This was written by a nurse friend of mine, let's call her "Nurse A". I thought it was very enlightening to read, a look at the societal perspective on the value of health:
[Photo of my brother tending to my mother who was recovering after her knee operation. She fractured her knee earlier this year.]
As more articles surface regarding nursing, lack of nurses and demand for pay raise, I only have one recurring thought — society has all our priorities wrong.
A nursing diploma is one of the least desirable — an aggregate of 28 points will get you a place in poly. Most say that is so that those who want to be a nurse, can be a nurse, regardless of grades. But that means that those who do not do well, or cannot study well in secondary school and cannot make it to say, Business, or Arts, may choose to study nursing.
Then this whole cycle starts:
1. It is not their interest, thus, many will drop out or not work as nurses even after graduating. And we wonder why polytechnics cannot churn out enough nurses to meet the need. They don't end up in the workforce.
1a. Don't get me wrong here, but healthcare is dealing with lives, with medicine. We let a bunch of people who can't study well and have poor results become nurses. Nurses who are dealing with your lives. A calculation error or an error in judgement can occur in anyone, but I just don't see why you want the smartest to become doctors and the not-so-academically-inclined to become nurses. (Note: I've seen people who are horrible in their studies go on to be awesome nurses, but you get my point about the different requirements for people who are technically in the same line and deal with life and death)
2. If they don't have a backup job to go to, they start working as nurses. Then you have a group of nurses who have zero interest in working as a nurse - You have a bunch of average nurses. A bunch of average nurses, who do the bare minimum, who ARE TAKING CARE OF YOUR ELDERLY FATHER. That's right.
3. And the pay. The pay is not enough. We work long hours, with high patient acuity, low manpower, short or no breaks, highly stressful environments, low recognition/ appreciation, and you get to deal with the unreasonable patient or family. How is it justifiable? Someone that deals with your money earns way more than someone that deals with your health. Obviously, money is more important than health to this society.
4. Then, people migrate or switch to the private sector. The pay in higher, the patient load lesser, and the satisfaction is higher. Then the workforce loses manpower.
There's more to this never ending cycle. But the main point is, society needs to review its priorities. Just raising the pay of nurses to "pacify" the nurses in the workforce now will not solve the problem. To breed a different class of nurses, it needs to start all the way from people's mindsets. From the start of education.
Just remember, you may be the world's richest billionaire, but if one day you are stuck in a hospital under the care of a underpaid, undereducated nurse who is working three jobs to support her family, who has 12 patients under her care, three hours of sleep, no food, a full bladder, five bloods to take, 7 medications to serve, money cannot save you then.