Nurses can’t find jobs either? What’s the truth behind this issue?
One thing that has happened in the past few months as 401Ks and other retirement funds have practically vanished, is that many nurses, who have not been actively employed for possibly even years, have returned to work.
With children in college, spouses losing jobs, and retirement funds evaporating, yes, many inactive or “retired” nurses have returned to the workforce. This will impact the nursing shortage to some extent, but will not solve it.
But, what else is really happening?
Nurses are being threatened and frightened into working mandatory overtime that states have regulated or outlawed. Nurses are being forced to take on nurse-to-patient ratios that are totally unsafe because administrators can hold their jobs over their heads. Working conditions and safe, quality, care are at risk!
Some states have passed nurse-to-patient ratio laws and have strong organized nursing unions enforcing them. But in far too many places, nurses have been afraid of such laws and hate the unions. Nurses will begin to see that hospital administrators, faced with huge reimbursement problems, are going to cut the nursing staff first and foremost because they have new found power to control the nurses.
Fearing the loss of jobs, benefits and retirement funds, nurses will buck up and work under the worst of circumstances once again. Out of a false sense loyalty to the patients they serve, nurses will martyr themselves and continue to try to provide the best care they can.
But what about the quality of patient care and safety issues, never mind putting their own license on the line because they are overworked and burned out? Then where does this loyalty to the patients they serve stand?!
This economic downturn is going to prove to be one of the biggest issues nurses have had to deal with in many years! It already is.
Nurses need to remain strong and stand up for the patients. There is data available to support the theories that quality of care diminishes, and people die when nurses are not supported.
Medicare, for one, has instituted many important reimbursement factors and continues to collect and analyze data regarding the quality of patient care. There are numerous “do not pay” rules that affect reimbursement for hospitals such as decubs, UTIs from catheters, and blood clots post op.
Medicare also maintains a database of hospital comparison based on specific criteria and outcomes which illustrate the quality of care (or lack of) provided in hospitals all across the U.S. This too is used by Medicare to determine reimbursement rates, and it is hoped that consumers will seek out this data and avoid these institutions when they have a choice in health care.
Nurses have the power to make a difference not only in the lives of the patients they individually care for, but also in the overall quality and safety in care they collectively provide. This power cannot be relinquished for fear of losing jobs in a bad economy. Nurses have a voice and cannot go silent!!
Institutions that value patients and continue to strive to provide quality care to patients continue to have nursing vacancies because there continues to be a shortage of nurses. Those institutions who don’t value quality patient care, probably don’t have many vacancies because they have cut staff to the bare bones and have a hiring freeze.
Nurses need to stand strong and work together to continue to demand better working conditions and not lose ground that has been hard fought to gain in the past 30 years by falling prey to those who value the dollar more than lives. There is a lot more to be lost than jobs.
By Kathy Quan RN BSN ©2009 by Ultimate Nurse.com ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Kathy is the owner/author of TheNursingSite.com and the author of four books including The Everything New Nurse Book.