In lieu of writing a year-in-review post to join the millions of others out there, I decided to think about the newness of the year and contemplate how that can apply to nurses in general. Today may be a pivotal day in US healthcare history because the healthcare exchange policies are effective and a new era is at hand.
Whether that is good or bad remains to be seen and depends on highly individual factors, but I hope everyone can agree, at least, that healthcare is changing hugely. Now.
I am seeing a huge efflux of nurses from the hospital bedside. I am part of it. In a real way, those of us who leave the bedside are becoming part of the problem, but how much do we “owe” our profession? Is it worth our physical and mental health to stick it out to make a point? For some, it is. I hope that hospitals see consequences from good nurses leaving and make changes accordingly, but for now they are increasingly creating a culture of fear and scarcity that is good for no one. Not nurses, not patients…no one.
Without further ado, here are 10 reasons to work outside the hospital.
- Shorter shifts. The 3-day work week has benefits, but so does an 8-hour work day. I find that after having 12 hours as my workday unit, 8 hours feels much like a princess shift. “It’s already time to go?” I think. Anyone who thinks that after a hospital shift, raise your hand.
- Less wear and tear. This depends on the setting. If your setting is a long-term care facility, you will obviously be worn and torn, but many of the other options for nurses involve fewer or no serious lifting and transferring duties. That may or may not be a big deal; for me, it is a big deal. I like having a working back that does not ache all the time.
- Less bureaucracy. Again, this depends on what you do, but hospitals tend to have forms and paperwork for everything, whereas other types of agencies stand an excellent chance of being smaller and more personable.
- More time with clients. I rarely got to sit down and talk to my patients in the hospital. Now, I not only can do so but am encouraged to. I became a nurse to interact with people, and the “do more with less” cycle prevented that in the hospital.
- Less burnout. Burnout happens at any job, but at least in my experience, hospital nursing is up there in the red zone.
- Fewer meaningful use outcomes to hassle with. Who is tired of running for 12 hours straight to start those fluids and antibiotics on time and to rush those people up the floor to meet throughput times, patient care be damned?
- Less of a culture of fear. Hospital nurses right now are almost all afraid of layoffs and salary cuts, and they have good reason. We all know someone personally who is having massive layoffs at her facility.
- Change is a refreshing break. It is really nice to just do something different for a while. It doesn’t have to be forever, but changing it up can revitalize perspective, dedication, and goals.
- Opportunity to find new interests. I went from the ER to pediatric long-term psych and totally love it. I rest my case.
- Last but not least: less chance of having to wipe butts multiple times per day. It’s an important job, but it gets old. Any job has tasks that make you think, “this again?” But I can’t say that, among the things I miss about the ER, wiping butts is among them.
I stop short of advocating nurses leaving the bedside. It is one of the most important jobs there is. I love bedside nursing. I simply want despairing, worn-out nurses to know that other worlds exist for investigation. If 2014 is the year you want to make a change, do it!