A lesson in nursing administration (from Exodus?)

Slaves in Egypt

Today I was reading in Exodus some of the first responses of the people of Israel to the attempts by their Egyptian oppressor, Pharaoh, to keep them in Egypt. When they asked for 3 days to perform sacrifices to God in the desert, Pharoah responded, “You must not be busy enough that you have time to plan sacrifices to your God!” so he ordered them to make the same quota of bricks as before only now he would not supply them straw. They had to find the straw themselves. Not surprisingly, the Israelites could no longer meet their production quotas because they had to spend a considerable amount of time gathering the straw that had previously been provided for the manufacturing of the bricks. Because they could not meet their quota, the Israelite foremen began to be whipped brutally by their Egyptian slave drivers. At that point the Israelite foremen went to Pharoah to complain of the rough treatment they were receiving. What Pharoah responded helped me see a situation that I am experiencing in my own life very clearly. Pharoah said, “You are lazy! Get back to work!” The Israelite foremen could see that they were in serious trouble.

Charting is a big part of a nurse's job

I am a nurse working in a hospital. Resources are scarce and credible reimbursement for services is all but non-existent, consequently, the hospital is in financial crisis. Hospital administrators have set as a goal the elimination of 100 full-time staff members. They are trying to do it by attrition to avert lay-offs so they don’t have to play unemployment. I am caring for half again as many patients as I had cared for 2 years ago and they have taken away my ancillary staff. Most evenings I have either no unit secretary or nursing assistant. Some nights I have neither one. I rarely get a break of any kind and I eat on the run, trying not to talk on the phone with food in my mouth. When I am in the newborn nursery, I, also, cannot relieve myself as there is no bathroom in the nursery. I have to meet competency and continuing education credits, but I have been told that if I am doing them during patient care time I am not busy enough and that means the  nurse:patient ratio must be too low.

One of the nursing supervisors has become so frustrated with staff not being what she thinks they should be or doing what she thinks they should do that she has caused them bodily harm on three separate occasions (grabbing one, pushing another into a wall and ramming a door into another). A group of us went to the Director of Nursing about all this. I can see now why nothing has changed. You can not get a list of grievances resolved if the one you’re grieving to is the same one who ordered the treatment you are grieving.

So…now what? At the end of Exodus 5 Moses complains to God that things were worse than before since he had spoken to Pharaoh. I, too, complain that there is nowhere to go if senior administrators in the hospital stand behind the irregularities happening in my department. My answer is the same answer that God gave Moses in Exodus 6:1 “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh!”

Leaving it in the Lord’s hands,



5 comments on “A lesson in nursing administration (from Exodus?)

  1. What a dilemma… and I pray that God will do for you what He was able to do for the Israelites. I enjoyed your blog and I hope to visit again soon. Maybe some day we can chat a bit… here or email, etc….

  2. I hope that I am doing this correctly!
    Good for you, Dawn! Your comparison is beautifully written. I am sad that it is so, but it is well done. I guess that I truly do have to be very thankful that the Lord pulled me out of there before it made me completely insane or completely debilitated with a physical ailment. I will be praying for you!

  3. I’m going to share this with some other nurses I know – you guys do all the work – and well – someone else gets the glory. Your comparison – really good.

    God Bless you for your faith – and what you do – total respect for both!
    God Bless you and all of yours

  4. Wow, Dawn. It’s been years and years since I worked on a hospital floor. I remember being short staffed then as a fresh grad, charge nurse on 3-11 in ICU. It was more than I could handle then. The nurses went on strike shortly after I quit.

    It’s so hard to deliver compassionate care in situations like you are in. And dangerous when the caretakers aren’t cared for. I love how you’ve seen the situation deeply through the scripture and pray, too, that God will come to the rescue. And soon.

    • Dear Sandra,

      It has been almost 3 months since I posted that piece on nursing. The situation hasn’t gotten better, but we staff members have gotten closer and survive because we are taking care of one another. It reminds me a bit of when I was in nursing school and we had to huddle together to survive the rigor of the coursework and clinicals. I was going to use the example of prisoners in a POW camp, but we haven’t gotten there yet. Thank you for leaving a comment. I always like to hear from one whose been there.

      God’s rich blessings on you today,

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