The recent updates to the nursing contract through the University of California have sent waves throughout the rest of the medical community in the state. These changes have been a long time coming, and many nurses, while thrilled with the agreed upon terms, hope to see more changes for the better as time goes on. Nurses work long hours and undergo high stress situations to care for others, yet they feel they’re rarely given the thanks they deserve.
Some of the issues nurses are facing are related to financial incentives, long hours without appropriate breaks, and safety around dangerous patients. These might sound like primarily self-serving goals, but each of these issues is directly related to patient wellbeing. Nurses who aren’t rested are unable to perform at the level expected of them. Nurses who don’t get meal breaks don’t have the energy to carry out a 12-hour shift. And these nurses are unable to medicate, heal, and care for patients if they, themselves, are getting ill.
Another huge concern many nurses have is injury in the workplace. Workers compensation only goes so far to assist financially in damages which occur following a workplace injury. Fortunately, San Diego is recognized as one of the best cities for law firms directly attending to nursing injuries at work. If you’re a nurse concerned about safety in the workplace, here are some ways you can protect yourself and prevent incidents.
Proper Training and Staffing: Nurses are trained through a rigorous program which covers general nursing practices, health codes, and other practical and theoretical information. However, when nurses find themselves in a specialized field, or working with lab equipment which they haven’t been properly trained with, there’s always room for incident and injury. Nurses who aren’t trained to work with certain equipment should ask for the proper training before attempting to use said equipment. Similarly, other individuals working with nurses, such as doctors and lab technicians, should be properly trained to use this equipment as well.
Along with the appropriate training comes staffing inadequacies. While San Diego has thousands of nurses within the city limits, there often aren’t enough to fill all the roles required in a facility. This leads to attendance problems, nurses not receiving appropriate breaks or time off, nurses taking on large tasks that require 2-3 individuals on their own, and nurses being denied vacation.
Policies Which Prevent Lateral Violence Toward Nurses: Nurses take a lot of flak, but you might be surprised to learn it’s not just upset patients who take it out on nursing staff. Some of the disrespectful attitudes come from workplace peers. While this doesn’t directly result in injury or violence, harassment in the workplace makes it difficult for nurses to complete tasks and focus on what they’re doing, which could result in an accident or injury. Policies should be put in place where there are none, to prevent this type of lateral attack.
Safety for Nurses Claiming Workers Compensation: Nurses who file claims for worker’s compensation often feel removed from their peers, frowned upon by superiors, and as though they are “putting out” management. This kind of negative reflection upon nurses who take a stand to protect themselves should be stopped. Nurses have the right to claim workers compensation if a workplace incident causes bodily harm.
San Diego is progressing with the latest changes to nursing contracts, but nurses have made it clear that they want more changes in the future. Only time will tell whether these demands will be met.