Overworked. Underpaid. Unappreciated. Tired. Valuable. Well-paid. Good schedules.

These are all words and phrases used to describe nurses. Notice how they contradict each other? I'm sure most nurses who have worked the floor can agree that they have heard all of the words at some point, especially from their supervisor. What the supervisor says at that particular moment may be related to their own agenda.

I've heard our supervisor tell us in casual conversation that we have long hours, we're overworked, stretched thin, unappreciated, and underpaid. But as soon as we start trying to get at least extra help on the floor, we're told that we aren't really all that busy. That we work great hours... "You only work 3 days a week, you should be well-rested and energized." We're told that when they watch the cameras all they see is nurses sitting in nurses station not busy at all [what do they do... watch a 15-30 minute segment on one of our rare slow nights??] And then we're told that because they see us just sitting there, that we don't have a good enough case to get extra staffing. That they look at the paperwork and it isn't done completely. [An instance where 1 or 2 lazy nurses can effectively screw over everyone.]

This kind of mentality by the people in supervisory and administrative position can cause extreme irritation and burn out in their floor nurses.

I love what I do for a living, but days when we get told that we can't get extra staff [even though we NEED it] I just get mad. I feel like me and my coworkers are not valued at all and they don't care what they put us through. In my job, we have anywhere from 15 to 30 patients on our floor. My patients can range from severely depressed and suicidal (no behavior threat) to actively psychotic and violent. Then there are those times we have more than 1 actively psychotic patient and that leads to shifts full of patients fighting and cursing and staff having to react appropriately to protect the patient and themselves and also possibly be giving PRN medications. Don't forget the shifts that we have 4-8 new admissions that we have to do between 2 nurses on top of everything else going on. All this being said, we are usually only given 2 RNs and 2 aides. That equals 1 RN to about 15 patients. How can we provide the care we need to our individual patients when we have TOO many?! I've had nights I'm preoccupied with 1 violent patient that requires constant care and can barely say 3 words to other patients. I leave that shift feeling like I failed my other patients.

How can administration and supervisors get away with this, you ask? Because most states, my state included, do NOT have staffing laws in place. This places patients and staff in danger.

What would happen if with those 4 staff members we have, 1 is on break, leaving 3 on the floor, a patient starts attacking staff. While that is going on, you get an order for a PRN medication which requires 2 nurses to pull since it isn't in the patient med profile. That would leave 1 staff member to try to defend themselves from patient. Yes, you can call a code and request help, but we have had nights that there is a code on another unit and there is no one who can come help.

How is that safe? How is that legal?

I am not complaining about my job because I love what I do, don't mistake me on that. But it's time that nurses are appreciated for what we do and given the help, respect, and protection we deserve.

What do you all think?

Published by Nurse D