• #NurseMike

Do you know the name of your cleaning staff?

I've been around the block a time or two and I, till this day, continue to see some nurses who passively refuse to interact with hospital staff that are not directly involved in patient care. Are you one of those nurses? I hope not. Let me explain.

When I graduated high school, I had to hold off on college because tuition costs were more than I could handle. I had recently moved to Louisiana and was a non-resident. Thus I would have been forced to pay non-resident tuition costs. Instead, I decided to get a job until I was considered a resident (1 year). I began working on an offshore oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

Not only was I now a blue collar worker but I was also the low man on the totem pole. It was hard work. It was dirty work. However, I learned more on that job than I ever would've learned had I not worked out there. It was an invaluable experience, a very HUMBLING experience for which I will forever be grateful. I often times ponder where I'd be now had I not been laid off.

Upward social mobility (a type of vertical mobility) is the movement of a person or a group of people from one socio-economic class to a higher socio-economic class. Although upward social mobility does happen, in the US downward social mobility most often occurs.

Stay with me here. When I worked offshore, I worked and lived with those in a much lower socio-economic class than where I had grown up. Not only did I work with a group of people in a lower socio-economic class, I became a part of that socio-economic class.

Let's fast forward 10 years. In 2008 I finally graduated and became a Registered Nurse. I climbed up out of that socio-economic status. I had achieved upward social mobility. Pay very close attention. That did not mean I forgot about all those who make less money than I or those who live in a lower socio-economic status. I have come from a place where I couldn't make ends meet. I have come from a place where I had to live on food stamps and section 8 housing. I have come from a place where I didn't know how I was going to pay my rent or pay for my kids lunch.

We work as nurses, you and I, and we are an integral part of the healthcare team. However, there are many others who don't make the money we do nor do they get near the glory we do and work just as hard. Without the environmental services personnel I assure you, your unit could not function for very long with trash piling up, with rooms not getting turned over, without them coming to help when there is a spill or contamination. Without the kitchen staff who cook and deliver the food to the patient, the patients would either eventually become malnourished or you'd have even more responsibility. Without the phlebotomists and the lab technicians you'd wouldn't be able to know if the patient's health is progressing positively or negatively. Without respiratory we'd ALL be in a mess.

I've said all that to say this. YOU are only one person. Your healthcare team consists of SO many people. I recently sent out a Tweet asking if you (the reader) knew the name of your cleaning personnel. Do YOU? I've found a stark difference in the way I'm treated by auxillary staff than many of my co-workers. The reason, I've been told numerous times, is that I treat each person with respect and dignity. I especially make it an important point to remember their names. It REALLY surprises them too. I get a kick out of it.

It truly is a game-changer when you take a step back, forget about titles and consider everyone a KEY member of the healthcare team. I want to challenge each of you reading this. This week, learn somebody's name. Offer a word of appreciation for a job well done. If you want your unit to run like a well-oiled machine, you got to grease the hinges.

Thanks for reading,

Nurse Mike

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