DARE TO ASK: Nursing not a hot career choice today
By PHILLIP MILANO, The Times-Union
Why are young adults not seeking the nursing profession?
Joanne, 52, Utah
Because my mother has been an RN for more than 20 years and I've seen all the
crap she has to put up with.
E., 26, Alabama
Your patients are mad at doctors, insurance companies, etc.; we catch the
fallout. I've been a nurse 291/2 long years. . . . I'm not burned out, I'm
Dwanny, 51, Texas
You are wrong. Young adults are all over the nursing field. Young Asian
adults, that is.
Ron, 60, Stockton, Calif.
I'm not compassionate enough for a nursing career.
Dana, 34, Pittsburgh
I am married to a nurse. How many people think the following: I want a job
where I can count on working nights until someone on day shift dies; where
doctors can complain about me because they're having a bad day and I paged them
because their patient is dying; where physicians can be dead wrong in their
assessment of a patient, but I'll get in trouble for questioning their decision.
And wouldn't it be cool to put my livelihood and patients' lives on the line by
working 40 hours a week, then another 24 of mandatory overtime?
John, Fayetteville, N.C.
There are so many more options for careers that pay more and get more
BronzeTrophy, 24, Alabama
I am a new nurse. One reason we don't have more is that nurses "eat their
young." Older nurses are unsupportive and arrogant toward new nurses.
GreenNurse, 26, Alabama
Registered nurses make an average $59,730 a year, according to the U.S.
Department of Labor's latest wage survey. That's less than an elevator installer
($61,930) or an accountant ($60,670) but more than an elementary school teacher
($48,700) or newspaper reporter ($41,900).
(We will now help confused callers with those always infuriating elevator
installation instructions - at 3 percent off the standard rate!)
Some argue that nurses are underpaid relative to the hard work they do, but
that doesn't fully explain the chronic shortage of thousands of nurses in the
U.S., said physician Ronald W. Dworkin, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute
who's written at length about the crisis.
"Nursing has lost its sense of self. It was a profession with virtues such as
caring and kindness. That is now considered archaic."
Nursing evolved into a strictly knowledge-based profession, and managed-care
companies now see the loving, caring aspect as unimportant; what they seek is
efficiency - covering five patients instead of two, he said.
"Nurses feel cheated because they can't care for patients," Dworkin said.
"There's nothing to make her special. You become a grunt who works hard but
feels as if you have no distinctive identity - you're just another provider,
like orderlies or maintenance people."
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers. Send general
column comments to phillip. firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also hear his
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