Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Responsibilities of an RN

I go into a discussion with a coworker - not a nurse - the other day. She became very exasperated with me. She couldn't understand when I said that if I was an RN on a shift in a nursing home and the next shift's RN called off and there were no other RNs to cover that shift (the facilities own or an agency), I would have to stay and be the nurse on duty, giving meds, doing treatments and giving resident care....
Even if I was management?
Even if I had a doctor's excuse stating that I could not physically do bedside nursing?
Even, even, even....
The needs of the vulnerable residents on the unit supersedes all else.
Think Katrina - and the residents in the facility that wasn't evacuated and the staff that stayed (and didn't go home to help their own families). Or the hospital in the middle of New Orleans and the staff that stayed with some still hauled up on charges of alleged mercy killings. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

This is why we're burning out the nurses that do work for a facility and this is why agencies have grown so rapidly.

Some people say there's not a shortage of nurses, just a shortage of nurses who want to work in a hospital or nursing home. Is it because of the previous scenarios?

Why work for a facility and have those overwhelming responsibilities when you can work for an agency, no facility-responsibility and more money - and be able to have your own life?

So: to my psychologist and my psychiatrist (and yes, I have both now): It would be damn hard, with this RN, after my name, to find another job that would not take advantage of those two little letters - even with a doctor's excuse.


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