Nursing shortage is still at a critical point. Due to the present day economic crisis nursing schools can’t provide the financial resources to staff enough teachers to train nurses to fill vacant positions. Insurance has made it that only critical patients remain in hospitals, patients are being shuffled out faster. Critical patients put more of a strain on nurses who already have heavy patient load due to the ongoing nursing shortage.
I was a nurse in a hospital and rehab/nursing facilities. I started to detest my job. I couldn’t perform like my hero, “Clara Barton,” instead I was morphing into, “Nurse Hatchet.” I had to get through my eight hour shift with minimum interaction with my patients, pass out medications quickly, and dress wounds as fast as I could, in order to rush in to my next patient. Sometimes it was difficult to even acknowledge there was a person in the bed. I had to make sure I documented and double checked everything I did, signed everyone of those little tiny eye straining medication boxes, chased down missing medications, chased down doctors, and completed all treatments and paperwork in order to be finished by the end of my shift.
I avoided looking in rooms when I passed because patients might request something, and I had to ignore call bells. Patients needed someone to talk to, and I didn’t have the time, I had to keep scurrying. And please don’t have a patient go critical on me, because that would take up too much of a patient’s allotted five minutes and make me neglect other sick souls. I wasn’t an octopus; I was only a nurse with two hands and two very tired feet. And my supervisors didn’t want to hear any complaints because they wanted to get through their shifts without trauma or drama. Supervisors were too busy begging nursing staff to do doubles because of late minute call-ins, trying to fill shifts with minimum available nursing staff. And nurses keep working short-shifted. Hospital facilities reply to the nursing shortage is increase patient load per nurse ratio. And even though there is a nurse shortage, hospital beds are kept filled because the facility has to make money. Patients mean money, and nursing staff have to maintain the excellent integrity of their medical facility.
I may have exaggerated about the way I personally performed my duties, but the nursing profession has drastically changed in my eleven years of nursing, from when I was eager to be the best outstanding, “Clara Barton.” My job was becoming tedious, tiring, and back-breaking. My co-workers were also disgusted and morale was extremely low. And there are no reasonable excuses you can offer patients for the amount of time they have to wait for care, especially when they ring for pain medications. Patients deserve good quality care and especially nursing care, sometimes just to listen to their fears. Nursing care encompasses physical, emotional, and social needs of patients. The nursing shortage has changed aspects of nursing for the worst. Older nurses are retiring, which executives report may be one of the reasons for the nursing staff shortage. Dedicated nurses are running away from the profession because they’re burnt out.
Why would someone want to be a nurse today with the continued low salaries and increasingly difficult high demands when they could possibly find a much easier job? Get paid and not get hands soiled, risk blood borne diseases or other infections, or face crazed family members. There are no real advantages to being a nurse today, besides self-satisfaction. No incentive bonuses, cars, stocks, retirement funds. No great salary increases for time served. I didn’t make much more than when I started eleven years ago. To be a nurse you have to have that caring quality, to give another human something in their time of need.
Patients are suffering. Nurses try to do their best because each nurse really has that certain, “caring nature,” in their personality in order to stay in this field, but nurses burning out are still happening, because of the nursing shortage and the demands of the job. In the past year I worked I saw an increase of nurses leaving the work place, totally overwhelmed at what was expected of them, with no support systems in place.
People are living longer, requiring services in nursing facilities or at home. Patients are leaving hospitals needing continued nursing services at home. Nurses will always be needed to assist these people. Families aren’t capable of providing the services trained nurses perform. So why isn’t the critical shortage being addressed besides just having long discussions? Why isn’t money being granted to help schools train nurses?
Who was the head executive who set nurse’s salaries? There has to be a way to increase nurse’s salaries because nurses also have families to support, and physically can’t keep working double shifts safely to staff facilities in order to pay personal bills. Why can’t there be money available to offer more free tuitions or scholarships, staff nursing schools, and develop ways to attract nursing students. Offer incentives. Money talks in this economy, ask any politician, movie star, or sports figures with their high salaries.
Administrative staff and supervisors need to work with nurses, discuss and observe issues short handed nurses deal with every day, and not just come out behind their desks when there are problems or when a state audit is going on. During these events you’ll see everyone coming out of the woodwork to straighten things out, make the facility look great, and make sure all paperwork is completed before they fade away like a termite swarm. Offer nurse’s support because we’re walking through a mine field every day attempting to prevent problems, maintain patient safety, and treat patients the way they deserve to be treated. We’re drowning now. Unfortunately accidents occur because of short staffing, pure exhaustion, and burnout. Nurses don’t have more than two eyes or two hands to observe and treat patients. High patient load is dangerous.
One day everyone will probably require some form of nursing care. Wouldn’t you be more comfortable knowing nurses tending to you or your loved ones are nurses who aren’t stressed out? A loving touch, (aka Clara Barton,) does more towards healing at times, than a quickly handed out expensive drug.
I consider myself to be one of the special nurses who did care, and tried to talk to patients, even though I found myself backing away towards the door, having to rush in order to finish my shift assignment. Sometimes at home I felt miserable, wondering if I should make the difficult decision to leave the nursing profession I loved, due to the difficult working conditions. I felt I couldn’t fairly give my patients what they deserved, what I was trained to do. And sadly there’ll be more good nurses who may think the same because of the critical nursing shortage.
Everyone should care about the nursing shortage, speak up and demand changes, because good nurses will always be needed. I know I wouldn’t want a nurse who has no available time to be with a patient, except in a dire emergency. The bell that’s ignored or not answered in a timely fashion could be yours. It’s lonely and scary being in a hospital room between starched white sheets. And the majority of nurses really do care about their patients. We’re just forced into not being able to do the compassionate job we want to perform. There are bad apples in every field, and unfortunately they’ll increase because some nurses just don’t care anymore. I just hope someone finds an answer to curtail this nursing shortage and keep good nurses out there working, caring for patients the best way possible, allowing nurses to walk out at the end of their shift proud of the duty they performed. Right now there’s a drastic need to halt the nursing shortage.
To find out more about nursing shortage, the reasons, and what can be done, please click on the link below from, American Association of Colleges of Nursing.