This Is What Nurse Power Looks Like

Kelley Johnson may have taken third place in the Miss America contest but she will always be #1 with the nurses.

The comments made earlier this week on the View about the Miss America contestant, Kelley Johnson, continue to spur nurses to remark in social media. The hashtags #NursesUnite , #JustANurse and the Facebook page  #NurssesShareYourStethescopes are swarming with spirit and support for nurse power.

As The Nurses’ Nurse, I have spent years promoting the power of nurses in society. I am so grateful to Kelley Johnson who competed in the talent section of the Miss America Contest as a nurse. She recited a story based on the poem, Just A Nurse.  Her short speech, about being a nurse who gave dignity back to a man with Alzheimer’s disease was great.

Rather than appearing as just another female entertainer in a flowing gown and a push-up bra, Kelley dressed in scrubs and a stethoscope, to prove that the beauty of a woman should be judged from the inside out.

It took over 500 pages of my book, Labor Pains, to say what Kelley said in less than three minutes. Patients don’t cry out for the doctor to save them, they call for the nurse. It takes all the arts and sciences together at the bedside to give compassionate care. If that’s not a special talent I don’t know what is.

NursesUnited
A Hospital without Nurses is like a World without Water

It is sad that the View, which should portray powerful women, presented themselves as a group of hens pecking at the integrity of a nurse for a few cackles. This type of catty behavior is at the  core of what makes it so hard for nurses to break out of the social stereotyping that has portrayed us as sex objects who are incapable of being both feminine and smart.

Kelley Johnson may have taken third place in the Miss America contest but she will always be #1 with the nurses. Never underestimate the power of a nurse.

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.”

Good Friday

As a nurse I’ve had to follow a higher law. Sometimes I had to do what was right instead of what was easy. There were times that I had to stand up to ridicule and berating from my supervisor because I disagreed with the staffing of our department.  I can’t help but wonder how it might be, if more nurses took a Garden in Gethsemane moment and surrendered to a crown of thrones rather than compromise safe patient care.

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.

 

Nursing School 411 an Eye Opener Interview

Here’s a recent article from a web magazine that features your one & only.
I hope you enjoy & pass it on. Thanks.

Rita Batchley is not your ordinary RN. She is a teacher, author and
speaker who happens to believe that nurses hold the key to real
healthcare reform. Since graduating from nursing school over 28 years
ago, Nurse Batchley has helped to deliver more than 3,000 babies and
now, in her breakout novel Labor Pains, she delivers a gripping story
that breathes life into the spirit of nursing. This timely story is
sure to be loved by today’s nurses as well as those yearning to be
delivered into a world where the primary ingredient in medicine is
caring.
As “The Nurses’ Nurse,” Rita has dedicated her life to support nurse
to patient ratio laws and she tells the effects of nursing on nurses
as only someone with her experiences can. Rita contributes essays and
editorials by way of her blog, The Nurse’s Nurse. She has dedicated
her life to support nurse ratio laws.

What event or series of events led you to pursue nursing as a
professional choice?

I grew up in NYC during the ‘70s (think American Hustle); the
inflation and job opportunities were limited. I wanted a career that
was recession-proof. Fiercely independent, I moved to California and
married young. I needed to advance myself in a direction that would
allow me to live anywhere, a job that was as versatile as it is
challenging. One day there was a press release announcing a two year
nursing program at the local junior college. I was always fascinated
with the sciences and the integration of the physical and social
sciences was a perfect fit for me. It took me five years to complete
that two year program but it was worth it. Years later, while pursuing
a BSN I read Suzanne Gordon’s book, From Silence to Voice: What Nurses
Know and Must Communicate to the Public.
Her work sparked a fire that
motivated me to write Labor Pains, my debut novel about a nurse hero.
Name 1 or 2 specific challenges you have faced in your career in
nursing and the steps you took to overcome them?
As a labor and delivery nurse for the last twenty-five years, there
were moments I wanted to give up because I was so discouraged from the
lack of adequate staffing. Instead, I’ve devoted my life to safe nurse
to patient ratios. In the process, so many people have asked why I
chose to write a novel to support this cause, rather than penning a
memoir or citing research. My answer takes me to the very core of
nursing and what resonates most in my practice: the power of people
and the relationships we cultivate by caring. In the 90′s the hospital
industry tried to de-skill nursing by giving our jobs to unlicensed
assistive personnel. I went back to school part time for my BSN which
allowed me to network with a whole new world of nurses that gave me
insight and opportunity. I joined my state nursing association, The
California Nurses Association and I became very involved in leading
the change I wanted to see in nursing. Nurses deserve respect. I
became the chief nurse representative for our 750 nurses throughout
the Ventura County Health Care Agency. Since then I have helped make
enormous changes in our work place due to the passing of our state
mandated ratio law.
Can you give us an example of an interesting case or project that you
have worked on and your role in helping to achieve a positive outcome?

I want people to know what nurses do to protect them, but the silence
of who we are and how we suit up for jobs most people couldn’t stomach
in a million years, is not easy to disclose. In my book, Labor Pains,
this mystery of who nurses are and what we do unfolds. We are
scientists, yet the main ingredient of our medicine intuitively looks
to soothe that certain something that niggles deep within. At the
bedside, in the office or during visits to a patient’s home, it’s the
nurse who gets to know the idiosyncrasies that make each patient tick.
Every chapter strikes a chord right where a nurse lives: in being a
patient advocate.
Now I am working to promote and market Labor Pains because there is so
much further we need to go for the awareness of what nurses can do.
With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, nursing will be on
the front lines for fighting for better access to positive medical
outcomes. Our job to educate others on their options is the key to
starting a social movement for working towards universal health care.

Can you describe what a typical day looks like for you or the
activities you spend the most time on at work?

As a hospital nurse specialist I do a variety of jobs. I’ve worked in
Labor and Delivery doing direct patient care, I’ve worked on our
hospital’s electronic charting system, I teach and I write. The beauty
of a nursing career is that you’ll never be bored. It’s a dynamic
profession that will grow with you as long as you have the willingness
to learn new skills.

What aspects of your work do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy connecting with people. Advocating for nurses and patients,
bringing justice to the forefront, this entire aspect makes nurses
healthcare heroes. When I plant the seed of self-confidence in others
a million roots of positive change take hold.

What advice would you give to new graduates for getting hired after graduation?

Hospitals spend a lot of money to train new-hires. Tell a prospective
employer your commitment to loyalty. Find a hospital that supports
mentoring; get a job at a teaching hospital or one that encourages you
to learn.
What is the key strength you bring to your career and how would you
advise new graduates to mine their own strengths to further their
careers?
I am tenacious. Co-workers told me that hospitals would never change,
that the nurse ratios wouldn’t work. I will continue to work for safe
patient care and improving access to care.
Never give up. Align yourself with integrity, courage and take action.
What you focus on becomes your truth. Choose wisely.

We’d like to thank Rita for being so generous with her time and
sharing her insights and advice with our readers.
Stay tuned nurses: this is just the warm up for the political movement that is erupting across the nation.

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