February 11, 2006, 1:34 pm

Mama Gonna Clock You Out!

This is wrong is so many ways.

First of all, the groovy early ’70s tunic. We’re talking Osmond Brothers era here. People were still mourning the Beatles. Bras were smoldering, but not yet burning.

I never knew that the purpose of a nursing uniform was to cause a disturbance in the cardiac function of anyone with an MD who happened to be in the vicinity.

I must have missed that lecture in pathology.

The ad also assumes the doctor this nurse will be working with is of the male persuasion.

The only good thing I can say about this ad is that it shows a woman of color in a professional capacity. If my memory serves me correctly, I don’t remember seeing a lot of that back then.

Of course, I could be wrong. It could be an ad for ensuring the health of our medical doctors by assessing their blood pressure every shift, and making sure that nurses act as “gatekeepers”, so the physician is never stressed beyond his capacity to cope.

Pardon me, I have a strong urge to gag.

With all due respect to my male nursing colleagues, we’ve come a long way, ladies.


A few posts ago I mentioned that the giant health conglomerate for which I (happily) work, decided to implement a new procedure that requires everyone to now clock in and out for both their shift and their lunch break. (Not the doctors; they are not hospital employees).

I find this to be professionally insulting.

There is a seven minute leeway in terms of signing in and out, which is good.

You can punch out at 23 minutes after the hour and still be paid in full or you can punch in 7 minutes after you are due into the unit and still be on time.

So, you’re thinking, what’s the problem?

Well, this seven-minute leeway does not apply to the lunch period. If you punch in one minute too late after your lunch break, you get docked 15 minutes of pay.

Being nurses, we have learned how to exploit the system.

Here’s how:

  • Rule One: Never pee on your own time. All urination is done while “on the clock” be it before or after your break is done.
  • Rule Two: One nurse must make coffee before actually swiping out. This is so the rest of us may enjoy our cups without having to make it “off the clock”.
  • Rule Three: All food is purchased from the cafeteria before punching out. Most of us just run down there and buy what we want during the beginning hour or two of the shift so that it is ready for us on our “official” break. Plus, the first nurse can report on what is being served that day.
  • Rule Four: all food is heated in the microwave on company time. Some of those meals take 10 minutes to heat up, allowing only 20 minutes to eat and digest, leading to acid indigestion and requiring us to sneak Maalox from the till. So you see, this is in the company’s best interest.
  • Rule Six: take the little timer thingy and time it to allow yourself 30 seconds to get to the clock to swipe back in.
  • Rule Seven: Don’t stand at the time clock waiting for just the right time to punch out. It makes you look like cattle waiting for the rancher to open the stall. Either punch out early and take the dock or keep working until it’s time to go.

So, as you can see, we pretty much have it covered. I personally like to do crossword puzzles or that damned new puzzle, Soduku on my break, so I make sure that I have the paper folded “just so” and my good pen and that the couch in the breakroom is clear before I punch out.

Gee, just what I thought my life would be like as a PROFESSIONAL REGISTERED NURSE.

Run by the clock.


  • Bardiac

    February 11, 2006 at 2:22 pm

    What do they do when you don’t actually get time to have lunch? Or when you just can’t clock out within the seven minute leeway because a patient needs you, or something?

    Was lateness a problem somehow? Or is this just corporate nastiness?

  • Kim

    February 11, 2006 at 4:56 pm

    Here in CA, they must pay you overtime for the missed lunch and break periods PLUS a penalty of one hour’s pay.

    If you are over the allotted time, they must pay it as overtime

  • Susan

    February 11, 2006 at 5:04 pm

    You have a COUCH in your break room? I don’t even have a locker, for gosh sakes! I hope they have room for another ER nurse by you!

  • difficult patient

    February 11, 2006 at 10:58 pm

    That is ridiculous–you must feel like you are in grade school again! Oh, and where did you find that ad?!

  • Dr. Flea

    February 12, 2006 at 4:13 am


    I realizes this sounds tangential, but what bothers me (in addition to the other things) is that this practically cachectic young woman was idealized as sexually attractive.

    How things change. Today, she’d have to be surgically augmented and revealing some of it to merit a mention.

    Now you’re really gonna hate me: as a resident (when I was younger and had more hair) I was hit on by several nurses. It was all very innocent (I was married already). For several of my male colleages, including one gay colleague, it was not innocent.

    Several of these liasons resulted in marriages.

    My point is that the magnetic pull between the sexes will occur and has occurred whenever we work together.

    IMO, we are less honest today about what goes on between boys and girls than we were in the 70’s, when it was still okay for Madison Avenue to acknowledge it.

    Today, our colleagues continue to bang one another like tin drums, but we have sexual harrassment guidelines to whip out when the relationship turns sour.

    best (really!),


  • Dr. Flea

    February 12, 2006 at 4:16 am

    The comment on your second half of your post deserved a second reply,

    I agree with you 100% on the clock thing.

    I used to consult on a child psyche unit. I was required to submit a time sheet as I was paid by the hour. I resigned the first time I was challenged to justify the hours I had submitted one month.

    It’s a demeaning practice unbefitting of professionals. I recommend you and your colleagues protest this thing.



  • BigMamaDoc

    February 12, 2006 at 8:42 am

    I am guilty of occasionally stopping by the break room to ask a question of a nurse between bites of his or her sandwich. After reading this entry, I will never do that again. Thanks for inpiring me to have better manners!

  • marcus

    February 12, 2006 at 8:49 am


    Hospitals are organizations and organizations are prone to rules. I don’t know of many physicians who sold their practices to hospitals and are happy about it. They were looking for security and underestimated the trade-offs.

    Keep up the good fight but don’t expect to get the positive feedback from an organization that you get from the patients you help. That may be the essence of professionalism.


  • Kim

    February 12, 2006 at 11:44 am

    Dr. Flea,

    From what I hear of the ER docs stories of medical school/residency, there was quite a bit of hanky panky between the professions! LOL!

    One year after I graduated I was married and most of the doctors were older guys anyway, but I’m sure I would have had my radar out for “Dr. Hunky” if I had been single and worked in a teaching hospital!

    It’s the image of nursing as a profession in general that irked me about the ad.

    But I’m not very consistent. If that had been a photo of Harrison Ford in scrubs and had said “Raise the Nurses’ Blood Pressure” I have had it matted and framed and in a place of honor on the fireplace.

    Hey, at least I’m honest! LOLOLOLOL!!!

  • Nephronurse

    February 12, 2006 at 2:29 pm

    I’m not paid by the hour. I’m what they call an “exempt” employee. Therefore I get to work 94 hours in a pay period and only be paid for 80. Yet if I work less than 80 hours I have to use my hard-earned PTO time to make up the difference. I also have to turn in a weekly timesheet. Go figure.

  • Jodi

    February 12, 2006 at 11:33 pm

    Thank god we have paid lunches. I’m too much of a slacker to go through that much trouble. lol

  • TC

    February 14, 2006 at 2:20 am

    I have to say I’ve only dated (before I married one) other nurses. My dad used to ask how come I never brought home any doctors. I told him to be happy I was dating men. That fixed him! Yes, there’s still plenty of hanky-panky, especially in the ER I used to work in, so much so that when a certain nurse came in we used to all make a siren sound.

    And speaking of being professionals–I had a really good nursing ethics instructor who used to talk about how nursing had an identity crisis. We were white collar professionals in a blue collar job. We saved lives and emptied bedpans. That sort of thing. I hate the time clock, but without it there’s no overtime-a concept that I’m now getting used to as a salaried employee.

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

Continue reading »

Find Me On...
Twitter     Technorati

Subscribe to Emergiblog

Office of the National Nurse

Zippy Was Here

Healthcare Blogger Code of Ethics

  • Perspective
  • Confidentiality
  • Disclosure
  • Reliability
  • Courtesy