Registered Nurse Mary Beth Muckian
Nurses have been long overdue for better salaries and the accommodation of on-site overnight on-call rooms.
Hospitals generate billions of dollars in revenue annually. Hospital CEOs receive salaries that range from $1 million 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 such a high salary?
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 CEOs find it within themselves 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. The work is stressful both physically and mentally. Staffing and scheduling challenges plague the profession.
Hospitals need to make improvements to the poor work environment that often leads to 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 to nurses.
This means incentives such as increases in salaries and providing on-site nurse on-call rooms. If hospitals want to retain the 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, and Vermont, sometimes working 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.
Additionally, many nurses resign due to costly parking fees and commuting long hours for their 12-hour shifts. Many new, younger nurses have mounds of student loan debt and are unable to afford hotel prices for necessary overnight stays due to long commutes. Instead, they sometimes sleep overnight in their cars to make the next grueling, early morning, 12-hour shift.
Hospitals have always provided residents and MDs overnight on-call rooms within the hospital, and rightly so, given their busy schedules and overnight duties.
However, nurses are not provided with these accommodations. If anything proved there is a need for this it was the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to meet the needs of nurses who work unexpected double- and triple-shifts, hospitals should generously compensate them and provide them with safe, on-site overnight on-call rooms within the hospital at no cost.
Nurses are the lifeblood of any hospital. MDs and nurses work hand-in-hand and hospitals cannot function effectively without both.
Therefore, hospital CEOs should be making efforts to support bedside nurses with what is required for them 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 a highly-skilled workforce.
Nurses do not need more pizza or “cookie appreciation days.” 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 CEOs, how about “sharing the wealth” to support bedside nurses?
Marblehead resident 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. Over the course of her nursing career, she has worked in the areas of bedside nursing, nursing research, and occupational health nursing.