Health Care Reform: One Nurse's Story

Submitted by Keturah Tracy MSN, RN, LMT

Tags: Commentary health care

Health Care Reform: One Nurse's Story

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I have a personal commitment to public health. I am an RN, with a master’s degree in nursing administration. I worked as a public health nurse before completing my master’s degree, at which time I taught public health nursing as an adjunct professor to university nursing students.

I am also the single mom of a special needs child. The income of an adjunct varies from semester to semester and summers are often without pay. Benefits are also an issue. Health insurance is important for any family, but especially for one with known ongoing medical needs.

I was told in May that I would not be needed for fall semester. This was difficult for me, since I had finally been working at the university long enough to qualify for benefits. I now know that quite a few of us were not offered contracts for fall semester, and this is highly unusual considering the value of adjunct faculty.

When I found out I wouldn’t have any teaching hours this fall, I started on a job hunt in the nursing field. Ironically, it was of concern to many potential employers that I did not have recent direct-care nursing experience, and the new grads, students I had been training, were getting preferential hiring over me!

I finally found a nursing job in my specialty, a home health nursing agency, that would to hire me. It paid $2 less per hour than another interested employer, but offered full-time hours with benefits which the higher-paying employer did not. Unfortunately, they are not giving me enough hours for me to qualify for benefits. They were very prompt, however, at sending me information on how to apply for health insurance on the federal website.

So I now find myself in the embarrassing position of holding a master’s degree in a health care field, with a focus on prevention as my specialty, yet unable to provide preventive healthcare, or any type of healthcare, for my family and myself. AND I AM NOT ALONE.

Because major employers are now being required to provide health insurance to full-time employees, more and more of them are resorting to hiring part-time help. And some are using deceptive hiring practices to accomplish this. This is one very unfortunate consequence of health care reform.

I continue to look for full-time work with benefits, and in the meantime have the luxury of part-time work which I enjoy, while getting recent direct-care experience added to my resume. I am in better shape than most under-employed in this country. And as a nurse committed to public health, that’s very disappointing.