Opinion: It’s no wonder nurses are leaving Quebec’s public system

Regardless of having a reasonably sturdy union, nurses are nonetheless systematically abused within the office, writes an ER nurse.

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With August upon us and 6 ERs in Quebec partially closed, the federal government appears to be left scratching its head as to why we’re on this mess within the first place. Whereas Well being Minister Christian Dubé says he desires nurses to see {that a} public hospital is an “employeur de choix,” he seems to have did not show his level. This summer season has, to date, been a staggering failure.

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As of late June, an estimated 60,000 health-care staff had been absent from the community for an array of causes — nearly 8,000 greater than final 12 months — and it’s secure to say that a few of them are nurses on stress depart or taking an unpaid depart of absence.

Compounding the issue is that many nurses have give up the general public sector to both change careers or work for personal businesses, although numbers aren’t available.

Why, one may ask, would a nurse depart a authorities, unionized job with a reasonably good pension at retirement?

Regardless of having a reasonably sturdy union, nurses are nonetheless systematically abused within the office.

At first, there isn’t any cap on the variety of sufferers a nurse can have on any given shift. If there are solely 5 nurses for 50 sufferers in an ER, we by some means need to make it work. Our solely recourse is a sit-in, or an unlawful strike, for which we will be sanctioned. Making it work means lacking our breaks and reducing corners within the care we give to sufferers. Sure, it is extremely potential that some sufferers have died or will die consequently.

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Second, even with a union, we’re nonetheless subjected to compelled and/or coerced extra time. It’s not enjoyable for a single mom to need to do an sudden double shift. Mix these two abuses with poorly thought up scheduling, archaic charting and software program within the office (the software program I exploit the place I work is from 1989 and doesn’t even help a mouse), an excessive amount of time doing secretarial work with papers and fax machines regardless that everybody has a smartphone and it’s 2022, an absence of any form of help system, and a common ignorance by managers regarding nurses’ considerations over affected person security (sure, it is extremely unsafe for sufferers if a nurse has 10 as an alternative of 5), and it’s no surprise so many have left the system.

As an alternative of scratching his head and shutting ERs, Dubé ought to put an finish to the abuse we nurses are subjected to.

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If he put a cap on the utmost variety of sufferers a nurse may have throughout her shift, we might not really feel abused. In fact, the argument in opposition to mandated nurse-to-patient ratios is “we don’t have sufficient nurses to do this.” I’d counter that with the concept that nurses would discover their jobs much more agreeable in the event that they knew they’d get a break and wouldn’t have to chop corners. Extra would keep in hospitals, nursing college students would see that as nicely, and extra would come to the bedside.

Pressured extra time needs to be unlawful. Once more, the argument in opposition to making it unlawful for a supervisor to impose compelled extra time is “typically there isn’t any different alternative.” I’d counter that with the concept that managers usually are themselves nurses! Why ought to they power a nurse to do a double shift in opposition to her will whereas they’re at dwelling sleeping? In our bureaucratic system there is not only one nurse supervisor for a specific hospital, however often three or 4! These of us ought to assist out on the items if want be.

If nurses felt supported by their managers, if they’d first rate software program within the office, in the event that they had been listened to and brought significantly, then maybe so many wouldn’t have left or be absent, and people contemplating leaving would keep within the public system, the place they’re so desperately wanted.

Nathan Friedland RN works in a Montreal-area emergency room.

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