Well, February is almost done, and locally the snow is falling; from inside, I’ll admit it’s pretty. The world needs a hug; the word compassion is required, but wars, inflation, mass murders, etc., sometimes make locating this essential value difficult.
Last time the focus was on what nurses want, and the mood of nurses in Canada is one of patience wearing thin. The nursing shortage crisis has been a hot mess for nearly 20 years, and the ranks of nursing have never seemed to be enough. More tasks, expectations, and resources are either non-existent or reduced to minimal. As altruistic as nurses are known to be, we also need to have the government say Mea Culpa, let’s do nurses right.
That would include a hefty pay increase to erode the loss of income related to inflation, align our salaries for pay equity, pay out the bonuses promised, and listen when we state unequivocally there is a crisis in health care and nursing is a crucial stakeholder left exposed to the detritus of budget cuts, restructuring, project management, and high expectations from an increasingly hostile, vulnerable, sicker, and complex patients, community population.
The horse is already out of the barn, and questions are fielded where did the nurses go? The factors can be found at the individual to the organizational level. Nurses 3-5 years in experience have decided not to tolerate the working conditions, the workload, and the daresay treated as widgets and not the educated professionals they all happen to be in this day and age. The attrition rate of nurses has always been close or over 20% within 2 years of working; now, with the over 55-year-old nurses bidding adios amigas, they’re scooping up their pensions and if they want to find another job in another field entirely.
That’s great the Internationally Educated Nurses have been reviewed and placed into clinical. I hope due diligence is followed to ensure language, knowledge, and skills transfer smoothly. The basis of nursing is trust, and if one is unsure about the other team member across the bed/exam table/OR gurney/ICU workspace, that increases collective stress. Preceptors’ ranks have thinned as nurses head out the door and decide on a new career path, which leaves novice nurses learning by the seat of their pants.
Job satisfaction emerges when managers are visible and authentic, build trust, have integrity, and obtain the resources needed, i.e., someone to answer the phone and de-operationalize high patient ratios. Unless you intend to change the way Canadian nursing care is delivered. The organization has to focus on employees’ job satisfaction–reasonable workload, mental health support for burnout, compassion fatigue, and post-traumatic stress disorder, and let vacations be taken. Listening to nurses, they are now growing angry; they have moved through loss, betrayal, emotional pain, and extreme fatigue, and now they’re showing up to demonstrations. Stare into legislature representatives and state “Enough” you want to know what’s needed?
Politicians like quick solutions, and nurses state pragmatic solutions that may take time. But unfortunately, the discussions about health transfer funds to provinces did not reveal fundamental requirements for our actual goal for health care for Canadians. Our nation is aging, more people have lifestyle conditions, and costs for chronic diseases, IT equipment, and electronic health records are growing. Nurses need clarity on what we will focus on, disease care or optimizing health. The pandemic was a short time ago; nurses saw how quickly lives can end, the agony of families separated, uncertainty if they would be relieved, and the fear of going home to their families.
Nurses need respect and the resources to provide quality care; right now, it’s chaos, oh, and also that word crisis.
Crisis has two meanings danger and opportunity.Chinese Proverb
Thanks for your time. Namaste.
Registered Nurse Storyteller, Healer, Scribe, Transformational Leader
Well said Paula. Based on past experience, I fear the transfer payments will go into already bloated senior teams rather than front line nurses. This current nursing crisis has been many years in the making, and successive governments have long ignored the brewing issues. And changes need to be led by nurses, not MBAs with no professional license. Rant over!
I’m an optimist and your rant has merit. Thanks.