It's May 1st, 2016. I'm bright-eyed, eager, and graduating from the University of Michigan as a Nursing Student and Student-Athlete.
I am ready to take on the world the way that Michigan taught me how: fearlessly, compassionately, and wholeheartedly. I bleed blue. I know what it means to be a Wolverine and to represent the Michigan Difference in everything I do. I wear the block M on my School of Nursing scrubs and my Michigan Dance Team uniform well aware that it represents goodness, tradition, and excellence. I am determined. I am inspired. I am ready.
It's Monday, September 17th, 2018. What does Michigan mean to me now? I used to be so sure. Now, I simply don't know. So, what's the deal? How did my view on an institution become so indifferent in recent months?
I chose U of M to start my nursing career because it had the widely known reputation of putting its patients first, respecting its nurses, and providing the best care to patients in the state (5th in the country, to be exact). In my first year, as I was clumsily learning how to push patient stretchers, titrate intravenous vasopressors, and to communicate with the medical team, I proudly participated in our hospital's effort to achieve Magnet status.
When Nursing earned Magnet Status, an award given by the American Nurses' Credentialing Center and indicator of the strength and quality of Nursing at Michigan, I felt that same pride as I did in May of 2016.
I knew in my heart that I picked the best institution to develop my nursing practice and to give high quality, patient-centered care to anyone who walked, rolled, or was carried through the doors of Adult Emergency Services. The hospital's goals were aligned with mine and those around me. We put patients first, and more specifically, we put patients over profits.
I am lucky enough to work at a hospital that has been unionized for more than four decades. When I started working, the concept of a union was foreign to me. For those who may need a refresher, unions promote and protect the interests of all employees. They collectively bargain with employers to secure written agreements for employees regarding pay, benefits, and working conditions.
Collective bargaining agreements are legally enforceable contracts holding employers and employees to mutually agreed-to workplace rules and process to provide a fair and just workplace. The University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council, an affiliate of the Michigan Nurses Association, has been working diligently since January to bargain with the University of Michigan to protect me, the 5,700 nurses who work within the institution, and our patients. I'd like to think they're the good guys in this story.
Here's where things get sticky: David Spahlinger, president of our prestigious U of M health system, has publicly stated that Michigan is "committed to maintaining current staffing levels," but will not make this commitment in writing. Common sense is reflected in the most high-quality research on the topic of nurse-patient ratios and its direct effect on patient care.
Appropriate staffing allows me and my coworkers to give the quality of care that I know we have the ability to provide. High staffing levels are associated with reduced mortality, falls, medication errors, ulcers, restraint use and infections. Unregulated staffing is a significant barrier to nurses' abilities to provide optimal patient care and prevents Nursing at Michigan from providing what we know to be the Michigan Difference in healthcare.
UMPNC held voting on a work stoppage for unfair labor practices last week. Out of 4,000 votes cast by nurses at the U, 94% authorized a work stoppage in protest of the University's unfair labor practices. No date is set, but our elected nurse bargaining team now has the authority to call for action.
Thank you to Katie Oppenheim, who chairs our union, for reiterating in an article to the Detroit Free Press that a work stoppage is not our goal. "Our goal is a fair agreement which respects nurses and guarantees safe staffing. The university can remedy this situation immediately by stopping their unfair labor practices and bargaining in good faith."
I am proud to be a nurse and I hope that our efforts to keep Michigan a patients-over-profits institution are recognized at the community, state, and national level. Anne McGinity, David Spahlinger, and those who have the power to make Michigan the magical place I once thought it was, make like Nike and just do it. For the love of patients, nurses, and our great University. I know we are better than this.
(Stay Tuned, folks).
Dear my tie-dye wearing, peace-loving, hippie:
In this letter I want to thank you for being one of the best humans in my life. You have constantly been the best friend through thick and the thin. Through all of the people I have met at the University of Arizona, you have by far been the most consistent, loyal, and most loving friend. I'll probably miss a lot of thank you's that are in order, but I'll do my best.
Thank you for always playing the devil's advocate when there's a situation that I need help with. You have taught me what it is like to see a situation from several points of views. This has helped shape my perspective on life, so much. I usually tend to be somewhat pessimistic, but you always make sure that I am taking everything with a grain of salt, and I really think twice about every decision I am making.
Through all of our adventures, our yearly music festival has to take the cake. This past year was the weekend when we began to get even closer than before, and I am so grateful for that. You are easily one of the people I want to see at my wedding standing next to me as my bridesmaid. I am so happy that we are becoming more and closer because you are one of the best people I have met.
You have taught me what it means to put your friends first, over any guy that might come into either of our lives. Even though your previous relationship, you always made time for me and made sure I knew I was a priority through your actions. This meant a lot, and spoke so much to your character; I'll never forget that!
When I went through one of the worst breakups of my life, you were there building me up, and telling me how much I was worth. I am so grateful for a friend like you! You always see the best in every situation and always make sure to push your friends to do the same.
Thank you so much for all the sodas and snacks from the Park Student Union. Thank goodness one of us has the Gold meal plan! You always come through with all the munchies and drinks, and never ever act like it's a burden (Such a true friend!).
Finally, the last thank you I have, is for your humor. Your humor is seriously one of the bests, and you always make me laugh no matter what we're up to. I have never met someone who genuinely laughs when I make dad jokes, most people roll their eyes! Whenever I am sad or even a little down, you'll say something that will just make me cry from laughter. I am so grateful for that as well.
Overall, you are seriously one of the best people on this planet, and I am so grateful to be one of your best friends. I can't wait to make even more memories together this year with you. This is the year you turn 21, and I can't wait to legally celebrate with you finally!
I love you to death!