Respect: A Duty One to Another
Submitted by Monique White, JD, BSN, Esquire, RN, CCRN, CEN
As the holidays approach and labor contract talks continue the threat of strike looms for many registered nurses. Along with the threat comes the rhetoric of incompetent or unskilled replacement nurses putting the patient population at risk. Is it based in fact? Is it for leverage? Is it media hype?
No matter the motivation, there are sound reasons why the position that replacement nurses are somehow less qualified and incompetent thus placing the patient population at risk is faulty. First, all professional registered nurses must graduate an accredited nursing program. Registered nurses must pass a rigorous licensing examination. In addition, each replacement nurse must obtain a license from the Board of Nursing from the state in which the strike is held. A license in State A does not guarantee a license from State B.
Second, each professional nurse is bound by the tenets of the Nurse Practice Act. The American Nurses Association Code of Ethics states in pertinent part:
The nurse promotes, advocates for, and protects the rights, health, and safety of the patient.
The nurse has authority, accountability, and responsibility for nursing practice; makes decisions; and takes action consistent with the obligation to promote health and to provide optimal care.
Each individual state Board of Nursing additionally promulgates laws and regulations governing nursing practice in their state.
Moreover, many replacement nurses, like their counterparts, hold national certifications in their specialties. Many replacement nurses hold TNCC, CCRN, and CEN certifications, for example. The list goes on and on.
Yes, replacement nurses hold staff positions in their respective states. Others work 8-16 week travel contracts. They are well traveled, flexible, and qualified.
Consider, the replacement nurse leaves his or her family and love ones to care for a specific population in order for their comrades to be able to exercise their right to strike. Without an adequate number of replacement nurses, the public welfare and safety would be at risk. Nurses would not be able to exercise the right to strike. A judge could issue an injunction preventing the job action. It has been done before.
Let us try something new this season. Instead of tearing each other down, let us as a profession respect and support each other. Respect the right of registered nurses to strike. Respect replacement nurses for answering the call in a shortage. The rhetoric motivation does not matter. As a profession, nurses need and must respect one another.