To the Minister of Health Kjerkol.
The shortage of nurses has been known over time, both the Norwegian Nurses’ Association and we, the nurses, have long tried to convey the crisis we are in.
More and more of us are progressing to move away from patient-centered situations, and we can no longer tolerate them. The debate started in earnest when Assistant Director of Health Espen Rostrop Nakstad reminded us that we have a strong healthcare system.
Many of us who have worked and worked in this healthcare system would fundamentally disagree with him.
I despaired, is it possible for us to get together when our experiences are so far away? This description is in stark contrast to everyday life as I know it.
You have certainly seen the many stories that have been shared in recent days.
Stories in which both doctors and nurses tell us how serious this situation really is. The stories our leaders avoid, reassure society that our descriptions and experiences don’t match.
I, and many with me, have long tried to keep this discussion internal without success.
None of us want this debate in the public space, but unfortunately it is forced forward when we don’t feel heard.
When we test that the patient’s safety is threatened. When the solution is always ‘we have to save’, ‘we have to cut’, ‘should work more efficiently’ then a consultant or two is hired to point out areas where we can cut, save and simplify.
Feel it on the body and soul
The common denominator in the health service is occupational safety. We have this in our backbone, it’s our guiding star in everything we do.
At some point, efficiency exceeds. Once we get to that point, being patient with us becomes progressively more dangerous.
Then safety declines as efficiency increases, and the risk of critical errors increases rapidly.
I think we’re getting dangerously close to the crossing point and increasingly seeing days where we’re working on the wrong side.
The irony is that every day we have health personnel who are clear that they cannot provide professionally sound services within the framework that has been set up, and who believe that patient safety is threatened.
At the same time, leaders are equally clear about the opposite.
I’m one of those who chose to go, the price was way too high.
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It does something for you as a human that you can never reach, and you always have to compromise your knowledge and conscience.
To witness that the patient experiences severe pain over time while waiting for relief.
Knowing that the patient is lying and sailing in his chair, patiently waiting for time for you.
Asking the patient to urinate because you don’t have time to go to the bathroom, only to find the patient lying on the floor when she is trying to walk on her own.
Knowing that vital medications are taken too late or you simply forget to give them in an effort to prolong.
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It may be difficult for outsiders to fully understand what our jobs actually involve, and what we stand for.
We follow people from cradle to grave, with all the different aspects of life. It involves participating in everything from the most beautiful moments to the most bizarre, with visual and auditory impressions that I doubt the human brain was created to endure.
The absurdity that we can experience all this excitement during a working day.
We will be warm, caring and comfortable “sisters and brothers” in one room, and highly qualified experts in advanced nursing in the other.
We will wash the stool in one room, and serve food in the next. We console one of us and receive blows and threats from the other.
We celebrate the good news in a room, we follow someone to death in the next room. We struggle to save a life in one room, and serve afternoon coffee in another.
We must always be on top, we must see when evolution starts to regress and correct it before it is too late.
We are on the front lines, our job is to look after, act and protect. It also means that we have to say “no” when the front lines are cracking and we are no longer able to observe and act.
Not only do we have to say no, we have a legal duty to do so.
This may sound like a lament, but it isn’t.
This is an appreciation for the wonderful profession of nursing, the challenging and versatile job.
This is a prayer for a framework so that we are allowed to be nurses. All-encompassing frameworks define what nursing is. I loved my job for better or for worse.
I was willing to stand all of this and more, but the tire got a little too narrow.
I was left with a feeling that I might fail both patients and colleagues. It is sad to have to choose the life you dreamed of, the job you loved. The benefit is that I no longer have to give up on my family and myself.
A manager stated in a meeting I attended that not everyone is created to be a nurse in a medical ward, I’ve thought a lot about this since I left.
Exhausted from work pressure
Unfortunately, I think many leaders share this attitude with us, it is once again placing weakness and responsibility on those of us who are tired.
Instead of coming out as strong, competent employees, we are degenerate to some weak people who were not made for this. I know that many of us who pursued us were made for this purpose.
We’re the caring experts the health service needs, but we’ve been left out. The debate becomes as it is today unconstructive and divisive, while we grope and quarrel lose our “best men”.
We have a shared responsibility to reverse the trend as we are on our way to becoming a dysfunctional family that will never succeed in our shared social responsibility. I’m convinced we all want the same thing, but we’re stuck.
We lack a common language, common definitions and common goals, and most importantly the arena where we can come together to find this together.
In the health service, we have responsible guards on all shifts. The responsible guard sticks to the team, leads us through the guard and rounds us up to get a quick footing on the ground when we’re on our way in each of our directions.
Now it’s your turn, Ingvild, you’ve taken over the Responsibility Guard where your ancestor couldn’t complete the mission. Now you need to get your team together and solve challenges with us.
You are not alone, your big healthy family is all ready to solve problems with you, but you must show that you have the responsible guard and bring us together.
I know we all want to stand together to provide robust health services to everyone, across the country, around the clock. You have a winning team with you, hope you benefit from it.
Tania Fatnos is also a local politician from the Center Party in Drammen and sits as a deputy on the municipal council.
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