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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There's Nothing Productive About Constantly Comparing Yourself To Other People, So Stop

We need to stop this. Stop acting as if life is a race and you have to be the first to finish.

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It has always been an ambition of mine since my freshman year of high school to get into the gym and consistently work out. My weight is something I was always insanely insecure about, and I wanted to lift in order to build muscle mass to instill some confidence in me.

However, I was unfortunately inhibited in my early stages of high school because in the gym I would always focus on the other guys around me. I would always fear their judgment and take note of how advanced they were. I stopped going for a while until the end of high school and the beginning of college and pushed myself to go despite my feelings of discomfort. I soon realized once I began going more frequently that it wasn't the other people in the gym ostracizing me.

There was only one person doing that. And that person was me.

I suddenly came to this realization that no one is worried about what I am doing. Everyone is focused on themselves and doing their own thing. But most importantly, I realized that we are all on our own journey. We are all on different paths of life that maintain a different pace for each person. I cannot compare myself to the other guys in the gym because I'm not where they are yet. I'm not meant to be where they are yet. My design for life is MY design. And I need to be patient with the rate at which my life is progressing.

This, of course, is merely an example. I want to generalize this concept more and broaden it to a more open philosophical discussion. We need to stop comparing ourselves to other people altogether because we are each different individuals with different lives and different goals and different end destinations. It doesn't matter if you achieve major success at the age of 18 or if you achieve major success at the age of 60. You are not behind schedule, nor are you ahead.

You are fine right where you are.

I think this is especially salient to talk about in terms of college, specifically because I'm in college myself and a lot of my readers are college students as well. We have this propensity to sprint in a marathon with everyone around us. We are constantly in competition with one another trying to be the best and succeed before the person next to us can.

We need to stop this.

Stop acting as if life is a race and you have to be the first to finish. I understand we live in one hell of a competitive world, and yes, you will most certainly have to fight for your success. You most certainly will have to go out there in the real world someday and compete with other people for jobs or some means of employment. But, there's sort of a dichotomy in what I am talking about. Competing for jobs is internalized perseverance and ambition. That is incumbent. That is tacit and individual and when that time comes it will be present and in the moment. My point is that we need to stop consciously viewing our lives as this perpetual disposition to compete. Instead of trying to achieve success as fast as you possibly can or wanting to triumph before everyone else and distancing your mind into a fabricated future, take a breath. Take in where you are right now and live in the now. Your success will come when it's your time to succeed.

Chrissy Metz, an American actress and singer, had some beautiful words to share about life endeavors.

And I will leave you with her words:

"You're not behind in life. There's no schedule or timetable that we must all follow. It's all made up. Wherever you are right now is exactly where you need to be. Seven billion people can't do everything in exactly the same scheduled order. We are all different with a variety of needs and goals. Some get married early, some get married late, while others don't get married at all. What is early? What is late? Compared with whom? Compared with what? Some want children, others don't. Some want a career, others enjoy taking care of a house and children. Your life is not on anyone else's schedule. Don't beat yourself up for where you are right now. It's YOUR timeline, not anyone else's, and nothing is off schedule."

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