Thursday, April 28, 2005

What part of "nursing shortage . . . ."

. . .don't they understand?

National Nurses' Day and Week are around the corner. Nothing is being done to honor the nurses who work in our facilities - nothing at a corporate level. The following week is National Nursing Home Week, so they will do some special activities then - but nothing specific to honor the nursing staff.

There is an ongoing and growing shortage of nurses in the country. The median of age of a registered nurse is 46. The need for more nurses will grow as the population ages.

Many studies have shown that people want basic appreciation as much, if not more, than an increase in salary and benefits. If you let me know that you think I'm valued and an important part of the organization, I will be more likely to stay with you through the lean times. However, if the opposite is true - you don't make me feel as if I'm worth your time, then I may look elsewhere.

Although there are applications coming into the schools of nursing, many schools cannot take additional students to fill the growing need - the number of nurse educators is dwindling faster than the number of general duty RNs. The median age of nurse educators is 55.

Long term care requires nurses who can look at the resident totally - nurses who can think independently - nurses with experience and assessment skills.

Many nurses leave the profession after less than 10 years, citing long hours, little time-off, lack of staffing, difficult patients, uncaring administration - including older nurses who "eat their young."

I've been a nurse for almost 40 years. For more than 30 of those 40 years, I've been in management/administrative positions, supervising staff and caring for patients/clients/residents. I now manage a department that is responsible for the quality of care for 18 nursing homes.

Lately it has not been easy:

In the last 6 months, my department as been downsized - we did not replace a regional nurse who resigned because the nurse chosen for the position was making 5K/year more than the highest paid regional nurse. So the position went unfilled and the ones left took over more duties.

One regional nurse, very much pregnant, was told that she couldn't park in a "visitors' spot" near one of her facilities - she had to walk up and down a steep hill ( in the winter) to get to the regular lot. She was told, when sick with first trimester nausea, that she shouldn't have worked from home - instead of traveling 100 miles to meet with another nurse - even though her supervisor (me) had ok'd it because the scheduled work could be done by phone and online. One was not allowed one day off for the death of her husband's grandmother. One of the regional nurses didn't get the promised raise - and I discovered that the HR person was spelling her name wrong. The facility directory came out with everyone's email addresses - all except the regional nurses. The afore-mentioned resigned regional nurse was still listed in the directory (and HER name was spelled wrong) - 9 months after her resignation.

These RNs worked for almost 2 years without a raise. All have been offered other positions at other companies and for more money. One month after a raise was given, an arbitrary decision was made to eliminate mileage for the first 30 miles of a round trip to any of our facilities - these nurses travel daily. This decision negated their raise while allowing the company to bankroll the raises of non-traveling employees. The decision was made without input from me or any other of the managers of regionals.

All of these things added together could make one feel . . .like, well . . .like . . .well, that you were not important - not valued - unnecessary to the operation of the company - a nonentity.

Just what does a regional nurse do? Looking at all the regional positions:

The Regional Dieticians (5 plus the manager) monitor the dietary departments. The RAI specialists (6 plus the manager and his assistant) monitor the assessment process and use of therapies. The Internal Auditors (5 plus the manager and his assistant) monitor the business offices and billing. The Regional Nurses ( 5 plus the manager) look at everything else: nursing, pharmacy, social service, activities, environment, quality indicators, documentation, incidents and accidents, provide inservices, orient new DONs . . . .

Just what part of nursing shortage don't they understand?

Just ask me before you make a decision that greatly affects my department and do NOT let me learn about it at the same time as my staff. Do NOT blindside me. Give me a warning and reasons, so I can be on your side - even if I'm really not.

You see, I'm an RN, too.
And there were 12 PAGES of ads for RNs on Not 12 ADS - 12 PAGES.

Just what part of nursing shortage don't YOU understand?


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