Cherry Ames, Podiatry Nurse?
The poor nurse in this photo can barely contain her true feelings.
Obviously, she doesn’t relish her job, but that poor doctor actually has to do the exam.
Without gloves! I hope he washes his hands between patients, especially since he is looking for athlete’s foot. Major yuck!
At least the nurse is wearing a decent cap.
And that’s why I became a nurse. I wanted the cap. And I got it!
And now there’s a nursing shortage.
Ask ten people why there is a nursing shortage and you’ll get ten different answers.
The best post I’ve ever read that addresses the real reasons for the nursing shortage was sent to me by Shane. Now, it isn’t unusual for me to give Shane information about nursing, but it is unusual for him to send me stuff.
The Mission-Critical Sticky Factors in Nursing is a provocative post (and on a site about online nursing degrees, of all places!) You need to read it before you finish this post. I’ll go grab my coffee while you do that…..
Basically, the nursing shortage is caused by a number of factors leading to one conclusion:
Why do nurses quit?
Well, perhaps because the salary sucks in the majority of the country. A pittance of a check for one hell of a lot of responsibility. You know, accountability without any power.
Or maybe we feel stuck because there is nowhere to go once you are in the profession. Oh, you can climb a clinical ladder, if your hospital has one, and make one or two dollars more per hour. It’s not standardized between hospitals so if you change jobs, you lose that “Clinical Nurse” distinction and have to start all over trying to earn it at your new facility.
Or maybe you can obtain an advanced degree, your BSN or your MSN or even a doctorate.
It won’t mean any more responsibility in your position as a staff nurse. If you don’t want to be a nurse practitioner or a nurse anesthetist, you will have just spent a ton of money and a great deal of time for a few more letters in your personal alphabet soup and zero increase in your pocketbook.
You want to become a nurse educator? Good for you. You’ll be living on about one-third of your staff nurse salary and working many more hours, but hey! Weekends and holidays off, right?
You want to be a researcher? I hope it’s just for the love of learning because it isn’t going to profit you in any other way.
That brings us back the the “Mission-Critical Sticky Factors” post.
Nurses quit because there is little in the profession that causes them to “buy-in”, to be loyal to the profession. Oh, we all start out like that. We “buy-in” to the altruistic, self-sacrificial, “angel of mercy” persona for awhile.
But within a few years we find our altruism singed around the edges. We have increasing responsibility with very little power to control our work environments. There is little incentive to advance our education, as if we had the energy to actually do it. The patients are emotionally demanding. The work is physically demanding, especially for those of us (cough!) who are veterans of the profession.
Assuming we last that long. Too often, especially these days, when the younger, newer nurses realize the reality of the profession, when they experience what Marlene Kramer referred to as “reality shock” as far back as 1974, they don’t put up with it. They no longer have to; there are too many other opportunities.
The revolving door of nurse-retention spits them out faster than new ones can be hired.
Sound depressing. It is. Is it how I feel right now about nursing?
Is it how you feel about nursing? Have you “bought-in” to the profession or are you biding your time until you can escape? Are you new and wondering “what the hell did I get myself into?” or are you a seasoned veteran counting the days to retirement?
If you are thinking of leaving the profession, what would keep you in? More money? A sense of being valued by your patients or hospital administration? More benefits? Tangible incentives for more education?
Maybe I’m rare, maybe I’m a dinosaur, but I “bought-in” to this profession long ago.
Oh, there were times it looked like the grass was greener outside of nursing and I thought about what it would be like to do something else. But nursing is in my blood at the genetic-molecular level; map my genome and you’ll find it. My chromosomes are shaped like tiny nursing caps.
Nursing isn’t something I do, it’s something I am.
I guess I “bought-in” to the caring aspect on that front porch in the summer of 1966 when it was just Cherry Ames and me.
And not just because I’d get a cap out of the deal.
That was just the icing on the cake.