“Where are the Nurses? Who Cares?…Really.”

To the President of the United States from the YogaNurse:

Dear Mr. President,

May I be so bold to tell you in my not-so humble opinion the answer to your question, “Where are the nurses?”  Elementary dear Watson.  Nobody wants the job.  Why not? because … “This Job is Killing Me.

As an advocate for nurses, I currently teach meditation, natural stress relief techniques and medical yoga to nurses and nursing organizations through out the country to help them with morale and wellness on the job.  Shockingly, I often hear nurses say these exact words to me: “This job is killing me and I’d kill to get off the floor.” It shocked me because I too said those very words at times in my nursing career, but never out loud, and only to myself.  These words are engraved in my psyche as the global lament of way too many nurses.  Never mind what country, color, religion or background of the nurse, (I have worked in Canada and the USA) it is the same story and not a pretty one.

Why is this job killing me? There are endless reasons why nurses are “dying” from their work and why the job is literally making them sick.  Just a few examples that you can surely relate to: Insufficient staffing, overwork, impossibly long shifts, endless charting, little time for patient care, working with inexperienced nurses, burnt out nurses, slackers, disrespect, conflicts between nurses, nurses and doctors, managers, management, lawsuits and liability, being abused by patients i.e. hitting, biting, scratching, punching, yelling, poor health issues, obesity because the only reward is eating…that is, if you get the chance on any given shift, accusations of improper care, etc. etc. etc… (Your turn, fill in the blanks____. _____. _____.). Enough already, you get the idea.

Question: Why is there insufficient staffing?

Answer: Because nobody wants the job!  Why?  Because the truth is that nursing is one of the world’s hardest jobs.

Regarding the lament of insufficient staffing and improper care, there are multiple reasons.  When I worked nights on the floor of the PCU, one or more nurses called in sick almost every shift.  Naturally, we were working with a skeleton crew.  What else is new? Quite frankly, it’s a miracle that there isn’t MORE that goes wrong on any given shift.  It is by the grace of GOD/ESS, spirit, angels that we nurses and our patients are carried to safety the vast majority of the time.  I work with nurses who have been showing up for 12 -13 hour shifts for 25-30 years!   Many are on multiple medications for blood pressure, cholesterol, depression, anxiety and–and–and–they do an excellent job!  I was fortunate to work with a brilliant staff that provided excellent care, as I am sure you do as well. Yet even with this, there are some who are just plain burnt out, and show up because they have no other choice but to pay the bills.  The bottom line: INSUFFICIENT STAFFING = INSUFFICIENT CARE = BURN OUT = NURSING SHORTAGE.

Who Cares? Nobody. Really. Except for Donna Karan that is of Urban Zen and yeah the fashion diva. Bless your big ole’ heart Donna for your landmark self-care raising consciousness initiatives to the curriculum for young nurses attending the huge nursing program at Kent State U. Everybody else?’ they‘ pretend to care and make weak little stabs at improving the nursing  world. no, no body cares about nurses, not really. Did I mention this already? not even other nurses, or nursing organizations really care.  Why is this.  In the Yoga Nurse’s  not-so humble opinion, it ‘is because  many nurses suffer from terrible low self-esteem.   NOT the nurses who are in administration or nurse practitioners or nurse anesthetists or nurse educators but the rest of the nurses, the majority of them who work in the front lines. In the ER and OR and the heavy duty surgical and medical floors that are the heart of the health care  system in hospitals.  then there are the pediatric and maternal child nurses who are working it big time, the critical care nurses, the cardiac nurses, the cancer nurses, dialysis nurses, hospice, i could go on and on and forgive me nurses if i left your specialty out. Oh and DO leave a comment here if you care 🙂 for carings’ sake! Nurses also suffer from PTSD, caregiver- compassion fatigue.

Nurses are the servants, slaves of the health care system and could bring it down, literally cripple it.  OPRAH!!!! When are you going to do a tribute to nurses show huh???? Everyone is going to be taken care of by a nurse sooner or later, you could say we wipe your asses coming in and going out of this life. And we do it happily 🙂  We are witnesses to your suffering and often the only one there to care and hold your hand  and we do it from the heart.

Fabulous Nurses are voted year after year the most TRUSTED PROFESSION by the gallop poles. My life work is to inspire and empower nurses to find their power, to be bold, courageous, outrageous and stand tall and have the balls to unite and advocate for safe patient care.  How by better staffing, meaning a greater nurse to patient ratio. It is really the major issue.  Then nurses will not be burnt and burnt out and dying and dying out and dropping out of nursing like flys even when they are mere new grads.

I bow to all nurses, i prostate to them the ones who have been on the front for 30 years, 20 years, 10 , 5 or even one year.  it is a calling for sure. i honor you and your wisdom.

So dear President Obama, this is my YogaNursing take on where the nurses are and are not!  i know you have your heart in helping health care. nurses are the pearls but they have been over-looked and over-loaded for tooooo long.  somethings got to give.  God and Goddess and the great Holy spirit bless America.  Wake up call ya’all!   Oh and I do have some solutions, Yoga Nursing  which combines modern nursing science with the benefits of ancient yoga  science is my way to rock and soothe and heal our ailing health care system. Donna let’s talk.  Blissings.

Annette Tersigni RN— the Yoga Nurse™ is an author, speaker, healer, trainer, and author of the #1 inspirational best seller, “The Richest Woman In Babylon And Manhattan”, Golden Wealth Care + Self Care to replenish your purse and your soul.

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  1. Hi Annette,
    I’ve been a nurse for 44 yrs, still working but could not possibly do what I see floor nurses do every day. I’m a hospice nurse based at Forsyth Med Cntr in Winston-Salem so see what they do. I also see what our case managers do in the home ’cause I did that for 5 yrs til the body just couldn’t handle it any more. Self-Inquiry is what keeps me going, and spending time at AHAM.
    Namaste, Anna

    1. dearest anna,
      thank you for caring AND sharing. yes inquiry…the end of pain and suffering. AHHHHAM is also my sanghaaaah. blissings!

  2. Thank you my darling for the impassioned letter to the “Commander and Chief” of our great nation. You hit the proverbial nail on the head. But, I’m sure you letter feel on deaf ears or more precisely in the circular file, because you are correct that noboby care, that is, until they need us. The publice does forget we exsists until they need our services and then HELP!

    Thank you my dear friend for your caring heart we need thousands more like you.
    I never did hear Obama say “where are the nurses.” In what context or speech did you see this and under what circumstances; is this someplace that I can view or read?


    1. Has it even hit tge news? It’s like 30% turnover. I just saw teachers 16 percent and it made the news. No. On. Cares. About. Us. They think we are servants and unnecessary

  3. Hey Annette,

    Not so hard to copy and paste. Thanks for your words; the realism and truth rings all the louder in these compromised times.


    nurse, in pending

    1. Alyson, Glad you took the time to copy and paste my link to my blahg. may the truth wake up those who have ears to hear. thank you for your voice.

  4. i have been working in the NICU for 28 yrs. night for 18yrs. How could you get hurt lifting little tiny babies? Glad you asked. The main problems in our unit are from unfriendly floors. A majority of nurses (new & old) have plantar fascitis, knee and hip problems. That is from horrid floors – they admitted there were problems and gave us small antifatigue mats. Next issue carpal tunnel and shoulder – from heavy locked doors, feeding babies. repetitive care, moving equipment. Stress and low morale from huge amounts of paperwork and yearly compliance that is to be done onshift, tight staffing.

    1. susie, my heart feels heavy reading your comment…and i am grateful to you for sharing the TRUTH, i am listening and i HEAR you dear nursing sister.. repetitive stress injuries…oh yes. stress and low morale. you say it. i honor your dedication for 28 years oh my, and nights…yikes. kindest regards.

  5. finally the word is out..nurses are not cared for just dumped on. no one really cares about how we feel and how sick we are and tired and overworked..sometimes double shifts because someone can’t show up to replace you.. i have left my nursing positon because of all the red tape that is going on….all the things we do that don’t really make a difference with the client, thats my people, since i am a psych nurse, we call them clients. its all about paper work and meetings up the you no what and getting reported if you take a 5 minute break, oh and the 12 hours shifts what idiot thought of this, just another way to make us burn out. what happen to 8 hour shifts with a 30 minute dinner break, and 15 minute break during your shift, why do we not get all those perks, just the blue collar workers and government, state and city. we are not worth all those perks, just work our butt off, and not really get paid for what we are really worth.

    yes their is a shortage of nurses because of all this and more to mention but tired right now. even my daugher who is only been nursing 3 years is on pain killers for migraine headaches, depressed, and too tired to do anything on those two days off after her 12 hors shifts which really run into 14 by the time they do the paper work, and the bullshit she takes off other nurses and managers,,she hates going to work and cries to me all the time, mom i hate my job, they are killing me. i can’t do it anymore, just 3 years. look what they are doing to us. stop it please…you big shots and look at what is happening..all the urses are getting fatter and sicker, what do you need a brick wall to fall on you in the whatie house. stop this slavery to nurses and treat us like human beings and human doers…

    enought i am getting upset just writing this. you get the picture.

    1. dorothy, thank you for your honest out pouring! your story makes me sad and also glad that you have the cojones to speak out and also for your beloved daughter. blissings.

  6. Although I am not a nurse my experience as a med tech in the hospital gave me a clear view what nurses go through.One thing that has not been mentioned is low pay for the hours they give.With more nurses hours could be shortened and the only way to do that is encouraging more students with increased salaries.

    1. Yes Jeri, rise up, rise up! I hear you. now let the world hear it and the ripples of change come into place.

  7. Well it is true that this is a worldwide issue. I am nursing in South Africa and it’s been a rocky 5 years leading to a fast burn out. I am blogging about the state of things in South Africa. It is pretty disturbing to realize that while the world is demanding a 1:4 ratio, our nurses are working 2 nurses to 33 patients! It just shows how much the South African gov is abusing nurses here. Aside from abuse, there are slackers being hired all the time. Just out of school and already lazy. Pulling the weight of these slackers has me screaming in frustration all the way home. The last thing you wanna do is take work stress home. I am thankful to have found a creative career to pursue in place of nursing. I put in my resignation. It’s over! I am out!

    1. Oh my! thank you deeply for your story that is frightening..yeah. 2-33? INSANE. Truly it is abuse. Lazy slackers you say? Yes. Sadly. I am sooo happy you have found the juice to offer SERVICE and be creative. Your nursing background will give you the chops to get thru anything. Anything. I am honored that you took your time to share from your part of the world to mine. I bow deeply to you nursing sista…who has found a new way. I send you a huge hug Arkadia!

      1. 🙂 Thanks for the hug. I feel much better. 😀 Speaking of yoga nurse. I often wonder why the government does not support exercise and yoga for nurses? Well, as far as I know, there is no such support for nurses in SA. I think there should be a gym at every hospital available 24/7 and at least an hour a day given to nurses to use the facilities. Nurses get out of shape quickly which is surprising considering how much physical labor we go through. But it has a lot to do with stress, over eating, not having time or energy to prepare a good wholesome meal and resorting to high-carb-easy-to-obtain sugary snacks. Plus we have odd working hours so we eat at odd times. Sometimes I would come back from night shift, feeling hungry…take a shower, eat and fall asleep! I would love to do a little write up on your blog on my site if you would allow? 🙂 I think it’s a fantastic way for nurses to feel better inside-out!

  8. I don’t think people realize how hard it is to be a nurse…I worked on a med/surg floor for 15 months, and we were floated to telemetry/progressive care/ICU two-three times per week. (I wasn’t ICU or telemetry trained at all!) No nursing assistants. It was more about getting out on time than providing any sort of care…but heaven forbid you make any sort of mistake, which I feel is inevitable when you have 5-6 patients to take care of with paper charting/med lists with each patient having anywhere from three-six pages of meds…a pharmacy that rarely does anything right and doctors that can take three phone calls and over an hour to call you back, if at all (and when they do, they answer the phone with “what do you want now?”). No transport. Housekeeping hours are cut so we empty our own trash and clean our own spills. Dinner and bathroom breaks were often missed, but that time was still deducted from your paycheck. I worked 3-11:30 pm and had no social life whatsoever.

    I cried daily and swore that becoming a nurse was the worst decision I ever made. I finally got a new job in a new city and now work on a burn unit, which can range from ICU to step down to pediatrics to med/surg. It has its own issues, but definitely a step up in the world. Still not sure nursing is for me…it’s so hard and draining. Some people say, “But you’re helping people! That must be so rewarding!” There are days when it definitely is, but other times it’s just about getting through the day.

    You can’t explain nursing to anyone who isn’t a nurse…

    1. Dearest Susan,- nurse on the run,

      OH my heart tugs reading your honesty. Yes. You speak the truth. You can’t explain nursing to anyone who isn’t a nurse. It is both a comedy and tragedy. I had to laugh about how the docs answer the phone…”what do you want now?’ maybe they get taught that in medical school??? HA! I am happy that you have found a better place to give your service on the burn unit. You know I am an advocate for nurses becoming entrepreneurs…you have sooooo many gifts and knowledge that can be directed back into the health-sick care system. THANK YOU, THANK YOU for sharing your voice. I HEAR you and bow deeply to you and send you love and peace.

  9. I know exactly what nurses are going thru, have been one for 27yrs. The work has taken a toll on my body, I have degenrative disc disease, partial bulging disc, and spondylthesis. I fell last Sept while working, went down short flight of stairs landing on concrete sidewalk. I am in pain daily, no surgery will be helpful, so my career in over. I retired from my position in Dec. I had no idea other nurses felt the same way I did. I have often wondered why I decided nursing was the career for me, I wanted to help others and give something back what had been given to me. 12 hr shifts are horrible, more chance to make mistakes, I always said I can be pleasant for 8 hrs the last 4 you are pushing your luck. I will continue to advocate for nurses and help as much as I am able. I know what burn out is like and understand why nurses are leaving. Hope the pres reads your letter. Thanks for letting me ramble on. Sherry

    1. Sherry,

      What an honest review of your nursing career that surely many nurses can relate to. YES. pleasant and efficient for 8 hours and 12 hours is pushing it. every time. Your truth and advocating is important. Stay in touch. Be well and dear one, perhaps gentle yoga therapy could help you too. Love The Yoga Nurse.

  10. Dear Yoga Nurse,
    Thank you for the kind invitation to read and post on this set of topics. Everything you spoke of above resonated deeply within me. My first five years as a nurse was spent as an advanced heart failure/open heart surgery/transplant nurse. On my unit we took care of some of the sickest hearts, people sent to us with no hope for recovery. Each shift I had four patients–two or three of whom could have been walking “that line” at the same time. Im the kind of spirit that gives 250% of myself to people when I care for them—when I am “in” I am ALL IN and I try my darndest to make sure every detail is attended to, that I have anticipated and hopefully prevented something from going awry…..and yes, I have gotten attached to many of my heart transplant patients and LVAD patients. Im still friends with some of them out here in the community. The problem, is the same as the good thing—I nurse with everything I have. Every cell in me went to those patients when I was on the floor—and I loved it dearly. Then….I started noticing I was gaining weight for what seemed like no reason–I was in the best shape of my life and all of a sudden I was losing muscle, having a hard time getting through my 6 days a week routine in the gym….eventually not only was it hard to hold up the weights, but it pained me to try and get through cardio on the treadmill without exhaustion…….I noticed my concentration was off, I had some delayed reactions, what was once easy for me with my critical thinking now took a few seconds longer to process– I had to reach or it. I felt like I could crash and take a nap at any moment of the day. Id catch myself falling asleep behind the wheel. Folding laundry made my arms hurt after just a few minutes…..My moods were all over the place and I couldnt understand why…..During this time I was going to the doctor trying to figure out what was wrong. I had tried altering my already healthy diet to see if that worked–it didnt. I altered my sleep routine–that didnt help. I was still gaining weight rapidly and it depressed the hell out of me because I once had such control over my physique and my health and now it was all gone and I felt like something had taken over “auto control” of my body and my health. The doctors kept saying it was just depression, after all, I was working full time and getting my masters degree and also helping my grandmother progress through end stage heart failure and her passing. Then, there was the question of Fibromyalgia. I disagreed. I pushed for more answers, more tests. After some research, I learned that the physical changes i had undergone, and the symptoms I had strongly resembled “Cushing Syndrome.” Although there was no tumor on my Adrenal glands, or pituitary lesion–I did indeed have Cushings. My stress hormones were sky high. It was decided to try gastric bypass to help get the weight off so that the stress hormones might go downward with the weight. It eventually did because I was losing the weight–but I wasnt recovering from the cushing and the bypass quickly enough to get back to my “A” game on the transplant unit. I knew I had to walk away, and as sad as this made me, one of my docs told me that the job nearly killed me and that I could never go back to that intense level of nursing without placing my health at risk again…….My message is…..no matter how good you are taking care of yourself, how much you are watching your diet or exercising, this job we do has the potential to also destroy us….our own health and our own spirits. Im still struggling to find my “new place” in nursing….I hate the unknown. But I also take heed to the doctors’ words and the warning. I was so sick, but got lucky with the gastric bypass….next time I may not be so lucky. Listen to your bodies everyone. Step away from the bedside when you notice things just arent right….care for yourselves and your bodies. As much as I love nursing, Im sure Florence didnt mean for us to give our very lives for the profession.

  11. I HAVE BEEN IN HEALTHCARE AS AN RRT SINCE 1972 AND MY WIFE IS AN RN. WHAT I HAVE SEEN AS A MAJOR CHANGE IS NOT ONLY A SHORTAGE OF SUPPLY, WHICH IS DIMINISHING, BUT TO A LARGE DEGREE A DECREASE IN DEMAND SECONDARY TO CORPORATE HOSPITALS WHO TREAT HEALTHCARE AS THOUGH WE WERE MAKING WIDGETS. NURSING IS NOT THE ONLY PROFESSION TO FEEL THE IMPACT OF CORPORATE STRUCTURE WHERE MANY GIVE IN TO BECOMING TASK DOOERS RATHER THAN HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS PROVIDING THE CARE THE PATIENT DESERVES. The problem for middle managers is often if they stand up to administration to advance patient care without demonstrating how better staffing and good patient care can actually make the hospital money they are shown the door. In many cases it is easier to give in rather than do the work necessary to fight with the right ammunition. There are hospitals that provide great patient care, seem to have good staffing and are making money without being part of a huge for profit corporation.

  12. Thank you for the insightful and honest truth about nursing. As a nurse for a little under 10 years, I’ve seen and experienced the increasing demands put forth by pts/families, administrators/management and regulatory processes. As the constant under-staffing continues and worsens, pt safety and satisfaction decrease. Things feel as though they’re headed in a downward spiral with no positive end in sight.

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