“Nurses Don’t Make Toys.”


In July 2017, the United States (U.S.) Department of Labor reiterated a long-standing assurance that “nursing is a recession-proof occupation” following the analysis of unemployment trends from 2002-2015. In fact, data revealed that the profession has traditionally experienced significant boosts in job gains during recessionary periods as compared to blue-collar workers. 

Today, several nurses who comprise the alleged “recession-proof” career field are growing increasingly disgruntled with unannounced layoffs and troubling workplace conditions. Our investigative correspondent conducted a candid interview with Joycelyn Gilliam, a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) who was recently furloughed while practicing at a long-term health care facility in Honolulu, Hawaii. 

“It [Covid-19] has compounded issues that already exist. We were not ready.” Joycelyn was unwavering in her evaluation regarding the preparedness of the U.S. health care system as the country witnessed a remarkable surge in the growing number of Coronavirus related deaths. 

Customarily, a rise in patient visits to health care facilities is analogous with an increase in shift work and overtime opportunities for nursing staff. Federal regulations that prevented nurses from practicing across state lines were recently waived in response to dire conditions precipitated by the ongoing crisis. Yet, the global pandemic has shifted such dynamics in a manner that is far beyond the realm of traditional execution. 

“We live in the most powerful country and these problems will get worse. The quality of care administered will suffer.” Joycelyn maintained that staff cutbacks will exacerbate nurse burnout, a widespread issue that has plagued the profession since inception.  

Gilliam also highlighted consequences that she believes are rarely considered during fiscal reviews. “Nurses don’t make toys. We don’t fix toys. We care for human beings. Giving one-hundred percent is vital to human life.” 

During a time of heightened self-reflection, Joycelyn has elected to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice terminal degree as Hawaii experiences the second highest unemployment rate amongst states within the U.S. Additionally, the Family Nurse Practitioner expressed gratitude for an opportunity to “slow down and truly value the important things in life” as her six-year-old daughter Genesis nodded in agreance.

This interview is part of an ongoing collection of stories written by nurses, for nurses. Share this article with a nurse that you love!

2130 EDT – Author: Madinah Slaise, MSN, RN-BC

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