Nurses Make a difference

I'm truly confused as to how this scenario continues to exist in our healthcare system and no other system that I know of, so please help me understand why, just why nurses are okay with being treated this way.

Here it goes: You are hired as a nurse for 36 hours a week. You're hired on a particular unit but wait it really isn't the unit you'll be working for at all; because the hospital isn't staffing for patient care they are staffing for patient census.

So this is what happens. You're ready to go to work for your shift, you've arranged your week and your day around going to work for 3 pm. You get a call at 1 pm and are told not to come in because the census is low. One nurse on face book actually posted "yes boss I'll take a paid day off". So I asked her if it was really a paid day off? Nope it isn't. Not by the hospital anyway. YOU have to take your vacation time to get paid for that day. Or you might feel fortunate that they give you an option to "float". 

Floating has it's problems. Lots of problems. First you go to a unit you're not familiar with; you don't know where the supplies are; the culture of the unit; the anxcillary staff of the unit and the patient population of the unit. But from the hospitals' point of view you are the nurse. So a nurse is a nurse is a nurse. I saw that culture coming to light when I was in management and appalled with the fact that they wanted at that time transfer ICU nurses into the Emergency Department. They are two totally different practices. Yet the hospitals idea was we would have a pool of nurses to work from these two units. Are they both critical care nurses. Absolutely but from two different perspectives in training. Completely different. 

Not long ago on a busy Friday night in a Level I Trauma Center in our city and there with one of our clients who had fallen. We didn't see the nurse for a very long time. So I washed the face of our client; changed his bloody clothes; straightened out his bed and kept his oxygen going. I had to beg to get his IV fluids changed and have an xray ordered. The nurse finally came in closed the door and started to cry. She said she was floated there and has never worked in the ER. She was in the trauma room and had no idea what she was to do. She was told she had 8 other patients out in the unit and had no idea who they were. I consoled her as much as I could and she went off to get some things done. Our client was admitted. The following day I stopped in the ER to talk to the manager. I shared this experience with her. She immediately responded wanting to know who that nurse was so she could make sure she was spoken to. Now you, see this is the culture of healthcare. They don't look at this as being a systems issue but look at this being a problem with the nurse. It wasn't a problem with the nurse. She didn't belong there. That wasn't her expertise. If I had given her a name I assure you that nurse would be sanctioned in some way.

It's not that a nurse is a nurse is a nurse. And it's not that a nurse should be a "hospital" nurse. We all have our expertise and our experience. We should be treated as professionals but we aren't. We're treated as cattle that can be pushed here and there depending on where they want us to graze that day or that shift to fill a spot. It's not the way to care for patients. Patients need and should have continuity. This is one of the reasons there is no one in charge when you go to the hospital. 

Now let's turn the tables around here and see what would happen if they did this to doctors. First of all cancel them when the census is low. Would they tolerate that? My guess is NO. Would that ever happen. NO.

Now let's see how it would work to take a doctor and have them float to the units that have a larger census. Let's take the neurologist and tell them that the census is low in the hospital with neurological issues so you take the day off; use your own vacation time to get paid or you can float. How about they float over to maternity? or perhaps surgery? Yes because they are a doctor right? A doctor is a doctor is a doctor. This would never be tolerated by physicians. NEVER!!!

My question is WHY DO NURSES IN THE HOSPITALS TOLERATE BEING TREATED THIS WAY!! A nurse is not a nurse is not a nurse. Yet this one nurse on facebook was jubilant in having the day off an aggravated and I'm sure unfriended me when I asked why? Why would she be happy to be canceled and then have to use your own time to get paid for a job you were hired for??? Why is this even legal?? And why when nurses are the most employees in the hospital yet they all put up with being treated this way?? Why? I have no idea. 


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Sharon Gauthier RN/MSN/CGM

Certified Dementia Practitioner