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.”

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.

 

Sarcasm: Serving Up a Good Fight—How to Get Wealthy With a Cutting Edge

Boxing gloves Español: Guantes de boxeo França...
He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life- Muhammad Ali

After a large meal at a local diner the waitress approached with a take-home container.

“Do you wanna box for that?” she asked while smacking her chewing gum.
“No,” I answered. “I don’t want to fight for it. If you want it that badly you can have it!”

At the time, I just couldn’t resist the perfect opportunity to serve up this snarky tidbit. What kind of nurse would I be if I didn’t have a touch of tenacity in me?

The great public health nurse and women’s rights activist, Lillian Wald, said: “Although it is not our natures, nurses have always had to fight for what’s right for our patients.” Lillian Wald had tenacity up the WHAZOO!

I agree with her. It’s not my nature to fight. I’d much rather do my job and go home but, if a supervisor calls to float one of the care team or there is a sick call, leaving the department short-staffed a nurse must embody the spirit of Lilian Wald and become a strong advocate for the patients and the staff.

Continue reading “Sarcasm: Serving Up a Good Fight—How to Get Wealthy With a Cutting Edge”

How the Spirit of MLK Guides Nursing Practice

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 I don’t know about you but I cry every time I hear or read Martin Luther King Jr’s, I have a Dream Speech. His words in 1963 still resonate with passion of a world of equality and connectedness where every nurse goes whenever they enter their workplace to care for the sick and needy.

The Caduceus, a more sophisticated sampling of the red cross, has long been a symbol used in nursing, which marks the spot where the sick and injured can be treated without fear of attack. It is the universal sign of neutrality where the most vulnerable have refuge from the fiercest battle lines of hate. Right?

 Not anymore. Sadly, the news is full of stories where nurses are being attacked by angry patients in hospitals, children are being gunned down in schools by the mentally ill and the sick of our richest nation are being relegated to half measures because of lack of funds.

Nurses intuitively know that access to healthcare is the universal level for creating  equality. Let’s face it, you can have all the money and prestige in the world but if you don’t have your health you can’t enjoy it. If you want to build a utopia you have to start with good health. Disease doesn’t care about the color of your skin or the size of your bank account.

Think about it: In medicine a nurse honors the place in you that makes you whole. A nurse upholds that universal world where you are loved as only one of God’s kids can be loved- that place of beauty that place of truth, that place of light. What an honor to share this sacred knowledge with MLK- the place where all hearts beat as one, the place where each one of us has a special purpose in this world.

King’s gifts of commitment to civil rights and non-violent social change have always been used as guidelines for nursing practice. More than ever, our success must rely on MLK’s dream in order to change this healthcare system that’s dying to get better. How simple to apply his vision of unity and courage to our nursing policy and procedures. Among the standards you might address to your healthcare agencies: Do all our neighbors have access to comprehensive healthcare, including mental health? Are the elderly as nourished as they should be? Are the children physically fit and destined for healthy adult lifestyles? These are just a few possible places to continue our nurses’ crusade for healthcare justice.

 It’s time to accommodate King’s Dream, at least on the level of healthcare, and make medical accessibility a reality.  Commit to the Nurses’ Nurse Crusade the dream of quality affordable healthcare for all.  Forward this to a friend, get others to sign up for a subscription to the Nurses’ Nurse Blog and leave your comments to build a strong nursing opinion that becomes the united voice of reason.

 

Next up: the latest update on VCHCA negotiations- the work toward Nursing Professional Recognition

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