The patient satisfaction movement will be the end of nurses
((Beware, this one might not be a popular opinion but I don’t care anymore))
I’m sorry that I’m not focusing enough on how “pristine” your room is while I’m trying to keep you and your baby safe. That I’m not catering to your every whim and bringing rounds of ginger ales for you and your eight family members every 30 minutes. I am not a waiter. Will I bring you ice and ice water and popsicles and jello? Absolutely. You are the patient and in labor. I am here to help you. I will not be an on call butler for your entire family.
I’m sorry that I don’t treat you like you are at a five star resort and spa. That I don’t provide foot rubs, pedicures, back rubs, cucumber water and hot towels for your hands.
Here’s an idea, if you want to be treated like you are at a five star spa, GO TO A FIVE STAR SPA. Don’t show up at your local hospital. Where I’m overworked, stressed out, haven’t peed in six hours, and haven’t consumed a meal outside of the nurses station in two years. OH, and where I hear constantly about how I’m not doing enough to make my patient’s stay satisfactory, pleasurable, or perfect.
I’m sorry that I cannot make your pain your desired pain goal of zero. That is not a reasonable pain goal. You are here to have a child. Either out your vagina or through a large abdominal incision. ZERO IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE PAIN GOAL. You will never have ZERO pain if you are experiencing childbirth (or in a hospital period). Hospitals are not spas or hotels or resorts, in spite of the daily housekeeping and room service. Hospitals are not a pain free experience, no matter how you look at it.
When EVERYTHING in the hospital is about how wonderful the patient’s “experience” was, you (MANAGEMENT) are focusing excessively on the wrong things.
I am your labor nurse. I am here to keep you and your baby safe. I am here to provide the safest, happiest birth experience I can give you. I am here to honor your wishes in every way that I reasonably can. I am here to support you, to educate you, to hold your hair when you puke, and to coo over your beautiful baby when they’re born. I will support you, I will laugh with you and cry with you.
But most of all I am constantly assessing and evaluating and critically thinking about what is going on with your body, your health, your baby. As I fluff your fifth pillow to give you more cushion in our horribly uncomfortable beds I am also worrying what will happen if your blood pressure drops dangerously low after an epidural, what happens if your baby’s cord prolapses and you need a stat c-section or what happens if God forbid you get an amniotic fluid embolus and you are dead before I can get you out of the room.
This is what I’m contemplating on a daily basis. I understand this. I understand the responsibility I took on when I became a nurse.
I’m telling you I cannot continue to be a excellent, safe, careful, competent nurse if I’m worried about getting in trouble with my boss because there was a lunch tray left in my patient’s room mid-afternoon or that housekeeping didn’t come fast enough to mop up a spill or that I didn’t bring my patient enough gatorades.
I am telling you that focusing ONLY on patient satisfaction scores as a measurement for hospital performance will be the end of bedside nurses.
All the excellent bedside nurses will be gone. We can’t take this. Day after day, year after year. We will go back to school to become NPs, CNMs, educators, or nursing instructors. We will not stay at the bedside.
We will not stay in a job where we are told our only worth is how “enjoyable” our patient’s hospital stay is.
I am a nurse. But I will not fight to stay in a job where I get told that everything I do is not enough. That my best is never enough because the patient didn’t mark “Always” enough times on their HCAPS survey.
I will never be enough.