By my third year of working in a postpartum unit, I had found my groove, my rhythm as a nurse. I felt confident coming to work and looked forward to every shift. My husband and I decided we were ready for a family of our own and finally I was pregnant. To say I was excited is an understatement.
Unfortunately, I had a miscarriage at around 10 weeks. I was devastated. After one shift of caring for newborns, the grief really hit me. I knew I needed time away to heal. I reached out to my manager and left a voicemail, but didn't hear back for several days. I approached another leader for advice who gave me my manager's personal number, assuring me that this was an extenuating circumstance.
I will never forget the coldness in my manager's voice when the phone picked up. They knew about my miscarriage but hadn't "gotten around" to calling me back. The only question: "How did you get my personal number?"
Finding My Currency
I left that department soon after. Until recently, I thought I made an egregious error by calling their personal phone. I mistakenly felt that it was my fault. Now I can look back at that moment and clearly see that my manager did not care about me.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Money often costs too much." This experience made me think about what my paycheck was costing me. Now, when it comes to my employer and career, I want a boss who cares about me. That is my currency.
I'm not alone. About a year ago, I had an opportunity to speak to a group of nurses in Arkansas during the second wave of COVID. "If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?" I asked them. Over and over in the chat box, I read, "Make my managers care." I was shocked, but maybe I shouldn't have been. A Gallup survey of more than 15,000 US employees found that when employees feel cared for, they are:
Less likely to actively search for a new job;
Less likely to report experiencing a lot of burnout;
More likely to trust the company leadership;
More likely to be engaged at work; and
More likely to be thriving in their overall lives.
Exchange Your Currency
So, the next time someone tries to entice you with more pay to work a double shift, miss a family function, or go to work sick (physically or mentally), think about whether it is worth it.
Healthcare leaders must care about their employees the way they expect their staff to care about patients. No amount of money can replace treating people with dignity and valuing their physical and mental health.
Everyone is wired differently, and money is not always the answer. What's your currency? Is it flexibility, more breaks, one-on-one conversations?
Today as I watch my 8-year-old son play, I am thankful that I am in a privileged class of nurses who get to care for patients while their leadership cares for them. If you haven't found such a home in healthcare, keep looking.
There are good people and good organizations out there. You will find your place. Until then, think about what your paycheck is costing you.
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Any views expressed above are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of WebMD or Medscape.
Cite this: Bree Becker. Don't Show Me The Money, Show Me You Care: That's My Currency - Medscape - Jul 27, 2022.