Empowering Nurses at the Bedside and in Business

Walk In My Shoes Before Putting Your Foot In Your Mouth

On April 18, 2019, Maureen Walsh, a senator in the Washington state legislature, stuck her foot in her mouth.  No, not literally but figuratively.

Not since comedian and TV host Joy Behar said to a nurse wearing a stethoscope, “What is that thingy around your neck?” has such a gaffe on our profession been made publicly.

When arguing about legislation requiring mandatory uninterrupted breaks and meals for nurses, Senator Walsh told the legislature, “Nurses are probably playing cards at work all day.”  She was referring to critical access hospitals which are small rural facilities where acutely ill patients can get treatment and stabilized before they can be transferred to a major medical center.  Those include patients with acute myocardial infarctions and strokes who get treatment who might not survive the long ride to a more distant major medical center.

The government has subsidized each hospital by providing them with an additional reimbursement.  These small hospitals have only about 25 or fewer acute inpatient beds and their censuses fluctuate greatly, are located more than 35 miles from another hospital, maintain an annual average length of stay of 96 hours or less for acute care patients, and provide 24/7 emergency care servicesNurses in these facilities do everything.  They are the so-called chief cook and bottlewasher

They are NOT sitting around playing cards.

Walsh’s statement spurred a strong reaction from not only nurses, but the public itself.  The children of the Senator have even been threatened. Did I mention Senator Walsh’s own mother is a nurse?! Over 700,000 people nationwide have signed a petition calling for her to shadow a nurse during a 12-hour shift.  Another petition asked for her resignation.

She has since apologized and blamed her statement on the fact that she was tired from the long legislative session.  Ironic isn’t it that she is tired?  Try working a 12-hour shift! 

I encourage us to look at things differently.  Rather than calling for this politician’s resignation, let’s get her educated.  Her first step, no pun intended, was to agree to shadow a nurse during a 12-hour shift to, as they say, “walk a mile” in the shoes of a nurse.

This is a great suggestion.  I think the public is wholly uninformed of what nurses actually do.  I believe the more people we can educate, especially elected officials, to see what nurses do on a daily basis will greatly enhance our profession.

I encourage all of you to reach out to your legislators to invite them to spend the day with you on your unit.  Maybe then they’ll see how many times you can play cards, go to the restroom or even get to take a drink of water.

What are your thoughts on this?  Leave me your comments and opinions below.

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