Nurses and support staff are not cogs on a wheel. We are the engine that drives the car, and a car without an engine is worthless. A CEO and management team who do not understand this fact will undervalue the very thing that drives the success of their organization.
The future of this hospital matters. For so many years it has been a point of pride to be a Children’s employee, but lately it seems the “business of healthcare” has reached the corporate point of no return. We now seem to be a business first and a hospital second. What matters in a business is making money and looking good on paper, saving money whenever possible by cutting corners and skimping on resources, like staffing. A lack of transparency from leadership breeds suspicion among staff, and fuels rumors. It begins to feel like the hospital no longer cares about what is best for staff, or for our patients, but rather what is best for the business model. As a caregiver, when your heart is in this profession for your patients, this feels like a betrayal at the highest level. Leadership should have the goal of supporting clinical staff in any way necessary to drive the model of care forward. We should not strive for a bar set by others, we should be setting the bar for them.
Here’s what nurses need from Children’s management:
Listen, Really Listen.
Change should be driven from the ground up. Those who do the job know how to make changes that would improve the quality of the services they provide.
All nurse policies should have feedback from physician groups and vice versa–no more silos. A policy that has no basis in practical reality will not be adhered to, and outcomes will suffer. Doctors and management who are out of touch with the daily work of a nurse have no business dictating their workflow.
To stop the mass resignation of staff that is affecting the care we provide to our patients and families, Children’s must pivot in a direction that treats all employees like valued members of a team.
This hospital is facing staffing shortages across every department, and it will be years before the nursing crisis improves. Children’s needs to position itself NOW as a premier workplace. We must aim to be as amazing to our staff as we are to our patients.
What does this mean?
- Increase nursing pay. How can you ensure you provide the best care in the area? Pay your nurses the best pay in the area.
- Negotiate better healthcare premiums. Stop allowing insurance to dictate costs and stand up for what is right. Every single one of us is one medical crisis away from bankruptcy. It is unacceptable for professionals who work in the healthcare industry to not have some of the best insurance packages. Many comparable professions have better insurance than Children’s.
- Gain perspective. Leadership/management should have to work a certain number of hours on their unit each year. This will help them know what it is like to walk in the shoes of their staff. Gaining perspective on the working conditions of your employees can go a long way to empathy and compassionate leadership, neither of which seem to be present at the moment.
- Promote internally. There is no reason to pass on an internal candidate to hire externally. If you apply from within the organization, you have a general idea of what you are getting yourself into. External candidates are much more likely to have a shorter employment with the organization, which in the long run hurts not only financially, but affects the continuity of leadership in units. What is the average length of management employment versus nursing? Leadership turnover is a problem.
- Celebrate nurses who have made their careers here. Wage increases every year with larger longevity bonuses.
- Do a much better job accommodating shift of choice.
- Pay meaningful differentials for preceptors, charge nurses, float teams and others.
The Children’s Way
Children’s claims to hold the organization to its five core values called “The Children’s Way,” however many of those values are not being upheld. Relying heavily on travel staff in any unit, especially nursing, places our reputation on the line. Travel nurses receive four hours of orientation. How much of that is spent on learning the Children’s way? These nurses work at the bedside and represent Children’s, but are not invested in the future of our hospital. Treat your core staff so well they don’t ever want to leave, and in no time, the need for out of state caregivers will be gone. Make Children’s Minnesota a career destination, not a place just to get a paycheck.
Working conditions have deteriorated to the point where staff feel unsafe the majority of their shifts. Their license is on the line and pay has not budged during an unprecedented global pandemic. The country is critically short of nurses, and hospitals who did not financially reward staff who stuck around, found themselves paying sky-high travel wages, resulting in poorer outcomes for their patients.
Inpatients have been sicker than ever, and staff shortages have placed heavier workloads on those who did remain. Certainly, more than a one-time $700 bonus would have been appropriate, considering those profits came on the backs of everyone doing more with less at the bedside last year.
Children’s needs to stop trying to cut spending in wages and instead find the sieves where they exist. Making sure OR surgeon preference cards are up to date will stop the wasting of expensive supplies that get opened but are never used. It’s past time to find ways to save money that is not at the expense of patient care.
I challenge you, Children’s Minnesota, to live your own values, not just for the patients and families, but for your staff. Your organization is nothing without clinical staff!
It’s Nurses Week, Children’s!
Put your actions where your words are and listen, really listen to your nurses during contract negotiations.
-A Frustrated Nurse