Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Important Notes on the Nursing Profession


The past week has been one of slight turmoil amongst Saskatchewan nurses.  The SALPN (licensed practical nurses' licensing body) has been working to pass bylaws to allow them more responsibilities within the hospital.  The Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN), does not agree with these bylaws.  SUN's president Tracy Zambory stated "We have grave concerns on patient safety in the province and what this is going to mean to the citizens of the province when they go into the health care system".  You can read more about this debate here.

If you are a non-nurse, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) is a nurse with a diploma from a technical school, this is a rigorous two year course.  A registered nurse (RN) is a nurse who has gone through a four year bachelor's degree program at a university.  SUN is the RN union in our province.

I do not want this post to turn into a debate about who is educated better, who is a better nurse, or any other politics that seems rife in the health care field these days.  Both LPNs and RNs play a vital role in the care of our patients - when we work as a team we make the hospital setting better for everyone, most definitely for our patients.

I received a troubling comment regarding registered nurses recently, stating that the only reason SUN is lobbying against the proposed bylaws is because registered nurses are "greedy" and don't want to cede our "overpaid" territory to licensed practical nurses; and accusing registered nurses of caring only for our paycheck and not the patients who we are supposed to be caring for.  I try to remind myself that people with this opinion must have it for a reason.  Perhaps it is because they had a poor experience in the hospital with their nursing care, after all, not all nurses are perfect.  Or, perhaps they just don't have an understanding what nurses truly put into their careers every day in order to give the best patient care possible.  

I don't pretend to understand why other people take the opinions that they do, and I have given up on trying.  But you can bet that I am not going to sit quietly while the career that I have put five years of stress and tears into gets called down.  Don't call me greedy when I am about to give my life's work to taking care of other peoples' family members.  

Was I "greedy" when I didn't use the bathroom for my entire 12 hour shift because I was too busy caring for other peoples' sick family members to take two minutes to pee?  Did the nurse holding a patient's hand as they slowly slipped away, so that they didn't have to die alone, only care about her paycheck?  That nurse's own family member might have just died or been gravely ill, but here she is taking care of someone else's loved one.  When someone is sick and alone, with no family visiting in the middle of the night, and has fears about their declining health - you can bet that it is a nurse sitting by their side, helping to ease their fears.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  I certainly have mine.  But I think it is time we all take a little more consideration into what we say to one another, we are all fighting our own battles.  You never know when that "greedy" nurse will be holding your hand and comforting you.

If you have been a patient and received less than perfect nursing care, I am truly sorry that that happened to you.  That isn't fair.  But for every impatient nurse, there is a whole slew more who will treat you like their own flesh and blood and give every bit of themselves into making sure you are well taken care of while you are in our care.

If you are a fellow nurse (be it RN or LPN) then know that I have great respect for you.  You are in a career that many people wouldn't be able to do.  And if you are a nursing student like myself, then know that we have something to be proud of.    


  1. From the sounds of it, at least at the hospital where my husband worked, they are trying to gradually up their RN to LPN ratio--more and more hospitals in the US are wanting RNs, not LPNs. Which is just part of the movement for more and more required degrees and years of education...not really a good thing, necessarily, but we can all agree that nurses are very needed! There will always be patients and families who treat you very poorly, though, learned that from 5 years of stories of my husband's day at work. He was always really great at never taking things personally, but it can be a tough profession to be in, emotionally.

  2. I agree Rachel, it can be difficult to be in emotionally but also can be very rewarding when you get the nice comments from patients :)