Monday, March 6, 2017

Nurses and Fairness

As a group, it seems to me that we are pretty obsessed with numbers and fairness.  

How many patients we each have, how many holidays that nurse worked, how many weekends this nurse has done, how many admissions that nurse got, he’s only scheduled for two Fridays on this schedule, she has to work every Monday, the time two years ago when I had five patients and another nurse only had two.

Sound familiar? 

This is not a new issue for nurses.  In researching the topic of nurses and fairness, I ran across a letter to the editor in a 1947 issue of the American Journal of Nursing (AJN) about rotating shifts.  Flora Murray of Georgia responded to a proposal in a previous issue of AJN that married nurses be allowed to work only during those hours when their husbands and children were at work and school so that she could attend to their needs when they were home.  Flora had a good point – why were the current husbands of married nurses more important than the prospective husbands of single nurses who couldn’t date and find a husband because they were forced to evenings and weekends?  

It’s all about perspective. 

We’ve come a long way from worrying about freeing up nurses to tend to husbands or find husbands, but we still have a way to go when it comes to letting go of our obsession with numbers and fairness.

Murray, F. (1947). Fairness to all nurses in rotating shifts. AJN, 47(7), 491.

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