From the time a person enters school to become a nurse she is taught and encouraged to give and give and give. If you know a nurse you probably know that she works many hours of overtime. Why? Yes, the money is good, but it is not just for the money. Nurses do it because they are made to feel that they have to for the patients. This is true as in most hospitals or facilities there is a shortage of nurses and every nurse knows what it is like to work when you are short staffed. Who suffers. Of course, ultimately, it is the patient. So, nusrses fill in the gap. Whenever she is needed she is there. Working that overtime.
I remember it being stressed that the patient’s well being came first. We had to make sure that the patient is taken care of. It was not a job where you left at the exact time you were supposed to. You could not leave until your work and charting was completely done and absolutely you could not leave until your relief was there. Of course this makes sense, but it, also, gives the message that you must give your all.
It was, also, stressed that nurses are obligated to give and give to the nursing profession. I remember working for a place that had a union. When the contract was up for negotiations, administration did not want to give us a raise, stating that they could not afford it and that they would go under if they did. I remember one of the young nurses who been with the company for years longer than I had been absolutely refused to vote for a raise stating that she had an obligation to the company and she felt loyal to them. She absolutely would not think about her needs or the nurses needs for a raise. At the same time it had just been made known that the CEO and other administrative people had gotten a huge raise. There was no convincing this nurse that the company could not have been that bad off if they got these raises. Even recently, a family member of mine that works in a hospital said basically the same thing about the financial situation of a huge, nationally known hospital that gets huge gifts and endowments all of the time.There is no convincing them that the hospital is not as bad off as they try to portray. The profession and facility come first.
How do nurses change this way of thinking? No one give their all constantly. It eventually takes a toll on the nurse, too. Nurses have a hard time saying no as it is something that has been grilled into them since day one. It basically says that you the nurse, don’t matter. What does this do to a person’s self esteem. The only way you feel good about yourself is when you are giving. Many times the nurse works 60 hours a week or more, week after week. How long can one do this? It begins to effect the nurses physical and mental health, her social life and her family life. She has no more to give, but the only way she can feel good about herself is to somehow do just that.
There needs to be a way for nurses to deal with this. Giving is admirable but one must give to herself and take care of herself in order to give to others. Sooner or later it will effect how she feels about nursing and how she takes care of her patients. The profession needs to stop telling or implying this to their young nurses from the beginning. The seasoned nurse needs to take a look at herself and know that she is a worth while being even if she gives to herself and not to her profession all of the time.