In perhaps one of the most demeaning statements on the nursing profession since Joy Behar’s 2015 “doctor’s stethoscope” comments on The View, Washington State Senator Maureen Walsh proclaimed on the Senate floor that Critical Access Hospital nurses should be exempt from protections in mandatory overtime because they sit around and play cards most of the day:
Ignoring for a moment the incredibly disrespectful and patronizing nature of Sen. Walsh’s remarks, it’s evident that she misunderstands the purpose and function of the bill. Mandatory overtime isn’t just an abhorrent employer practice: it’s also a terrible patient care practice.
Study after study show that unplanned overtime assignments have a high potential to be unsafe. Working more than 10 hours in a given day, when unplanned, results in lower quality of care, higher RN burnout, decreased patient satisfaction, and increased errors.
That’s why, ultimately, there is zero logic behind an amendment to the rest breaks bill that would cover nurses and patients in some hospitals, while leaving others without any protections. There’s a reason it’s so hard to recruit nurses to rural facilities – exempting them from laws requiring uninterrupted breaks and subjecting them to mandatory overtime would just make it worse.
No, Senator, nurses are not sitting around playing cards. They are taking care of your neighbors, your family, your community. And they do read the research: mandatory overtime is bad for patient care and it’s bad for your rural hospitals. With all due respect, Sen. Walsh: perhaps it’s time for you to put down the cards and pick up the literature.
If you’re a nurse who doesn’t play cards for a considerable amount of the day, you can email your legislator about this issue here: https://p2a.co/EDv6Ikt.