If you are a nurse or know a nurse, you know we are overworked, underpaid, don’t eat for 13 hours, and can’t find time to use the restroom. We are required to do more for high acuity patients with less resources. Safe staffing levels are debated and discussed, but most nurses agree that we put ourselves and our patients at risk every day. According to the American Nurses Association “Registered nurses have long acknowledged and continue to emphasize that staffing issues are an ongoing concern, one that influences the safety of both the patient and the nurse. As long as we continue to complain and do nothing, nothing will be different. #nurse #nurseproblems Click To Tweet”
Rants and Complaints
Rants, complaints, and negative attitudes perpetuate the cycle of dissatisfaction and nurse burnout. Every day nurses dread going to work at jobs they used to love. Before the shift starts, the anticipation of a lousy day without bathroom breaks or food, excessive patient loads, limited supplies and unsafe working conditions set the mood and tone on nursing units. The attitude is as infectious as virulent illness. There are a plethora of complainers, from mumbles in the locker room to social media rants. I recently stumbled on a new blog called Florence is Dead. This anonymous nurse blogs about everything that bugs her in nursing. I can’t disagree with most of her complaints (I actually enjoy reading her bitchfest). The complaints are universal in our world, applying to all hospital units. She also says it is time for a change and she’d like to be part of that change, but offers no positive steps toward any goal. As long as we continue to complain and do nothing, nothing will be different.
As long as we continue to complain and do nothing, nothing will be different.
First, develop a positive attitude. Nobody listens to whiners and complainers. The name of the game these days is solution oriented or goal oriented, not problem oriented. Healthcare is a big business. Yes, I said business. Numbers. The bottom line. Government regulations. And in any business, citing problems and complaints without a suggestion for change is a no-no. Read a perspective changing book like The Success Principles (no I am not getting paid to plug that).
Second, decide if nursing is really what you want to do. Would you be happier doing something else? It’s never too late to change. Me, I’d rather stay and be part of the new paradigm. I love what I do. Thirty years ago when I started as a new nurse, the landscape was much different. I expect it will keep evolving and be different in the next thirty years. Let go of the past and be part of the future. Don’t be your own worst enemy.
Don’t be your own worst enemy.
Third, remember united we stand. Join the American Nurses Association and your State chapter. Join the ANA in supporting The Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act H.R. 2083/S.1132. Versions of this have been introduced for years but die in subcommittees. Write to your Senators and Representatives and ask them to support the legislation. Here, I’ll make it easy for you to find them. Check the progress on the bills. Did you know that both are reported to have a 0% chance of being enacted? Who, besides us, even knows or cares about it? It’s up to us to spread the word.
In New Jersey, opposition includes the New Jersey Hospital Association. I find that to be outrageous. Write those letters and ask for support.
Volunteer for committees in your institution that focus on being a liaison between nurses and administration. As much as we think it’s an us-against-them situation, I believe in the end we all want the same thing: healthcare excellence.
A Few Last Words
I don’t have all the answers. I wish I did. But I do know that continuing down the same path will lead us to the same place. Let’s join together and be change agents. If you have answers or suggestions, please share them!