Saturday, December 16, 2017
On Power, Nursing, and Sunsets: A Long Overdue Rant!!
"My job is ________ (insert true purpose), not to be a cog in the wheel!"
Okay, so as a nurse, I would fill in the blank with patient advocacy.
Why THIS rant, and why NOW?
It's been quite the week, or several...
Recent events have reminded me of why I left traditional healthcare setting to become a nurse entrepreneur and do the work I am passionate about.
One is the Harvey Weinstein scandal and all of the related accusations that have followed.
Another is the latest revelation of an eye surgeon physically assaulting a nurse in the operating room, in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in West Hollywood.
Still another is hearing someone's account of going through the wringer just to get a diagnosis and chance at treatment of her metastatic cancer.
And another is being almost done with my book, and after toning down my passion and enthusiasm so as not to be perceived as angry, I was told I need to put some teeth back in the book by my most honest critic, which I gladly did. (Why can't women be angry? We certainly deserve to be. Those are valid feelings. We don't have to shut up because it makes somebody uncomfortable.)
And finally, today I received yet another e-mail from a nursing organization offering a continuing education module, sponsored by a drug company, about pancreatic cancer.
What do all these things have in common?
They all have to do with a power gradient and how the powerful can push, shove, elbow, sneak, and bludgeon their way to maintaining the status quo.
Hearing about the surgeon assaulting the nurse, according to the allegations, the surgeon was barely slapped on the wrist, while the nurse was bullied by the powers that be, reducing her hours, moving her to a different floor, and not being taken seriously. It doesn't matter that it was not sexual assault. Harvey Weinstein used his power to manipulate, threaten, and ruin the careers of women who did not acquiesce to his demands. Nurses are seen as an expense in the healthcare system, expected to stay quiet, cooperative, and inexpensive. Surgeons, on the other hand, are revered as money makers. In a healthcare system that values profit over patient outcomes, this is what you get.
And if a patient is emotionally needy, scared, and anxious, maybe even a bit dramatic, the doctors avoid her, push her out of the way, write notes to each other about her, and try to push her off onto someone else. Instead of seeing her for where she is and what she's facing, and considering what might be driving her behavior, the doctors are focusing on the behavior and seeing the patient as the problem.
To top it off, I saw this email about continuing nursing education on pancreatic cancer. I like to keep up with the latest in cancer treatment, and I opened the email to read the information inside. I skimmed over it, finding very little useful information, and when I reached the bottom, there it was, sponsored by Celgene.
Just another one of those mind-numbing continuing education opportunities that continue to focus more on the characteristics of the disease and treatments themselves, rather than on helping the patient heal and regain quality of living. Once again, there was plenty of material about the common symptoms and disease characteristics, but at the end , a few crumbs were thrown in the direction of mentioning quality of life, without any substance or real attempt to help nurses develop new tools or skills to make a difference for patients where they exist in their own lives.
And this is the problem in nursing- because nurses are an expense, expendable, and an afterthought, we are thrown a few crumbs by the big powerful drug companies, who make it easy for us to digest what they want us to parrot to the patients, to keep them coming back for more. Meanwhile, the qualities of creativity and intellectual curiosity are removed from nurse education. Who wants to be creative or investigate new ideas when they've been on their feet for 13 hours?
Being a cog in the big wheel of profit-driven healthcare is what is expected of nurses. Even if we get assaulted on the job. And it's happening more frequently. We're speaking out.
It's very frustrating to the powerful to not get their way.
Before I forget, watching Roy Moore's horse's ass ride off into the sunset- his defeat was delightful. It was a wonderful occasion to appreciate a Hanukkah present for this nonobservant JEW. You schmuck. And your evil wife.
I love sunsets, don't you?