Workers’ rights have always been a long-standing issue. Employees deserve to be cared for and allowed to practice their craft in workplaces that recognize their value and contribution to their professional community.
Nurses in the US are not an exception to this. They have voiced out specific fears they have in their workplace, fears you may have felt too, going into the United States as an international nurse. This is where the US Nurses Bill of Rights comes into play as a means to encourage nurses to go ahead and pursue their passions as healthcare professionals.
Let’s examine the US Nurses Bill of Rights and what it means to registered nurses like you.
Related reading: How to Become an International Travel Nurse
What Workplace Concerns Do Nurses Usually Have?
Whether you are working with a staffing partner or having talks with a direct-hire employer, your relocation to the US must have all details ironed out. Steps on preparing for the NCLEX and gathering requirements for citizenship are only some of these details that need attention, and your staffing partner or healthcare facility should be assisting you well.
Once you are at your workplace and ready to practice nursing, it’s your employer’s responsibility to give you the space to express your expertise within various areas of medical care freely. This warranty from your organization acts as a means to safeguard your sanity and assure you that you are protected as you provide care for your patients.
What are the current issues nurses in America face today?
Workplace violence. Press Ganey reported that in the second quarter of 2022, more than two healthcare personnel were assaulted every hour.1 That equates to 57 assaults daily, which is alarming. While the majority of these assaults came from patients, family members, and co-workers, visitors and event intruders also contributed to the rising number of cases of violence against nurses and other healthcare workers.
This should not be shrugged off or accepted as normal within the workplace. Policies and procedures should be placed to apprehend the causes of such hospital disturbances.
Racism and discrimination. Nurses are also worried about being victims of discrimination. A survey conducted by Intelligent Health revealed that 32 percent of their nurse respondents experienced discrimination as they attended to patients. However, many of these respondents pointed out that even their supervisors were a source of discrimination.2
This is a worry, particularly for immigrant nurses who wish to pursue their careers in the United States. Letting each international nurse practice their craft in the Land of Opportunities is highly needed to battle the current nursing shortage. However, some may lose interest in changing their residence if racism and discrimination still happen in hospitals.
Mental health issues. In the last two years, a lot of nurses have had to take extended shifts, let go of paid time off, and take on additional workloads. Add this to having to cope with experiencing the loss of many patients due to COVID-19 and having to process this loss to loved ones while having to handle stress and fatigue as healthcare workers.
In a report by Incredible Health, 34 percent of respondent nurses admitted to leaving the profession, either by retirement or finding another job or career altogether. Of these respondents, 44 percent said that the high-stress environment of their workplaces led to burnout and other struggles and finally led them to leave.
Patient safety has never been as crucial as it is today in the post-COVID era. But what is equally important is ensuring that healthcare workers are holistically taken care of. The American Nurses Association (ANA) recognized these current issues and developed a manifesto that supports nurses’ clamor for a safer workplace.
How Does the US Nurses Bill of Rights Create a Better Workplace Environment?
The revised version of the US Nurses Bill of Rights was approved last April 26, 2022, by the Board of Directors of the ANA.3 This bill details how to make hospitals and other professional spaces in the healthcare industry safer. This way, nurses can freely practice without fear of forces that can harm them.
Key points of the manifesto are as follows:
Recognize nurse autonomy. Nurses can perform their tasks as they see fit, according to their credentials and licensure, without barriers caused by people within their scope, such as patients and coworkers.
Protect nurses from discrimination. Their work is to be upheld as a venue where diversity, inclusivity, and equity (DEI) permanently reside, and everyone is to work together to bring down systemic racism and address behaviors stemming from judgment based on a person’s gender, race, age, and so on.
Safety in all aspects. The healthcare facility should prioritize nurses’ well-being, physically and mentally. Organizations and hospitals should provide support, resources, and tools to maintain this safety.
Better compensation. Salary and benefits are to be given to nurses tantamount to their clinical knowledge and experience, as well as the responsibilities they hold in the hospital. Compensation is not only to pay them for their work but also to recognize their contributions as healthcare professionals.
Overall freedom. Nurses can advocate for their patients and speak out when they feel their professional, and personal safety is compromised. They can do so without fear of being judged or intimidated or their actions having repercussions on their employment status
What Are the Implications of the US Nurse Bill of Rights?
Fear of starting something new will always come. For an immigrant nurse like yourself, hearing about discrimination or mental health issues may make you think twice. However, the US Nurses Bill of Rights is a concrete way to make sure that your employer will be keen on protecting you in every way:
Hospital safety. It’s high time hospitals and healthcare facilities improve safety measures. Such measures can include stricter visiting-hours policies, better documentation of persons in and out of the hospital, and hiring security agencies to handle overall security.
Your employer may even cooperate with the city or town police to ensure processes are underway in case any untoward incidents occur. Your vigilance in guarding against said incidents is still necessary, but your place of work has a more considerable responsibility in maintaining a safe environment for your work.
Promoting DEI. Hiring a diverse workforce is the start of promoting inclusivity within your workplace. Down the line, employers of healthcare workers should be conducting inclusivity training, especially since patients can come from any background. Hospitals should also look into putting more women or people of color in management roles to show that they are earnest about erasing discrimination and systemic racism.
Better mental health awareness. Your employer should hire enough to cover all shifts and allow nurses like you to go on paid vacation leaves once in a while. Also, hospitals should let their employees access their mental health services or use them as part of their benefits.
While overall nurse compensation is improving across the country, money can only go a long way. Giving nurses means to clear out their headspace is key for them to become better at providing care for their patients.
If all else fails, speak up. Through the US Nurse Bill of Rights, you are empowered as a nurse to be vocal about your concerns and how they affect the quality of your work. As a healthcare professional, the preparation you went through to be where you deserve the best working conditions and a platform to express yourself freely. Through this bill, trust that you will be heard.
Don’t be afraid to explore a nursing career in the US through PRS Global.
When it comes to being heard, we’ve got you. PRS Global knows how demanding it is to prepare to go to a new living and working environment, so why not allow us to assist you? We provide help with financial concerns like relocation and licensures, and we will look after you at the start of your stay in the US. We are literally the first people you’ll see when you arrive, and we promise to put you at the right hospital or healthcare facility where you will thrive the best.
Your new life in the US is waiting. Contact PRS Global now.
1 Press Ganey. “On Average, Two Nurses Are Assaulted Every Hour, New Press Ganey Analysis Finds.” https://www.pressganey.com/news/on-average-two-nurses-are-assaulted-every-hour-new-press-ganey-analysis-finds/. Published last September 8, 2022. Accessed last January 29, 2023.
2 Landimar, Heather. “Third of Nurses Plan to Leave Their Jobs in 2022, Survey Finds.” Fierce Healthcare. https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/providers/third-nurses-plan-leave-their-jobs-2022-survey-finds. Published last March 22, 2023. Accessed last January 29, 2023.
3 Nursing World. “Nurse Bill of Rights:” https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/work-environment/health-safety/bill-of-rights/. No publish date. Accessed last January 29, 2023.