I actually “actively” retired over a year ago. I had taken on a couple of part-time home health nursing gigs, before I quit for good. The two companies I worked for, one after the other, were both in business to make money, and that was all. Patient care was a secondary concern, and after I had seen enough, I quit the last company and never looked back.
This past year, 2020, of course has been high adventure for anyone still in the nursing workforce. No matter what your position, you have seen the elements of risk and and work overload increase. I don’t envy you! A few, a very few, that know of my nursing career and background have said things like “Why don’t you get back in? The work is available like crazy, and the pay is astronomical!”
Well, a) I really have retired b) I can’t think of anything in the field of nursing (or medicine) right now that would convince me that coming out of retirement would be a great idea! And I can’t imagine myself trying to convince anyone, young or old, that nursing is a great career choice!
First, the American healthcare system is helplessly broken. Logistically, ethically, you name it–broken! What remains of the “industry” is a throwback to turn-of-the-century industrialism. There’s really no excuse for it. At least until very recently, there has been plenty to go around. No reason for the millions who are “uninsured” and uncared for. You ask me is being cared for a right or a privelege? That question is perhaps the one that I’ve asked myself, over and over, every since I became a nurse, and ever since I left my home in Canada and moved to the United States to work. Maybe it just took me that long to have my eyes opened.
Second, there is no end in sight. One would think that one of the worst pandemics in recorded history might be enough to open a few more eyes, and get us to question what really matters. That there is such a thing as a medical industry is enough to make me question the whole premise of this thing we call healthcare. Faced with death and dying and the suffering of millions around the world, why hasn’t the wealthiest country in the Western world finally “hung up its spurs” and said, “Enough already!” It’s time to make the technology and the caring available to all who need it–whether they have the money or not!
In closing, I wonder how many others there are like me–benched, simply because all the joy has gone out of the practice of nursing. Yes, at one time the “practice” was something very distinct from the technology. It’s something that some doctors have been saying for a long time–that caring for a patient is a very different thing than “dotting all the ‘i’s'” and making sure everything is technically correct (although the two things aren’t mutually exclusive). And no matter how many billions that Big Pharma and the AMA rake in over the next few months, they still haven’t really done their job.