Monday, April 30, 2012
Have Nurses Become Spoiled?
I know what you are saying, why on earth would I write such a thing? Nurses work hard and are often under appreciated for everything they do! Hey I know this and agree, to a point.
Just recently we received a memo at work letting us know that the company as a whole will temporarily be suspending the education reimbursement program and that no merit raises would be given this year due to financial issues. The nurses went ballistic, for the next week every night I worked all I heard was how lousy our company is, how they don't care about us and how everyone was going to start looking for new jobs. I was constantly told stories about "the good old days" when a hospital would pay out huge signing bonuses to nurses taking positions in high need areas, and alas now there is none of that to be seen. How the employer used to pay for 100% of our medical benefits and now we have to pay for a portion, how cheap of them!
I kept my mouth shut and have up until now, but honestly I am pretty bothered by what I hear. So let me air this out and perhaps help some people see things from a very different point of view.
Honestly I feel pretty damn lucky right now. I have a full time job that pays pretty darned good for a entry level position. My husband has a Masters degree and just completed another Bachelors, he moved into a new field and makes less than I do as an entry level database manager. Let me put this in perspective, I don't even have a Bachelors and I make a decent bit more than he does with two degrees!
I have pretty good health insurance that covers me from head to toes, which is more than 48 million Americans can say. Yep last year approx 26% of Americans age 19 to 64 had NO health insurance. That's not including children and the elderly. So I have to pay $25.00 a paycheck to cover myself, it could be worse I could be have no coverage, or have to pay WAY more. I've been uninsured in the recent past and don't want to go there again, ever!
I do remember the "good days". As a student I remember seeing the banners and ads in the newspapers that promised signing bonuses of $1000 for nurses willing to take a position in critical need areas. I remember the days when the it seemed that a new nurse was being courted by every hospital in town. I remember when hospitals even funded programs that would pay for nursing school and guaranteed the graduates a job upon graduation. But ladies and gentlemen the golden days are over. The economy has flatlined, every one in the US is willing to admit that, so why aren't nurses willing to admit that their expectations of what an employer has to offer you is just flat unrealistic?
With the economy down politicians are cutting funding to Medicare and State funded programs by the billions of dollars. Unfortunately for hospitals a large majority of our patients depend on this funding and we depend on it to get paid. On top of that with widespread job loss many Americans no longer have private health insurance that will cover the cost of their medical expenses. Hospitals cannot simply close their doors to the under or uninsured, EMTALA ensures that by law people who need emergency medical attention are seen. Now I'm not saying that I'm not in favor of this law, I think all people needing medical attention should get it. But I am asking you to think, if they have no way of paying for the treatment received, who eats the cost? And with more and more people who have no health insurance, what do you think is going to happen? There are more and more people coming through the ED doors because they couldn't see a PCP and things spiraled out of control. I'm seeing it more and more, what about you?
I'm not setting out to blame anyone, I just want to help nurses see that our employers are also in a tight spot. They can cut back the "extras" like tuition reimbursement, bonuses, raises and free health insurance or they can start cutting back on jobs. Personally I would prefer to keep my job, collect a paycheck and still have affordable health insurance available to me than be in constant fear of losing my job, with all the perks.
With the economy still floundering, and less and less money being allocated to Medicare and State aid the hospitals are still being held to a providing a high standard of medical care with little promise of being reimbursed in full. Perhaps it's time was as nurses took a stand and made our voices heard to our government and make them aware of the situations they are creating. If not, lets at least pull together, we are the heart of every hospital, so why not stand together and tough out a hard time instead of pointing fingers.
I don't know maybe I am a real newbie and the rough job market for new grads has made me soft and all Pollyanna eyed. But I am thankful that someone had some faith in me and gave me a job. I always admired JFK for addressing a troubled country with his now famous quote "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country" Perhaps we should all take it to heart, in everything we do. Are nurses spoiled? I'm not sure. We work pretty darned hard and yes I think some of the benefits are ways of saying thank you. But when we come to expect them, then perhaps we're acting a little like Veruca Salt there.