Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Salt 'n Pepper Nursing

EDNuresesauras' gradution photo, circa 1888. That's me, top row, 4th to the left.

The caps that we used to wear, once the hallmark of the profession, have been obsolete for longer than many of the nurses I work with have been on the earth. I can remember wearing my cap for the first few years. I can also remember sailing said cap into a corner as soon as the nursing supervisor left. I don't miss the cap, they were probably pretty germy, but I do wonder at the changes since I started doing this job.

A young colleague, a nurse with two or three years of experience recently asked my opinion on how to deliver a complicated bit of nursing care. After I had explained what he needed to do, he looked at me admiringly and said, “You salt and pepper nurses know so much, I hope I have that someday”. I thought he was referring to actual gray hair, although I have none. He explained that he was speaking of “my years of accumulated wisdom”(haha!), clinical excellence, a desire to share it with others, and a non-threatening way in which to share it. This meant a lot to me, and I was quite touched to have been thought of in this way. The respect of colleagues is a pearl beyond price.

So much in nursing has changed over the years. ERNursey hit the nail right on the head with her back to basics nursing observations. I do think that we, as nurses all want to do what's best for patients, but there are so many obstacles to providing even basic care well that it has become increasingly frustrating. Dealing with difficult patients, demanding family members, unruly drunks, drug seekers, and violent psych patients are only part of the problem. What breaks the heart and ultimately the spirit is the "do more with less" mantra from MBA's who don't know a bedpan from a party hat. What we are hearing is "we don't care about what you do, you are only as important as high satisfaction scores". Good nurses are leaving the bedside in droves because they are sick and tired of compromising; literally the care is being forcibly extracted from nursing care. You can only do so much before something has to give.

So, excuse me while I "close the curtain for privacy" and shed a tear or two over the poor prognosis for nursing care.


Mother Jones RN said...

I've also seen a lot of changes in the health care system. I asked another nurse, "How can this be happening? Why did things change?" She said, "If you don't know the answer to a question, hang a dollar sign on the question and you will find the answer."

It's sad but true. Please pass the tissues.


AzRN said...

i have just gone back to the bedside within the last six months, and i am crazy busy each shift. i don't remember being this busy even five years ago...holy moley. i do really love being back and working with the patients. now, if only they would limit us to 4:1 maybe i could actually do all the admission paperwork instead of passing that crap to the next poor nurse....

found you via MJ and glad i did :D

EDNurseasauras said...

Thanks, azrn. I also work as an admission coordinator and I don't know how those gals on the floor deal with the constant BS. Even doing some of the paperwork before the pt's leave the ER it's still overwhelming. Ridiculous!

Julie said...

so sad...so true

Spook, RN said...

Everyday I am in awe of my colleagues - some of who have been in ED nursing for over 30 years.

30 years. Wow! The stuff they know is simply awesome. Calm. Collected. All knowing. Willing to teach.

They ride my ass at work all shift long and I love it! Best way to learn anything worthwhile...

So, here's a big "THANK YOU" to all you 'salt n peppah' nurses out there. New nurses like me would be utterly lost without you. "Knowledge that is not shared, is lost forever".