Saturday, May 17, 2008

ManPower Outage

Everyday for the past couple of weeks I have received a call from my friends in labor and delivery, where I work PRN as a staff nurse. It is a unit where I worked previously as regular staff, for seven years. Every day for the past couple of weeks they have called to see if I am available for this or that shift, or part of a shift.

I wish I could say yes every time they call. But I can't. I am only one person. One person with two other jobs, a family, and a life.
I wish I knew the answer to this problem. We know the nursing shortage is going to get worse. According to the US Labor dept, the nursing profession has the highest projected job growth through 2015. Or so I have read.

We (nurses) are not coming up with enough answers and that means the task is being left to our lawmakers. Some states have passed laws mandating nurse/patient ratios in acute care facilities. In other states, that legislation has failed. New job classifications have and continue to be created in an attempt to fill the gap. Those new jobs are related to task performance by marginally skilled labor. Unlicensed Assistive Personnel (UAP's, techs, whatever you want to call them). New levels of Certified Nurse Aides (trained to pass meds and perform other higher level skills). Nursing care is becoming fragmented and patient outcomes reflect that fragmentation of care.

I sometimes feel like I am the "fly on the wall" that sees what is happening when no one else is looking. It is frightening at times. The longer I am in the health care industry the more acutely I become aware that our nation is in need of health care reform. I am proud to be a nurse. I care about the health of our great nation. I want to know that everyone is able to have at a a minimum their basic health needs met. I am, and will continue to be a nurse because I care.


Terrie's Lil' Piece of Serenity said...

Hey, Sis! Great posting. I am very proud of you!! What's this? You're working in the garden? I want pictures, please!! I'm sure it's beautiful. I worked in the yard all day, too!! How's Kristi? She has her wisdom teeth removed. Give her a big hug from me!!
Luv Ya, Sis!!
The sound of rain is making me want to tinkle! lol

Adrienne Zurub said...

Interesting post.
Until Nursing itself gains empowerment and status in hospital settings and other healthcare settings there will continue to be a shortage.

Nursing is now a victim of expensive hospital marketing. Some people are lured into the profession with dreams of high wages, job flexibility and maybe an autonomous practice.

What they find is it 'ain't like that!'
When people find out the real deal they leave. These tend to be younger people who are not invested in the system and who 'took' the bonus and made off.

Nursing in many hospital settings still retains a 1950's attitude and aura amongst all the high technology and nursing week hype.

Nursing is hard work and a mostly thankless job. College educated graduates today did not signup that! They expected more...and rightfully so!

Many hospitals are still bastions of sexism, gender wage disparities, back-stabbing, and more.

If you are a RN 40 plus years of age, then you and I are perhaps part of the problem.
We have not done enough to change the system (yes, there have been meetings, committees, forums, town hall meetings, etc).

That is a simple truth.

Adrienne Zurub, RN,MA,CNOR

The Queen of Everything said...

Thank you for the comments, Adrienne. Definitely some food for thought. I am curious as to what you mean about the 1950s attitude.
Looking forward to reading your book.

It's Not About You (and other legal mumbo jumbo)

Hmm. It appears that most nursing or medical blogs have some sort of disclaimer. Apparently there is a need for such a thing, so here is mine:

1. Tis not about you. Any similarities to real people are purely coincidental.
2. No medical advice given here. Call your personal healthcare provider for health advice.