It is well known that nurses take on a challenging profession. They often work for hours on end without any breaks to use the bathroom, get some much needed sleep, or have a meal. They dedicate their lives to ensuring the basic needs of their patients are cared for, often forgetting to take care of themselves in the process.
When Washington state Senator Maureen Walsh made some less-than-positive comments about the nursing profession, she found herself the recipient of a lot of online backlash. The senator implied that nurses are not kept busy enough throughout their work days, causing nurses around the nation to respond, according to Nurse.
On April 16, Senator Walsh stated that she believes that nurses that are employed by critical care hospitals should be exempt from a bill known as SHB 1155. This bill works to protect the well-being of nurses by ensuring they are not forced to do mandatory overtime and are able to get the breaks that they need throughout the day. She is proposing an amendment that would limit a nurse’s working day to eight hours. This could then force nurses to take up additional shifts in order to maintain full-time pay.
Senator Walsh slammed nurses that often talk about how tired they are after a long shift and even claimed that they probably have time to play cards throughout their work day.
“I understand making sure that we have rest breaks and things like that. But, I also understand that we need to care for patients first and foremost. I would submit to you that those nurses probably do get breaks! They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day!”
It’s safe to say her remarks were not taken well. Not only those in the nursing profession, but many people that support them condemned Senator Walsh’s comments, according to KTLA News 5.
Trust me, nurses haven’t earned the title "most trusted profession" for seventeen years running by "playing cards" on our shifts. WA Sen. Maureen Walsh should be ashamed to use #nurses to score cheap political points like this. #1U #nurseslife pic.twitter.com/ucm89ezpDj— Bonnie Castillo (@NNUBonnie) April 19, 2019
Mathew Keller, the director of nursing practice and health policy at the Washington State Nurses Association, responded to the senator online.
“No, Senator, nurses are not sitting around playing cards. They are taking care of your neighbors, your family, your community,” he wrote.
Cassie Sauer, president and CEO of WSNA, also voiced her opinion. She explained that nurses often don’t have the opportunity to take a break, even if they wanted to.
“A nurse could be in the middle of a life-saving surgical procedure and there would be no exception to allow them to stay and complete their work. WSHA did not support and had no knowledge of this amendment.”