Nursing Voices

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Lucy, Chocolates, and Our Failing Health Care System.


I’m depressed. Yes, even psych nurses get depressed. Another nurse I work with is leaving our unit at the end of the month. She’s been a nurse for years, and she can’t take it anymore. She plans to leave nursing.

She told me that she’s been thinking about this for a long time. Do you remember the Lucy show episode where she’s working in a chocolate factory? You remember, it's the episode where the conveyer belt keeps moving the chocolates faster and faster until Lucy can’t keep up anymore, and she starts stuffing the candy in her shirt and into her mouth. My friend says that she feels like Lucy. She observed that the patients are widgets on the conveyer belt, and that she hates not being able to give them the care that they deserve. The pace on our unit is getting more chaotic, and we both see patients getting shoved through a profit driven system, sometimes with tragic results. She’s had it, and she turned in her resignation last night before leaving work.

Maybe I should start working on that great American novel I always wanted to write, and start thinking about a new career. But on the other hand, if I left nursing, I wouldn’t have anything to write about for my blog, so I think I’ll stick around a little longer in the asylum we call the health care system.

7 Comments:

Blogger Forgotten Blue Line said...

I am sorry to hear that the nurse is leaving the unit. Maybe the Grinch will put two and two together and stop the patient assembly line, especially in psych.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Liana said...

Hey, I am hereby tagging you for the "5 reasons why I blog" meme. Tag 5 other lucky people once you're done!

9:17 PM  
Blogger The Curmudgeon said...

You mean the novel won't be about the conveyor belt?

11:03 AM  
Blogger scalpel said...

We date ourselves by remembering that show, but I remember it vividly. My solution is to slow the conveyer belt when I can. If I rush beyond a certain point, I make mistakes....and if I make mistakes, bad things happen.

You can only do so much, and it isn't right to cheat all of the patients in order to rush more of them through. I can only sleep well if I know that I've done the best that I can for every patient that I see.

If your current position creates a situation that forces you to take shortcuts or give less than appropriate care, then I would hope that you could find another position rather than quitting the profession altogether. Sometimes a change of scenery is all that is necessary to improve your outlook.

11:23 PM  
Blogger RX850 said...

While I want you to write a book, because it will surely be great, we need nurses like you with your skills, compassion and a fearless voice in nursing!

7:16 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Ain't it the truth? I recently went back to the old haunt (chemo office) to drop off some stuff. I forgot how hectic and "assembly line-ish" it was: get the order, check it, give to mix, get pre-meds, go out, start IV, go back, chart, repeat for 8 hours straight. They're running us to burnout. Glad I'm at my new job: I actually get to spend some TIME with my patients. Remember when that was a part of nursing?

9:18 PM  
Blogger kario said...

I actually had to marry a patient in order to spend some time with him. No joke! When my husband was recently in the hospital recovering from major surgery, it was me who managed his pain and his meds, took him for walks every day, and ordered his meals. The nursing staff on his floor were concerned, but spread far too thin and the CNAs were poorly trained and even more poorly paid. Let's all wish on a falling star for health care reform before the greatest assets we have (RNs) all give up.

11:21 PM  

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