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December 27, 2004

Docs adopt union tactics

Offline, Nurse Lebo and I were talking about unionization and nursing. NL says that nurses are hesitant to unionize because they fear that organizing will undercut their professional status. The worry is that unionization will perpetuate the myth that nursing is just a job or a trade, as opposed to a profession like medicine.

Interestingly, some doctors are adopting union tactics to advance their professional interests. [NYT]

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If nurses (and others) understood the type of politcal organization their bosses engaged in, and the lack of effect that had on their "professional status", perhaps they would be less hesitant to persue their own interests.

I agree with peBird... the reality is that nurses ARE highly trained, and may also be as skilled as devotion and experience can provide in a person- just like doctors.
The article, which discusses doctors attempting to thwart the malpractice racket by lessening awards rather than trying to reduce the stranglehold of insurance companies on healthcare, generally, is instructive. Obviously, the doctors see the Hand of Insurers as that which Feeds them- and so are loathe to bite. Patients (& their lawyers), and lawmakers appear more malleable. However, a couple of recent NPR stories throw some light on other aspects of physicians, and hospital managers; and give both a clue to ways of cherrypicking the system, and to ways of ameliorating malpractice settlements. Check out "Doctors Opening Small Specialty Hospitals" (from Morning Edition, Mon, December 13, 2004); and the most frequently requested transcript for Morning Edition, lately, which references a story about how apologies by MDs and hospitals have lessened the sizes of requested penalties in malpractice suits. Perhaps learning to say "I'm sorry" is a missing part of the med school curricula... just as nutrition studies were, not so long ago. ^..^

ps- Why is there the apparent onus attached to a 'trade' as opposed to a 'profession'? As one who has delivered babies (for free) as well as rebuilt carburetors (also gratis), it's a distinction that, I'd argue, means more in a "Personals" ad than it does in real life... I found Nurse Lebo's use of the iPod as an oracle quite charming, and efficient. (I'd have had to cast an I Ching, or play a hand of solitaire to get a similar affirmation- and the process would have robbed me of the lyrical beauty & instant gratification that can bring sharp indrawn breath, & moisture to the sinuses.) Nursing does, indeed, have its spiritual aspects... a calling of The Cloth, no? ^..^

Two words:

Airline pilots.

I haven't done either job, but I imagine a nurse faces more crises and makes more difficult decisions in a week than a $250K/yr 747 captain does in a career.

Go for it, nurses.

Guess the nurses already in unions didn't get the memo.

Minnesota: http://www.mnnurses.org/
(affiliated with the AFL-CIO)

United Nurses: http://www.nursingworld.org/uan/

I'm not sure how relevant this is, but I think in the U.S. nurses are right on the edge of being able to unionize. IIRC, depending on their specific job descriptions, some nurses are not eligible under U.S. labor law to unionize, because they exercise independent judgment and act in a supervisory capacity (roughly speaking, they are management).

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