What Every Nurse Knows

The only special interests that nurses have are our patients.

Bernie- Born to Run 2016Nurses value life, not just breathing and a pulse, but a quality life that entails an opportunity to fulfill your potential and use your talents and skills.

With the cost of health care premiums exceeding the average mortgage payment for a home, life has been sold to the highest bidder: corporations that profit from you dying.

Why? Because politics are driven by super Political Action Committees (PACS) that spend billions to elect politicians that push special interest groups like healthcare corporations who are more interested in making money than alleviating suffering.

The only special interests that nurses have are our patients. We want healthier lifestyles, affordable medications and compassionate care.

Bernie Sanders is the only candidate that embodies these values. I challenge you to look at Bernie’s track record, study the other candidates’ platforms and show me a leader who can deliver the caring, compassion and community that we need to turn our country around.  Vote nurses values because every nurse knows that life is a terrible thing to waste.

Labor Day: Creating a Healthy Work Culture  

When I think of Labor Day I remember the working class heroes who have built our society and have won so many of the rights we enjoy: paid holidays, overtime compensation, child labor laws and the ability to come together as a voice for fairness.

Today I read that President Obama passed a measure for seven paid sick days for federal employees.

Healthcare Starts with Self-care
Healthcare Starts with Self-care

This shows there is still much work to be done to ensure fair practice that protect workers from harm. It seems ludicrous for someone to go to work sick because they can’t afford to take a day off thereby, infecting everyone else at their job.

What about nurses? I know many, myself included,  who work or have worked when they were sick because there weren’t enough co-workers to cover the shift.

Everywhere I look, hospitals aren’t hiring  enough nurses. Hospitals depend on nurses to work overtime to cover unfilled nursing positions because , ironically, it’s too expensive to pay for employee healthcare benefits.

Nurses work hard and need time off to recover from the demands of our job. It has become the nurses code of honor to work extra shifts to provide respite for each other. Yet, this unspoken rule spreads the work pool too thin to cover sick leave, especially for minor ailments like colds.  So it has become prevalent for bedside nurses to work even while sick .

Managers try to deter this behavior by scheduling nurses weeks in advance to prepare for slim weekend and holiday coverage. Yet, because a hospital census can be so unpredictable, there are always circumstances where shifts need to be rearranged to balance the experienced nurses with new nurses to provide mentorship and optimal care for the patients. No one knows better than a nurse that short staffing puts patients in jeopardy making it a real guilt trip to call in sick.

This holiday, I am taking a moment to recognize  the nurses’ responsibility to ensure fair work practices that protect others from unnecessary exposure to sick workers. We didn’t cause this nursing shortage, we didn’t create the uncertainty of situations that demand we adjust our schedules, but we can cure this dilemma.

Nurses can change the unrealistic expectations we put upon ourselves and our profession by sharing the awareness that we must advocate for our own health first. While it seems a brave and admirable sacrifice to work while mildly ill we are exposing these germs to other people’s immune systems  that may cause a life threatening situation.

Sure, we can pass more laws to ensure worker and public safety but it’s faster and cheaper to create a healthy work culture. To start, I must walk my talk and present myself as fit to do a good job. Instead of manipulating a co-workers by demanding that they defend a sick call, I have started creating a culture that protects and encourages nurses to be strong and healthy by saying, “I hope you feel better.”

What Nurses Want and Need for Christmas

Don't Pay the Price of Silence or Brutality
Don’t Pay the Price of Silence or Brutality

Whether or not you agree with Sony’s recent reactions to North Korea’s threats, freedom of speech is a human right that many Americans have sacrificed their lives for.

Granted, I don’t have to like what other people say about a subject but I have the right to speak my opinion. After all, I don’t make up true north.

My favorite flavor is chocolate. I didn’t make that up. I don’t like what happened in the Sony hacking incident but I don’t like the fact that Sony stirred a hornet’s nest with Kim Jong-un either. Just because I like chocolate, doesn’t mean I should beat you over the head with it.

What does this have to do with what nurses want for Christmas?  It has to do with nurses being able to voice our true north without fear of losing our jobs. It has to do with being able to communicate with integrity so people don’t have to suffer.

Saying what I mean and meaning what I say doesn’t have to be said or done in a mean spirited way. When there aren’t enough nurses to cover tough situations we shouldn’t have to resort to shaming or bullying one another just because it’s been done that way in the past.

Christmas can be a very short-staffed time of year. I get it that nurses have families too and want time off. But there are plenty of nurses who want to work, yet staffing formulas don’t always reflect the true north of what patients need for optimal care.

Too bad nursing productivity and performance are based on customer satisfaction and not so much the basis of healthy outcomes like educating patients on getting and staying well. Making sure a patient’s dinner isn’t cold is important, but what makes nursing meaningful is providing lasting safety and support.

Yet patient satisfaction surveys, used to fulfill healthcare quotas, focus on comfort and costs rather than quality measures driven by lowering illness through intervention and education.

Too often, nurses are too busy or too tired to balk about the measuring of their pillow fluffing.  Working to save and improve the quality of life should be more important than encouraging patients to circle happy faces for food temperatures and mood lighting.

The political pressure for nurses to play these corporate games of following the money, lest we fear losing our job, has watered down our effectiveness as soldiers against suffering and disease.

Nurses need to learn to be assertive and provide scientific rationales for better hospital management to stop the bullying behaviors and focus on best medical practices.

After all, if Florence Nightingale had bashed her administrators in the beginning for doing such a lousy job, or worse yet if she had kept her mouth shut, the spirit of modern day nursing wouldn’t exist.

Instead, Flo became the voice for change by modeling effective communication that demanded respect. I know we can keep her flame burning bright to direct us to the true north for healthcare justice.

May we all be blessed with the courage and strength to be that voice. Happy Holidays.

Go Fourth! Celebrate Independence from Tyranny Like a Nurse

Nurses are gaining momentum for a huge revolution in health care delivery. Like our founders sought, freedom from greed and oppression is hard but a worthy cause.

At the time of the American Revolution Great Britain was a huge force of power. That didn’t stop the original thirteen American colonies from revolting and eventually winning their freedom from tyranny.

This Fourth of July take a moment to reflect how our forefathers gained independence from the strongest empire in the world.

Here’s Your Cheat Sheet to Nursing Justice:

1. Find your Voice

Nursing has the largest numbers of healthcare workers yet we have the smallest voices: we are expected to provide compassionate care, but we are forced to work under extremely stressful conditions while we are constantly under-resourced.

Our profession is fast becoming careers in which we must squeeze the actual nursing care around piles of paperwork (or computers). How many of us work through countless hours of unpaid lunches, breaks and after our shifts have finished? Despite this, studies across the nation still say that nurses don’t have enough time with patients, and have had to leave certain care undone during their shifts.

Think Boston Tea Party: What if we all banded together and refused to work through our breaks and work extra? What if oncoming shifts marched into the house supervisor’s office and demanded adequate staffing before taking report from the off-going nurses? The gaps would then become very quickly visible to employers, managers and the public. The message really got across and some action was taken.

Refuse to sip from the status quo. To this day, Americans are still largely coffee drinkers, foregoing the tastes of their oppressors.

2. Encourage communication: if we don’t demand what we need we won’t get it. No one gives up power without a fight. Huge corporations are taking over our hospitals and community healthcare systems.

Remember Paul Revere’s warning? “The British are coming!” Well mega-medical monopolies are here and we must push our congress to pass laws that protect us from tyranny. This November, California is pushing for Proposition 45 an initiative for health insurance rate hikes to be justified by the state insurance commissioner. Stay tuned.

Lastly : 3. United we stand. Work as a team. A team of experts does not make an expert team. Leadership and cohesive loyalty to the objective of Safe Patient Care goes a long way. That which honors dignity and truth will be self-evident and sustaining.

Happy Fourth of JULY!

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Why Labor Pains are Necessary

 

 The Nurses Nurse will be ON THE AIR
The Nurses Nurse will be ON THE AIR

Why are Labor Pains necessary? That’s what readers of my book will find out. But you don’t have to be a reader to get answers because I will be interviewed on LIVE Radio!

 

That’s right Rita Batchley RN, The Nurses Nurse, is being interviewed on “RNFM Radio: On the Pulse of Nursing “, the most popular internet radio station for nurses. This LIVE interview is on Tuesday, 6/24/14 at 11am PST / 12pm MST / 2pm EST..

During the interview, I plan on discussing my new novel, Labor Pains, and why they are necessary for change. We all think of labor pains as the worse than death suffering of childbirth, but now after twenty-five years as labor and delivery nurse I will share how there is a whole new meaning to what was once dreaded and feared.

This is an interview you won’t want to miss. It will be a live audio and video broadcast via Google+ and Google Hangouts on Air. If you have a Google+ account, you can join the live chat and type in questions for her and the hosts. If you don’t have a Google+ account, you can still watch the live broadcast via the link below or via RNFM Radio’s YouTube channel http://bit.ly/SQJAuw

I’d love for you to listen in, watch, and type in questions if you’re live with us on Google+.

If you can’t listen in, bear in mind that the show will be immediately archived and available for listening at www.rnfmradio.com, and will also be quickly available as a free downloadable podcast on iTunes and on the RNFM Radio YouTube channel.

In my LIVE interview, I plan on discussing Labor Pains, the story of Paige O’Neill,  a labor and delivery nurse, who works at Mercy Hospital where the mysteries of childbirth unfold.

Labor Pains is a must read that is necessary for anyone who wants to know what nurses really do behind the scenes to protect patients from the conditions in hospitals that could harm them.

I will discuss why it is necessary for nurses to be involved in seeing that health care injustice is brought into the light so that consumers can choose wisely.

I look forward to connecting with you then!

Until then, keep pushing to for RNs at the bedside to deliver the safest hospital care.

 

What the Super Bowl Teaches Nurses About Winning Big

 

Championing Takes Teamwork

By the time you’re reading this all the hoopla is over and the Sea Hawks are home with a Super Bowl ring and an extra $90,000 per player. As a Peyton Manning fan, I rooted for the Broncos; but it goes to show that even one of the greatest quarterbacks of this decade can’t carry the whole game without teamwork.

For the Ventura County Health Care Agency (VCHCA) nurses, who have been bargaining for a contract since December 2012, we know that to be champions of healthcare means more than a gold ring and more money. Winning an awesome contract means safe patient ratios, protecting nurses from crippling back injuries and workplace violence, a career ladder that enhances job satisfaction and improves our ability to recruit seasoned nurses and a healthy public sector hospital system that keeps prices down. Without public sector healthcare, the private sector can charge whatever they want because they will be the only providers in town.

We know we have what it takes to win. We’ve survived Cerner and the onset of Trauma Designation which has more than doubled our work. Like the Broncos we are favored to win, but unless we depend on stellar teamwork, as in the case of the Sea Hawks, we might fall short of championing the greatest success of our careers: self-sustaining language that protects us from being stretched too thin.

Without a contract that takes into account for safety and staffing, the VCHCA will continue to hire new grad per diem nurses at bargain basement prices. These new nurses, while licensed, lack the experience to handle crisis with the competency of skilled nurses. It’s a vicious cycle, we train the new who move on to better paying hospitals and burn-out makes a training program for new-hires a burden instead of an honor. As in football, you can study playbooks until you’re blue in the face, but there’s nothing like scoring that first patient save from disaster.

Football is dangerous and so is being a nurse. Like linemen, we taking crushing loads and work with unpredictable patients who lash out. In the past four years, there have been over twenty nurses out for various bodily injuries and emotional stress. If you don’t believe me, check with Human Resources they’ll confirm the scores who were benched because of the harm done from heavy emotional and physical lifting.

Our state mandates hospitals to provide lift help in terms of policy and equipment, yet VCHCA nurses continue to get injured due to lack of training and gear. We need language in our contract that supports our rights to be safe.

When I think of Super Bowl I think of collaboration (you know those tight ends in the huddle, that’s what I’m talking about). Safe patient care starts with sheer numbers. Proper staffing means having a team to work with. I don’t know any caregivers that can split themselves in two. No amount of money will make up for a poor patient outcome that haunts you the rest of your life. Whenever the hospital is short staffed, nurses need relief efforts from their managers and combat compensation.

Yes we need a career ladder, the overhaul of VCHCA’s antiquated nursing classification system is long overdue. Yet, as a team, I know we’d be selling ourselves short if we don’t win a contract that includes staffing ratios, a nursing protection package and lift language as well.

 

Join the Team of VCHCA Nurses 

EVERY Third Tuesday of Each Month:
7:30-8:30 Santa Paula Hospital Cafeteria
9:00-10:30 at VCMC Cafeteria
12-1:00 at 2240 Gonzales Rd #200 Public Health
EVERY First Monday of the Month 

 9:00 a.m. at Mimi’s Cafe on Main

Come & Decide Your Future