Today’s healthcare professionals, not unlike their predecessors, find themselves in a yoke of bondage that interferes with their job satisfaction. Hospitals and institutions have gone overboard with attempting to discover the wherewithal of patient satisfaction and have neglected to focus on a matter of greater importance: the satisfaction of their employees. Whether they be secretarial, maintenance, housekeeping, nursing assistants, medical assistants, professional technologists, nurses, NPs, PAs, residents, or attending physicians, yes, I am talking about the entire fruit salad! Carlton Jackson, co-creator of Humanisphere, Inc. once said, “In vain do we build a company, if we do not first build the people.”
Building the people includes recognizing their work and commitment, developing sensitivity to their needs, their grievances, their need to function in society in the important roles of parent, spouse, significant other, family member, and of course, to know what this commitment entails in terms of the amount of time needed to perform the task. No, like it or not, the institution is not #1, as the greater need is to build relationships with all family members, to have the time and freedom to practice their religion, to nurture their children, and possess the time to eat healthy, exercise and sleep, not to work 60 to 80 hours weekly and sometimes even more.
The structure of medicine and nursing today vandalizes the precepts upon which our nation was constructed. Institutions have almost successfully destroyed creativity and enthusiasm. Today’s harsh rules of engagement give little opportunity for self-expression without fear of reprisal. “The enemy of a good decision is fear, fear of failure, fear of humiliation, and fear of making a mistake,” James Waldrop, co-founder of Waldrop Butler Associates. These fears cause mistakes and create lapses in focus, impaired communication, faulty decision making, because professionals are obligated to follow guidelines that are computer generated and that have not communicated with the most important subject, the patient. We are in danger of creating an atmosphere of apathy rather than empathy due to lack of time for follow-up, creation of academic templates instead of performing an adequate patient history and performing a hands-on physical exam.
How do we recreate enthusiasm? Looking to the words of those who were great leaders in the past can illuminate this important emotion. “I studied the lives of great men and famous women, and I found that the men and women who got to the top were those who did the jobs that they had in hand, with everything they had of energy and enthusiasm.” Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States. Enthusiasm is the good soil that permits seeds to grow. “Every memorable act in the history of the world is a triumph of enthusiasm. Nothing great was ever achieved without it because it gives any challenge or any occupation, no matter how frightening or difficult, a new meaning. Without enthusiasm, you are doomed to a life of mediocrity; but with it you can create miracles,” Og Mandino. I stand in favor of creating miracles; I stand in favor of instilling enthusiasm where it is lacking. I stand in favor of creating a kinder and more secure workplace that puts its workers before the surveys of many who are malcontents and, apparently, have the power to change five years of glowing compliments to discriminatory challenges because they have not been seen quickly enough or been given a prescription for an unneeded antibiotic or a harmful opioid, when more appropriate professional decisions are needed. The workforce desperately needs to be treated as professionals, not like indentured servants or employees. Our stature and evaluation should not be dependent on the whim of a Yelp review! Among the numerous freedoms that I advocate for is the freedom to carefully examine employment contracts and to hire their own legal counsel to oversee this. If the conditions for employment include working an additional one to two hours per shift to perform charting and to do a handoff to the next professionals, then this chore should be considered as hours worked in a shift. Regrettably, if I am not being clear, this shift should be a staggered 10 to 11 hours with the duties attended to at that time.
Of equal importance is the freedom to choose your own malpractice plan. In the last two years, we have seen an increase in litigation against health care providers and in many cases, they were lost because the insurance protected the hospital or institution before the professional. As a professional nurse, NP or PA, you deserve both time and money to qualify to take your licensing exam. When you achieved your goal, you did not expect your freedoms to be challenged, therefore the need for a personal liability insurance policy. The outcomes of legal matters are better served by going against the institutional insurance and purchasing a policy that has only your name upon it. This policy clearly defines who the defendant is, and a team of professionals becomes engaged in protecting your license, your reputation, and your equity. I feel that an institution should pay for a portion of this policy with the understanding that the professional has a family, home, vehicle, and other assets that require protection. In closing, we as healthcare professionals, can change our situation by unity, membership in our associations, supporting our professions and each other, and by making choices that are safe and provide us with freedom.
Written For CM&F By: Robert M. Blumm, PA, DFAAPA, PA-C Emeritus
CM&F Clinical Advisor