Commitment to service gets taken advantage of

On Nov. 29, a Sarah Robertson, a teacher, noted that, though she was dedicated to the profession, the No. 1 priority in her life is her own family and tending to their needs. As a retired nurse, this is something I can relate to. Often in our profession, inappropriate and unsafe loads are put on nurses with the mantra of "It is your duty to provide care, no matter what."

This is why there is burnout in the profession. For the first 10 years of my career, I worked in private sector institutions where this sort of attitude was more or less the norm. Then I moved to a unionized hospital and worked there 24 years and wish I had been there for my entire career.

At such a place, there is a bargaining table and you actually have a seat at that table. Your voice matters. Administrators are simply not free to burden you, as they see fit no matter what and justified by saying it is your solemn duty. For many administrators it's about the bottom line of saving money. To many nurses it's about being able to provide safe care.

I recall once where a hospital I worked at very close to my house for whom I worked part time canceled me for my morning shift. Instead they wanted me to take call for $2.50 per hour. I called my primary employer who needed me to work overtime that day. Of course, I chose to go and work. There was resentment for why I chose to work overtime instead of taking call for what amounted to probably $20 for the day if I didn't get called. I left soon thereafter.

It's this completely one-sided, thinking that is the problem in both cases.

Lawrence R. Kopp


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