The Measure of a Man

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Naomi Wolf:

An opinion on the path that our country is on. I believe that this is at very least a video that will get you to think about the supression that we have faced in the last eight years. The destruction of lablr and the surrendering of our rights for the sake of a feelinf of false security. Please get the book get the video and make your vote this year count. Tell your legislator that we want more our democracy back.

Nursing shortage presentation on NOW from PBS

PBS and their program NOW recently aired a story about the nursing shortage that I thought was very well made and a must see for all nurses interested in the future of our profession and quality of patient care. I wish the presentation would have focused more on the impact that the shortage is having on patient safety and our ability or inability to meet the needs of our patients due to our decreasing numbers. However with that said the presentation is one of the best I have seen in a while and would like all interested to see.

You can view the video at

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Employee free choice act and the Presidential election.

We have twelve days left until the Presidential election and possibly a new path for America. One issue that is sure to pass or fail depending on the results of the election is the Employee Free Choice act that just recently passed in the Congress but will be blocked in the Senate and get the veto by President Bush.

Barrack Obama will support our right to organize and has pledged to support the act if elected. view the video link below entitled "Obama support the employee free choice act".

The employee free choice act will give fairness and balance to the right of employees to join an union so that they may collectively bargain with their employer for the rights that they feel they are entitled. I would encourage all who read this to examine the issue of employee rights and remember that all the rights that we currently take for granted like the 40 hour work week, overtime, lunch breaks and vacation time are all a direct or indirect result of the labor movement.

The employee free choice act would level the playing field and allow for employees to get to the point where they can meet and bargain with their employer. Currently the environment is scewed to favor the employer and allows for them to intimidate and suppress our right to associate with a union.

Their are great discussions taking place on the subject at and can be read at this link.

I would encourage you to get involved. You can get information on what the employee free choice act says on this site in the right hand margin of the blog and you can find your senator and congressman link at the bottom of this site to assist you in contacting them to show your support.

Friday, October 10, 2008

ANA position statement on staffing assignments.

The ANA is asking for opinions related to proposed changes to the current position on nurses rights to refuse an unsafe assignment. The language is in my opinion more vague than the existing statement. I support changing the position only if it is stronger and should contain language that condemns hospitals and administrators that intimidate nurses into accepting unsafe assignments or floats. I have written the ANA and stated this and am writing this post to ask you to do the same. the email to the ANA contact is listed below. I have also provided a link to the original position of the ANA related to the nurses right to refuse an unsafe assignment, so that you may compare.

Public Comment: Patient Safety: Rights of Registered Nurses When Considering
a Patient Assignment
10/01/08The ANA Congress on Nursing Practice and
Economics (CNPE) is seeking comments on the ANA position statement, Patient
Safety: Rights of Registered Nurses When Considering a Patient Assignment.
which states: "The American Nurses Association (ANA) upholds that registered
nurses – based on their professional and ethical responsibilities – have the
professional right to accept, reject or object in writing to any patient
assignment that puts patients or themselves at serious and immediate risk for
harm. Registered nurses have the professional obligation to raise concerns
regarding any patient assignment that puts patients or themselves at risk for
harm. The professional obligations of the registered nurse to safeguard patients
are grounded in the Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements (ANA,
2001b), Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice (ANA, 2004), and state laws,
and rules and regulations governing nursing practice."
Download the position
statment below and send comments to
If you are interested in participating in this review, please provide your
comments to the ANA staff member listed above by 5:00pm EST on November 30,
CNPE appreciates your assistance with reviewing this Position

Original position of ANA on right of nurse to refuse unsafe assignment is available at this link: ANA right to reject assignment 1995.pdf

Please let the ANA know that they represent us and not the corporate interest of the hospital and that it is time to let the administrators know that we demand safe assignments and floating practices and demand the right to refuse unsafe assignments without retribution.

Friday, October 3, 2008

P.O.V. | Critical Condition | Joe's Story | PBS

This is an sample of the documentary critical condition that was presented on PBS on 9/30/08. I hope that you will take the time to watch the entire presentation and see that we are all one major illness or injury away from being at the mercy of a system that is failing us all. Please visit to view the presentation. Vote Obama and lets fix the system.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

NNOC testimony to TBON

Can I get a witness?

The text below is only one small part of the testimony that six RNs with the NNOC presented before the TN Board of Nursing on the morning of September 25, 2008. Issue topics were unsafe floating, short staffing, nurses fired for refusing to sign anti-organizing agreements, and institutional pressures on employees to not join pro-union associations. We received a cordial reception which later turned lukewarm. We were told that the proper way to do it was to file for an "Advisory Ruling". Perhaps we'll do that next...

SEPTEMBER 25, 2008


My name is Mark. I work as a staff RN at Tennessee hospital. I'm concerned that patient safety is being put at risk because of inadequate staffing levels. Nurses are being put in the position of either refusing a patient assignment and risk losing their jobs, or accepting more patients than they can safely handle. When a nurse has six, seven, or more patients on a medical-surgical floor, it's quite likely that some aspect of patient care will be missed. Charge nurses are frequently assigned a full patient load, rendering them unavailable to be a resource to the nurses under them. A patient has fallen on the floor after a bed alarm was not answered fast enough, another aspirated some food because no one was assisting with feeding, decubitus ulcers got worse when an incontinent patient was not cleaned up often enough, MRSA isolation procedures were incompletely followed in an attempt to save time, and a PCA continuous morphine dose was not turned off before the patient was stuporous. These are only few specific examples. While they may have turned out to be less than sentinel events, they are still very serious.

In addition to direct adverse events to patients, under-staffing has other consequences affecting delivery of safe care. Many experienced nurses have gotten fed up with the workload, and left hospital nursing. New nurses come in to fill vacancies, but many of these don't stay long because of the stressful conditions. We end up with a high percentage of relatively inexperienced nurses doing their best to care for too many patients. It's a recurring situation, one that management is aware of and has said they will address, but so far, nothing much has changed. It's not unique to my hospital; according to reports I've heard, under-staffing may be even worse at other facilities. As a possible solution to the problem, in the interest of patient safety, the retention of experienced professional nurses, and the recruitment of future nurses, would the Board of Nursing be willing support legislation as proposed by the CNA/NNOC for safe nurse to patient ratios?

Thank you for your time and consideration.
The following was not part of the testimony to TBON:

Below is an excerpt from a discussion board posting, written by the nursing instructor of an RN-BSN course I'm taking, Professional Role Development. It may reflect a typical managerial point of view.

"3) Unions-I am not a union fan in hospitals (note my husband is a union member outside of healthcare). As a CNO, I work every day to provide the best ratios, pay, benefits and work environment for my staff that our facility can afford. I don't see how a union would do any thing in our organization other than complicate things. I have to agree with Jennifer [last name withheld] posting that ultimately if you are not happy with your environment and feel that it is not safe than perhaps it is time to look elsewhere."

So, if conditions aren't safe for patients where I work, I should get a job somewhere else, right? Where should the patients go?

Share your opinion

The post are designed to evoke conversation that leads to action. GET INVOLVED!!!, lets us know your opinion, post your comments today.
You can post your comments anonymously if you like or use any name you choose. We are not interested in knowing who you are but what you think!!

My Story

My Story

I have been a nurse for just over ten years. I earned my degree with the support of my wife and financial assistance for the GI bill. I was drawn to the profession of nursing after a brief exposure to an advanced course in field triage while serving in the army. I find the human body fascinating and am always learning. I also was attracted to the profession for all the usual reasons that bring people to the profession of nursing. I enjoy the reward of giving to my fellow man.

I believe that health care and the advocacy of safe care is the foundation of nursing that was started by our founders like Florence Nightingale. Our practice act calls for our profession to advocate for our patients and against practices that puts their safety in jeopardy.

The healthcare industry has for the last twenty plus years constructed an environment to maximize profits at the expense of patient safety and our profession. We as nurses have stood by fairly quit and allowed for this to happen.

Recently, I and others voiced concerns related to patient safety and working conditions at Summit Hospital a hospital owned by Healthcare Corporation of America. Our issues included the working of nurse with approximately six month of experience for more than twenty four hours straight. This particular nurse did volunteer to work these hours but in my opinion should not have been ask to do so. She is a great nurse for her limited experience but put her license and the safety of her patients at risk that night. The manager of the unit failed her and the patients in her charge. Study after study has shown that the error rate goes off the chart after twelve hours. I and fifteen other nurses also expressed to management our concerns over the floating policies that were sending unqualified nurses to our unit. We noted several instances were these nurse made errors that put the patient in potential jeopardy. We also expressed our concerns over ratios of 3 to 1 becoming the norm in the unit when 2 to 1 is considered the norm in intensive care across most of the country.

We submitted these concerns in writing and signed by sixteen nurses from our unit. Management responded by holding meetings with a group of employees that they chose and their representatives which included the director of HR, our unit manager and the director of nursing. The meetings at their start gave us some hope that our issues might be taken seriously and dealt with. It was soon apparent that would not be the case and these meetings quickly moved away from our issues to their issues. They would agree that their were problems but would not put any solutions into writing, stating that they needed to be able to remain flexible and made statements like we will try instead of we will.

At around this same time I was informed of an organization called the NNOC or National Nurses Organizing Committee, that was holding meetings in the Nashville area to organize nurses to advocate for patients and against many of the problems that I expressed above. I met with their organizer and felt that their movement was something that I could support. I became a member of the NNOC and began attending meetings on a regular basis. I also began placing invitations to attend meetings in the break room of my unit and speaking with interested coworkers, while on break, about the need to organize and advocate for our patients and our profession.

After a short period of time I was ask by my manager about my involvement with the NNOC and my desire to form a union at Summit Hospital. I did not deny my association and did not hide my opinion as to why I felt that organizing was needed. I also informed them that I had the right as outlined in the National Labor Relation Act. The nursing staff at Summit was then subjected to mandatory anti union meetings and letter sent to our homes and to our email accounts at work. I was required to attend meetings with the hospital attorney and informed that because I was a charge nurse I was considered management and could not associate with the NNOC. I contested that I was a member of management but submitted to their demands to end my association with the NNOC. I never attended another meeting or recruited for the cause after that meeting. I did however continue to operate a blog, , that advocated for reform of the healthcare system and employee rights to organize. I did not use computers at work for this endeavor and did not use my real name on the blog or use any other names that would tell a reader where I worked or who I worked for.

I was ultimately terminated from Summit Medical Center on June 11th, 2008 for what I was told was the operation of a blog. I was given no specifics of what about the blog was grounds for my termination despite my asking. I appealed my termination through the hospitals employment dispute resolution process, attempting to get clarification as to what about my blog was cause for my termination. The peer panel dispute process was a sham. The panel as outlined by the hospitals policy was to be made up of my peers, who were “not familiar with the problem or have a close relationship with any of the parties involved”. The panel was anything but and was made up of persons who had expressed an open hostility to my rights to organize and to freely associate with the NNOC in the past. Two of the panel members were charge nurses from the ER also under the supervision of my manager, who had terminated me. These two persons were also at the meeting with the hospitals attorney and expressed anti union sentiment. Another panel member was a person who was well aware of my personal views related to unions and the right to organize and had been present at private settings outside the hospital were I had expressed my opinions related to the issues that started all this. This puts three of the five panel members in clear violation of the policy. I then was refused the right to seek any clarification as to what about the blog was grounds for my termination despite that being the stated reason for the panel. I was not given the right to hear the reasons as stated by my manager and the director of HR.

I am writing this because I believe that my fundamental right to due process has been violated. This is a right to work state and right or wrong that gives Summit the right to do as the please when it comes to hiring and firing of employees but most people believe and Summit attempts to mislead their employees that they are fair and just when it comes to matters of employee issues.

If Summit is allowed to get away with this and is not challenged then patients are at risk. Health care workers need to be free to advocate for safety for their patients and if they are scared into submission then patients will suffer.

Join me in fighting for our rights to free association and to advocate for our patients as our practice act requires. Support the employee free choice act, and send a message to Summit and other corporate bullies that feel you are entitled to the rights they give you and nothing more.
Also visit sited like Leap for Safety and support petitions to mandate stronger legislation that will ensure a safer environment. Visit to get involved.

I truly believe that our healthcare system is in dire trouble and we as nurses have a responsibility to get involved. Please join the fight. Your family may one day depend on what we do today.

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