I was perusing a blog the other night of a MD who is married to a RN. He brought up an interesting point that I had never thought of, but makes total sense. Many hospitals try to cut costs by using the least number of nurses possible to take care of patients. My particular hospital is notorious for “bare bones” staffing. They decide how many nurses are needed based on some arbitrary “grid”. In some institutions they take into acuity of the patient (as it should be, I think). Not in my hospital though. So, if you have too many nurses and not enough patients you either A) get called off or B) get floated to take care of patients in a different unit. How back asswards is this? In what other profession would it be tolerated to be called off if you are not needed? This means at the very least you may be asked to take call for $5 an hour, or losing a day’s pay. In my current place of employment, the latest has been that if you refuse to take call and have to sit by your phone all day, they will send you to a different unit. Another bad idea. If our surgeons have a slow clinic day do we ask them to become a family physician for the day? If a 4th grade teacher’s students are sick, would we ask them to go teach kindergarten for the day? I think not. And yet nurses take it. Why do we take it? I admit, there are times when I love getting a call at 5 (am or pm, doesn’t matter), telling me to stay home. But really, it shouldn’t happen. Anyone have any thoughts?
October 20, 2008