The Application

Long term health care certainly has its challenges. One of the most difficult tasks we are faced with is hiring the right person for the right job. But I think that is true for any employer in any industry. My glitch is this; people can be qualified on paper, but not qualified in other ways. These other ways, are the most significant factors for me.         Knowing that a potential employee studied nursing in high school is amazing information that I really needed to know.  It fills in all the space on the line quite nicely. Knowing that the potential employee studied nursing in Uganda also is pertinent information that I so needed to know.

If I could revise the whole application, I would ask for full length essays on the things that matter the most to me. It would cover the following components:

  • Define Dementia.
  • Define Compassion.
  • Define Empathy.
  • Define Kindness.
  • Define Patience.
  • Define Caring.
  • Define Understanding.
  • Define Love.
  • Define Nursing.

Those would be the determining answers to whether or not a person would be hired to care for the residents entrusted to our care.  Almost anyone can learn the required skills to work in a nursing home or long term health care facility, but few possess the qualities really needed to do the job.      Not long ago, hired a nurse who looked great on paper. She breezed through the interviews beautifully.  Three days into the job, she appeared in my doorway, explaining to me how she made more money as a welder than she did as a nurse.   “I thought nursing would be easier and would pay more. I have side jobs that pay me better”, she explained.       Ummmm…how can I compete with welder’s wages?  I don’t even know how much money welders make.  Heck, I am not even sure what welders weld. 

I hired another employee who also was a great “application-filler-outer”.  One of our resident’s was in physical distress, needing medical attention.  He came into my office and stated, “Mrs. Brown is not looking okay. She looks like she might be sick.”   Ummmmmm…. He is the nurse, I am not, so which would you think is better equipped to handle a medical crisis?  If you answered, “he is”, you are incorrect.  The conversation went like this:

“What are her vital signs?” I asked.

“She is not able to sign anything. She does not look well.”

“No, no, what I am asking is, what are her vitals? Her pulse? Her blood pressure? Her O2 sats?”

“I do not know.”

As we enter Mrs. Brown’s room, I tell him to go ahead and get her vitals. He produces a thermometer.

“Can you get her blood pressure????” I ask, knowing my tolerance is about gone for his lack of skills, knowledge and overall ability to do his job.

He produces one of those automatic blood pressure cuffs, which are banned from my facility. I believe nurses should know how to take a BP manually. Call me old school if you will, but I believe in the practice of nursing, not in automation.

“This is how we do it in my country. It is more accurate than “the other way”.    SERIOUSLY? 

The sound of the little machine struggling to inflate the cuff as its battery indicator blinked feverishly, confirmed my belief as to why I banned them from my facility.

I produce a stethoscope and BP cuff, giving him the opportunity to redeem himself right there on the spot. Not happening.  He looked at them as if they were foreign objects.  I moved him aside and took her full vitals without any assistance from him. Fortunately, Mrs. Brown was not in distress, but rather was simply having a bad day.

That afternoon, he appeared in my office, resignation in hand.

“This job is too hard and you expect too much. “   Yes, that’s really what he said.  How am I expecting too much when I merely needed to insure that the patient was receiving proper medical care????

Expectation. Maybe that is the problem with workers today. Employers expect too much from employees.  Long term health care is not the profession for those who simply want to make bookoos of money and use just a few skills. It’s not a lazy person’s calling for sure.  I won’t even go into the story of how one nurse placed a Clorox Wipe on a residents toenail area after the toenail had been removed.  Yes, a Clorox Wipe. The type of wipe used to clean off counters. The reason for its use?      “I didn’t know where the treatment cart was.” That’s what the employee told me. HOW can a person work in the same place, doing the same job day after day and NOT KNOW where a HUGE treatment cart is? This is the size of Ford Feista!!!   In my opinion, this individual was too lazy to do the job as well as uncaring.

This problem of finding good employees that have the heart and attitude for the job is not isolated or limited to health care. I was in the grocery store the other day and could not find taco seasoning. I asked an employee the general direction I should be headed in. Her reply, “check another aisle. I know it’s not in this one.”  Well wasn’t that helpful?  Before that I wandered aimlessly in a nationally known hardware store, passing by four workers, of which not one offered to assist me.  If you really wish to be challenged by store employees, visit any Wally store, and ask any employee for any assistance………   

It’s all very frustrating. The whole search for and find good employees. There has to be a better way.




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