It is amazing to think that it has almost been a year since I wrote the “Dirty Secret That Is Destroying Nursing.” This article has inspired many nurses to stand up and start writing about the changes taking place in nursing. I am ecstatic that so many of us are taking a stand to open the eyes of those around us. The downside is that I am not sure if we are appropriately expressing our concerns.
In no way do I want our community to come across as being martyrs or to make others pity us for how hard our jobs are. I want nursing to be a fair profession. The problem isn’t providing excellent care… The problem is that hospitals are now being run like retail chains and that isn’t safe.
We have a responsibility to do no harm and to be advocates for our patients. When we write about new nursing expectations, we aren’t saying it is below us to give a patient’s family member a diet coke, it means that our priorities need to always be patient safety over patient satisfaction. We can wear many different hats and prioritize the importance of each task set in front of us, but it is unrealistic for us to be a server, a customer care specialist, and a nurse all that the same time.
I think it is safe to say that things are changing dramatically for nurses. We are seeing many experienced bedside nurses leaving the profession, and many newer nurses moving into roles away from bedside, such as nursing informatics.
We need to find a way to change the law, because performance based pay for hospitals is an unrealistic way for the government to cut down costly facility fees. If change doesn’t come, then maybe we’ll start to rally for paid for performance in all areas, including our government. Imagine if each month our government officials had to live with knowing that their monthly income could be reduced by 30% due to surveys of their constituents. Surveys based off several vague questions, where the only way to achieve full reimbursement was through complete public satisfaction.
I believe that if this trend of performance based pay was used in all other industries, the majority of the world would begin to better understand why the healthcare industry is having a hard time adjusting to changes. The problem is that consumers or patients don’t understand… this issue goes beyond the big mean medical industry having to provide better customer service. The issue is about unrealistic customer service expectations being the primary factor in determining our income, more so than in any other industry.
It could be argued that we should be held to higher standard since we hold people’s lives in our hands. However, our talents are best used keeping patients safe and healthy, over making sure they are completely satisfied from a customer service standpoint. Everyone should be treated with respect and dignity, and every medical provider should strive to provide exceptional care, but suggesting that a hospital stay should be graded on a Disneyland scale is ludicrous. Sadly not everything can be taken with a spoonful of sugar.
In order for us to take back nursing we need to find ways to change the system at the government level and work together to find an alternative solutions. Nursing is a wonderful profession that is both an art and a science, we want it to stay that way, so we need to find a way to evolve and preserve our craft.