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Unread 01-22-2003, 08:23 AM

Because of the different posts I've read over the past year concerning bad experiences with nurses, I have started this one to explain my "side of the coin". Each patient deserves the best treatment possible, but sometimes the nurse can't give the kind of care she (or he) would like to give and I just wanted to explain on behalf of nurses everywhere why that may be.

One of the reasons I left the hospital where I worked was because of the hours. They aren't very conducive to having children and getting them to school or picking up from school. I have a child who goes to school out of district, which means we have to provide our own transportation. No matter which of the shifts I worked, it prevented me from either taking him or picking him up. DH's work hours don't allow for him to do either. Also, the working every other weekend. Half a month's weekends kept me away from my family...that's half a year's weekends. I know that is off subject here, but just wanted to point out that may be one reason there's a shortage of nurses. Another reason I left was because of understaffing. I didn't feel like I could spend as much time with each patient as I felt needed because of the understaffing. As soon as I was doing something with one patient, my phone (we had to carry with us) would ring from the secretary telling me another patient needed me. We only got a 30 minute "lunch break", so that didn't give much time to play catch up on all the documenting that has to be done or more importantly, use our break to spend extra time with our patients.

I've heard friends/family make comments through the years when they've been at a hospital about nurses not doing anything but sit around at the nurses' station. Nurses I've worked with, and myself included, are not there lallygagging or ignoring our work. There is soooo much documentation that has to be done, so that's usually what is being done. Or other things like reviewing a patient's chart for doctor's orders, checking lab results, etc. There's hardly ever a time to take a break.

I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad about what they've said about their experiences with nurses, I'm just trying to help anyone who doesn't know realize why their nurse may not be right there when called. We have to could be that the nurse gets a call that someone wants something to drink, but at the time, she's redressing a bandage....which comes first? See what I mean? She may have 6 different calls with patients needing her and by the time the patient whose need wasn't as high priority as the other 5 finally sees her, they may think the nurse either forgot about them or didn't care enough to come right then. But, she may have had patients who were hemorrhaging or other serious things she was dealing with during that time.

I hope I haven't offended anyone with anything I've said here. My intent was to let you know some of the reasons why your nurses may not have seemed to give the kind of care you would have liked. There are some out there who shouldn't be...I've worked with some and have had some take care of me too. But, most of us I've ever known are really there for the right reasons. I think if hospitals would stop understaffing and have better work hours, there would be more nurses willing to stay at the hospitals. They keep talking nursing shortage, but I know a lot out there who won't work at a hospital or have left nursing altogether because of the same reasons I've given. I'm always meeting nursing students, so I don't buy it that there's not enough going into nursing.

I have been thinking about going back to work at a nearby hospital part-time since I've worked out transportation issues for my son, but to tell you honestly, the more I keep reading on this site about how people have felt about their nurses, the more I'm afraid to go back. I really do want to help people and that's one reason I have stayed with this site for so long and have done lots of volunteer work for years, but it makes me feel bad to think my patients may misunderstand why I can't be there as soon as they press the button and would have bad feelings toward me because of it.

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Unread 01-22-2003, 08:26 AM

Sorry, I meant to post this on the post-op board.
Unread 01-22-2003, 08:45 AM

I am glad that you posted here at pre-op. I go for surgery tomorrow and this is a reminder to be kind to the nurses taking care of me. I have several friends that are nurses and I know they are sincere in wanting to care for thier patients.
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Unread 01-22-2003, 08:49 AM

Hi Pam,

I agree with your assessment about the nursing shortage. I think nurses also get a lot of grief from all sides: doctors, administrators, patients as well as the patient's families. It's been decades since I've seen nurses lounging around the nursing station, these days they are quite busy. I saw a lot of a typical nurse's day as both my parents were hospitalized for long stretches of time due to cancer and other problems.

Some of those nurses came to my mother's funeral and I will always cherish what they said about my mother.

You seem like a good nurse and thoughful person. Any chance you could get a job as a school nurse? Maybe private duty (elderly person being cared for at home?) could be an option?
Unread 01-22-2003, 08:52 AM

Hello PDawn,
I just wanted to respond to this post.... My first major in college was nursing, but after realizing all that was involved.. alot of what you mentioned, I changed my major. What a shame, because I, like you, enjoy helping people. I am a people person and love to interact.
I just hope that if going back to nursing, even part time, is what you desire that you do it. I would hope that the "things that people say" wouldn't hinder you from doing this. I have read alot of your post replys and you seem like a very nice, kind and caring person... something that the nursing industry can't get enough of. I haven't been in the hosptial before, but my grandmother was in quite often before she passed away, so I've had alot of contact with nurses. There, like in all professions, are good ones and bad ones. But the good ones are like angels and I and my family could not thank them enough for the care and kindness shown my grandmother.
I guess what I'm trying to get at is the people that you do help will greatly benefit from your expertise. When a patient and their family are going through an illness, the kindness of a nurse makes all the difference. Just think of all the lives you could touch!!!
Sorry... just wanted to encourage you. I will hope and pray that while I'm at the castle, my nurse is just like you!!!

Best of Luck to you,
Unread 01-22-2003, 09:27 AM

Wow! Thank you for your kind posts!! That really meant a lot to me.

Good luck with your surgery tomorrow and your recovery. I hope you have wonderful caring nurses and best hospital experience. Remember to be a good and follow all your DR's instructions. I had meant to post this on the post-op board because I didn't want any LIWs to have an extra worry that they would have a bad nurse. On the good side of this happening, maybe it will help them with patience if they understand ahead of time why their nurse may not be able to get to them as quickly as a button is pushed. One little suggestion to anyone going to be hospitalized... if you know you are going to be needing something ahead of time, like say your next dose of pain medicine is in 30 minutes, go ahead and ask for it to come. That way, it should be there sooner than if you wait until it is time. Remember, the best way to keep pain in control is to keep the pain medicine in your system. If you wait until it's worn off, it's harder to get the pain level back down.

I'm sorry for the loss of your mother. I have known many nurses to do this kind of thing. Lots of us do really care more for our patients than just being a job. When I worked labor and delivery, there were lots of us who would stay on (without extra pay) with a patient until the baby was born if we felt it would happen within the next hour or two. I have thought about school nursing. But around here, those jobs are hard to come by...the school nurses tend to stay until they retire. I have been thinking about home health though.

You're never too old to go back to school to do something you really want to do. When I was in nursing school, there were several who graduated with me who had already retired from other careers or others who wanted to make a change. You're right, I shouldn't let what someone else might say keep me from doing what I want to do. There are many more who don't feel so bad about nurses and appreciate what is done for them.

Thank you all for your support. It's people like you with heartwarming words that make nursing feel more rewarding.

Unread 01-22-2003, 09:37 AM

Pam, remember that we are always most vocal about what makes us unhappy! Although the poor nurse is the one who gets the rant, I believe that most of us are aware that the administration and shortage of personnel contribute very heavily toward unsatisfactory situations.

When I was in the castle I had one nurse that.....well let's just say we had communication issues.

During the course of my stay I had six others who ranged from professionally excellent to that plus Extra Extra kind (for which I was Extra Extra grateful).

Please consider returning to your profession. It needs you so badly. BUT do so only on your own terms and don't allow the hospital administration to use you up and burn you out. You are in the position of being in an employees market and if your terms aren't met, you can always find alternative work.

Unread 01-22-2003, 10:17 AM

~~~ Pam ~~~

Thanks so much for posting our side of the nursing issue. Actually this is a great board for this to be posted on.

As an RN, I used to work all over the hospital - I was a Per Diem "Float" which ment I worked everywhere from ER to Med/Surg. Let me give all you pre's a hint. Yes, you should expect good medical care from the time you walk into the door until the time you are discharged - THAT IS YOUR PATIENT RIGHT.
In fact, all hospitals under JAHCO are required to give you that in writing (I know we do - they are bright yellow papers with tiny tiny little printing, lol).

If you feel you are being ignored, neglected, have a problem, etc... if you have tried to get help from your nurse to no avail, then please, please, don't wait to be discharged before venting your frustration. Take action. Pick up that phone, dial operator and ask to see the floor/Department Manager, the director of Nurses, the Patient Care Coodinator (if your hospital has one, most do) or all three, and immediately. If it's at night - ask for the nursing supervisor on duty - there is always at least one. Tell them what has been going on and you want an immediate solution to what ever the problem is. You will get action, and right away if it's at all within their power. Now I am not talking about asking for a drink of water, but that also is important, I am talking about issues like nausea, pain control, bleeding, etc...

I have never knowingly ignored or neglected a patient of mine. Pam is right. The current shortage and understaffing by hospitals has just about driven me from the profession also. I now spend half my shift doing paperwork, dealing with physicians or other departments over dumb issues that could be time better spent with my doing direct patient care (after all that's why I chose this job). Unless your an nurse you have no idea the paperwork involved for each and every patient, and as an Charge RN - it's even a worse nightmare. I now work strictly as a unit based per diem RN on a Telemetry floor (PICU) for adults. I work part time cause I can't take the stress any more.

I empathise with all of you - I have also been that patient, but lucky for me, I got wonderful care during my stay. And as a nurse, I have always gotten good care for my family because I have intervened before a problem has gotten too far out of hand.

Take my advice. Ask for help, and after asking several times, then DEMAND help from the supervisors. Be sure to fill out those patient survey's (they do get read), and most of all - excerise you Patient Rights - they are yours to use.


and proud of it!!
Unread 01-23-2003, 06:11 PM

Hi Sisters!
All this talk about nursing shortages reminded me of a question. Has anyone had DH stay with them overnight? When my daughter had an emergency appendectomy I stayed with her the whole time (except surgery & recovery). She was only 10 and could not be an advocate for herself. Someone came and relieved me so I could go home and take a shower, etc. There was always either a friend or family member with her. Now I know an adult doesn't need quite that much, but if someone is having a rough time post-op is this an option you'd recommend. I do worry about DH getting rest, etc. though.
Unread 01-23-2003, 06:30 PM
Jo, I tossed dh out

he wouldn't get good quality rest with all the disruptions for vitals checks and the like. Better to have him rested up for when we got home. The option was there for him to have a cot, but been thru surgery before and cranky dh with cranky dw is not ideal.

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