Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Snark Alert! Nursebots' Week: Humanity is a Doormat
lion image credit: Nathan Nitzky
We now interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for this important public service announcement:
Readers, consider yourselves forewarned: You knew I couldn't possibly make it through a Nurses' Week keeping my mouth shut. So here it is, my thought for the week...
I haven't been on my soapbox about health care in a while, but this is a time of year that always lights a fire under my butt. I'm not having to deal with it directly anymore, which has done wonders for my physical and mental health, but I have many friends and colleagues who are still being rocked seasick on the tsunami of health care reform in the age of corporate dominion.
You've read my other posts and rants about nursing, I've said these things before, as have so many other people. Here's my take this time.
Patricia Singleton's excellent blog about abuse and healing from incest has much that is applicable to the corporate workplace. In a recent post she was writing about healing and educating, and stopping the abuse.
She writes, "It is through silence that...abuse has been allowed to continue and flourish for so long and become an epidemic in our world."
She further states, "If we don't educate people, who will...Abusers thrive in the silence. They count on the silence of those that they abuse. They count on the subject to continue to be taboo in society. The silence gives them free reign to do what they want. I refuse to be silenced again."
Workers are scared, they want to keep their paychecks, they have seen how the system handles dissent or differences of opinion. Retaliation is rampant, I experienced it the minute I opened my mouth. When the powers that be don't get blind allegiance and compliance, they do things to try to get rid of people. They threaten them with unsavory working conditions and force them to quit.
Someone has to talk about it, former coworkers tell me the old trick of writing letters doesn't seem to get any traction, and these people are so exhausted and defeated that they have no hope that their efforts will work. Conditions keep getting worse. Staffing won't get any better thanks to the dumbasses at the top, who cut regular staff and then have to hire expensive travel nurses to replace them, so that they can slide their Teflon-coated tactics just under the wire of getting dinged for dangerous work conditions. On what planet does this make sense?
The privileged and tone deaf executive class's planet. To be a fly on the wall at an ACHE conference...
It's outright abuse of health care workers. But it's part of the big picture of what we're doing to people everywhere in this country, the old, over-repeated story of the rich getting richer and the average people getting squeezed to death. People accept it because they feel powerless to change it, because they are too exhausted.
It's not a "caring profession" like the nursing school instructors tried to impart to us in their pathetic attempt to sell us a line of bullshit. Nursing schools are part of the problem, they keep the dysfunctional cycle going.
What kind of caring profession allows it's members to be lucky to make it through a work day without making a mistake? Who can care when they don't have time to look at the patient because there's so much charting to do? Not being able to take time to pee or eat for a 13 hour shift? Throwing pills in front of the patient and running out of the room? Clocking out and working for free after 12 hours because you didn't have time to chart everything but you'll get in trouble if you go into overtime?
I ran into a former coworker from the ICU in Starbucks last week. She was getting off night shift. She gave me an earful and she's always very animated and expressive about what's going on. Nothing I hadn't heard already from the others I keep in touch with.
I saw another hospital worker in there recently, early in the morning. I can remember those mornings, going in for my shift and walking across the bridge from the parking garage, seeing the downtrodden body language and frowns of people who used to smile and greet each other.
It was interesting listening to my former coworker talk. I was able to keep a detached and very occasionally amused distance from it, that means I am healing and not so personally wrapped up in it anymore. But I still feel the anguish and the frustration. It is a horribly stuck feeling. I see it in the twisted foreheads and heavy shoulders of these defeated, exhausted people. This is what we're allowing to happen to our fellow human beings. The same ones we expect to take care of us when we're sick.
Is there anyone out there who sees this and will take a sane approach? I will not see that in my lifetime, I doubt it. Elizabeth Warren talks about the parallels in the banking industry and how the little guys are getting abused by the way the system is stacked against them.
I do have hope that the millenials will turn things around. They will have to, or they will be doomed to a miserable existence. No one is investing in their future, instead, the older generations are sucking them dry, making money off of their futures. You can't prune the tree and expect it to bloom when you don't water the roots.
I am constantly amazed by the fact that the health care industry has no leaders who recognize that in taking all these steps forward, then panicking over missteps, staying focused on cutting costs, they are killing the workers and that leads to worse health care.
From physicians to nurses to techs to the people who take out the trash and serve the cafeteria meals, if they take the fast track to overworking everyone and burn them all out then what will we have? Richer CEOs and no health care. Mistakes. Injuries. Deaths.
The whole thing makes no sense whatsoever. Nursing doesn't even make sense anymore in this health care debacle. Keep on burning out physicians and making them leave medicine or preventing the brightest ones from entering it. Keep on grooming nurse practitioners, until there's a glut. Keep on relegating registered nurses to the status of court reporters.
Not that court reporting isn't an important job. It's just that when you're dealing with people's life and death situations when they are sick, you need to be able to focus on the sick person and not the transcription process.
Hell, court reporters make about as much as nurses do, with a lot less stress. They don't have to worry about killing someone.
I am sad to say that I no longer recommend that anyone take up nursing as a career. Recently someone asked me if I would attend a middle school career day to talk about nursing. I couldn't attend due to a prior commitment, but after thinking about it I realized I couldn't live with myself if I contributed to the lie.
The next time someone considering nursing wants career advice, I know what to suggest!
We will now return to our regularly scheduled program...Adventures in Iowa...