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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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.