I have always followed nursing blogs, since the very early days of the internet, believing them to represent what is written on ‘the subway walls’; the authentic voice of front-line nurses, free of the gagging clauses which today clog up the arteries of the body nursing.
I studied them to identify common themes that might be relevant to most nurses.
Below are some very old blog posts from America. I recently revisited them, as the Americanisation of UK nursing was entirely predictable, given the shared political/economic beliefs of the American and UK political elite, and many old American posts echo a common experience shared by UK nurses today.
I reproduce the posts, and suggest themes they represents, and invite UK nurses to say whether the themes represent the realities facing them today:
‘Nursing is VERY ROUGH! There is no way to compare it to “other” jobs and people not being satisfied with “other” jobs. You are dealing with patients lives. Every minute is pressing with demands and you have to be sharp, you can’t afford an “off day.” Unlike teachers, an off day could have a serious affect on your patient or a serious mistake or injury whereas an off day for a teacher could mean the papers don’t get graded or the kids don’t have to do as much work that day. Their lives are not jeopardized’.
NURSING IS A JOB WHERE A MISTAKE CAN INJURE PATIENTS AND LEAD TO BEING VERY EASILY STRUCK-OFF THE NURSING REGISTER.
‘People always want to say things like….”deal with it” “change your career” “it’s just like any other job” “you can find job dissatisfaction anywhere” we are “miserable” we “complain” – you will never know until you are in it. Most of the people that I know personally could NOT handle this job. I have tolerated it for years. BUT, you have to take a look at yourself. Can you be that person under EXTREME STRESS? Can you handle the backstabbing and vicious nature of women in this field. I think I have seen more women with severe emotional problems and social issues in this field than anywhere. It is the extreme of the childhood playground behavior that women have NEVER outgrown. Miserable – jealous – catty – evil – devious – liars. I have seen what this field does to people. I have seen the fear and anxieties on humble new nurses. I have seen the most patient and stable – SNAP’.
‘There is a sociological concept known as “horizontal violence” that happens when a group of people feels opressed and powerless and they take it out on each other. Nurses are notoriously cruel to each other. As if the working conditions were not bad enough, we have to deal with nurses “eating their own”.
SOME NURSES ONLY JUST TOLERATE THEIR JOB. (HOW, THEN, CAN THEY TOLERATE PATIENTS?).
THEY HAVE TO COPE WITH EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS IN THEIR PERSONAL LIFE AND THE PRESSURES OF NURSING.
THEY USE NEWER NURSES AS PUNCHBAGS TO RELIEVE THEIR STRESS.
‘I have just left the nursing profession after 18 awful, frustrating years of being overworked, used and abused, and I am happier than I’ve been in years! I would not tell my worst enemy to become an RN. After years of 12 hour shifts with no breaks (even if it were possible, only 30 minutes are allowed), understaffing, and basically running damage control, I couldn’t take it any more’.
‘I always tell folk that it is the female equivalent of coal mining in a way. We work in the dark, too. And at any time our world can cave in just like in a mine. And like mine owners, our hospital managers care about profits more than worker safety or well being. Nursing is a job made and structured in the US to be very destructive to our health. Just like mining is often designed into for the mainly men that do that work.’
Nurses lack the solidarity that miners often have with each other.For example… Miners have an occasional foreman who is also considered a miner giving orders. But floor nurses have a whole zoo of low level adminstrators that have RN attached to their names. These folk won’t do, so they adminster and ‘teach’ others what is to be done.’
Lots of paper pushers in British nursing? Then you might have just the beginning of an idea about the American system? You see, paper pushing comes first and foremost here thanks to our insurance run system. The paper is much more important than the patient even, and only the lowly CNAs are really actually able to find a minute of two to even talk to many of the “clients”. In some facilities, the “clients” don’t even get watered! Believe me, we got more paper pushing than you can imagine in your worst British nightmares. And all the positions are short filled, just like in Britain. It’s part of running “lean” profit-making operations.
NURSES ARE WORKED TO BREAKING POINT BY HOSPITAL MANAGERS WHO ARE ONLY INTERESTED IN BUDGET TARGETS.
NURSES WHO CAN NOT HACK THE COAL FACE TURN TO PEN-PUSHING AND TEACHING. (Lenin knew many of these!).
PAPERWORK SWAMPING NURSING IS ABOUT AVOIDING LITIGATION AND NOT PLANNING FOR PATIENT CARE.
NURSING IS BECOMING MCDONALDISED. (MADE TO LOOK GOOD ON THE OUTSIDE!).
‘No doubt though, you are right about the money being better, but also the speedup might be quite a bit worse. This means that the elderly nurse is a throwaway nurse. Older folks are not as good on skates as the younger kids. Nursing “careers” are short and without pensions’.
EXPERIENCED NURSES ARE AXED FOR THE SAKE OF BUDGET CUTS. (A RECENT CONCERN OF THE RCN).
NEW NURSES HAVE A SHORT-FUSE CAREER – 5 YEARS OR LESS? (IT’S NOT THAT SOME NEW NURSES ARE NOT GIVEN 6 MONTHS CONTRACTS, THE REAL ISSUE IS WHERE THEY ARE IN 5 YEARS).
‘I believe it’s called Cortisol, dear … It’s a hormone released during repeated STRESS! It leads to fatty deposits … usually around the middle …. Too much of it released over time not only makes you fat, but can also make you fatigued, depressed and puts you at risk for coronary problems. Correct me if I’m wrong! It’s also called ‘Night Shift,’ which is where most new grads begin. It is the shift that shortens the lifespan, deprives you of sleep, light AND a social life’.
‘Great post about night shift and fat. If the hospitals even had a drop of concern about its own workforce, let alone the patients’ health, they would allow a nap break at night for staff. Instead, they just keep stresing and stressing and stressing out their own nurses, and then the adminstrators go abroad to bring in new cannon fodder for the floors‘.
‘And the day nurses often fall for this stuff a lot, too. Oftentimes they come in all tense and hyped up and give night nurses hell at 8AM in the morning! They like to rave about how all the i and j are not dotted perfectly for the start of their DAY. A most blatant example of how nurses eat their young. The adminstators encourage this sort of thing, and call it professionalism. I just call it not truly giving a damn about health’.
‘Read up on stress, depression, constipation from not being able to take time enough to dump, and prolonged periods of emotional and physical fatigue. that might help you figure it out. and lack of sleep due to having your license – your livelihood dangling out there for anyone that really wants to take it all away from you … and the whole thing can take you so far down you have to force yourself to to anything at all on days off. it’s too much for a lot of people and they give up what is healthy for them. I think of it as being emotionally raped every day. You risk financial rape every day if some asshole can succeed in getting your license yanked. You can get emotionally numb to all and just quit giving a damn about anything — even yourself. It’s a battle every day of your life. You either struggle to hold your ground or let it beat you’.
SHIFT PATTERNS HARM PATIENT CARE BY DAMAGING THE HEALTH OF NURSES.
NEW NURSES ARE NEEDED TO REPLACE DESTROYED NURSES.
MANAGERS DO NOT TREAT THEIR STAFF AS HUMAN BEINGS. (THEN, HOW CAN WE EXPECT NURSES TO TREAT PATIENTS AS HUMAN BEINGS?).
NURSES DO NOT TREAT EACH OTHER AS HUMAN BEINGS. (THEN, HOW CAN WE EXPECT NURSES TO TREAT PATIENTS AS HUMAN BEINGS?).
NURSING IS A VERY INSECURE JOB. (DO THE NMC FAVOUR MANAGEMENT WHO ARE TRYING TO GET RID OF TROUBLESOME STAFF?).
‘I love how in my state (ILL.) we have a nursing magzine that tries to show nursing in a positive light. But it is the biggest joke. I have seen nurses making suggestions that are not even on the floor. Pictures of nurses with staff in the bed like a patient. No sign of the bitching and moaning pt’s and their family members. There are some places that I have worked that any idiot could see – it is everyman for himself. For the complainers you just offer the phoney knod … The pt and family members can’t get it in their heads that it is survival. We don’t have enough help, or supplies. This is long term care what a joke, the higher ups only see $$$$$’.
A NURSING PROPAGANDA MACHINE SPEWS OUT A PHONEY VIEW OF THE NURSING ROSE-GARDEN. (CAN UK NURSES THINK OF ANY EXAMPLES OF THIS? IS THE ONLY WAY NURSING RESEMBLES A ROSE GARDEN IS THAT IT IS ALSO SHOWERED WITH MANURE?).
‘The real reason “nursing sucks” is because of nurses like you who bitch and moan about it but don’t DO anything about it. Lobby to change laws about working conditions. Band together as co-workers to stand up to administration to voice your opinions about what you don’t like and what needs to be changed. Protest and go on strike. People only treat you the way you allow them to and if you sit back and do nothing, nothing is going to change’.
NURSES AND THEIR UNIONS ARE NOT MILITANT ENOUGH, THEY GET WHAT THEY DESERVE. (THE PERPETUAL CASE).
DO YOU RECOGNISE ANY OF THIS?
HOW CAN WE REALLY EXPECT NURSES TO TREAT PATIENTS AND EACH OTHER AS HUMAN BEINGS?
HOW CAN A SICK PROFESSION SUCCESSFULLY TREAT A SICK PATIENT?
WOULD YOU CHOSE TO BE A NURSE AGAIN?
I’M SURE THAT ONLY THE ‘FLORENCES’ OF NURSING WOULD SAY YES.
NURSE LECTURERS – DO YOU REALLY THINK YOU ARE SELLING A WONDERFUL PRODUCT?
I’M SURE THAT ONLY THE CAN’T-HACK-THE-COAL-FACE ‘FLORENCES’ OF NURSING WOULD SAY YES.
STUDENTS – HAS THE PENNY DROPPED YET?
lenin (definitely not Florence) nightingale 2015