Every May, we celebrate National Nurses Month. And this year, the American Nurses Association has set the tone to celebrate nurses with the slogan “You Make a Difference.”
Indeed nurses do make a huge difference to all the individuals they care for. Healthcare could not move forward one iota without nurses.
And yet today, nurses are in crisis. They are dangerously short-staffed and overworked. Errors, often related to those conditions, are now being handled with criminal charges.
Not only that, but healthcare workers – including nurses and doctors are often injured or, worse, killed while working by patients and/or their family members.
And for many, from what I’m hearing and seeing, the root cause of much of the problem is not being addressed.
Last evening, I read an article on Kevin MD, “Doctors and nurses are dying by suicide, as America’s health care workers call for change.”
That article stated from 2017-2018, 729 nurses died by suicide (Source: National Library of Medicine/JAMA ). Mind you, that was before COVID. I don’t know how many have died in this manner since then.
I completely agree with You Make a Difference, but we need to go further. It’s time we did something to protect those who care for the rest of us.
I don’t have the answers. I’m not the best person to speak to this, as it’s been many years since I worked at the bedside.
However, from my point of view, what I see and hear is that there are at least seven (and likely many more) areas that need to be addressed for nurses at all levels. And indeed for healthcare providers in general.
- Better staffing levels
- Safer work environments
- Safer schedules
- Policies and procedures that are protecting them by getting rid of corner-cutting by the hospital or institution they work for.
- Respect and pay they deserve from the people who hire them.
- A no-tolerance policy for anyone who threatens nurses
- Mental and emotional care.
Obviously, each of these areas is related and goes hand in hand. A respectful work environment will reduce some friction. Better staffing and work schedules will create a safer working environment.
This year for National Nurses Month, I think we as a nation may want to go beyond saying “You Make a Difference,” taking real action to address the issues at hand.
Let’s not lose any more nurses or doctors due to working conditions.
Take a listen to the podcast, where I share a few more thoughts, and leave your comments below.
- American Nurses Association – Nurses Month
- Kevin MD Blog post
- National Library of Medicine – JAMA Psychiatry
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What are your thoughts and experience of being a nurse in the United States today? Are there things you would change? What would you keep the same? Do you feel cared for as a nurse?