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Nursing: You Wanna Know What I Think?

Goodbye to Hospital Nursing

Published January 31, 2013 6:56 AM by Pat Veitenthal
The day finally arrived! This past December 31st, I retired from hospital nursing after 44 long years. Friends and co-workers threw a wonderful going away party for me, with great food, funny jokes and yes, alcohol was involved. It was a day to remember.

SO... what now?

I will continue my cruise nursing job as long as I can, but while fun and interesting, even that is beginning to lose its thrill. I always swore I would stop nursing when it stopped being fun, and that's the main reason I left the hospital. I've made no secret of the fact that I think our profession is suffering entirely too many indignities and I believe it keeps getting worse.

At my retirement party, I was asked to say something, and while normally I would have said something funny and entertaining, I just didn't have it in me. Instead I told the truth. Yes, I'm 62, and yes I'm in pain. The hallways were getting longer all the time. But in honesty I just couldn't keep watching the staff suffer the way they did. Everyday.

My position was as a supervisor. It's a HUGE responsibility. I loved the job, and the people. I considered most of my responsibility to be a NURSING advocate. And I'd like to think I was effective as one, at first. But it just became more and more difficult for me to say I'm sorry all the time. I'm sorry that you're 4 RNs short, or don't have the supplies you need, or that you fear for your job if you complain. I'm sorry that you feel as though  you have no support from management. I'm sorry you go home in tears, and you're not a new graduate. (You know they cry.) I'm sorry the rules are becoming more ridiculous everyday.

Additionally, I'm sorry for myself. I'm sorry the profession that choose ME all those years ago finally became too hard for me to endure, but here's another reason for my sorrow: only one of my superiors from NURSING administration (my own department) wished me well, thanked me, or even said goodbye. Only one.

posted by Pat Veitenthal


When I started nursing years ago, new nurses had respect for the older more experienced nurses. To us, they were hard and many times downright mean. Now, years later, the younger nurses coming in push around the older ones who have been here for years. They yell in the hallways in front of everyone. They have no respect for everything we have done and been through. When someone gets granted time and the nurse in charge doesn't write their date in because they're friends with that nurse, then the same ones keep getting granted, and takes  it from those of us whose time it actually is. Really?!! I'm 55 years old and fought cancer twice and I still have to work. I only get to see my daughter about 4 weekends a year. And this nurse taking going home knew it wasn't her time and was lying about it. Come on, not only is it dishonest, but  you're young, healthy and get to see your family everyday. The nurse in charge was her friend and let her get away with it, then was angry when I wrote down her granted date. Do you really want these  nurses to take care of you?

janie, icu - r.n. March 1, 2014 3:53 AM
youngstown OH

I've been a nurse for 2 years and I hate it most times. I thought I wanted this but I realized that all I am is an educated peon. A lot of patients could care less about what is better for them as long as you meet their demands. Administration is out to squeeze as much as they can from you and no one respects your job. If they did they would not be blasting your phone for minimal things while they can look at the chart, we have to look at the chart all the time why can't they? And I do agree there is a lot of nurses who are mean to patients and they should be banished but patients don't realize what we tell you is to help you. Yes you can't breathe and I'm telling you sitting up straight will help until I can get your order for what you need. Nurses can't just pull out a medication right then unless you're coding but even then all that is a set of physician orders. When you as a patient are not following instructions to ease your problem, you're making it very difficult for a nurse to do the best for you. That is our plight, balancing what needs to be done versus what everyone else wants us nurses to do for them. Patients want to be pampered, administration wants to use you with as little support to to cut down on cost as possible, doctors want to be left alone, all while attempting to carry out what needs to be done. In countries where nurses make less it seems they are respected more.

Ellie, Med-Surg - RN, Hospital January 12, 2014 12:48 PM

The only way it will get better is when nurses organize nationwide like the teachers did.  Any facility that receives federal tax dollars will be obligated to be a union shop.  This is the goal, period.

Louis November 1, 2013 8:28 PM

I scanned through some of the comments and I can relate to most of them.  I want to know if any one is as concerned as I am, about  blacklisting, do not use (DNU), or do not send(DNS), lists of nurses that should not be hired.  I do understand these lists may be needed to weed out incompetent services.  However, because ironically, nursing bullying is a well established practice, these lists might just be another bullying weapon, for the bullies to use at their own selfish whims.  If a nurse is on any of these list, he or she should have the right to know about it, and allowed to legally defend their rights as applicable.   It should not be a "country club list" only available for a bully vendetta.   If being on the list is legal and genuine, then there is no need to hide it.  

Actually most of the users of such list, are only using it for personal gain and loyalty to nursing bullies who intimidates them.  If these list were being used legally and unselfishly, the public would see that nursing can be a wounderful service and not something to fear or else....  Many of the planted and rooted nursing  bullies would be on these list themselves, instead.....

M Robinson, RN March 21, 2013 12:57 PM

Every time I have seen a nurse retire was really sad for me. No celebration or recognition of 30 years or whatever time period of employment at a hospital etc. They would start their shift saying "Good Bye". No time or effort to say "Thanks for a great job". Nurses need to be more caring to each other.

nursing February 14, 2013 9:51 AM

Thank you Pat for sharing your perspective and experiences. I read all the comments as well. Everything written reads so true and resonates so well. The stories from everywhere could be the stories from anywhere. I do applaud you for your persevering tenacity. I am a nurse for 20 years and I will soon be 62. I am in no position to retire. I felt the tenure of my birthdays would become something to be asseted within this type of social service, i.e.  Nursing. Currently, I am unemployed... I am still seeking employment within the `field’, yet as I reflect on yours and the other comments, the pause thought then leads to the consideration that the proverbial `something else’ would  fit the skills, education and experience I have accumulated and integrated.

It would be of interest to hear your assessment of the second-career experiences while working on a cruise ship.

Stephen, TCU/LTC - RN, unemployed February 13, 2013 4:31 PM
Modesto CA

37 years for me and I will be departing from the field...not sure to do what but feeling increasingly powerless has superseded my passsion for nursing. Persons that dictate to our profession (hmm, is it really a profession?) are interested in meeting their "bottom line" but Nurses do not seem to "hold their own" ...we are patient, wait for our turn, understanding of everyone's reasons why we need to give more for less for "just a little while longer". We trust and remain optomistic-as we are RAPED. And Nurses who see this and voice their concerns to seek solutions are viewed negatively and shunned even by their own. THERE ARE SOLUTIONS but who is listening? A seasoned Nurse who cares is so valuable...is this Nurse also a threat to the new medical system?

N February 12, 2013 9:29 PM
Norwich CT


sandra curry, med-surg - staff nurse, veterans hospital February 12, 2013 8:21 PM
richmond VA

Nurses don't support each other.

. When one nurse gets fired we just keep on like they never existed.  What is supposed to be the most compassionate occupation is filled with bullies, back stabbers and gossipers. We have to deal with patients, family members and all kinds of challenges through a shift.   If we would support each other instead of having to watch our back all the time nursing would be the best profession in the world.

Cathy Burrell, rn February 11, 2013 1:19 PM

Try home care. Not the traditional medicare based home care, but the private service industry. I have been a private duty nurse/household manager for the very wealthy for 10 years. It can be difficult at times, but the pay, the percs, (private jets, country clubs, chef prepared meals) make it all worthwhile. One of these days, I am going to write a book about how to get into this line of work and all the incredible and interesting things I have seen along the way.

Peggy, home care - household manager/nurse, private home February 11, 2013 9:43 AM

For the record - it is not just the New Grads who cry.  The seasoned nurses are crying because good patient care is unattainable at the current workload levels.  As a new nurse, I have comforted MANY seasoned nursing professionals due to the ever increasing strain of the job.

M C, RN February 10, 2013 4:56 PM

I have been a nurse for 10 years and it is extremely sad to see a caring profession be torn apart. I work with an awesome team at this time, but I have worked the majority of my nursing career in LTC. You are expected to work short (except when State shows up) and there is no respect or appreciate unless they want more from you. We are advocates for our patients, but who is an advocate for us when we are mistreated and abused, whether it is a patient, their family member, a boss, a co-worker? Being a nurse definately is not as exciting and fun like it use to be. I still truly love what I do and I appreciate my patients and co-workers including my bosses, but I certainly struggle with the way nurses are being treated now days. The good news is, there are still some good people in the world who do appreciate each one of us. I sincerely wish each and every nurse a heartfelt appreciation, because we are needed and wanted.  God Bless!

Karen, Homecare - LPN, Interim February 10, 2013 3:03 PM
Colorado Springs CO

Thank-you Pat. I am 62 I thought I had a few good years left Benefits and salary were good, so I wanted to continue. But unfortunately, this year. My hours were changed to 12 hours and night shift 7p-7a. Became very difficult so I retired I felt the last 2 hours were horrible Eyes felt blurry, tired,I became slower and  decrease in focus. My concern was the patient if there was an emergency could I handle it . Would I be able to give the care that I wanted to give as an RN and within the scope of practice. Many times I would hear your adrenalin would pick up and you would be able to do it. Is this fair to the RN and patient. Many RN's can do 12 hrs and be competent and I admire them. There are many that can not.Driving home was scarey, difficulty staying awake and then sleep time is interrupted. I am happy I retired Stress is decreased, BP down So Pat and fellow retired nurses have fun and enjoy retirement  I did receive a nice retirement luncheon with my coworkers at a restaraunt and the hospital had a nice party I received a lovely clock with plaque with 31 years of service

Bea February 10, 2013 2:19 PM

You are fortunate Gail. The thing is, I would have said EXACTLY what you said until I retired...I was both shocked and hurt that the same people I spoke so highly of ignored me.

Pat Vee February 9, 2013 11:37 AM

After reading the above, I feel very fortunate in my position at my current hospital. Yes we are all feeling pinched from patients , excuse me clients, families and administration but I happen to work with the best of the best. As a group we have over 250 years of experience,there are 12 of us. I wonder if its the old school values that makes it so great to go to work everyday?  I admit when they start to retire, so will I.

Gail Stacey, Post anesthesia - RN, Hospital February 8, 2013 9:59 AM

I have wanted to be a nurse since I was small and totally see what u r talking about. I have been a nurse for one year and see such bitterness from staff everyday I work. Its sad to see that the most caring profession I always thought of can make them so cut throat because they dont feel treated fairly and hurt or hinder others in the process.

Bambi , Medsurg/ICU - RN February 7, 2013 8:55 AM

It is so sad, isn't it?  I became a nurse 4 years ago and feel this way already. Taken advantage of by the administration, getting the brunt of dissatisfaction from patients. Patients coming into the ED acting like nurses owe them. Nursing should be a respectful profession. Yes, there are the occasional grateful family members or patients that make your job worthy. But those are far and few between when the organization/administration you are working for treat you like a doormat. Have they forgotten what it's like as a staff nurse. The hospital I was working for after three years starting hiring new grads in at the new adjusted pay rate while not adjusting or raising the current employees hourly wage. Thus, I was making as a three year experienced ER nurse the same as new grads for more than 9 month. So no raises in now four years and weekend premium along with float staff nursing pay rates were decreased. I am wondering what next. Is this what I have to look forward to the rest of my career. When I left the ER 9 other employees followed me. My director said about one of his best friends who also left that we are all dismissible because there's a stack of applicants constantly on his desk who are waiting for an opportunity. Wow, is all I could say. All I really want to do is help people and feel good doing it with the support from the administration. A pat on the back once in awhile for a job week done ,and some pay raises theoughout years served would be great. So I've decided maybe travel nursing is the answer. Hospitals who need travel nurses treat you as an asset and are grateful to have you while compensating you for your time.

Alison, RN February 3, 2013 10:08 AM
Elkhart IN

Thank you Pat for all that you've done for nursing.  By writing this blog you continue to have an impact.  I too have experienced this shift in attitude/expectation in the hospital setting.  It sucks the life out of nurses.  I hope that as a profession we can begin to care for each other (in addition to our patients).  As a profession we have become over burdened by administration..."let's get nursing to do it...or...it's nursing's fault".  The burden is great.  I wish we could stand together as one voice, supporting each other.  Wishful thinking? I hope not, because I have 20 more years to go till retirement.  

Sarah, CTICU - RN February 2, 2013 10:33 AM

Thank you Pat for all your hard work over the years.  I was lucky enough to experience your advocacy first hand.  A good nursing supervisor can make all the difference when dealing with the hardship that has become hospital nursing.  When we wake up as a country and take the profit out of health care, maybe the job and it's environment will change.  Instead we are increasingly trying to turn a profit at the expense of the hospital staff.  However, that is not the only problem.  Lists every year show that the citizens trust and believe nurses over just about every profession.  However, more and more patients, and family members, arrive at the hospital with preconceived notions and initiate an adversarial relationship with the nursing staff.  It is very difficult to leave your family and go to a job to take care of others and their family members who study your every move as if your goal was to do them harm.  When this change started I cannot say, but it is definitely doing harm to current hospital nurses.  This country needs to wake up and provide nurses with better hours, working environments and resources, but also with respect.

Darlene, Labor and Delivery - RN February 1, 2013 6:47 AM

So sad but true, felt like I gave it my all, was the best patient advocate and advocate for all my hard working colleagues, I was accountable, honest and always hard working, yet when I retired I felt as though I never mattered, not one supervisor wished me well!

Toni January 31, 2013 9:36 AM

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About this Blog

    Pat Veitenthal, BSN, RN
    Occupation: Per diem nursing supervisor and cruise ship nurse
    Setting: Community hospital and cruise ships
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