Nurses Get The Short End Of The Stick.

It is never easy to be a nurse serving on the front lines of health care delivery.  Nurses know this.  Perhaps you have seen the stories about the number of nurses leaving the profession.  The reasons for their leaving are many and reflect poorly on our health care system.  We might be able to get along pretty well without venture capitalists but we can’t get along without a sufficient number of competent nurses.

Is nursing a profession or a job? - American Nurse -

There are two interrelated factors that are cited most frequently by nurses who are leaving the profession or thinking about it.  Burnout/Overwork and pay.  The Covid pandemic has largely run its course, but it was a terrible strain on the health care system and on nurses in particular.  Nurses had to show up for work, expose themselves to serious illness, and deal with a flood of very sick patients, many of whom died in their care.  Many times they were stretched particularly thin because some of their colleagues were sick or dying themselves.  A more potent combination of factors leading to burnout is hard to imagine.

Even though the worst of the pandemic is over, its effects linger on.  The nurses who did not leave the profession find themselves at hospitals or other care delivery locations without adequate staffing.  The nurses who remain are being asked to do more.  To top it off, they are not being paid for all of the extra work they are being asked to do.  Some of the hospital chains for which they work are making money hand over fist.  It benefits those chains to have fewer nurses to pay, if they can get those fewer nurses to care for more patients.  The empty staffing positions pad the bottom line for these hospitals.  The nurses rightly believe that they should share in these profits and, even if the hospital is not raking in the dough, they should be paid for the extra work they are being asked to perform.

Another related problem is that the nurses in general do not feel valued by their employers or by society as a whole.  They believe that some of the staffing shortages they face could be solved by their employers, if the employers wished to do so.  They suspect that their employers are not highly motivated to hire more nurses, if they can get the existing nursing staff to work harder.

Some doctors do not treat nurses with the respect they deserve as fellow medical professionals.  They look down on them.  They yell at them.  They blame them when things don’t go well.  They lord it over them.

Patients often don’t treat nurses well either.  Nurses are assaulted by patients more often than we would like to believe.  Nursing is a dangerous profession for many reasons and patient assaults is one of them.  A lot of mentally ill people, who are not getting the care they need, end up at hospitals where they are dumped in the lap of nurses who should not have to deal with mental illness.

There are, of course, other reasons why nurses are leaving the profession.  Some are reaching retirement age and are ready and deserving of a rest.  Some are returning to school to get a more advanced degree.  Some just want to take a rest.  Some do not want to be vaccinated against Covid or whatever the next infectious disease might be.

Add to all this the fact that we are not producing enough nurses to replace those who are leaving the profession.  In this respect the nursing shortage is much like our teacher shortage.  Little respect plus low pay equals an unattractive profession that few are flocking to join.  To make matters worse, our aging population will require more caregivers than ever.  We cannot afford to continue to treat nurses like this and expect someone to come the next time we ring the call bell next to our hospital bed.


Posted in Doctors, General Health, health, Health Care Costs, Hospitals, Nurses |