I started working as a nurse in 1979. At the time, it was a fairly good job. The pay was about equal with other blue collar jobs, like factory work and construction.
Then the attack on unions started, and out-sourcing blue-collar jobs began. In the meantime, medical care became big business.
So, now we have nursing paying more than other blue collar jobs, what there are left of them.
What is to be done?
For a few years now, there has been a concerted effort to get more young people educated as nurses. Articles in the corporate media, "news reports" on TV, advertisements everywhere, even Jon Stewart had a segment on the "need for nurses".
And, as we've been flooded with eager new nurses, ready to work for almost half our pay, we older nurses have been increasingly threatened with being fired. My old supervisor told me that she was under a lot of pressure from her immediate boss to get rid of her experienced nurses and hire new grads. She was resistant, arguing that an ER should be run by people who know what they're doing, but they made her life so miserable that she quit.
Now we are told that the new "health care" Act calls for cuts in Medicare to hospitals which don't perform up to standards.
Well, who could be against that? It's like children not learning in school. Surely we want good health care, just like we want our children educated.
How's that No Child Left Behind thing working out for you? Is all our children learning now? (As Bush would say).
That's what is coming with hospital care. They are going to base Medicare pay, on which most hospitals depend, on core measures.
Some of them are worthwhile, like making sure that heart attack victims get aspirin promptly, and making sure that people with pneumonia get antibiotics.
But there also is a Press Ganey part. There is a corporation that mails out cards to patients and asks them to rate their care on a 1-5 scale. Then they grade the hospitals on a curve, based on the responses.
So, just like schools are continually expected to improve their scores ( a mathematical impossibility), hospitals which fall below others will have their funds cut off.
And hospitals can turn around and blame their nursing staff for the problem, laying off whomever they choose. (Hmmm, I wonder who that will be?)
More and more hospitals will close, lowering the cost of medical care, since more and more people will go without.
And nursing wages will be forced down to every other blue collar worker's wages, just a couple of decades after the rest.