‘If you don’t love it, leave it’ - Tufton tells nurses to be more committed to patients than pay
Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has issued a stern warning for nurses to quit if they do not love their jobs and are more motivated by pay than by empathy and compassion for the patients they serve.
The minister’s statement was delivered at the ninth annual striping ceremony for the University of Technology’s Caribbean School of Nursing at the St John’s Methodist Hall in Montego Bay on Friday.
“I want to say to you, as students, make sure you love what you do, and if you don’t love it, leave it. The only way you’re going to practise with compassion is if your heart and soul is into it and it’s not for the money,” Tufton told the 216 nursing students participating in the ceremony.
While acknowledging that patients can often be abusive to medical personnel, Tufton said that nurses must be able to counter that treatment with professionalism.
“We live in a society today where brutish behaviour is more the rule than the exception. If you approach your profession from a standpoint of being just about the pay cheque, you’re not going to be able to deal with the customer from hell, the most disagreeable client you can come across,” said Tufton.
“If you don’t have the right approach, a fight will break out in the hospital, and we’ve had a few of those. If you don’t appreciate that you’re dealing with a society where, unfortunately, law, order and good behaviour are more the exception than the rule, it becomes that much more of a stress and strain on you,” added Tufton.
But the minister’s statement might cause pushback from union leaders who have characterised working conditions as untenable.
More than 500 nurses exit the profession annually, a trend driven by low pay, high levels of frustration, and burnout.
The most high-profile row at a public health facility last year was the November bust-up between then-People’s National Party Councillor Kari Douglas and a doctor at the Bustamante Hospital for Children.
Douglas sought medical intervention for her son, whose health was ruled a non-emergency after triage. The councillor unleashed an expletive-laden tirade and stormed into the doctor’s examination room and prevented her from leaving.
Though Douglas’ conduct sparked outrage, she received support in some quarters from critics who described many medical personnel as uncaring and hostile.
In October 2018, the Ministry of Health launched its Compassionate Care programme to improve clinical services through training of staff in customer service, improvement of basic infrastructure, and boosting voluntarism to aid the delivery of compassionate care.