Posted by Bill Sandweg on 21 March 2022.
Hats off to nurses. They do most of the hands on work of providing medical care to the community. They are not well-paid for their efforts. The average salary for a registered nurse across the United States is about $77,000, not a lot of money in this day and age. Nursing assistants make around $31,0o0 per year and Licensed Practical Nurses around $49,000.
(Not all nurses look like these actors from the TV series Nurses.)
Let’s talk for a moment about what nurses must do to earn their salaries. I am going to limit my discussion to nurses who practice in hospitals. They are the ones who are probably the most front-line of the nurses.
Someone has to work the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift while the rest of us are sleeping. Someone has to work the Labor Day and Memorial Day shifts as well as the shifts on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that working these shifts is hard on the nurses and their families.
Nurses work hard under the best of circumstances. During the Covid pandemic, many have gone above and beyond what most of us would consider to be the call off duty. Not only have they been regularly exposed to a deadly virus, many of them have worked extremely long hours in understaffed hospitals overwhelmed by repeated surges of patients. Unsurprisingly, illness, death, exhaustion, burnout and depression have been common among these nurses. Many have found the work to be so hard that they have left the profession altogether.
As if these risks were not enough, nurses face the risk of physical assault while on the job. According top data published by the CDC, nurses faced a 13% risk of being violently assaulted in a given year. In other words, 13 nurses out of every 100 will be physically assaulted in a given year. On top of that, nurses face an even greater threat of non-violent assaults each year. 38 out of 100 nurses are subject each year to verbal assaults, sexual harassment and threats of violence, according to the same CDC data. Anecdotal reports from nurses themselves demonstrate even higher rates than reported by the CDC. In response to survey questions, 21% of nurses reported a physical assault in the preceding year and 50% reported a verbal assault. These statistics make nursing one of the most dangerous jobs around. Days lost to serious workplace violence are much higher in healthcare jobs than other industries.
In spite of these high numbers, many observers believe that workplace violence directed at nurses is underreported. Violent altercations are so common that many nurses just consider them part of the job.
Although current figures are not yet available, all available evidence points to a rise in assaults on nurses as patients and their families insist on unproven treatments or refuse to abide by masking policies or claim they or their loved ones are being wrongly diagnosed with Covid as part of a government plot. These are indeed troubled times for the nurses upon whom we depend so much.