2016 – The Year of the Nurse

By January 3, 2016Nursing

Nurses got a ton of publicity in September 2015  because of the silly cast of a talk show.  Then 700k people clustered here to hang out and be nurses together. And now it is time to do something with that momentum.  And then there were arguments. And practice disagreements, and general ridiculousness.  The holidays are over, ladies and gentlemen. Argue on your own time.

Time to get to work.nursework

You already know that we can get things done if we do them together.  We adopted thirty christmas families, and kept a nursing student from being evicted.  We helped hashtag a little girl all the way to meeting Taylor Swift. We have work to do for OURSELVES.  We must advocate for Nurses to keep our patients safe.  No one is going to do this but us. It benefits no one but our patients for us to hold hospital organizations accountable for our staffing levels. Naturally, the general public has absolutely no idea about that.  When you don’t answer the call light immediately they figure you are filing your nails.  I have worked places where telling the patients you are understaffed is a firing offense.  I know a nurse who was fired for saying her department was understaffed on social media. What does that tell you? 

Perhaps your employer is not interested in safe staffing? Maybe they are only interested in their bottom line, their reputation with the community, and whether JCAHO notices that they are operating at a dangerous level. As long as you manage to barely get your patients taken care of and hit all of the core measures, they are safe. They do not give a single damn if you go to the bathroom, eat, or take a moment to sit.  They may demand that you clock out to finish charting, or threaten to write you up if you are ‘unable to manage your time effectively’ and continue charting on the clock.

And also, when you are understaffed and one of your patients dies, I hopesafe staffing you have personal liability insurance because they would much rather blame you, and not take the responsibility for unsafely staffing their facility.  I am sure the CEO won’t be able to hear the court case while he is in his vault counting his 3 million dollar salary.

Do I sound bitter?

Sorry about that. 

We have two jobs this year, in my estimation.

  1.  Educating the public about what nurses actually do.  We can do career days, SNA meetings, University events, and the million opportunities to educate that you will think of.
  2. We have to get started on the individual states to assess and change their policies toward safe staffing.  LONG TERM CARE is a huge issue.  If we cannot get it done at the state level, we are going to have to approach the federal government.  Perhaps Medicare would like to reduce reimbursement based on safe staffing rather than patient satisfaction?  I would bet the outcomes would be better.


Make this the year we changed healthcare.  The year we made our patients safe, and the year we educated the public about nursing.

Will you commit to advancing your profession this year?






Also…..this is a link to some Safe Staffing Swag I made.





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Author Janie Garner

More posts by Janie Garner

Join the discussion 17 Comments

  • As always, excellent blog Janie. I am committed to doing my part. As President of my college’s SNA, I would love to have seasoned nurses come talk to us about safe staffing issues. I would also be prepared to lead the students from my college to the state (Florida) capitol in May to add our voices to those being expressed at the federal level.

    I am of the syrong opinion

  • lisanem57 says:

    I agree safe staffing is imperative, just not convinced we need state and federal government involvement. In an ideal world, nurses as a profession, should have the autonomy to regulate themselves on many different issues. Safe staffing, dangerous nursing environments, etc should also be regulated and monitored by the profession. Unfortunately it is not an ideal world. Since becoming a member of SMYS, a whole new nursing world has become available to me, successes and challenges. I applaud and support SMYS’s intent to not only develop safe staffing plans for nurses but would also like included support for nurses to refuse an unsafe situation without punitive retribution and also include educating managers to ensure that staffing is safe. It is impossible to anticipate every eventuality, but hopefully with strong and caring managers along with flexible staffing ratios and nurses educated and supported to advocate for themselves this issue may not be as critical as it is today.

    • janiegarner says:

      And this is the whole idea. To allow a stable platform from which nurses can advocate for themselves. They have to fix staffing levels if we are protected by law if we refuse to take unsafe assignments.

  • Karla Mees says:

    I love this blog! You mentioned educating people about what nurses do–in addition to SNA, Universities, etc., I think we need to get the information out to the general public–maybe newspaper articles, public service announcements, etc.

  • Jerri Butler says:

    I am in safe staffing is a major issue and Long Term Care you betcha there is a LOT of room for improvement. Part of the issue in LTC is the residents are getting younger and larger the aquity of care is much higher partly because of shorter hospital stays LETS DO THIS !!!

  • Let’s go with this! Yes, 2016 is the Year of the Nurse!

    As you know, I’m a strong proponent of instituting a federal nurse-to-patient ratios law. It would be great if this could be done at the state level, but I don’t foresee that happening, especially in red states like mine.

    We are planning a national rally for nurse-to-patient ratios in DC on May 12, 2016. We will have a petition drive in conjunction with the rally.

    This is the FB group for those who are planning to attend the rally:


  • Excellent blog and a great starting position for SMYS. Staffing levels have become a serious issue for patients, for nurses, and for employers. I absolutely believe that there are hospital and nursing facility CEOs and COOs that are more concerned with the bottom line than they are about patient safety and nurse burn-out. I also believe that unsafe staffing level is a top priority that needs to be addressed. Nursing as a profession should be at the forefront of this battle. However, I believe that we should explore all aspects of the problem before just charging in. Public education is an excellent starting point. Our customers need to know what we do and how we struggle with keeping them safe. But please be careful where we place the blame. I have been a nurse manager in long term care for many years. I am well aware that staffing levels in hospitals and nursing homes has become dangerous. But it is not always because management does not care. There are simply not enough nurses or nurse aides to hire. I, as well as most other nurse managers I know, work countless hours and shifts (often without pay because we are salaried) to cover the floor because we do not have adequate staff on the payroll and no pool of nurses/aides to hire from. I want to be a part of the solution and will gladly join SMYS in doing whatever is needed to fix the problem of low staffing levels. But, I believe that growing our pool of nurse/aide candidates is an essential step to the solution.

  • Twila says:

    Thanks again Janie for all you do. I’m in California, maybe you can study what happened here.

    I’m an NP so I don’t really know all the ends and outs.

    I would love to help with a speakers bureau.

  • My apologies, Janie. Here is the correct link to the national rally for safe nurse/patient ratios. The other link was to the event page itself.


  • This was shared by GuerrillaNurse on Facebook and I wholeheartedly agree that staffing is the paramount issue we should tackle, this year.

    We need to get legislation passed. I disagree with some that say this does not require legislation. It absolutely does. I am in California, so far the only state with mandated nurse to patient ratios. We have had ratios since 2004 (a year after I graduated) and they went into full effect in 2009. ICU is 1:2, stepdown 1:3, tele1:4, med-surg 1:5.

    There is one bill in the Senate -The National Nursing Shortage Reform and Patient Advocacy Act – S. 864 (Boxer) (https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/senate-bill/739/text). There is another in the House – The Safe Nurse Staffing for Patient Safety and Quality Care Act – HR 1602 (Schakowsky) (https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1602/text).

    I encourage anyone reading this blog to read the bills and start a conversation with your representatives in the House and Senate. They work for you.

  • Kristyn McDade says:

    What can I do to get involved? I face the possibility of getting fired every day over the looming threat of unsafe patient loads that I have already determined I will refuse. It is current practice on my floor to take 6 patients. We are a 36 bed Tele unit taking primarily 2nd day post op CABGs and post op pacemakers and heart caths. They’ve recently begun making night shift take 7 or more patients and frequently having only two nurses on shift. This is on top of rarely having a tech, and the hospital got rid of all phlebotomists a while ago and now the nurses do all lab draws. Our current caseload is already unsafe and yet they continually try to load us with more. I will lose my job before I lose my license, but that will mean great financial difficulty for my family. So again, how can I get involved? This has to change!

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