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

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, 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
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
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.


Are you a Nurses’ Nurse?

I’m always surprised when someone asks: “What’s a Nurses’Nurse? Maybe it’s because I’ve been an RN for so long that my perceptions are biased by eyes that are constantly assessing and looking for remedies to multi-faceted problems. This makes for the assumption that everyone else is doing the same thing and watching out for each others’ backs.

As I explain this expression “a nurses’ nurse”, one more time to a twenty-something-year-old who rolls their eyes at me, clearly my vision of care for the caregiver is not so well understood.

When I study the types of nurse leaders that have come before and the kind I’d like to be, I’m drawn to the concept of a transformational kind (think Cinderella). One that walks the talk, never asks you to do something they hadn’t done themselves (like scrub a toilet), supportive but never patronizing or condescending, comes to mind. A nurse shaman, an enlightened leader who integrates the principles of body, mind and spirit into the next generation of RNs.

Delusional? I think not.

Czech nursing students.
Nursing students: a new generation that covers each others’ backs. Tattle-tails and bullies need not apply.

I’ll never forget the time one of my coworkers was promoted to manager, then quickly rose to the ranks of administrator. It was as if she had been struck over the head, as she forgot what it was like to work short-staffed and behaved as if she had never worked as a bedside nurse when we asked for more help. I remember a fellow labor and delivery RN, compadre saying:,”I’m not at all surprised, our manager never was a nurses’ nurse.”

That’s when it struck me: The nursing profession has always been ruled by a set of doctrines that follows a higher law. Why then do we not pertain those laws to each other and behave like a nurses’ nurse?

Is it our “do or die” mentality that stems from the arduous work we are programmed to perform?
As a nursing instructor it was rare for me to find mentors for my students without amnesia, who could remember what it was like to be a budding Nightingale. Most of us have been strong-armed or bullied because that’s the kind of tutelage our superiors came from.

Generally speaking, western medicine has had a longstanding quality that initiates its fledglings with cruel hazing. That’s why we’re often called the profession that “eats its young”. It takes one tough cookie to make it through nursing school.

This attitude which has flowed from a managerial nursing leadership has got to stop if we want true accountable care in the ACA. Again think about Cinderella and how she was transformed by optimism and collaboration.

Ask yourself, “Am I a Nurses’ Nurse?”

If the answer is “no”, google transformational leadership & apply the principles of encouraging and inspiring other nurses into your own practice.

What Every Nurse Needs to Learn From Cinderella

You’ve heard the story: Once upon a time there were two cruel stepsisters and the unfair servitude enforced by an

Cinderella- Fairfield High School
Cinderella: A Rags to Riches Story That Nurses Need to Learn From

evil stepmother who abused Cinderella in her own home.

She spent her days slaving over her mean spirited stepsisters. She dreamed of a better life.

By the end of the story, Cinderella is a princess. Her name oozes transformation — going from the dirty hearth to ruler of the kingdom.

Much like Cinderella the nursing profession needs transformation.

Think radical change only happens in kiddie stories? Cinderella’s transformation follows a series of steps that can help you transform the nursing profession if you’re willing to take the action.

They don’t even require a glass slipper or a handsome prince (although that would be nice). Simply a change in approach and the tenacity to believe that nursing can be something different beyond our present circumstances.

After all nurses are a critical component in a growing industry that needs educated caregivers, yet we would rather be relegated to the back burner. It’s time we step forward and take the credit for the awesome job we do to make and keep our communities healthy and safe.

First nurses have got to want it

Cinderella’s backstory started out just fine, but her father remarried, and her stepmother decided  her blood relations took top priority.

Cinderella could have remained the victim and resigned herself to her lot, but she didn’t.

When the prince decided to invite all the women of the kingdom to his party, so he could find a wife, Cinderella did everything she could to attend.

It was a long shot. She didn’t have time off, her clothes were a mess, and she was probably having the worst-hair-day ever. How dare she try to attend the ball?

But she had grit. And determination wins the race both in business and in life.

Because change is hard. If you’re going to reinvent yourself, you’ve got to want it enough to put up with the labor pains.

If you’re not getting an embossed invitation to the party yet, do something about it. Don’t just sit there and whine. Come up with a plan.

Then you have to look the part

Her mean stepsisters and mother laughed when Cinderella suggested she’d like to go with them to the ball. She was filthy and dressed in rags.

As soon as they were gone — and with the help of a little abracadabra (after all this is a fairy tale) — Cinderella found herself wearing a spectacular gown.

Here’s the interesting part: as soon as she had the gown on, no one recognized her. Looking and acting the part changed her so completely she became like a different person.

Reality is created by your perceptions. If you don’t represent nursing as a vital profession, or worse yet, you’re invisible- what can you do to dress it up? What can you do to look and act like the esteemed professional you are?

Dressing the part means representing yourself out in the public as a health care visionary. It means writing in to voice your insight to the community. It means claiming your authority and behaving with dignity, instead of the usual whining and griping that goes on behind closed doors.

And it means being bold enough to do something like getting petitions signed, educating the public with editorials, or speaking at town hall meetings about the practicalities of funding more nursing jobs in public health and in schools.

Stand up for yourself

Cinderella made a great impression at the prince’s soiree. Everyone wanted to know who she was and where she’d come from.

But in fairy tales all magic comes with a price, and this story is no exception. At midnight Cinderella’s transformation expired, and she returned to her dirty clothes and former life. As she ran from the castle, she left behind a glass slipper.

The prince set out to look for the owner of the slipper. When he got to Cinderella’s home, her evil stepmother and sisters didn’t even want to let her out of the house.

Cinderella approached the prince anyway and asked to try the slipper on. It fit perfectly, of course.

If she hadn’t stood up for herself, she never would have arrived at her destiny. She spoke up and claimed what was hers. She was her own best advocate, and she became the royal princess.

Sometimes in order to get where you want to be, you have to be willing to defy the people around you who don’t think you can do it. And you have to be willing to tell others what you want and need. At first you will feel unpopular because you aren’t enabling those around you to take all the credit for your hard work. Others may even resent that you’ve changed. But in the end they too will get used to the fact that you are a force that is indispensible to getting the job done!

It starts with believing in yourself and your own dreams. And you may need to reaffirm that belief over and over to get where you want to go.

What’s Your Cinderella story going to be?

Are you ready to grow to professional heights higher than you’ve ever been? Do you want to make more money? Feel fulfilled and regarded in your career? It doesn’t take magic to get there.

In order to make the metamorphosis, you have to want it badly enough to put up with naysayers and haters.

You may need to defy those around you who aren’t supportive. You’ll want to dress the part, act- -as-if, and walk your talk before you’re quite “there” so others can clearly envision you in your wished-for role.

If you do these things, I can’t promise you will marry a prince (or a princess if that’s what you really want- most royalty are much too high maintenance) But our profession will have a bright well-funded legacy for healthier outcomes, and that’s worth working toward, don’t you think?

County Nurses Take the Fall

Ventura, County Star said retired sheriff, Bob Brooks, is suing for a boost to his $200,000/yr pension.As a nurse I’ll be lucky to reach the poverty line when I retire.


Be Kind to Nurses. Every Day They Keep Doctors From Accidentally Killing You!

English: Ventura County Fair in Ventura, Calif...
Nurses Plan to March in the Ventura County Fair Parade Sat. August 3, at 8:00 A.M. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is what a recent picture on Pinterest should have been.Image Instead it enticed readers to check out a photo of a fireman resuscitating a cat as a tiny kitten watched in awe as skilled hands worked their magic.

As far as pictures go, it was good; damn good. I was completely taken hook, line and sinker. The look on that kitty’s face as its beloved mother was being rescued was priceless. It was an endearing shot; but let’s face it, that photo totally ruins all hope for nurses. There’s no way in hell nurses can compete with that.

From a public relations standpoint, nurses are totally screwed. Unless nurses come up with something better than rescuing cats from trees or helping lost children find their mothers, we can forget about being as venerated or exalted as the boys in yellow or blue.

No one seems to care that nurses save hundreds of lives every day and are the sheriffs, deputies and firefighters of healthcare rolled into one kick-ass classification of super hero. We man the Delivery, Emergency and Operating Rooms, across the nation. Without us, hospitals would be glorified hotels, and excuse me but I don’t want a bellhop for my chest pain, difficulty breathing or a dressing changed.

So corral your friends and family and come on down to march with the nurses at the Ventura County Fair Parade on Saturday, August 3rd. We’ll start lining up at 8 A.M. on Main St. and Catalina St. (in front of Ventura High School). The theme of the parade is Boots, Barns and Banjos so where your red scrub tops, your best cowboy boots, hats and bandanas and show Ventura County that the Nurses of our Health Care Agency are the Heroes of Healthcare.

We will have a pick-up truck with a trailer for our float, so come down and help us get it all gussied up to represent our passion for safe, quality community healthcare.

For more details or questions call: Rita Batchley The Nurses’ Nurse at 805-443-5695