By Sheena Jones, who attends Dutchess Community College and lives in Beacon, NY

hourglass 4/graymalkn, via Flickr

So I’m a young nurse, one of the youngest in my facility. I used to be a nurse’s aide; now I’m an LPN in training to be an RN. It’s very difficult when the aides are either the same age as me or old enough to be my grandmother.

What do you tell a 19-year-old aide who just got mandated for a second shift on a Saturday evening and who is texting all shift but getting her work done? Do you tell her to put it away, knowing that you would be doing the same thing if you were still a young aide and had already gone the extra mile to check that all the patients were safe and happy?

What do you tell the 57-year-old aide who is always the last one struggling to finish her assignment because she can’t keep up? She can’t get her two baths done plus get the other eight residents washed and in bed by 10 pm, even though everyone else is done by 8:30 pm. Do you tell her to hurry up and finish? Do you send the frustrated younger aide to finish her assignment, and call it ‘teamwork’? Who wants to do extra work? 

This is the situation I face every couple of weekends. I’ve tried changing the aide assignments to make the older aide’s workload easier, but she just can’t seem to work fast enough no matter what I do. I have a frustrated younger aide who always finishes her own assignment and half of the older woman’s. I even help put some of the older aide’s patients to bed, and then I’m behind on my medication rounds. As a facility, we’re short on help most weekends, snowstorms, and holidays—and everyone is frustrated when they arrive and learn they are mandated by law to stay another shift for the safety of the residents.

As a young nurse, do I tell the 19-year-old who is doing her job to do extra, or do I tell the lady who is old enough to be my grandmother and has been working as an aide longer than I’ve been alive to work harder?

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