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NYC Nurses Don’t Get Paid to be Nice
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NYC Nurses Don’t Get Paid to be Nice


Nursing care affects a patient’s experience more than any other factor during a hospital stay and negative patient satisfaction surveys are affecting hospitals financially (see my previous post regarding HCAHPS).  Because government financial incentives are being linked to survey scores, hospitals are asking nurses to bulk up their customer service skills and deliver care with a smile.

However, it is not written in the official job description that nurses have to be friendly toward patients and disciplinary action cannot be taken against nurses who don’t smile.  A nurse’s job is to keep patients safe—not necessarily happy.

Furthermore, starting pay rates in most New York City hospitals are not based on an applicant’s potential for giving smiles and there are no raises awarded for friendly care.  Nursing union (1199SEIU) and association (NYSNA) delegates pre-determine the starting pay for all new-hires based on years in the union/association and/or years as a registered nurse.  Friendly, happy, patient-oriented nurses do not get paid more than burned out, angry, task-oriented nurses.

Yet smiling, friendly nurses are correlated with high patient satisfaction scores which ultimately result in financial gain for hospitals.  Unfortunately, the nurses who are responsible for those high scores don’t reap the rewards.  Nurses do not have any vested interest in the institutions that they work and don’t get shares in the business or financial bonuses when the company does well.

Nurses in New York City don’t have a whole lot to smile about when they are overwhelmed by increasingly high patient loads and dangerous staffing levels.    The hospital environment is often negative and chaotic with sick, confused and angry patients, scared family members, frustrated doctors, and unsupportive administration all counting on nurses to fix their problems.

The hospital’s expectation for staff to smile and be extra helpful will cause a backlash among nurses in the City.  Union and association members will file grievances and demand increased pay for increased responsibilities.  I support the hard working nurses of New York City in this endeavor as I would like very much to be paid for something that I have been doing all along for free.

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  • Avatar Helen Temple says:

    Great post

    • Avatar Nurse Gail says:

      Thank you Helen. I am very sensitive to NYC nurses and how much is demanded of them. I appreciate the comment!

  • Avatar Joseph Garcia says:

    Nurses are responsible for patient satisfaction and promoting a sense of being cared for and safe for our patients. “It isn’t in my Job Description to be nice or smile or work to make my patient satisfied with the service and care I provide,” is a comment I would expect from someone in junior high school. I did not get my ADN, BSN, MSN, and national certifications to provide lack luster and half-assed care. Nursing is hard work and we many times we lose nurses not because of hard work, but because so many of us spend more time bitching instead of working as a team. I am sick of the NNOC and other groups who support nurses who leave patient laying in feces and are incompetent in meeting the needs of those we serve. I have seen many Directors and Leaders work to get top performers higher pay. Why should we pay those who sit on their butts to achieve the same pay rate as top performers and those who care work hard to promote the image of our profession.

  • Avatar Joseph Garcia says:

    The fact that the title of this article pops up on other sites is embarrassing to nursing and takes away from the hard work and true compassion many nurses provide to those who cannot care for themselves. If you want to improve working conditions, prove your worth and stop whining. Improve patient satisfaction rates, decrease hospital acquired conditions, join your professional organization, participate in government, and stop feeling entitled. Nurses have got to get out of the mindset, “I should make 100K with my Associate Degree”, and move up to the level of other health care professionals. Instead we are expecting the federal government to pay 19% of the GNP/GDP for substandard care. We have to take ownership of our profession. The NNOC and other Union Organizations prefer we give them part of our wages and allow 50% of the crew or more to sit on their backside all day. God forbid you go above and beyond in their presence. This article is extremely disturbing. Keep paying those collective bargaining agents NY nurses. Look at what it is getting you. Nothing. And on top of that, no ability to negotiate when you are the one satisfying your patients and doing what is right and for the right reasons,

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