Letters to the Editor

Attention Hospital CEO’s: Please ‘Share the Wealth’ to Support Bedside Nurses…

Dear Editor,

Nurses have been long overdue for better salaries and the accommodation of on-site call rooms. Hospitals generate billions of dollars in revenue annually.  Hospital CEO’s receive salaries that range from $1 to $7 million annually. Is sitting in an executive suite of a hospital behind a mahogany desk, floors away from the frenetic patient care taking place 24/7 really worth a salary of $1 to $7 million dollars per year?  How much would a safe on-site overnight suite for nurses including beds and shower facilities cost? Could those million-dollar CEO salaries instead go toward significantly increasing bedside nursing salaries? Could hospital CEO’s find it in them to “share the wealth“ to improve the working conditions and life of the bedside nurse?

Nurses are leaving bedside nursing in hospitals at alarming rates. Bedside nursing work is stressful both physically and mentally. Staffing and scheduling challenges plague the nursing profession.

Hospitals need to make improvements to the poor work environment that often leads to nursing burnout and turnover. Due to continual understaffing, nurses feel like they are constantly on call, even if they are not.  In order to attract more nurses to working in hospital settings, hospital environments are going to have to become more attractive for nurses. This means incentives such as increase in salaries and providing on-site nurse call rooms. If hospitals want to recruit and retain the nursing workforce needed to provide optimal patient care, they must offer nurses more than a pat on the back and the occasional 10 boxes of pizza lunches.

Many nurses travel to large Boston hospitals from Cape Cod, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and they sometimes work double and triple shifts.  Nurses often resign from their positions at hospitals for a variety of reasons such as understaffing, stressful conditions and lousy pay scales.  However, many nurses resign due to costly parking fees and commuting long hours for their 12 hour shifts. Many younger new nurses have mounds of student loan debt and are unable to afford hotels for overnite stays due to a long commute. They instead, sometimes sleep overnight in their cars in order to make the next early morning 12 hour grueling shift. 

Hospitals have always provided residents and MD’s overnight on call rooms within the hospital, rightly so, given their busy schedules and overnight on call duties. However, nurses are not provided with safe, overnight on-call rooms within hospitals. If anything proved there is a need for this it was the COVID pandemic.  In order to recruit, retain and accommodate nurses for unexpected double and triple shifts, they should be generously compensated and be provided with safe, on-site overnite nursing call rooms within the hospital at no cost. 

Nurses are the lifeblood of any hospital. MD’s and nurses work hand and hand and hospitals cannot function effectively without both.  Therefore, hospital CEO’s should be making efforts to support the bedside nurse with what they need and deserve to perform their jobs well. Providing a significant increase in salary and on call overnight accommodations would help in the short term and long term to recruit and retain highly skilled nurses.  Nurses do not need more pizza or “Cookie Appreciation Days” in appreciation for their work.  Bedside nurses need and deserve to be paid well for the backbreaking, exhausting, physical, mental and emotional work they perform on a daily basis. So hospital CEO’s, how about “sharing the wealth” to support bedside nurses?

Mary Beth Muckian, BSN, RN is a graduate of Boston College and Regis College. She has been a nurse for 17 years  and currently works as a Utilization Review Manager. She has worked over her nursing career in the areas of bedside nursing,  Nursing Research and Occupational Health Nursing.

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