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Journal of Nursing

I Quit My RN Job Yesterday 

by Linda Ritter, RN [email protected]



I quit my job yesterday. I have been working at the same place almost 18 years and in all that time I was never so close to losing control as I was yesterday. This anger has been growing for some time and nothing I tried seemed to squelch the fumes building in me about all the senseless changes and belittling new policies heaped on us daily. We just kept getting all these “new ways” of doing things that weren't really new and had never worked before. Time and time again changes were thrust on us and made to sound as if they were the answers to all our problems, when, in reality, they created more problems and basically cured nothing.

I am a nurse and have been for over 2 decades. Although I am not the best nurse around, there is no evidence to show that I am the worse one either. My favorite aspect of the job is the hands on, bedside care of the patients assigned to me. I have cared for newborns to seniors actively dying and it is so gratifying to know that the work I do as a nurse truly helps others. I really don’t care about the endless charts showing my co-workers wash their hands 15% more often than other unit staff members do or how close to perfect our compliance is in putting name stickers on all sides of the chart pages. I am not trained to worry about these things; rather, my concerns focus on the condition of those in my care and all the trivial rah-rah for meeting hand washing standards and sticker quotas just don’t fall into place when a patient is not breathing. Where is the help to make actual patient care more effective? Where are the “new ways” to meet the needs of those in our care rather than the endless new ways to document the same thing in 4 different places? To free up the bedside nurse to provide care to the patient should be the number one focal point of management instead of whether or not a staff member had an extra wash cloth stashed away in a patient’s room above and beyond the number assigned to each patient. The floor nurse is working an average 12 hours a shift. Give her 6 patients and you can break this down to roughly 2 hours a patient. Add all the time it takes to chart on each patient and find and utilize supplies and medications for each of those six and you are down to about 45 minutes at the bedside per patient per shift. This is not accurate if there is an emergency or something unexpected going on with one of the patients. If you give one patient more time, the rest are forfeited their allotted time because you can only be 15 minutes late leaving your shift or you suffer the consequences for being on overtime. All in all, the nurse is expected to provide quality patient care, trouble-shoot equipment when needed, meet the needs of patient’s family members, have all documentation finished and give report to the on-coming nurse, all within that same 12 hours! Funny thing is, most nurses somehow or another meet all these requirements.

Instead of a bulletin board with the worker of the month’s picture on it, nurses need to be given respect and credit for the work they do. The mouth of management has to become less lopsided, requesting professionalism from their staff on one side and spouting off punitive actions geared for third graders on the other when things aren't done exactly as proposed. And this has to come from the top down. It is not the job of the staff to request respect but the job of management to give it. The backbone of any hospital is the nursing staff, be it the RN, LPN or PCT. Without them, there is no hospital. How much effort is there being made to help the staff provide quality patient care?

When quality care is provided, is there any acknowledgement made?

All the surveys in the world won’t help the hands-on care given to someone in pain or dying. Creating addition flow sheets and auditing charts won’t comfort the family who has just been told their son has died. Rather than have a nurse on call, bring her in and have her do some of the endless chart audits for four hours and help that nurse save some of her PTO while getting the chart auditing accomplished.

That is a win-win situation. If the nurse is needed to work the unit, she is already there. If not, some charts have been audited and the nurse has kept a few hours of PTO. You will be paying that nurse for those hours anyway with PTO dollars. Let there be someone to gather extra supplies out of the rooms after each shift rather than seal off the cabinets making it impossible for all to have easy access to what is needed to serve the patient. You want to save money, evaluate the waste of time needed searching for supplies verses the cost of supply waste. Provide an admission packet of supplies so that there is only one trip to the supply room and everything that is needed is in one place, easily accessible, at the time of admission. This saves time and time is money, as they say. There are so many ways to meet and solve problems without making the staff experience hardship or creating frustration and anger. If someone habitually is late clocking out, have them get a note from their charge nurse, not make everyone do this. Many are clocking out and then completing their work on their own time. This could create a major problem should someone be injured and not on the clock. That sure wouldn't save money! And that really is what all this is about. Saving money. Reality is, health care is a business and it can’t survive without making money. That is a given. There are many ways to spend the dollars we do have and not create an environment that festers belittlement and degradation. No one wins that way. Nor does anyone win when adults are treated as children and experience ongoing insults to their integrity and self-worth. It is an established fact that when a person feels good about themselves and what they are doing, they will accomplish a lot more in less time. And that saves money!

All in all, I am not sorry about my resignation because I do not believe positive changes will occur at my former work place. An attitude has been set into motion by the management of this facility that will in time cause many other workers to leave for similar reasons as I did. People who enter nursing do so for a very specific reason. They will leave if they are unfulfilled and feel degraded. And that costs money also!

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