Nurses deserve appropriate patient ratios

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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By Valerie Reddin (a reader's view)

I am thinking about the N.S. nurses, and have read comments posted on some of the articles regarding our current nursing situation throughout Canada. It saddens me to see the lack of understanding from some of the general public about the nursing profession. One course I participated in encouraged nurses to tell their nursing story. I am a nurse, and these observations are based on my experiences so far.

Nursing is an all-encompassing career. It challenges all aspects of your being. It's physically, spiritually, psychologically, and intellectually demanding. One nurse on a typical nursing unit is dealing with all these aspects of his or her own persona mixed and intertwined with all those aspects of each of his or her patients. Then as well, because nurses work in a team environment with others, they must also consider the dynamics of co-worker relationships, navigating situations where he or she must balance the strengths and deficits of each of the members of their team in order to ensure each patient's needs are being addressed.

This is only the beginning. A critical part of the nurse’s day involves working with and alongside doctors. How a doctor values, works and collaborates with a nurse can "make or break" him or her. It's unfortunate that doctors have that power, but that is a reality. It is a wonderful thing to experience a real working partnership with a patient's physician.

Managers and administrators are also part of the daily dynamic. These professionals are dealing with their own stresses and demands which trickle down and greatly affect nurses. The nurse is acutely aware of the power the managers hold over their daily activities. Nurses live and work in a state of uncertainty on a daily basis not knowing if they will be allowed time away from work for personal needs, i.e.: appointments, Christmas, family activities, summer vacations, storm days. These are basic personal needs which many people don't think twice about.

A nurse goes home at the end of his or her day, every day having navigated through all these challenges relationships and demands.

I am a nurse, and I am proud of other nurses who are demanding acceptable and excellent working conditions and appropriate patient ratios. Nurses deserve this. They do not deserve to be punished because of co-worker illness. Patients do not deserve to have their lives affected by nurses who are worked beyond their capacity due to unreasonable nurse- patient ratios. Because of the caring nature of a nurse's personality, they may feel the need to say that this strike action is all about patient care, but it is more than that. It's also about recognizing our own value and demanding better care for ourselves, and supporting each other, which of course will always contribute to the best care for our patients.

- Valerie Reddin, of Charlottetown, is a RN who is now working in Manitoba

Geographic location: Canada, Charlottetown, Manitoba

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