April 20, 2020

Nurses Never Wanted to Be Heroes: An Open Letter from a Tired, Burned Out Nurse.

Elephant’s Continually updating Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon


To Administration,

Nurses never wanted to be heroes.

We want to feel valued.

We want to care for your patients, yet it’s obvious that you don’t care about us.

Pizza parties and Tervis cups aren’t getting it. And hey, that big handful of nothing last year, and the year before, spoke volumes.

We want to provide the best care, but the decisions on what is “best” keep coming from people in offices, far removed from the bedside. That is why they fail.

We want to stay, but it’s more lucrative to go.

We watch as you pay your transient nurses crazy amounts of money, yet do almost nothing to retain those of us who are loyal, who are always there, through thick and thin.

We want to spend time with our patients. It’s the best part of our job, and the reason why most of us got into this profession—and what will make the most impact on patient experience. The connections we make with our patients is what keeps us going, because this job is hard. Mentally, emotionally, and physically

Yet, you are consistently working us short-staffed, to death, not allowing us the time—or mental or emotional capacity—to do what we are most passionate about. You have sucked the life out of our gift, for profit. Our patients feel it, and the almighty scores that give us our “worth” reflect it.

You are a leadership that talks out of both sides of your mouth depending on who you are talking to.

What you say:

Patient experience is of utmost importance.

How the staff has actually has to come to understand that:

Make do with who and what you have, but make sure the communication board is updated, charting is done, and make sure you take a lunch break, because we will charge you for one anyway. Because, you know, the law, and we will get in trouble.

And, pass your phone off to your buddy, who also has five to six patients. Or how about the Charge, because she has 39 patients, 11 RNs, and 5 CNAs, and a multitude of ancillary departments, hospitalists, and specialists to manage. “Oh hey, you Charge, you are now in Charge of another unit today, too.”

Seventy-nine patients. Sure.

You are constantly tasking us with more charting and audits. That’s not how you fix a problem. Involve us in changes, and educate us; we love to do better for our patients. But then, give us the time to put that education to use—to give it purpose, meaning, and value.

You want us to give our best, but you are not giving us yours. You don’t need more top leadership positions; you need more leaders who feel valued at the bedside.

Protect us, value us, care for us, and you, and the patients we serve, will reap the benefits and solve a lot of problems.

We are tired. We are burned out. We are morally injured. And we need you to save us.

Every single nurse I know


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