LTC.

hoosier - very right-on comment!

NurseSpeedy, ADN, LPN, RN

Has 18 years experience.

On 1/9/2021 at 1:28 PM, JKL33 said:

To simplify: No one got taxed at a 55% rate. They happened to have 55% withheld from a particular check. They are going to get a tax refund at the end of the year that is in line with the final tax bracket based on their final annual income. If they happened to jump tax brackets in all their OT activity, then they will get taxed at a higher actual rate.  If they didn't, they won't.

 

I actually did just that working 6-7 12-16 hours shifts a week at the end of the year in 2005 as an LPN between three employers. I got taxed through the nose by my main employer during OT and regular with two per diem jobs...didn’t see much more in my actual check and the got kicked in the teeth and had to PAY another $1k at tax time. I was anticipating a big return-CPA dad informed me that I had pushed myself into the bracket just above with all the OT and basically  screwed my self. Never did that again.

On 1/7/2021 at 9:46 PM, Catalin said:

If we, as nurses, are so essential during this time, why can't we be treated like it? 

Because we're weak and allow ourselves to be treated the way we are.  We'll whine and whine but never stand up to management together out of fear of being fired from a job that we can replace with just a single phone call.

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 10 years medical. Has 42 years experience.

On 1/9/2021 at 9:20 PM, Sour Lemon said:

They can't give the kids ativan, you know...

Well, not legally.

Or ethically. Morally too, I guess.

But they can still dream, can't they?

 

Nurse Beth, MSN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

For incentive, what about non-taxable ideas?

How about sending housekeepers to nurses' homes who work substantial overtime during the pandemic? Meal services? Pay for their insurance 100%?

When overtime is paid, at least make it on a second check to reduce immediate withholding.

JBMmom, MSN

Specializes in Long term care; med-surg; critical care. Has 9 years experience.

I have much more empathy for the essential workers that are in professions that were in no way originally likely to encounter life threatening medical conditions. When I became a nurse I took on the responsibility for caring for all sick people, and when I moved to critical care I chose to provide care for very sick people. I knew that going in. Fortunately, my hospital did not have a critical shortage of PPE and throughout the pandemic I have been able to take the appropriate precautions in my work environment. Our hospital has been closed to visitors and we have pretty strict PPE and social distancing guidelines at work. 

What about the people that work at Walmart? The grocery store? Restaurants and other businesses that remained open and they had essentially no control over their environment. They are not paid nearly as much for their jobs, and I know of a local Walmart where seven employees died after contracting COVID. And these people were trying to support families on $11 an hour. 

I have a business relationship with my employer. They don't really owe me thanks. I'm paid, per the union contract that the nurses agreed to, in line with the job market. Yes, there might be greed among some hospital administrators and management- they took those positions for a reason, and the hospital has experienced revenue loss due to the cancellation of a couple months of lucrative surgeries. Certainly no one could foresee the pandemic and what it's brought for challenges, especially for those of us working at the bedside, but there are risks and rewards in all choices. I don't really feel bad for us as a whole, I'm making a living that can support my family doing the job in the profession I chose. I'm not being abused by management, certainly work conditions aren't ideal, but much of it is beyond their control as well. just my opinion.

MunoRN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 10 years experience.

To have an effective Tax rate of 55% your income would have to exceed $10,000,000 annually regardless of what state you're in.  You are a very well paid RN.

On 1/9/2021 at 12:37 PM, GrumpyRN said:

Sorry, I am not trying to derail the topic but I have a question. Please feel free to ignore it if you want.

Whenever I have had discussions on this site with American nurses they seemed horrified that in the UK I would pay approximately one third of my salary to taxes and deductions but you seem to be saying that 55% is normal. Also remember that I do not pay on top of this for health care or sickness benefit or unemployment benefit. Should also add that my working conditions, holidays, sick time etc., are better.

Thank you for clarifying this or as I say, just ignore it. 😄

 

Also, the US has progressive taxation.  Some people don't understand this, and think being over a certain threshold into another tax bracket means they lose money.  This is usually not the case.  

There are 7 federal brackets (10%, 12%, 22%, 24%,  32%, 35%, 37%) for ordinary income (assets such as capital gains have a whole different system, and effective tax rates are higher when factoring in state and local taxes).  Progressive taxation means you are only taxed that rate for the amount of money you make IN that tax bracket.

For example, a single person pays 10% on income $0-$9875. Whether you make a million dollars or 10000 dollars, you don't get taxed more than 10% on the first $9875 you make.  The 12% bracket is $9876-$40,125 for a single person.  So a nurse who ordinarily makes $40,000/year would be taxed at 10% for $9875 of her income, and 12% for the remaining $30,125 (because that's the amount she makes in the 12% bracket).  If she picks up overtime, and earns $45,000 that year, she will continue to pay 12% on $125 of that income, and the last $4,875 would be taxed at 22%.  

Some people don't understand this, and they think being "bumped up" into the next tax bracket means they have to pay that tax rate on their entire income.  In reality, making more money means you make more money, even if you pay a higher tax on the "more" part.  

Now, having a higher income might lower your eligibility for some tax credits for low-to-middle income earners when you go to file you taxes (such as the Earned Income Credit which primarily benefits people with children). And picking up overtime can trigger some weird withholdings because the system thinks your paycheck for that period is your "normal" pay, but as other people have said, you get that back.

To be honest, you probably pay a lower percentage in the UK than we do in the US once we figure in federal taxes, state taxes, local taxes, health care premiums and deductibles (which can be really, really high), medicare, and social security taxes.  It's just that we have it cut up into different chunks, so it can feel less than the 1/3 of the income you pay, even if we actually pay more.  For us, healthcare is an expense rather than a tax, so our taxes may be lower, even though our costs are often higher.  But as a nurse, I make more (and take home more) here than in the UK.  Part of the way the NHS keeps costs down is by paying so little, and a big part of the cost in the US is worker payments.

SmilingBluEyes

Has 26 years experience.

On 1/10/2021 at 12:38 PM, Hoosier_RN said:

 

Don't compare yourself to others. It will steal your joy

Truer words never spoken. Comparing myself to others always leads to anxiety and upset for me.  Teachers do NOT have it easy. I would not be one. It's not the kids, but the parents, that would drive me nuts.

saraleigh, ASN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg/Telemetry. Has 9 years experience.

On 1/14/2021 at 5:50 AM, Nurse Beth said:

For incentive, what about non-taxable ideas?

How about sending housekeepers to nurses' homes who work substantial overtime during the pandemic? Meal services? Pay for their insurance 100%?

When overtime is paid, at least make it on a second check to reduce immediate withholding.

Are you hiring?

brandy1017, ASN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care.

On 1/14/2021 at 7:50 AM, Nurse Beth said:

For incentive, what about non-taxable ideas?

How about sending housekeepers to nurses' homes who work substantial overtime during the pandemic? Meal services? Pay for their insurance 100%?

When overtime is paid, at least make it on a second check to reduce immediate withholding.

I remember we used to have a concierge service available for doctors, nurses and hospital employees.  They could run errands, do shopping, take your car in; but I don't think it was free.  Still it was a nice gesture which brings back memories of the good, old times.

brandy1017, ASN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care.

My hospital system just rolled out a bonus program, but even that they botched once again creating descension among the ranks.  Management decided to pick and choose who deserved the bonus and determined whether the staff had taken care of enough covid patients to qualify.  Seriously, of course they themselves got a bonus 5X as much and never wore scrubs or worked with even one covid patient!  The unlucky runner ups were rewarded with a crappy company T-shirt!  Unbelievable, talk about a slap in the face.  It's a good thing I don't still work there because I would be so tempted to burn the T-shirt with a camera crew in view! LOL

Oh to top it off the CNO bragged about treating herself to a new diamond ring and trip to Mexico.  Amazing to me in the middle of a pandemic the CNO feels it is the right time to go to Mexico!  Reminded me of Deborah Birx, a top fed Corona expert who was forced to resign for simply having a Thanksgiving dinner with her family, not even traveling out of the country!