I have had a similar "label" for years. I am never wishy washy, I am confident, not cocky. I have tattoos and have been riding Harley's since 1983. I will advocate for my patients as well as my coworkers, regarless of whether it's a conversation that's "comfortable" for everyone. I call it like I see it and do not sugar coat anything. I certainly don't fit the "image" of your typical, Florence Nightingale nurse.
I have earned the respect of my coworkers, doctors and colleagues. I have a reputation for being one of the best nurses in our rural community, which is a fact that is reported by previous precepters, colleagues and many doctors that I have worked with. By "best" I am referring to my nursing practice, which I do pride myself in saying, is on point at all times. I have always told people that I can honestly say that I may have not been the best wife, Mom, sister, daughter, but I know that I am a damn good nurse. I belive that there is a very distiguished line between right and wrong and I have no problem questioning anyone, whether it's a housekeeper or a surgeon, if I don't beieve that a patient is getting the care they deserve.
An example,: I had just moved back to my home state and had taken a temporary position as a floor nurse in a LTC facility. I had my own "wing" of patients and I did meds, treatments, etc, just like a typical LTC facility. Well, I had 6/20 clients with permenant Foleys and from the time I started working there, I questioned everyone about their "policy" regarding Foley's/leg bags. Their expectation was that these clients would have the Foley bag on overnight and be switched to a leg bag during the day, for dignity issues. Now, I can completely understand this if these folks were going out into the community, but these were clients who basically didn't leave the building. This drove me crazy because one of the first things we are taught is that Foley's are a major source of infection and just the thought of the bags being disconnected, at least twice daily, made me cringe, but when I asked, I was dismissed and told that it was policy. About 2 months into my employment t, 4 of the 6 patients had been hospitalized because they became septic. I questioned the policy, again and was again basically told to shut up and pass meds. Well, that was the wrong answer as far as I was concerned and now I was pissed off. I spoke to one of my LNA's about the situation and found out additional information that just about made me come unglued. Not only was the policy to change out the bags, but they were RINSING the bags, shoving them in a plastic bag and REUSING them ???! I was completely floored, but this practice was confirmed by several colleages, including nurses !! I calmly gathered my LNA's and clearly told them that they were NOT to reuse any bag, at least on my shift. I told all of them that if they feared having a problem, to just come and get me and I would change it myself. Well, of course, I got pushback from one LNA, who I quickly told that if she didn't like it, she could ask to work on another wing, remining her that it was MY license on the line, not hers. She wasn't thrilled and I had no doubt that she would be running her *** up to tattle on me, but I didn't care. I spoke to my direct Supervisor, and he confirmed nonchalantely that, yes, this was the practice.
I had two shifts left in my week, and of course, this situation was bugging the crap outta me, so I decided I'd check into things a little further. During dinner, I went around and collected all of the bags that were in patient's rooms for reuse, put them in a garbage bag and replaced them with new bags, in the package. I didn't hear a peep. Then, after everyone was in bed, I went around and replaced all of the old bags, used during the day. I can tell you that it was horrifying. I took the garbage bag to my supervisor and told him to open it up and take a peek. The bags were not being rinsed and some of them had mold growing in them. The smell was brutal. He didn't say a word, except to throw the blame on the LNA's for not rinsing them. I wanted to snap, but I reeled myself in and calmly told him that I would not allow this to happen on my shifts and that they could deduct the cost of the replacement bags out of my paycheck if necessary, but this wasn't going to continue on my time. I also reiterated this with my LNA's. When I came in the following week, I was called to "the office" and told by the DON that I was to follow their policy, regardless of whether I liked it or not. I quit. When I left, I made it clear that I'd be making a phone call, because if this was my family member, I would be furious. Last I knew, they have continued to follow this policy.
The moral of this story is this: NO ONE likes people who speak up. In any business, which is what healthcare has become, the "squeaky wheel" doesn't get the grease, they get canned. There isn't a person on this planet that can tell me that by reusing catheter bags, they were making a dent in their budget (when they probably cost ten cents a piece) and the fact that any medical professional can tell someone, with a straight face, that this is an actual "policy", speaks volumes for what we are up against.
I am turning 55 in September and have been a critical care nurse for 16 years and it's for reasons like this that I will probably retire. I just can't stand to watch some of the things that are happening. I became a nurse to help people and hopefully make a difference in peoples lives. Unfortunately, nurses have become a combination of glorified waitresses and underpaid therapists for patients and robotic, verbal punching bags for big corporations. This isn't what I signed up for and I will always be the "squeaky wheel", I guess. Anyone can make it in the nursing field, as long as you keep your mouth shut and do as you're told. That will never be okay for me. It just won't.