February 6, 2008, 11:33 pm

I Have Enough Water Bottles, Thank You


Margaret Kissack is in a million ads – always with the same expression.

Here, she explains how to use the “indispensible” rubber water bottle.

For periodic pain, no less.

First of all, it isn’t a bottle, it’s a “bladder”.

If your patient can’t figure out that you put water in the bag and then put the stopper in the hole, you have your work cut out for you as a nurse educator.

It amazes me how nurses were trusted figures of authority in advertisements…

But expected to give doctors their seat on the wards.


Soon it will be time for Nurse’s Week and we all know what that means.

Yes, I’ll wear my cap.

But it also means that all over the country, nurses will be receiving key chains and water bottles and tote bags and T-shirts touting their facility’s love for their nursing staff.

Either that or the company logo.

Ever wonder where they get that stuff?

Well! I found a catalog at the nurses’ station last week that is a veritable cornucopia of gifty goodies for nurses (and other groups that don’t get paid much and work their butts off, including volunteers).

Actually the merchandise looks pretty nice as long as your hospital is willing to pay for more than a key chain or a water bottle.

But it was what was attached to the catalog that had me falling off my chair laughing.


It was an “Event Planning Guide” for Nurses Week activities.

Let me share some of them with you!

I’m not making these up.

  • Fun On Wheels – “Organize a wheelchair relay race in a parking lot or in a wide hallway. Set up a ‘race track’ and on the day of the race, divide up the nurses into teams. Use a clipboard or ruler as a baton. Provide each participant with a…water bottle and give winners….insulated lunch bags.”

Yep, nothing says “Professional Nursing” like the site of a bunch of RNs rolling down the hill of the parking lot in wheelchairs!

  • Think Outside the Box – “Challenge your nursing staff to come up with silly uses for everyday equipment…get them to create a list of 101 ways to use a bedpan….at the end of the week, gather them around and read the lists aloud so everyone can have a chuckle…pass out (wait for it….)…water bottles or deluxe lunch bags to all nursing staff present.”

Oh yes, I want so much to have a chuckle at work. Tee-hee and ho-ho. Silly, silly nurses! How about we list 101 things that would make our jobs more rewarding and administration actually listens. Hard to put the logo on that ……

  • Out of Character – “Let them [nurses] dress up at the end of the week…nurses won’t be able to wear any outfit that’s too crazy so, at the start of the week, give each nurse a…scrub top. Require them to wear this shirt on dress up day, but to be sure not to wear anything that will hinder their ability to work. Hold a costume contest and allow them to vote for their three favorites. Give winners…red microfleece blankets.”

Criminy, that’s what I want to see if I’m a patient. Nurses in costumes. I love the attitude…let them, require them, allow them. How about I let you staff my unit correctly while requiring you to pay me adequately and allow you to kiss my derriere in the process?

  • Cajun Celebration – “…purchase inexpensive stings of beads and give out one to each nurse for every day worked during the week….pass out buttons….to spice up their scrubs…serve a Louisiana-style luncheon…provide nurses with [notice the new twist on water bottles] motivational message tumblers to drink beverages out of during the meal.”

Yeah, and get Emeril Lagasse to cook the lunch. Do I have to flash my boobs upper region to get the beads? Why not have the patients just throw them at us? It’s about the same level of dignity. I don’t need any logo-bearing buttons to spice up my scrubs, either. I find that blood, stool, urine and emesis – you know, the stuff that I deal with as I do professional nursing care?- is pretty much all the “spice” I need, thank you.

  • Handy Work – “Using notepad paper, have patients or residents make outlines of their hands…have them write their names and a message of thanks…when all of the hand drawings are complete, hang them in a common area…along with a …poster…give each nurse a stationery set of his or her own.”

Where the hell do we work, at a freakin’ preschool? Handprints? From adults? A bunch of adult-sized handprints hanging on the wall? Forget the stationery. The only paper I need from my place of employment is the paper that has my check printed on it.

Oh, there’s a few more, but I’m disgusted with the four examples I gave.

Ask yourself this: have you ever heard of these type of suggestions made to honor doctors?

I didn’t think so.

We have a loooong way to go.


  • Ed M

    May 10, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Kudos AnnWill and Lisa. I believe that self improvement starts at home. Nurses have to stop fighting themselves. We have to start respecting ourselves and each other. It is easy for management to divide and conquer. Yes all these “tokens” of appreciation are trivial and demeaning, but we continue to ACCEPT them. What we really need are meaningful evaluations and RAISES. I have worked in perhaps a dozen different hospitals and rarely have any of them had meaningful raises. The max may be about a cost of living increase and any excuse is used to give less. How many of you have to jump through 101 flaming hoops to get an “evaluation”? How often does it really reflect how GOOD you do your “job”? Have you ever gotten less then you deserve because you missed one staff meeting (during your vacation of course)? Evaluations are not positive they are intended to deride you to keep wages low. At the beginning of my HC career (I’m an NP now) I had an evaluation returned to my floor mgr from upper management because it was TOO GOOD, “I would not have anything to strive for next year”. These are the real problems we have to address. How many of you are working under a labor contract? Most of us simply sign an agreement with the hospital that we will do whatever we are told. This is not professional treatment. We need comparable salaries for what we DO, not just what degree we hold. A Master plumber (not Masters in Plumbing) can charge you more per hour to rout out your sewer than a nurse gets paid for inserting an IV in a tiny premature baby. These are the problems that we have to change.

  • Kathie

    May 10, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Dear Lisa, It has only been a few months since I have worked night shift…and I know it recks havik(SP?) on your body….Where I work we do get 75 cent diff for nights but we do not get a weekend diff….on nights (we are in a small hosp) we have one nurse on at night for maybe 6-9 floor patients and also have to do the ER patients that come in, which can be 12 or sometimes more during the night. We do not have a ventilator or anything like it so we have to tube and bag…we do not have RT or LAB in the house so we do what we have to until one can be called in. We are not set up to do deliveries yet we do them when moms come in ready to pop. I do not know what a HUC/PCT is so we probably don’t have that either. I was not tearing you or anyone else down on night shift I know it can be difficult. You seem to take everything personally that everyone is saying on this BLOG…I have noticed you have more comments on it than anyone else…hmmmm. I did nights for 5 years on an L&D, Nursery unit. And have recently done nights in ER….so I am not someone who doesn’t know how difficult it can be. Also again most nurses start out on night shift…so most know what you are going through, really we do.

    Nursing is a very demanding profession and as Susan said,”I love what I do, I don’t like the conditions I work in.

    But Lisa I cannot see myself doing anything else…can you?

  • […] I did want to thank all those who read and commented on my Nurses Week post from February! Some great comments were left this week by both new and current readers! You can find them here. […]

  • jutta

    May 10, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    I agree with Ed. It is up to us to strive, demand, and get what we deserve. We need to stop fighting and demean – the usual women’s stuff – each other. We need to come together. Why do guys get what they want in their respective guys careers? They stick together until they get what they want. Why are we woman not willing to do the same????

  • Susan

    May 10, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    This year Joint Commission showed up on the Monday of nurse’s week, so the awards ceremony was cancelled. I think, however, that the decorate a 2 liter bottle like a nurse competition was still held. We got a lovely flashlight and a tote bag from an area credit union not affiliated with our hospital. Touching, huh????

  • Cynthia

    May 10, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    One year at my hospital, we got sunglasses that were either neon pink, green or blue with the saying “the future’s so bright, I have to wear shades” on the side of the glasses.
    Currently, I have received a bag every year of some sort or another with the hospital logo on the side. Its better than what I got at my other hospital which hosted a dinner at the country club and a golf outing with a Mercedes for a prize if you sunk a hole in one…this was for Doctor’s day. Needless to say, it went over really well with the nurses on their day when we got a popcan cooler. You have to laugh otherwise you’d be going out of your mind!!!

  • Lisa

    May 11, 2008 at 5:50 am


    Kathie, I don’t take your remarks personally I don’t have an opinion one way or another as to what you think. I was simply making a statement for the person your reply diminished. I am sure that was not your intention but it seemed as though she was affected by your comment. I guess words hurt and we should watch how we use them.
    I find it incredulous that such a small hospital as yours would have such high acuity cases brought to your ER. I guess you guy have to bag for a long time until they can be transferred or find a ventilator. It is a good thing I was taught at a large hospital. I am glad that I have the skills and educational background to do what I do, but it gets tough. The HUC is a unit secretary (for day shift M-F), a PCT is like a nurse aide which we never get either on nights or weekends. I have worked nights for many years as well and I won’t stop until I have to. I think nights deserves quality nursing. Many times we have to become very creative when a 23-24 weeker comes through the ER and of course ER staff here is not capable of dealing with that do not deal with that. If they do they probably blow a pneumo bagging. Is yours the only hospital around?

    I am glad that you take an interest in my comments. I am sorry if they offend you. They are not meant to. I just comment on things that are important to me. I try not to dismiss people feelings or thoughts, because to me they are just as important. The comment you made to the person who had a complaint about the treatment of night personnel was a little dismissive of her feeling/thoughts. There has been and will continue to be ongoing disagreement among night and day staff about the work load. I guess it is very subjective and extremely dependent upon whether you are with a large hospital or a little one, etc. Good luck with your day job and hope you don’t have to battle the horrible ER conditions anymore.

    I will continue with the comments if you don’t mind. I find it therapeutic. It is a blog– Right?

  • Kathie

    May 11, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Dear Lisa,
    I do not know to whom you are referring when you say my comments “diminished” someone and that “she” was affected by my comments. Unfortunately I must have missed the entry where anyone else but you has commented on my entry??

    Yes, we are a small rural hopsital and we do very well until transport can arrive. Those of us in rural hospitals across this country learn to do without and still give very good care. We are the only hospital within a 60+ mile radius, so people come to us with very diversified problems. I realize you work at a much larger hospitals but there are many areas in our country where rural hospitals are the only ones available. And when people are in need it is difficult for them to travle 60+ miles with a acute GI Bleed or when they are having an MI or have been hurt in a tractor accident or whatever…. So you can believe it or not we get GSW, MVA victims and stabbings and whatever else comes along. We serve quite a large area of space with many 1,000’s of people but some trauma are shipped Careflight when they can get them at the scene or we stabilize and they fly in to transfer patients to larger hospitals which are 90 miles away. But we are able to take care of people with the little equip we have, we have no other choice.

    We have quality nurses who have learned on what you might say are “the front lines” of rural nursing. I think your comment of nights “deserve quality nursing” was a bit rude, are you saying we must not have quality nursing if only one nurse is on??
    I worked L&D in AZ and we had to ship 23-24 wk old neo’s out but still again had to deal with them until someone came to take them…you do what you have to do and you become very inventive and skilled (as I am sure you know).

    Your comments do not offend me you just seem very naive even though you say you have been a nurse for years. We all do what we have to to maintain good or excellent nursing standards.

    I have not dismissed anyone’s feelings. A person perspective of what they have to deal with is their perspective and no one can change that be it good or bad. Just like a patient’s pain level, if they say they are having pain, they are having pain.

    I have no idea to whom you are speaking about my comment to thenight shift person, “the comment you made to the person who had a complaint about the treatment of night personnel was a little dismissive of her feeling/thoughts.”…you are the only person I was talking to and again I wasn’t being demeaning in any fashion…just prospective but again you take everything to heart.

    YOUR ending comment to me, “Good luck with
    your day job and hope you don’t have to battle the horrible ER conditions anymore.” Was very nasty and certainly not called for.

    I agree with Ed this shouldn’t be arguments or nasty attitudes and comments between us, we are all fighting the same battles and this blog was to discuss this not run each other down but you seem to have a corner on that…just read your last comment to me…it was rude!

    The other ED I work in is in a larger hosptial. I have three jobs. I also work Emergency Air Lift which transports patients from rural hospitals to larger ones in Reno, Vegas and Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc…and those of us who work on planes are albe to take care of ventilated patients without RT also…AMAZING!

    You can continue any comments you like but please be as courteous to others as you expect us to be to you. We all work hard and do not deserve our fellow nurses to run us down…none of even knows to whom we are speaking and do not know their individual circumstances…you sound like you are stuck in a job you do not like and I am sorry about that…but please do not take it out on us. I hope you have better days ahead.

    HAPPY MOTHER’s Day to all… I am working today as I am sure many others are as well…..

  • Kim

    May 11, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Ah, one of the problems with internet communication becomes evident – one I’ve struggled with often. It is very difficult to get across what one is trying to say without the usual cues of body language and tone of voice.

    Every single nurse who has commented here has my utmost respect and I learn more than you know from colleagues who take the time to voice their opinion.

    Night, day, med-surg or ER. Small town hospital or large teaching facility – we use (and gain) different talents to accommodate different patient populations.

    Basically, what I’m trying to say is that we all rock. : )

  • Adrienne Zurub

    May 11, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Okay Ladies, (Kathie, Lisa, Everyone!)
    …come on, come on right NOW!
    Meet you at poolside!
    a wet, sweaty Pina Colada is waiting between the tight, tan thighs of ____(insert name of choice).
    Ohhh, look at those rectus abdominus muscles!

    Happy Mother’s Day!

  • Kathie

    May 11, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Thanks..Kim and Adrienne…a Pina Colada sounds GREAT!! Yeah, let’s all meet and have a good time… We all work hard and deserve respect from each other….Thanks again Kim and Adrienne!

  • Lisa

    May 12, 2008 at 5:33 am


    I was a little defensive for the blogger Nancy May 9th. She ignored it and so should I have.

    Adrienne- That does sound great! Thanks for the intervention.

  • Kathie

    May 12, 2008 at 9:17 am

    Absolutely no problem, I can understand your frustration. You are probably a really great nurse but apparently do not get much appreciation for your hard work. I appreciate what you and all the other hardworking nurses across this country do to keep the respect that most people have for our profession across the board. We just have to know that we are doing a good job and helping people and be okay with that. Cannot expect to get appreciation from others it would be nice but if that is what you sre trying to get just know I APPRECIATE YOU and all my fellow nurses….I love my job, yes there are times I am so tired and frustrated not sure I want to continue but I know I wouldn’t want to do anything else.

    Take Care of yourself Lisa and so should everyone else. Remember you are all appreciated whether anyone tells you or not. We make peoples lives a little easier when they are sick in so many aspects.
    Yes, I am one of those that likes to hear people say thank you. We do not hear thank you enough. But I don’t have to hear them to know I am helping someone; seeing someone improve or survive for another day to spend with their family is a wonderful feeling.

    I do apologize to anyone I may have offended or upset with my comments but we all have things we may not like about our particular jobs, but it is what we do and hopefully someday things will be better.

  • BB

    May 12, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    I agree with Lisa (May 9 at 4:28). Nurses need to unite. How powerful we would be! What great changes we could accomplish. If nurses would unite nation wide, from West coast to East coast, from North to South we could get a lot done. We would have the respect from doctors that we deserve, the nurse to patient ratio patients need, and the pay we need.
    How is it that millions of illegal immigrants, united nation wide a few years ago to fight for their cause (never mind that they all were law breakers by coming here illegally) and got national coverage and attention, yet millions of educated nurses cannot do the same. Instead we all just sit and complain about working conditions, complain about each other and nothing ever changes. Come on now, lets get with the program, there is power in numbers. Unite, nation wide.

  • Kate

    May 12, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    I once asked my manager if we could get bonuses (like any other company does) when we as a department (L&D) had a week where we took well above our maximum acuity and yet pulled it off without any incidents. She told me we get bonuses every year – I was thoroughly confused until I realized she was talking about our step-increase (cost of living) raise negotiated by our union. Not a bonus, honey, and barely cost of living. Why can’t we even get the 50 cent every 6 month raise I used to get as a courtesy clerk in High school?
    Every other job I have ever had is so much more competitive for employees than nursing institutions, even with our “shortage.” I especially liked working in computer customer service – in an 8 hour day we got a half hour paid lunch, and we got merit based pay raises.
    I have to say that the unions I have worked under do about nothing to improve work conditions or pay rates – once I was told by a union rep that I had to decide what was more important for them to argue for, to keep our current vacation benefits or to have a time clock so we could punch out for lunch. (I wanted one of those because they had taken it out when they realized we got paid for un-taken lunches when we had the time clock). Needless to say I think that collective bargaining for nurses is a crock of excrement. I pay a union to keep things that I already have – no advancements? What a waste of money.
    As for hospitals themselves, I even suggested that they send thank-you messages to the team via e-mail and they wouldn’t even go that far. As soon as you make a suggestion like that, they ask you to do it or just mutter something that sounds like it could be agreement while they are walking off to a “meeting.”
    As for the administrator-turned-nurse from above, does it make it right that the hospital docked pay for doctors? Is that supposed to make us happy? That shouldn’t happen either, and I think it promotes unhealthy relationships with the physicians if you make it sound like we are whining when they are sacrificing. How many Physicians packed it up?
    Promoting a bad environment by saying there are starving kids in Africa shouldn’t work anymore. We still need someone to very loudly remark that we don’t get our breaks, work extra hours and often are questioned with hostility about them. This goes against labor laws in Washington state and yet still no one gets dinged on it. I would like every hospital to prove they comply with labor laws, but most accrediting agencies here are still trying to ensure our medication error rates come under control, and that treatments are appropriate.
    We as nurses can only do what time allows when we have too heavy a workload – it’s time for our “support” aka the people who organize and run the the hospitals to wake up and fix things, not just identify our shortcomings.
    I think it would be nice (and I may just get up the courage to do it one of these days) to call my local TV stations and newspapers to see if they would work on a story just about nurses not getting their breaks. I am sure the public at large would have something to say to hospitals about that, and no, I’m not above shaming them into doing the right thing.
    My mom (also a nurse) once told me there is no such thing as a nursing shortage – just a shortage of good jobs to be had as a nurse (meaning work environments. I continue to think she is right.
    One more thing – I do hate to see it when we infight. Unfortunately, I think the culture in Nursing has included infighting for years, and it is especially hard for people who routinely “eat their young” to realize this isn’t something that is accepted behavior in any single other industry – there it is called harassment and is dealt with. If the harassment isn’t dealt with by management, management is dealt with as well by legal teams. Just the way things work in the real world.

  • shell

    May 13, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Ok- heRe you go- we got a cow one year- no not the milk or beef producing kind but the kind that you can queeze so that all the stressors of the day (from working short staffed , administrators breathing down your neck-) would finally go away since nothing else could possibly work! This ended up being invaluable though I have to tell you since all of the other gifts for nurses week now will be compared to this. Believe it or not water bottles, totes, first aid kits, pens etc….are a great gift, and at least useful.

  • shell

    May 13, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    May 13, 2008 at 7:19 pm
    Ok- here you go- we got a cow one year- no not the milk or beef producing kind but the kind that you can squeeze so that all the stressors of the day (from working short staffed , administrators breathing down your neck-) would finally go away since nothing else could possibly work! This ended up being invaluable though, I have to tell you since all of the other gifts for nurses week now will be compared to this. Believe it or not water bottles, totes, first aid kits, pens etc.…are a great gift, and at least useful.

  • Cathy Glasson

    May 14, 2008 at 5:59 am

    Hey Kim,
    As you can see, we recently promoted this post in a national Value Care RN email. I hope you don’t mind! We just loved it so much, and thought other RNs would get a kick out of it during Nurses Week.

    Thanks again for the fantastic blogging. I think we managed to rope in a few dozen new readers.


  • Helen

    May 17, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Nursing is a profession that is unique. I know 27 years ago I went into healthcare to help people. Lately I feel like that is NOT what I do. We have a VERY complex computer system that requires constant problem solving, including when you go to retrieve documents having to reload paper and ink if you can find it! After you sign your document you are already being called to start the next procedure. Pressure and more pressure. One day after being screamed at and belittled by a surgeon I just cried, and could not stop. That was a defining day to me. I NO longer run up the hall, I use the ladies room when I need to, I will NOT make things happen until I have EVERYTHING I need and I encourage my coworkers to do the same. I smile at everyone of them and look them in the eye and pay one compliment at day at least! (Genuine I may add) I feel better about myself and feel I am contributing to recognizing my peers for their gifts since management will not. Just floating it out there… Remember, with out you, there is NOTHING else!

  • Dean E. Sizemore

    May 17, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    I don’t ever remember getting anything of REAL value during Nurse’s week. We always got the standard pen, tote, umbrella, or some other small token to show us just how little we REALLY meant to them. And the nurse manager would usually stick her head in whatever room you were in around 5 p.m. (on her way out the door) to say, “Your gift is at the nurse’s station.”
    “Oh, thanks, as soon as I finish this disimpaction, I’ll run up and grab it. See you tomorrow.”
    And, of course, there was always that veritable feast of goodies laid out before us in the breakroom that we could grab to munch on while we were doing our charting. I always thought that was such a hoot. Why is there this preconception that you can treat a nurse just any old way, and as long as you throw food at him or her, all is wonderful? Dogs are like that, you know. What made it even more comical was the fact that I was a cardiac nurse. So, here we are, dealing with patients having been admitted to the hospital for chest pain (many of them obese and diabetic), we’re counseling them on proper diet, and walking around stuffing our faces with doughnuts and pizza. “Do as I say, not as I do.”
    I really don’t think that management is ever going to get a clue about what it is that nurses really desire. My theory is this: As a male nurse, I still see the discrepancy between how nurses are treated in comparison to the personnel in the ancillary departments. I believe that much of this is because the field of nursing is predominantly populated by females. Conversely, management is predominantly staffed by males. And I don’t care if it is 2008; as a general rule, I still don’t think that women are taken as seriously as men are in the workplace. If they were, their opinions and input with regards to issues that directly affect them would be considered by management more often. If you’ve ever noticed, when the doctors (predominantly male) are unhappy about something, management’s ears perk right up. I understand that much of that has to do with money, but still……
    When I worked the floors, I always wanted to see management work the floors during Nurse’s week (accompanied by me, of course). After cleaning the derrieres of a few patients with explosive diarrheaa, or having to run to the bathroom to clean vomit off their shoes, I bet they’d develop a whole new respect for nurses. But that, of course, never happened. Nor, will it ever happen. Have a nice day!

  • MC

    May 17, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    This year at our hospital all the nurses got a gift that keeps on giving.. We are all getting access to the Nursing Spectrum CEU offerings. We will be givne a card where we can sign on read the Ceu offring and take the test free..
    I think this was the best gift that we have ever been given and I am grateful for it. Knowledge is power and as I say it is the gift that keeps on giving

  • linda

    May 17, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    After 30yrs. of nursing, I have seen it all. My closet is full of canvas bags with hospital names and logos. the most demeaning and irritating thing to me is when nurse educators write instructions or memos in “fairy tale” form. These are educated, professional people? UNBELIEVABLE!!! I am glad that I am now retired. I do believe that conditions will get better for nurses in the future. Believe it or not, it has improved alot from when I first started. Nurses today are more persistant and determined to make it right. Don’t get me wrong, I love nursing and do not regret my choice of profession. However, working conditions and hospital politics make it less desirable.

  • KAK

    May 17, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Great stuff here…just discovered the site and love it and will forward to all my RN friends. The Nurse week gift posts are hilarious and true!
    Unbelievable, just this last week I received the plastic flashlight and insulated lunch bag with the company logo. I can add it to my sun visor, insulated coffee mug, beach towel,lawn chair,and key chain collection! Oh, don’t let me forget the cookout with the CEO serving up burgers and dogs in a chef hat…cute huh? Oh my how generous.

    I do appreciate a gift with thought however and perhaps if someone really thought about it we would get equipment that worked i.e. IV stands that actually roll, monitors that interface with our computers,More staff or a lot more ancillary help.

    Customer service is a joke…Press-Gainey scores dominate and engineer our every move. We are now expected to have “scripted responses” to our patients, uh excuse me, ‘external’customers queries about why they have waited 24 hrs. in the ER and still dont have a bed in the hospital. Puleeze! scripted responses! How about a little honesty and plain talk, uh, er, excuse me dialog?
    We have “signage” committees who change department names on a regular basis, i.e. Recovery Room to Post Anesthesia Room, to Post Anesthesia Care Unit. Signage committees! Who gets paid to think this crappola up?
    We have gone through every b___s___ committee in the world and things still haven’t changed one iota in the last 15 yrs. However, the work load has increased as well as the patient acuity and census. I am fed up with the rhetoric and thinking “outside the box” and “Shared Governance” and “Paradigms”(sp?) and on and on.
    We are told to treat our patients, excuse me clients,as if they were at the Hilton, yeah right, more like the Motel 6. Our clients litter the waiting rooms, call us unmentionable names, and threaten us with bodily harm if we don’t move them fast enough through Triage. The Hilton wouldn’t allow most of them on the premises.
    The only thing that keeps me in Nursing is Nurses. They are the funniest, most loyal, and cynical people I know. And if you are lucky you even get to have lunch with each other once a week.
    No, I am not burned out, yes, I am fed up with the same BS I hear year after year. I only hope it changes, but despite all the so called improvements, patient care is really secondary to profits generated. Just move ’em, head ’em up, head ’em out Rawhide!!!Thats all administration wants and if we just had the time to talk and really listen to the patient we wouldn’t need to script dialog and maybe actually could increase customer satifaction.
    Whew! I needed to vent, Thank you all, I do appreciate having you as my peer and respect the things you do daily….

  • Carolyn

    May 17, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    I have been a nurse since 1972 an LPN then BSN. This is how long I have been hearing the SAME THINGS! So stop the petty bickering already and uplift each other. We get enough critisism and lack of respect without picking at each other. We still get depicted as old battle axes with a syringe or a big breasted bomb shell in the media and comics. Does anyone like this?! I worked my butt off to get a college degree so a doctor that cancelled all the patients home meds on admission could try to pin her mistake on me! And I just let it go! That is such a shame that I would rather let it go than fight her on it. I am not in trouble but I lost repect for that particular doctor. So buck up you guys. If you think there is a put down in a message it is true we can’t see facial expression and tone of voice so maybe we need to use smiley faces and codes like that. Oh and I got a flashlight, postitnote, pen and an ok $25 gift card from Walmart. Happy Nurses Day!

  • rntravelerpat

    May 17, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Hi! Love your blog! I am in agreement with you all. I thought I was the only one who objected to paying for my own Nurse Week recognition. In previous years we did a secret unit thing where each unit would “adopt” a unit and provide treats for that unit all week. Then we could sell T-shirts in the cafeteria to each other adn use the profits to fund Nurse Week. Also we could wear the Tshirts to work that week. Thank heavens,they did not do that this year. There was recognition for excellence in nursing and a pancake breakfast that was held over shift change both night and morning,so all could go. My personal satisfaction comes from the staff that I have worked with for 19 years. We assist each other to get the days off that make life important-whether kid’s sports events or parents Dr. appointments,we trade shifts so these things can be covered.

  • Danielle

    May 18, 2008 at 1:44 am

    I loved this blog! This year for nurses week I got a retractable flashlight key chain! What a waste of money! What do you do with a tiny light on a string??

  • Helen

    May 18, 2008 at 4:53 am

    Dean, I feel your male management insight is a winner. Give that nurse a t-shirt(just kidding)
    When we do go to managment with legitimate problems and believe it or not great choices of solutions their eyes glaze over and we get looked at like it is just another B**** session. Of course money is the bottom line and I agree the hospital is a business, but the part that is forgotten is that we are in the business of people. People are so variable and so much can happen and go wrong and they require different amounts of attention. It is not like manufacturing Campbells soup. What I have resolved to do it not participate or enable managements bad behavior. I put me and my familys needs first so I CAN deliver high quality care. ANY manager that believes that an unhappy, over worked nurse should be their front line to the public should not be running a business. Happy, supported and well paid employees will go above and beyond, it has been proven time and time again! So ladies and gentlemen, stick to your guns, don’t allow your well being to be compromised and things will have to turn around…..

    PS~ KAK we too were told to speak to the OR pt.’s with scripting, I refused. It interferes with genuine connections and THAT is what people in crisis need. I commend your comments and agreee hospitals are not hotels. The last I checked the Hilton did not do invasive procedures with their turn down service. You nailed it!

  • Dean E. Sizemore

    May 18, 2008 at 5:06 am

    I am so glad I found this blog. It gives me an idea of how I might enhance my own blog. Compared to some of you, I am a “baby” in the field of nursing. I received my ADN in 1998, and my BSN in 2000. I have spent most of my career working cardiac step-down. I also worked a couple of years as a unit manager in a long-term care facility.
    As soon as I started working as a RN ten years ago, I realized very quickly just how frustrating nursing can be. I started working the 3-11 shift on an orthopedic floor that had a terrible nurse-to-patient ratio. Boy, what an eye-opener that was. I remember thinking to myself at times, “I busted my ass to become a nurse for this?” It didn’t help that I had a charge nurse with the old “Nurses eat their young” attitude. And my nurse manager was a complete idiot. She was the epitomy of the phrase, “Those who can’t do, manage.” She was about as much help as teats on a bull. I worked there for about a year, had had all I could stand, and went to another hospital that was totally different. The nurses were actually helpful to one another and treated each other with respect. Imagine that. For a change, I enjoyed going to work. It wasn’t perfect, but it was alot better than where I had just come from.
    I don’t want to go into an autobiographical journey of my career; I’d run out of the alloted amount of words allowed in this comment section. But, as a consequence of being diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2006, I haven’t worked in almost two years now. I have been in remission from the cancer for about a year and a half, and am doing great. I recently travelled to Nashville for a bone marrow transplant, and I am feeling like my old self again. I don’t know when I’ll be able to return to work, but I have to tell you, in all honesty, even if my health would allow it, I would NEVER go back to bedside nursing. I don’t miss it at all; I don’t miss that maddening pace, getting attitude from fellow workers, spending more time doing paperwork than with my patients, 13+ hour shifts, and most of all, I don’t miss the stress (nor do I need it at this point in my life). NOT AT ALL! There, I said it. And I mean every word.
    That being said, I would like to reiterate something that has already been touched on in several posts: Nursing is a great and honorable profession to be in. But, in order for things to really get better for nurses, they have to collectively demand change. Otherwise, things are never going to get any better. I remember a story a nurse told me once: He was working at a hospital in Chicago, and the nurses had simply had enough of management’s crap. So, they staged a walkout. He told me that when the nurses actually walked out, people from the front offices were out working the floors. But, after that happened, he said the nursing department got anything they wanted. That is the kind of tenacity and sense of purpose that nurses are going to have to display if things are ever going to improve. Another thing that nurses are going to have to do more of is showing respect to one another. You can’t demand respect from others if you don’t show respect to each other. That means things like not getting “pissy” with a nurse going off shift because he/she got busy and didn’t have time to get to something. Or rolling your eyes because he/she doesn’t have the answer to something right on the spot. Think about it: Do you ever see doctors treat each other that way? I’ve never seen that. They are usually very respectful to one another. But I have surely seen a nurse treat another nurse that way on more than one occasion. Not only is it unprofessional, it’s just plain sad. Come on people, let’s get it together. If we stand together, we can accomplish anything. ANYTHING!

  • Helen

    May 18, 2008 at 5:14 am

    Divide and conquer is the oldest game in the book. Fear is used to control the masses and hospital management utilizes them both. We have been told point blank to get on board or leave. We get threats almost weekly, and now get cancelled on a slow day, only to return with no breaks or lunches because we are crazy busy.
    Supporting each other and not enabling managments poor decisions is the way to go!

  • I'm A Karen for you

    May 18, 2008 at 7:02 am

    I started working as a Nurse Aid years before they became ‘Certified’, working for 9 years, before I became ‘cross trained’ to a Unit Secretary/EKG technician, worked for another 9 years as this, became an RN in 1981 accepting position as 3-11 Charge Nurse in Oncology Unit in a teaching Hospital. I worked that for a total of not quite 9 years(my number)before going into general Med/Surg and worked several years in Telemetry, ER,ICU,IV Team, CCU, and Step Down. I retired in 2003 and am still a vital person.
    I’ve worked mandatory and volunteer overtime, nights, days and evenings, my average work week was 90 hours shortly before I retired. I’ve watched changes, worked with them, over the years. Now is the time for real change and it must come from within our ranks of Nurses!
    I started writting as I thought of my experiences and want to recount an incident from my second year of being an RN. A not pleasant experience for anyone involved.
    On a Friday afternoon a man, newly diagnosed with Pancreatic CA, was admitted for induction Chemotherapy.I had that Friday Saturday and Sunday off, planned for some time. Chemo orders were written, chemo began. On Monday as I started my shift, the man was on his last day of Chemo. Hearing report, I knew his orders were wrong, and I checked the orders first thing. The short story is the orders were mis-written and mis-interrpreted by pharmacy, the Charge Nurses on 3 shifts, for the 3 days. I stopped the Chemo infusing into his right arm, notified my Nurse manager who handeled it all from then on. The man, in his late forties, whose CA had been found by a fluke in very early stages, died 7 days later in ICU, the Hospital taking full responsibility for his care. His death was unnecessary and messy.
    The Dr who wrote the orders left Medicine for good, changes were made in Pharmacy, all Nurses involved were spoken to. The man died. I was thanked for simply doing my job, using my knowledge. Everything was tried to save the man, to no avail.
    My Supervisor kept me apprised of his status. I lost respect for my fellow Nurses, gained insights into myself. The man died.
    I’ve been remembering a lot of my working years here lately but the effects of that man’s death remain with me. It served to renew my zeal in doing my job, but now have low respect for myself and Nursing. We MUST respect ourselves first and foremost.

  • Dean E. Sizemore

    May 18, 2008 at 7:24 am

    What kind of threat is that?: “Get on board or leave?” Is that supposed to intimidate us? I DON’T THINK SO. In case they haven’t been paying attention, there is a nursing shortage going on in this country. If you quit on a Wednesday, you’ll have another job on Thursday. They can tell that nonsense to someone else. Not this nurse…..

  • EM

    May 18, 2008 at 7:55 am

    I have to agree with Dean Sizemore. If you re-read all of the above blogs, much of what you see are nurses contradicting each other. Each nurse complaining that they have it tougher than the next nurse. Does it really matter who has it worse? Aren’t we all in agreement that nurses are overworked, underpaid and that it’s our license and our butt that is on the line each time we are understaffed and a mistake is made? Nursing is not ‘just a job’, if you want that, get your MBA and run a cut throat company and make millions. We all went into nursing for different reasons, but we all know it wasn’t because the money was better than any other job, or the hours were perfect. We all had a need to help someone. Yet, we aren’t helping each other. As long as nurses stand around arguing with each other about who didn’t do their job or who had more patients, who has had it worse off than anyone else, administration just sits back and lets the nurses chaos take all the spotlight off of them. They know that as along as we remain divided and do nothing but whine and complain among ourselves and about each other, then they do not have to take us seriously and do not actually have to make changes. The hospital administrators need to understand that if the care we are able to provide to patients is poor and ultimately deadly when mistakes are made, then eventually patient’s will not come to their hospital. Would you want to be taken care of by nurses who were understaffed and unable to provide quality care? Would you want that for your children or parents? The only way administration sits up and takes notice is when money is involved. Loss of patient’s means loss of revenue. Maybe more publicity about the nurses inability to provide quality care at hospitals, that are named in the newspapers, would get the attention of the administrators. No body likes bad publicity, yet when a med error or a patient falls, there is no lack of publicity about the ‘nurse’ who made the mistake or left her patient unattended. More needs to be said about WHY the nurse made the mistake, perhaps she was covering too many patients because of understaffing and then maybe the public would wonder how the hospital could allow patient’s to be placed in harms way. Nurses need to put our arms around each other and stand as a group because only then are we strong enough to push the administrators up against the wall and demand the change that is needed.

  • RW

    May 18, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Cheap junk, silly games and high calorie food–do they teach that in the Piddle-U Health Care Administration on-line degree program? How many of the “suits” could pass organic chemistry microbiology and pharmacology? Too many nurse managers are toadies who revel in persecuting the bed-pan juggling iv starters by using the latest “critical skill/incident evaluation tool” picked up at a drug company sponsored seminar that included a nice meal.

    We need to cut back to the bone basics. Dress professionally–would you respect someone in wrinkled scrub pants wearing a top printed with cute little hearts or bunnies or easter eggs or flags or bats or turkeys or santas or hot peppers or palm trees or smiley faces? What about the stringy hair dangling over a wound or the ratty pile with a clip that looks like a chicken’s comb? What about the dirty orange, blue and purple astronaut shoes? How about the bracelets, necklaces and rings? How about the stethoscope with the tacky cloth covering? What about all the goofy “I’m a nurse” pins? After I had massive complicated chest surgery, a registered nurse came in my room, redid a pony tail and started to check my chest tubes without hand washing. Yuck! Thankfully I was awake and able to redirect him.

    Ditch that stuff! Clean white pants and a plain neat white top, clean off the collar hai , simple jewelry (that should be basic infection control) and how about some underwear? (Yes some people are offended and remember for every one you want to impress with skin tight scrubs and no panties, you are noticed by ten who aren’t) Keep your identification face out and not clipped over your crotch. Decline the drug rep tablets/pens/assorted junk–buy your own pen and tablet. Don’t drag the junky logo stuff home with you–it only makes you feel more unappreciated to look at it. Just say thank you and drop discreetly in a wastebasket near the chief executive suite.

    Before you blather on about something you don’t know or understand, remember that you may be caring for someone who knows you are completely wrong. Last year I endured a snotty inaccurate lecture about asthma and tuberculosis from a junior ER nurse. If you are asked a question just say “I don’t know but I’ll find out”. Honesty spares you from the humiliation of realizing later that you made a fool of yourself.

    Use your professional signature with pride. You worked hard to earn it.

    I have only one comment for MJ–kiss off and go back to administration. I suspect you’ll soon be one of the hoity-toity alum enema faced nurse managers. Who cares what top ten hospital you work in?

  • Michelle RN

    May 18, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    I love the comments- I work as a charge Rn for the state and not only do we not get the water bottles or lunch totes, administration can’t even find the decency to find the words- Thank you- for anything. Ever notice how it is always negative but “they” want you to maintain a positive attitude. If it wasn’t for the few patients that really appreciate you …what you would have…

  • Nurse4Life

    May 19, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    I enjoyed reading all of these posts because it makes me realize I’m not the only one who works at an ungrateful, disrespectful place. I can probably shock everyone with my nurses week story. Last week we had a cake cutting ceremony where our Chief Nursing Officer and our CEO spoke a few words. The CEO was praising the nurses and really acting like he cared about the staff…. WRONG! His closing comment was, “Too bad it takes 1 nurse to screw up the whole bunch” What a way to piss off a bunch of females!

  • Dean E. Sizemore

    May 19, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    What kind of asinine statement is that? In this case, the more appropriate comment would have been, “Too bad it only takes one CEO to screw up EVERYTHING for EVERYBODY!” Where did this guy go to school?…The Adolf Hitler Institute of Leadership and Management? It just goes to show you….as long as someone has enough credentials, the hospital will put any old idiot in charge. The nurses should all pitch in and buy him a “DUH” t-shirt.

  • BB

    May 19, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Nurses need to unite and not fight. Change will only come about when there is unity among all. The African American people of this country gained freedom from slavery through unity. Until nurses do the same, nothing will change. Nurses need a leader like Martin Luther King, a strong woman like Rose Parks, who one day got fed up with being sent to the back of the bus. Thank goodness for women like her, and the people who stood by her and refused to ride the buses and rather walked to work. Thanks to their unity, people of color no longer have to sit at the back of the bus. Nurses need to stop sitting at the back of the bus. The only way to do it is by working together.

  • an old nurse

    May 19, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Our nurse manager gave us all coloring books at one of our staff meetings. Said it was for stress relief. Real stress releif would be just a tad more respect.

  • Michelle

    May 19, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    We have rice bags to give out to our labor patients. So, guess what our nurses week gift was 2 years ago? RICE BAGS.

  • Rochelle, New York

    May 20, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Wowzie! I love this blog.It’s amazing to see the commonality among nurses. I mean we all think alike, so why don’t we have more change? I know we make decent money, but boy do we earm it! I do believe we could and should change a lot, but we are all so brainwashed. I worked at a Magnet hospital and the advertising for it was amazing. I mean they had stuff on buses! I think a lot of it is just how things look on paper.In reality, all the lazy nurses went to the Shared Governance meetings and the hard workers were left behind to care for the patients. It was a joke. I just worry about the future.
    Did you ever hear “them” to refer to float nurses as warm bodies when you call the house supervisor for help? I have. It goes like this, “Do you need an experienced ER/Critical Care nurse, or will a warm body work?” Demeaning and scarey on both ends.
    PS what ever happened to Tim Porter O’Grady? Is he out of the loop with his shared governance propaganda? Remember that junk?
    Oh well, I just collect the check and hope for the best. I know it won’t change until we get some Kahoonas and rebel. I probably won’t see it in my lifetime and I have about 20 years until retirement. I give it my best and pray my patients and I make it through the day. Good Luck and may the gods of Press-Gainey shine kindly on you.

  • Marla

    May 23, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    I roared when I read this…hubby came up from the basement to see what the fuss was about!

    The largest (and wealthiest) corporation in our area celebrated nurses day a few years ago by giving us all T-shirts with the corporate logo on them…the catch was, you couldn’t get one unless you contributed five dollars or x-amount of canned goods to the local food drive. I’m sure they got the credit for our hand-outs…I’ll drive down to the food pantry myself and forgo the cheesy T-shirt!

    My last hospital didn’t even celebrate Nurse’s Week…the rationale was that they felt that it was “demeaning to the other departments and feelings would be hurt.” So, during Hospital Week we got a brief mention and the nursing supervisors served ice cream to the whole hospital…and the management was worried about demeaning humans? Personally, I wasn’t too worried about disrespecting the housekeeping or dietary staff by recognizing nurses. Let’s face it, Nurses have a lot more education, responsibility, and risk than someone wielding a mop or passing out food trays…Nor was I particularly concerned about the delicate emotional state of the physicians that I worked with. I’ll admit that their incomes have declined somewhat in recent years, and some of the younger ones are getting beyond the “god-complex” that their forefathers grew up with, but they get enough day-to-day kiester-kissing to make up for a mere week of half-hearted acknowledgement that the healthcare facilities slide past the nurses they employ.

    One final comment…in Germany (and other European countries) the physicians are employed by the hospital…and they are treated with as little respect as the nurses while performing many of the same tasks in addition to the diagnostic and medical responsibilities that doctors here hold. Perhaps the future of Nursing in the U.S. includes private contracts with hospitals similar to those held by our medical counterparts…Seems that’s what it will take to get the economic and human respect that we earn on a daily basis.
    Be Blessed,

  • Nancy

    May 30, 2008 at 2:19 am

    I have to say, there we go again, supplying our own Week of the Nurse party. We did that, until our new anesthesia attending, found out, and said she wanted to help us celebrate. That was a first! N

  • Patricia

    November 17, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Now while this wasn’t for nurses week, I did one time have a great administration. They were freaked as always with JCAHO survey. We passed with commendations. This was a small hospital. We were rewarded witha very nice fancy steak dinner, served in the cafetaria, on tablecloths, with candlelight, cloth napkins, no wine of course. And all the waiters and servers were the administration: DON, CEO, CFO, etc. They dressed up in black tux like fancy schmancy waiters and served us hand and foot for our meal. The DON even wore more of a cocktail waitress black number which was so hilarious as she was in her 50s and very conservative. Anything to show her appreciation, she said. This was many years ago on my first job. Little did I know I’d never see appreciation like that again. But I’m lucky~I got to see it one time at least!!!

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...

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