Nurses have only one priority, the patients

How do you perceive an impending “nurses’ strike?”

Healthcare organizations would have the public believe the demands are about unreasonable wages, exorbitant retirement benefits, or shorter work hours – that it’s a “money thing.”

However, nurses are actually fighting for quality, consistent and SAFE patient care. Most of us became nurses because of a deep love for the profession and compassion for patients.

Imagine how distressing it is to have multiple call bells urgently ringing, medications needing to be given simultaneously with “stat” orders and hospital administration insisting that fewer nurses are adequate for dozens of patients.

Someone called in sick? Too bad: You must stay another shift or risk having your license revoked for abandonment, even though your children need picked up at daycare.

Nurses also suffer more severe, long-term disabilities than even athletes.

The physical toll of patient care results in painful back injuries as well as wrist and shoulder damage that often cuts nursing careers short and permanently impairs a nurse’s ability to work or even participate in normal life activities.

Nursing is also replete with emotional stress that does not dissipate at the end of a 50- or 60-hour work week – worries and concerns about the patients and their families, the staff and what new problems may occur to impede attempts to deliver quality care.

And let’s not forget that nurses are held responsible for an increasingly vast, complex field of knowledge that subjects their license to a greater risk of suspension or even revocation.

It is not unreasonable to state that nurses must be nearly as knowledgeable as physicians in order to perceive early signs of potential patient complications, but are rarely acknowledged for alerting doctors to issues that might affect the quality of a patient’s life.

Devoting everything to a career in which one has little control over how the duties and responsibilities are performed is one of the greatest causes of “nurse burnout.”

A nursing strike is not about personal gain; rather, it is about the right for those most qualified – the nurses – to determine what appropriate, safe and professional guidelines will allow dedicated nurses to provide the kind of patient care that is deserved.

Cherry Peer,