We Get No Respect

From Ian Miller at ImpactedNurse.com, a few thoughts on under-utilized and under-recognized senior nurses who are leaking out of the profession:

Nursing has few opportunities for promotion and recognition of senior expertise within the clinical setting. How often have you watched senior (and I’m talking about years of experience here) nurses move on to non-clinical management positions, or drift off into non-nursing jobs where their specialised skills are snapped up, or just stagnate on the floor (feeling little respect from the system) with nowhere to go and little exploration of the stuff they might teach.
What we are sadly lacking is a health system that gives the nursing ‘elders’ opportunity, support and recognition to pass on their profession, their experiences, their corporate knowledge and their craft to the next generations. This huge collective of nursing elders have so much to offer both the healthcare policy planning process in general and the future of nursing in particular.
As many of them are now approaching retirement the opportunity to pass on the craft will be lost forever. Skills that could be used to improve quality healthcare delivery, departmental operations and mentor-ship of other nurses. Believe me, those skills are out there in many of these people. They should be consulted not insulted.
Such a waste.

This seems to me about exactly right, and very nicely describes the  position — and present frustration —  of many nurses, including myself. The career path for the vast majority of nurses is pretty flat. The conventional nursing career path looks like this:

Graduation

35 years service on ward(s)

Retirement

Death

I am not exaggerating — not much anyway. Any movement, to be sure,  is usually in a lateral motion, e.g. from ED to ICU to PACU etc., but always as front line staff. Moving upwards almost always means a move away from your specialty. And that’s a waste too.

And there’s also this elephant in the room: would we be talking about things like wasted skills and staff retention if front line nurses were truly respected, and recognized as being the centre of what we do as a profession? Or to put it another way, if front line, bedside nursing was considered valuable in itself, would so many nurses be itching to get out?

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  1. #1 by ArtDoctor II on Wednesday 13 June 2012 - 1301

    I empathize with your sentiments that retirement likely leads to death, but don’t believe it. Statistically, retirement does not always lead to a decline in health, and death, in Canada, anyways. However, is it true for the Nursing profession?

    Otherwise, when I went to ED with a family member who was ill, it was truly noticeable the maltreatment of nursing staff by, well, basically all other staff (security, police, MDs, OT, SWK etc-everyone). Especially by the “supervisory staff”. Nurses should walk out, like in Grey’s Anatomy :p…sorry for the joke/non-joke…

  2. #2 by torontoemerg on Thursday 14 June 2012 - 1042

    The death bit was half-facetious. :)

    The point about nurses being mistreated is interesting. I don’t (generally) see it, but maybe I’m acclimatized?

  3. #3 by ArtDoctor II on Thursday 14 June 2012 - 1534

    Yes, likely so that you’re acclimatized, because I don’t see people working together like that anywhere else, but for when I was with my family member in the ED. So, when you notice things, it must be really bad…Maybe there should be a real elephant in the room…or a real jungle…can’t see the forest for the trees?…

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