There are millions of untreated sick people in this country and new nursing graduates cannot find work. This was first true in Northern California. As the economy worsened this situation has spread across the country.
Older nurses that had left the profession have returned. This is because they or their spouses have lost their jobs. Now, there is little to no turnover at hospitals across the country.
So, there is both a need for more nurses and a lack of turn over. In some states there is a mandated nurse to patient ratio. The way hospitals are getting around this is to layoff the support staff for the nurses. In other states they give far too many patients to each nurse. No matter where you live nurses are greatly overworked.
A perfect storm is brewing. Young unemployed registered nurses will be pitted against unionized older nurses. Health Care Reform will find its cost containment at the expense of the workers and not from the insurance companies and their overpaid, overindulged CEO’s.
There are other ways to provoke and intimidate the nursing profession. Right now there is a strike at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia. The hospital is attempting to impose a gag rule on its nurses. They will not be allowed to speak "ill" of the way the hospital is functioning.
This is the point of view of Temple:
"If you want your constitutional rights, you need to go somewhere else."
-Robert Birnbrauer, Human Resources, Temple University Hospital
Here is a quote from Patty Eakin who has worked at Temple for two decades as an e.r. nurse. What if Eakin wants to testify in Harrisburg about the dangers of low nurse-to-patient ratios, as planned? "How can I talk about that if I can’t in some way reference my own workplace? They want to stifle our ability to advocate for things like that," she explained. "Clearly, we’ve been documenting inadequate staffing at Temple — and [administrators are] claiming, ‘We need to keep things internal, and away from the public.’ They want to have it both ways. ‘Stay within the hospital walls and we’ll fix things.’ But they don’t."
This strike is not about more money.
Nurses stand up for patients. Nurses point out dangerous situations in hospitals. Nurses report negligent doctors. Nurses are the first line of defense in protecting the quality of health care in this country.
Nurses need our support.
Pennsylvania of Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals
National Nurses United
National Nurses Organizing Committee
Massachusetts Nurses Association
Caregiver and Healthcare Employees Union
California Nurses Foundation
Registered Nurse Response Network