Nurses always come through (Even when they shouldn’t)

A series of posts cometh. Basically, I’m offering observations with a side of things you didn’t want to know about me thrown in. To keep things interesting, of course. It’s the end of the year and I’ve been lazy about posting so you’ll get a few leading up to the new year. 

Fact: I can’t sleep without an eye mask and ear plugs. Doesn’t matter time of day, my body doesn’t think it’s bedtime until the earplugs and mask go on.  

I returned to my assignment last night and everyone was super happy to have me back. I couldn’t decide if it was because they genuinely like having me there or if they’d been so short staffed they were glad for a body. Which leads me to today’s post… 

Nursing isn’t fun sometimes. If anyone told me being treated like crap by patients/families/doctors/administrators would be a normal thing, that being short staffed and management not doing anything, that sometimes you get fatigued for caring without receiving care yourself, I’m not sure I would’ve done this. 

I reap satisfaction from my profession where I can, but I’ve learned that whining doesn’t fix it so I suck it up. 

That’s what nurses do. We come in extra when we’re short, we paste on the smile when someone treats us terribly, we continue to work for the patient even when it seems like no one cares. We come through and we pull together, even when we shouldn’t. 

The consequences of “sucking it up”, of making due with less, of coming in extra until your overtime check in one week could fund a 6 day cruise to Caribbean is twofold. 1) the nurse gets burnt out. This leads to severe fatigue, dissatisfaction, and ultimately the decision to leave bedside nursing (or nursing all together), and 2) it continually sends the message to upper management that it’s okay to cut staffing or to make that the area that’s less important because the nurses always manage

We do though. We always troop ahead for the betterment of our patience at the expensive of ourselves. And when things go wrong? The nurse is the first crucified because (why was she working so many hours? Why didn’t she say she was too tired? Why didn’t she catch that mistake? Why didn’t she execute this step even though she was struggling to care for the other patients in her heavy assignment?) they should’ve known or done better somehow. 

I’m not proposing a strike or a sit-in or let our patients suffer. Don’t misinterpret my point. What I’m saying is we’ve gotten so good at doing more with less that those higher up just assume we can. It’s sad and I think it cripples us. We lack the voice many other professions have because we let ourselves be taken advantage of on a regular basis. 

Do I have a solution? Not really. Just something I seek to change so we all can grow. Maybe if we acknowledge it as a collective and those outside our profession actually see, then something will happen. But I guess this is the same struggle those of another race, gender, creed, etc. feel. We see the problem, but until someone outside lobbies on our behalf, things may not change. Intelligent dialogue and verbalizing is necessary so here’s my part in it. 

Here’s to a new year where we as nurses are valued beyond the cursory lip service.  

Travel on, road warrior. 

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