Dear Annie: Having been a registered nurse for the past 40 years, I have seen many changes in health care. I believe that nursing is a calling and not just a career. In my initial, youthful bliss, I took great joy in helping people in their hour of need. Patients and families were grateful and appreciative for every little thing that was done for them.
These days, young nurses are leaving their jobs at an alarming rate. This is because they are faced with budget cuts and unrealistic expectations of providing patient care with half the staff. Nursing is now a frustrating, unhappy and unappreciated vocation.
Most infuriating is the mindset of administrators. They run around with iPads taking “patient satisfaction” surveys on a daily basis. Of course, almost every patient has a complaint that the call light wasn’t answered fast enough or his or her pain medicine took too long to be administered – the list goes on. Of course, all these requests take longer to fulfill when there is no help!
These administrators, who make exorbitant salaries, then “counsel” staff to try harder. Well, I will tell you that I know of more than one nurse who has voiced her frustration with staffing – only to be met with a pink slip and security escort from the building. This was for having a “bad attitude” that was against the company’s core values.
Nurses are dealing with all of this and the heroin addicts who come in with their sometimes violent behavior, needles hidden where anyone could be stuck and dealers who deliver their goods to the bedside, resulting in an “in house” overdose that is then blamed on the nurses because we weren’t watching our patients closely enough. Does this sound like a place you could work for the entirety of your work life? I think not.
While nursing has provided me with a decent salary, it is not a calling any more. Luckily, I am only a few short years from retirement. I can’t wait to get away from this insanity. Prayers to any newbies; they’re gonna need them! – Too Old for This
Dear Too Old for This: Sounds like you are burned out, and I’m not sure how “short” those final years of working before retirement will feel. You know that the administrators will not change, so my advice is to work on your own perspective – to focus on the patients just as you did when you first started your career. The more you care for them, and the more you block out your feelings about the administrators, the more productive you will be and the faster these final years of nursing will be for you.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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