Thursday, August 17, 2006

File under "WTF"

Medscape has an article that debunks an article from last year that says nurses shouldn't be paid well. The economist who did the study reasons, poorly, that if nurses receive low pay they'll do the job out of love and vocation and consequently the quality of nursing will stay high.

Medscape does a good job of showing why this is complete bunk. The first good point they make is that nursing is not just about caring for people, but is also a skilled profession. Think about this:could you imagine asking a doctor to take less pay to keep his motives for becoming a doctor pure? Why stop with healthcare? Can't this economist think of any other professions that shouldn't be motivated by (gasp) a paycheck? How about clergy? Not your average clergy, like my best friend's dad. I know he's not doing it for the money. I'm talking about those Tammy Faye/Jim Bakker types. Or how about keeping the pay down for lawyers? Surely they're not in it for the money? Or teachers? Or police?

One group of professionals that definetly needs a paycut are politicians. You want to be president? Fine, but you're going to make minimum wage. And only work 35 hours a week, so my tax dollars don't have to pay for your healthcare.

For me, what this study is really about is how nursing still labors under a stereotype. (Medscape also makes this point). Because the field is still dominated by women, people don't take it seriously. I remember working at a hospital where they wanted to cut back on our health benefits. A lot of the married women were like, "why should I care? I have my husbands policy to fall back on. " Forget all of us who weren't married and depended on our benefits. The point is that we deserve to get paid what we're worth(and that includes good benefits-how can a hospital rationalize bad health benefits?) We're not caretakers, we're health care professionals.

Also check out Medscapes article about nursing salaries around the country. I know it talks about the cost of living and how it varies to justify why nurses get paid so little in some parts of the country. I realize that a $400,000 house in my neck of the woods might be half that somewhere else. And car insurance is high here, too. But the price of a car is the same no matter where you go. Groceries aren't any cheaper in the South, neither are clothes. So why are some nurses still making $16 dollars an hour? It boggles my mind.

I'm all for the office of the national nurse, but I also think it's time for a national nurse's union.


Robin said...

It just goes to the point that monetary compensation often is not in balance with the value of the work done. Really now, does what highly-paid investment bankers do really compare with what nurses do? For God's sake, they take money, and make it into more money! A nice trick, I grant you, but nothing like saving lives, caring for people, and generally improving the quality of life for countless people.

Ugh. Rant officially over now.

unsinkablemb said...