For many years now, we’ve all heard about the terrible nursing shortage in this country. The line has been, people who went into nursing would be thrown buckets of money and treated like royalty by the healthcare administrators wanting to hire them. That caused waves of workers to head to nursing schools.
Well, it turns out, promises of milk and honey were hype. Nurses are now being asked to take cuts in compensation and to work more.
A nurse told me a few years back that she thought all the hyperbole about a shortage was caused by the healthcare providers themselves in order to end up with an oversupply of nurses and thus be in a position to pay nurses less. I’m not much for conspiracy theories, but the end result she predicted is happening.
But nurses aren’t taking it lying down. A story in the New York Times today talks about the growing number of nurses’ unions going on strike, or considering work stoppages as a response to cut backs many hospitals are making.
This from the article:
In New York, the union, the New York State Nurses’ Association, has not yet given the hospitals a 10-day strike warning, which the law requires, and last-minute settlements are still possible. But its battle with the hospitals reflects common themes across the country.
The nurses, who voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, say they are being disrespected by a corporate hospital culture that demands sacrifices from patients and those who provide their care, but pays executives millions of dollars.
Wow, the hospital administrators have balls given the demand for health care workers. Or is the much-hyped growing demand for health care workers, hyped by labor experts, the media, and even me on occasion, just a bunch of bull?
Basic economics tell us, if there’s a shortage of a certain type of worker those workers in that particular field have the upper hand.
Maybe the numbers don’t tell the real story.
This from a Kaiser Health News story:
Not so long ago, nursing school grads had it much easier. Job opportunities exploded during the past decade. Facing a shortage of nurses, hospitals were eager to hire qualified nurses. No matter their specialty, nurses were virtually guaranteed a job wherever they pleased.
Nursing, even in hard times, was thought to be recession-proof.
That was before the recent economic collapse. Before current nurses who are hoping to ride out the recession put off retirement or filled full-time jobs – rather than convenient part-time work – to increase their incomes.
Nurses are facing many pressures, according to labor professor Gary Chaison from the Graduate School of Management at Clark University at Worcester, MA.
“Because they represent a major cost factor in running hospitals, there are pressures to reduce their role, to deskill them by having much of what they do assigned to lesser skilled lower paid workers, particularly orderlies and practical nurses,” he said.
“The nurses’ motto is ‘Every patient deserves a nurse’, meaning every patient should have the services of a qualified RN, not someone who was assigned RN work to cut costs,” he continued. “They also realize that with the new health care legislation there will be attempts by non-professionals (managers and accountants) to cut the pay of nurses, to assign mandatory overtime, and to take over staffing decisions that should belong to nurses as health care professions. It’s the classic fight between the ‘bean-counters (administrators) and professionals.”
As for why the nurses can’t get what they want, he said:
“I believe it’s an issue of gender and the nurses’ mission. Quite often management will take advantage of the willingness to serve and sacrifice and the reluctance to speak of nurses.
“Nurses are trained to serve (they were once called the ‘doctors’ handmaiden) and as a result hospital management often feel they can get nurses to accept low pay, long hours because nursing is a calling, an occupation for those willing to sacrifice. And because nurses are often women, hospital management often feel that nurses will not be assertive or ask for a strong voice (union representation) at work.”
Well, it seems some nurses may be sick and tired of being pushed around, especially since administrators spent so many years building up the profession.
Feel good about yourselves gals!! Be assertive!!