Healthcare is a hot button issue among politicians, economists and just about every citizen of the world. Or so it seems.
Regardless of where you stand on these issues, as a nurse, you know that the massive changes we have faced in nursing over the past several years have barely started.
Critical decisions being made today will affect how many nurses we have available to provide care, how much they will be paid, and what kind of quality care will even be achievable. To adequately address these problems and arguments would take enough words to fill a library. But in this space, what we cannot ignore is how we plan to adjust to the coming changes and the motivation we must draw from as nurses.
A grim forecast
The forecast for the nursing profession in America is grim in many ways. Any way we slice it, we are going to need more nurses than we will have. Many, if not most of us, will reach retirement age within the next decade. Studies show that we aren’t producing enough new nurses to replace us – mostly because there isn’t enough qualified faculty to teach them. Ironically, with the government cuts to healthcare and dramatic changes we face, new grads are not finding employment as they had hoped. As the need for LTC and dementia care increases, the funding decreases. All healthcare funding is changing, for the good and bad. It is expensive and very rarely optional.
We are mighty indeed – it’s the love of the job
There are no promises for employment stability, good pay, professional respect, or adequate staffing for today’s nurse in America. If nurses are to continue to find job satisfaction, they will need to remember why they chose nursing in the first place. Nursing carries with it a sense of honor, of value and motivation that extends well beyond the financial rewards of this employment. Nurses often describe the desire to care for others, to make a difference, to share themselves with those in need.
You can have your healthcare politics, your bottom line budgets and workplace efficiency models, but what’s going to keep nurses happily on the job are the patients. It will be the indescribable feeling when someone draws courage, peace and comfort from the nurse who stands in the gap for them between themselves and the health care needs they face.
We are mighty in the work we do and take pride in the squeeze of the hand from the old woman who is less afraid, the amazement on the face of the mother handed her newborn, the relaxation of the accident victim when the pain medicine finally kicks in… these are the things that keep nurses on the job. The gratitude of the family member, the hug from the child, the trust of the public knowing that we will still be there, to help however we can – this is what will keep us coming back.