Are nursing unions really necessary? I am trying to look at this from all angles of medicine. The first point of view I am going to take is that of being a patient. I have been very fortunate in my times as a patient to be surrounded by amazing, educated and capable nurses. A good nurse is worth their weight in gold. Nurses are not only the number one patient advocates but, they are the eyes and ears of the physicians. Most of the nurses I have come across in the past 11 years are great but, there are those few that made me wonder how they kept their license but, they did lose their jobs. So, as a patient, does a union make it harder for hospitals/clinics/etc. to fire bad nurses? The reason I ask this is because I was married to a union guy. I have a ton of friends that are union members but, none of them medical. I hear them make fun of the companies they work for saying, “they can’t fire me, I’m union” that has always made my skin crawl! What the hell did they mean by that? The way I was raised if you were not productive, then you simply, got fired. Why would a company continue to pay a lack-luster employee? So as I was reading about the new national nurses union which empowers 154,000 nurses, are the risks the same for not being able to get rid of bad nurses?
Ok, angle number two is going to be that of a nurse. Let me just start by saying that, there are non-unionized nurses where I practice. The number one complaint I hear from my friends that work on the floor is the staffing ratio. Too many patients for too little nurses, this does nothing good for anyone involved. The nurse is overworked and is more prone to make an error. The patient is put at an increased risk from overworked staff; you sure don’t have to be a medical professional to know a small medical error may lead to a huge problem for the patient, sometimes death. A medical error by a nurse means trouble for the hospitals. After all, it’s the hospital that hired the nurse. The attending physicians are drug into this mess as well; after all it was their patient. So in my little simple mind correct me if I’m wrong here but, wouldn’t it just make more sense for a hospital to provide ample staff to ensure the safety of their patients? Would this not lead to an improvement for all? Fewer errors, less lawsuits, lower malpractice coverage and nurses that are doing what they were trained to do, take full care of their patients! Wouldn’t it make sense that if a nurse was caught using drugs that they stole from the hospital they would lose their license? Simple, if you are a dumbass and can’t do your job, or maybe you are late all the time putting immense stress on the staff covering your duties you uh…GET FIRED?
Third angle, MONEY! That being said, nurses from this area make approx 3 times more a year if they work agency to cover strikes. I know many nurses that went agency to work the strikes in California, they banked. But agency nurses that fill in during strikes would not make 3 times the money if, well, there were… no strikes. I know agency nurses that work in specialty areas that make more than the full time hospital employees, usually 1 ½ times-2 times more. Let’s take the operating room for example; it takes a minimum of six months to train a nurse, to cover operating room call. So if a hospital is short handed, it makes more sense for them to pay more to a nurse that is already trained to make up for the shortage until the position can be filled or, a full time staff nurse can be trained to fill that specialized spot. So how much more do unionized nurses make versus non-unionized nurses? I have no idea, I know no union nurses.Well, this could ramble on forever and I don’t have an attention span that long. I was just wondering what ya’ll thought. Are nursing unions really necessary?