Debbie Buckley was a second-generation nurse. But she never regretted giving up nursing.
"My mom was a registered nurse while I was growing up, and I rarely saw her," recalls Buckley, of Buffalo, also an RN, who worked in the field for a dozen years before leaving.
Buckley witnessed personal history repeating itself.
"I found the nursing field extremely difficult when attempting to raise a family," says Buckley, who eventually went into education. "Mandatory overtime was a major obstacle. It was a constant struggle regarding priorities and balancing my commitment between home and work. Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in a day, and a decision had to be made. I chose my children."
Buckley was not alone in her unhappiness with the lack of the personal time. That is one of the concerns to emerge from a University at Buffalo study of several hundred nurses from New York State, Pennsylvania, 27 other states and the District of Columbia published not long ago in Nursing Forum. Some nurses described taking part-time positions for more personal time.
"I have found as I age," one nurse said, "my time off is more important than most all other aspects."
Still another planned a switch to veterinary medicine: "I hate not getting breaks, being overworked, underpaid, abused and thought of as a mindless handmaiden."
"We hope employers will listen to the nurses' voices and work toward creating a more positive work environment that includes a place for nurses in decision-making, respect for nurses' work, flexibility, safer work conditions and opportunities for nurse collegiality," said UB School of Nursing associate professor Suzanne S. Dickerson.
Buckley, who was not part of the study, nonetheless empathized with it. She remembers missing Christmas and other holidays with her children.
"Nurses got two weeks' vacation each year. Nurses are not given the professional respect or financial compensation for such a significant role in the health care industry," she says.
Debbie Buckley doesn't regret her nurse's training and experience.
"I worked as an adolescence psychiatric nurse for at least nine years," says Buckley, who went on to found the not-for-profit Mastery Center in Cheektowaga, where kids go to receive personalized tutoring.
"The experience was especially helpful when dealing with so-called normal adolescents in the classroom, as well as students with learning disabilities. I had a level of patience with students that people who didn't work with children with psychiatric disorders couldn't understand.
"My time in nursing did indeed set the stage for what I am doing now."
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