Nursing Professionals Need Respect Too

By NT Contributor on Thu, Aug 08, 2013

nursing professionalsI have been a nurse for almost 25 years and have seen many nursing professionals come and go. Early on, pay and concerns about occupational hazards played a large role in the nursing shortage. Now, pay is relatively competitive and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration have ushered in many safe guards for health care workers.

Professional journals report there are more nurses in America than ever, but fewer are working. Why is this?

As I see it, the awesome responsibility placed on nurses is overshadowed by the lack of respect. Media often portray nurses as dumb and sexy, eagerly trying to “catch a doctor”. Doctors often perform nursing duties on television. I remember someone once saying to me, “Too bad you couldn’t be a doctor.” Many people have adopted this idea that nurses settled for the profession rather than chose it.

When people learn that I am a nurse, they often share their “dumb nurse” stories. I also hear that nurses are lazy. However, in many of those instances, the staffers being criticized aren’t nurses. Nurses usually sit down only to complete the reams of paperwork demanded by the health care system. Most nurses I know will neglect the paperwork to care for the patient. Unfortunately, these same nurses are often reprimanded by administration for the lack of documentation.

The value of caregiving is at an all-time low, whether it is at the bedside or caring for children at home. Somehow we perceive a person who passes other opportunities to care for another as weak or unmotivated. It’s no wonder that sometimes public often fails to respect nursing professionals by not recognizing their strengths, skills and abilities.

Finally, most nurses I know want to give good care but are caught on the treadmill of a health care system asking more of fewer workers caring for a sick patient population. In 1985, I may have had 10-15 patients. Some merely required observation, and some were even admitted the night before surgery. Due to advances in outpatient and home care, today’s hospitalized population has needs too advanced for home or outpatient settings. This comes at a time of managed care and fierce competition among hospital systems.

As a result, consumers are promised safe, quality care but hospitals have shortage in nurse staffing. As a result, consumers are promised safe, quality care but hospitals provide minimal staffing.

Patients are in a hospital because they need 24-hour nursing care. As a result, nursing is one of the highest budgeted departments, and sadly, one of those most likely to suffer cutbacks.

Health care today is too often a business, not a service. The name of the game is profit, and profit is by reimbursement.

What can you do to help? I encourage nursing professionals to get involved in addressing the media’s portrayal of nurses and engage the debate on health care reform. Nurses must continue to be patient advocates and educate consumers.



5 COMMENTS

Anonymous 2 years ago
I have been a nurse since 1997. I have seen the acuity of patients climb and staffing decline. Many times there isn't enough time in the work shift to do AND document all that is accomplished. No enough time to do patient teaching that will enable the patient to hopefully make some valid lifestyle changes and participate more fully in his/her health maintenance. Frustrating seems to be the word that comes to mind. Lately I have found myself taking too little time to document on specific issues that the patient is facing and it, when re-read later seems judgmental because enough time wasn't taken to explain a discussion. I didn't enter nursing to be an average nurse. I want to be exceptional at all things related to nursing.
Nurse97

Anonymous 3 years ago
I could not have voiced this any better. We are constantly pushed to be leaving without paperwork finished. However, we have been on our feet trying to give that good care we so desire to give, medications,etc. Our patients are sicker and require more assistance. We cannot count on our CNAs to be able to get to every room in a timely manner. Frankly, having to explain why I don't leave on time is getting old from a charge nurse who leaves early when we are admitting patients. I like to go home too where my family is waiting, but since I know that chart will be audited for completion, I risk being fired for not clocking out on time!

Anonymous 3 years ago
I could not have voiced this any better. We are constantly pushed to be leaving without paperwork finished. However, we have been on our feet trying to give that good care we so desire to give, medications,etc. Our patients are sicker and require more assistance. We cannot count on our CNAs to be able to get to every room in a timely manner. Frankly, having to explain why I don't leave on time is getting old from a charge nurse who leaves early when we are admitting patients. I like to go home too where my family is waiting, but since I know that chart will be audited for completion, I risk being fired for not clocking out on time!

Anonymous 3 years ago
What a novel idea. It would do wonders tnso clear up the confusion. Bring caps and school pins.

Anonymous 3 years ago
I agree with the author ~ I have started wearing a Nurse Cap to show solidarity with my profession. The patients and their families know who the nurse is~ My patients love it and it reminds me I am a professional!