Throughout my 23-year nursing career I have worked in many capacities too numerous to mention. I've become a staff educator, assistant director of nursing for a 500-bed facility, CNA/red cross training, long-term care supervisor and charge nurse, hospice nurse and, most recently, started my own advocacy business. I've learned the most valuable things in life from my patients and all these years, the nursing system has left certain marks on me that those on the front line will be able to recognize. These marks and also themes have never changed and I find it my obligation to illuminate other nurses on the truths of the nursing profession.
I am a fierce patient advocate and in nursing, the patient always comes first.
It is an honor and a privilege to minister to the sick, as they allow us into their lives at such an intimate, trying time.
Nurses often treat each other terribly, as does management, and this negativity trickles down from the top and, of course, that negative energy transcends on to the patients receiving care.
The nursing profession has become a business and for true humanitarians it becomes extremely difficult to work under monetary motivation.
Nurses are afraid to speak up for fear of being fired, something we've all witnessed far too many times.
Few nurses stay very long at a job because nursing burnout is high and there is no motivation to stay without a union to protect you or a pension plan to help you secure some kind of future.
Nurses have no recourse for grievances and no support groups. By the end of their nursing career, many are physically ruined, mentally exhausted and emotionally tapped out. I have witnessed so many nurses pass from strokes and heart attacks because of the constant stress along with broken marriages, relationships, etc. The stories go on and on.
Medicare is broken and Medicare scrutiny has gotten completely out of control, creating so much paperwork that RNs rarely deliver hands on care and have become, at best, pencil/paper pushers leaving the hands-on work to LPNs.
Did you know that Long Term Care (nursing homes) are second most regulated only to Nuclear Power Plants? That fact is absolutely mind boggling, but if you saw the amount of paperwork left for nurses to do, you would be just as "blown away".
If I ever hit the lottery or came into some kind of money that would allow me to leave my job, I would work to restore what nursing should be. Certainly, nurses would be 'unionized' and there would be plenty of support groups available for them. For God's sake, no one speaks the truth anymore, and if you can't admit the truth, then you can't work on the problem.
To all of you nurses out there – may God bless all of you. Your rewards are those you receive through the eyes of your patients for whom you made a difference.
In a world filled with greed and disregard for our fellow man, the world starts not with someone else, but in our hearts first, because we are the world. We can change it one nurse at a time.
I hope someday, in my nursing career, I can be a part of changing what our profession has become. I hope to help put dignity, hope and recognition back where it belongs - in the hands of these most precious people who chose to become nurses because they cared.
About the Author: Marge Helmuth has been a Registered Nurse for over 20 years. She has worked as a patient advocate, long term care consultant, staff educator, assistant director of nursing, medical/surgical nurse, and presently, as a hospice nurse, her most beloved position. "It is both an honor and a privilege to take care of those who are terminally ill. They are accepting a perfect stranger into their lives at such an intimate time, and have entrusted me with their care, giving them, what I hope is a death with dignity."
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