This is a fun series to publish and readers seem to be enjoying learning more about the experts who write for Confident Voices in Healthcare Blog!
Now you’ll get to know Peggy Berry a bit, who has written and co-authored popular posts for CV Blog:
Preventing More Painful and Unnecessary Lessons from Ebola (with Randy Charpentier and Myself)
Peggy was also a commentator for the award-winning book, Toxic Nursing!
1. Tell CV readers a little bit about yourself.
Not many people know this but, I was, maybe still am, a 1970s hippie, long hair, braids, flowers in her hair, mother earth kinda gal. However, I express that inner self now in what I do in my own writings and intentional stance. I am a League of Women Voter member ( and the local chapter social media guru) and will be a member for the rest of my life. I believe in an educated public for democracy and health. I believe in professional nursing, holding membership five professional organizations. I believe hydraulic fracturing will cause and is causing earthquakes and that the linings on these wells have, are, and will fail, causing catastrophic water contamination because lack of accountability by the oil industry to EPA and other agencies like with chemical right to know. And, I have a garden, maybe not a great one, but I still try to get it right.
2. What do you think is the most fundamental problem or concern we face in healthcare?
I believe the biggest issue is that nurses continue to be silenced. Peers, nurse leaders, or our own rationalization minimize the behaviors of others towards us, with the expectation to be bitten, hit, screamed at, because everyone around us tells us it is normal. Nurses need to come out of school equipped with the verbal skills to stop and demand their safety first, to know what safe practice is for the nurse first. If we don’t take care of ourselves first, we will be unable to take care of others, like our family or our patients. And, that requires continued education so we know what is a safe practice and what is evidenced-based practice, not the “we’ve always done it this way.”
3. What do you think we need to do to fix it? Or what’s one thing we can do that will help fix it?
We need a paradigm shift. Nurse safety should come first followed by patient safety which will improve. Nurse satisfaction is intertwined with patient satisfaction. Likewise, nurse safety first will also improve patient safety. I think we need more education in root cause analysis that does not involve scapegoating but real learning that eliminates safety issues. We can’t prevent them all but too many nurses are being injured, exposed, and been educated that it is somehow all their fault. That has to stop. And we need to keep promoting nurse safety first.
4. Anything else you’d like to add?
You know, my mamma always told me to never burn my bridges behind me. Nurses have traditionally been able to easily change facilities when an organization is toxic to them. Even though it is not that easy to transfer anymore, burn your bridges. Tell the healthcare organization why you are leaving. If they do not do exit interviews, write the organization president a letter and mail it. Not all healthcare organizations, especially higher up the hierarchy, know how bad it really is until profit margins drop. Nurses can no longer be silent when their safety and health is at risk. Work should not hurt.