ANA Responds to Outrageous Op-ed
ANA President Barbara Blakeney, MS, RN, CS, ANP, has written a letter in response to a column by Dan Thomasson, "This profession needs nursing," that has appeared in newspapers around the country. ANA encourages nurses to write letters to the editor of newspapers that published the column and to Mr. Thomasson directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 26, 2002
I am sure nurses, doctors and health care consumers alike were disturbed and offended by Dan Thomasson's column (July 24, "This profession needs nursing") that sought to promote Dr. Dworkin's absurd and offensive thesis about the factors driving today's growing worldwide shortage of nurses. I am offended by their misogynistic arrogance and their specious arguments as well as their attempt to blame nurses for the current state of the profession, which in many ways mirrors the overall state of our health care system today.
First of all, all of the health professions are facing shortages, not just nursing. Certainly, in many ways, nurses, as the largest of the health care professions and the 24/7 caregivers, are bearing the brunt of the burden created by a dysfunctional system that is more cost-focused than care-focused. They (Thomasson and Dworkin) imply that nursing's evolution as a profession over the past 100 years has devalued nurses and contributed to poor working conditions and a lack of interest in the profession among young people. They also imply that a "back to the future" approach will solve the nursing shortage. It is hard to believe any rational person would think that nursing's past - educating nurses in hospital-based diploma programs, producing indentured servants with limited options for career advancement, rather than in institutions of higher education, and requiring nurses to wear dresses and be ""- is the answer to a 21st century labor shortage.
Nursing today is a profession characterized by high stress due to unmanageable patient loads, mandatory overtime, exposure to health hazards, a rising incidence of verbal abuse and physical violence, and voluminous paperwork, as well as flat wages and low overall career earnings. These are among the reasons health care facilities are facing a shortage of nurses.
In order to both retain today's practicing nurses and to recruit more people into the profession, nurses' working conditions and wages must be improved. Equally important, nurses' contributions to the health care team must be recognized and respected. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found a direct link between increased nursing care and better patient outcomes - that is, fewer complications and fewer deaths - is a case in point. More research on how nursing impacts the quality of care is needed, as well as greater recognition of nurses' contributions to quality, cost-effective health care.
In addition, patients today require the sophisticated skills and compassionate caring of highly educated nurses. Congress has recognized this need; that is why it recently passed legislation that supports nursing education, as well as efforts to promote the profession as a career choice and to retain practicing nurses.
I do agree that the crux of the nursing shortage centers around the image and value of nursing. For that reason, national nursing organizations have united around a shared vision for the future of the profession and developed a comprehensive strategic plan to address the complex, interrelated factors that have created this potential health care crisis. The plan, Nursing's Agenda for the Future, focuses on strategies that will move the profession forward in quantum leaps, thereby ensuring that adequate numbers of well-qualified nurses are available to provide high-quality nursing care. For more on Nursing's Agenda for the Future, see: www.NursingWorld.org/naf.
Barbara Blakeney, MS, RN, CS, ANP
American Nurses Association
Read Dan Thomasson's column at http://24hour.newsobserver.com/24hou...-3790424c.html
Jul 27, '02
<I miss the good things from the old days also. >
What good old days? The ones where you had to work 13 yrs at the hospital before you could start contributing to the pension plan? That was a good old 35 yrs ago here - then we got smart, unionized & got pension plans, among other things. NYC union RNs in 1966 took an action that raised the standard & salaries of nurses NATIONALLY from coast to coast. In the good old days before 1966, RNs mopped floors in their down time, didnt get vacation time, worked how ever many hours the hospital wanted them to work, and were not compensated for things like shift differentials, tuition, or even holidays. And the salary was less than $5,000/YEAR. That all changed across the country thanks to 2,000 good old union RNs in NYC.
So what good old days is this guy talking about? The ones in the 50's & 60's where if you were in nursing school during the day, the hospital your school was affiliated with also required you to be an unpaid nursing assistant in the evening?
You mean the good old days of the 70's where you never were allowed to speak to the doctors about the pts you were taking care of - only the charge nurse could discuss the pts with them - you just did what you were told to do by her - and dont ask any questions why?
So What good old days? The ones of "restructuring" & "downsizing"??? The ones in the 90s when they told us that RNs were "a dime a dozen", could be replaced (and were - with UAPs), didnt need 3 RNs to do the job that one could do with an aide - or without, and "if you dont like that - theres the door" ??? (incidentally, thats what started this shortage of hospital nurses - we found there was life on the other side of that door we were forced out of).
And just how ancient is this guy that he thinks we dont wear dresses to work because we are feminists? omg...... LOL!!
How come when it comes to money & quality of life, its OK for the doctors & the bosses to have that but nurses get put down for wanting the same thing - and told we are supposed to have only "compassion & caring". Ive had pets that showed compassion & caring. What does that have to do with anything?
I do agree with him on one thing though - the name tag issue:
<<<"Nurse Anne Smith," who used to be "Nurse Smith" is now just "Anne," leaving her without rank.......>>>
Last edit by -jt on Jul 27, '02