When I received the clinical sites available from NESA the other day I was suddenly struck with this image of a nurse leaving a hospital and reaching back to the light switch and slowly turning the switch to the off position. Why this image popped into my head I am not sure. But I think it has to do with the lack of clinical sites available for Licensed Practical Nurses.
We seem to be seeing the tide turn in how organizations approach the nursing shortage, but it is more like rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic than trying to right the ship. The discrimination of the LPN is disturbing. Yet, this behavior is not new. A few years ago they closed my hospital and I was left without a job. I soon went to work for a facility that laid off all their Licensed Practical Nurses. (This must have been the time we had too many nurses). It left me, the only RN on the floor with a small staff of unlicensed personnel. So, that’s why I am in teaching!
Not only am I a Nursing Instructor, I run a school of Practical Nursing. If you have never read Bree LeMaire, MS, RN on holistic healing, you should. During a recent interview she stated "I see nursing as an endangered species trying to survive in a toxic environment. To resolve the nursing shortage, we are trying to recruit more people into the profession. Yet, it makes no sense to bring more numbers to an environment that is so toxic it cannot support them."
We must change our ways! My LPN students are told on a daily basis by the administration of many clinical facilities, and some hospital staff, that they are second hand, not good enough, not wanted. They are often held to different standards for students. Their education is not validated by many RN nursing programs. And yet they persevere! They have more skill based education given in one year that any group of students I have ever seen. And yet, the community they live and work in doesn’t support their educational efforts.
I can not for the life of me understand why hospital administrators can’t see the importance of having on staff a Licensed Nurse working while they continue there theoretical based education as a RN. "If you want more butterflies, you build more gardens and if you want more nurses, you have to create an environment that facilitates wholeness and healing." Our community needs to support these students, and I applaud the facilities that open the doors of their hospitals and allow the pursuit of the LPN education.
Nancy Allen, RN,BSN, CRRN, MEd
Director of Nursing DeMarge College