Not My Michigan

Not My Michigan

A Michigan student-athlete turned Registered Nurse on the Michigan Medicine contract negotiations in 2018.

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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).

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10 Things To Remember As You Head Home For The Summer

It's coming up closer than you may think!

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Summer break is right around the corner, and while everyone is so excited to finally get back home and enjoy the warm air, there are some things that everyone seems to forget once they go away to college. Any college student, from first years to seniors, must be reminded that things always change when they come home.

1. Your parents are going to want to spend some time with you

If you are like me, you don't go home too often during the school year. Give your parents a week or so to just spend time with you. Have dinner with them, watch a movie, or just sit and talk with them. (Just make sure not to tell them too much of your college adventure because the talk will turn into a life lesson).

2. It's their home now, not yours

You used to live in this house for almost 18 years, and then once you left, things adjusted to that. Trash doesn't get taken out as often, you recycle now, or there have been changes as to how certain things are done or where things are placed. Chances are, your parents aren't going to be happy when you accidentally throw away trash in the recycling bin, or don't understand why you can't suddenly use the downstairs bathroom because it's for "guests only" now.

3. There is no maid

Most colleges have custodians who come and clean the bathroom almost every day for you. At home, this does not translate to your mom. Try to pull your weight a little, and help clean up after yourself. It isn't hard to push your dish in the sink or dishwasher, or hang your towels up after a shower.

4. The house might be quieter

Back to point two, things change when you leave. And sometimes people pick up new hobbies to fill the time you once filled. Don't be weirded out when you get left home alone some nights without anyone or when they have plans in place of a time you thought you could have with them.

5. Having friends over will be different now

It won't be like when you were in high school. Everything is now prefaced with "no drinking," and most of the time your parents aren't going to want some college students over late at night. It doesn't work like that.

6. Your high school friends aren't going to be around often

If you are a first-year student coming back home is weird. All of your friends from high school are going to want to see you, but sometimes people change so much in college (and that's OK), but maybe you are compatible friends anymore. Learning to find new friends is a weird experience, and can make for a lonely summer.

7. You are probably going to work all summer anyways

... IF you even have time for friends that is. College is expensive, even if you aren't paying for college yourself or have loans, you need money for spending during the school year. Sometimes not getting to even see your friends for weeks at a time is just a part of growing up.

8. Try to spend time with your siblings

I wasn't close to my siblings until I went away to college. Maybe it was finally getting away and knowing my clothes wasn't going to be stolen, but I ended up growing closer to my sisters. Try to figure out what works for you and your siblings, and you truly won't regret it.

9. Don't rush the summer

At some point during the summer, you are going to want to get back to college. Don't rush it because as soon as you get back to school in the fall, you'll be wishing you were back on break.

10. Just breathe

Summer is the time to relax, so make sure to take some time and relax. Even if that means tanning in the sun in your back yard for an hour. Just try to lay down and close your eyes for a moment. It'll make your summer go by smoother.

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