“Why are you sticking up for Amanda Trujillo?” nurses have asked me.

My first response was,  “She fought back with the courage of her beliefs.”

But the truth is that I believe she could be any one of us. Whether we find out she did some foolish things, or her judgment wasn’t always perfect, doesn’t mean to me that we should throw out all the other truths that her case has uncovered.

One truth is, that while there are organizations to protect patients, we have no organizations to protect nurses. While our nursing organizations can make policy to tell us what they expect of us, we can’t count on them to support us if we follow even our own Code of Ethics which they’ve developed.

Through Amanda’s case, I learned the Nursing Boards are there not to protect nurses, but to protect patients from nurses. Nurses are taught to advocate for patients. Against whom? I am now questioning the conflicts of interest between the hospital that fired Amanda and the members on the Arizona board of Nursing.

I’m intensely grateful that Amanda’s case brought all of the real issues for nurses forward. The fear and intimidation has become so much more obvious. Instead of joining together, we as nurses began to fight among ourselves – much less threatening than fighting the system. Exposing the defects of any system is uncomfortable but ultimately necessary for any system to change.

I don’t like all the greed I see in our society because of the new transparency laws that the government has imposed on the business of healthcare, pharmaceutical houses and financial institutions, but I understand that there’s no way to fix it without that knowledge.

I’d like to believe that everyone who runs our country and our corporations is there because they want to be shining heroes to make life better for all of us, but the fact is that greed is one part of human nature and apathy is another.

I was really surprised to find out that we, as nurses, are pretty much on our own if we’re working in a hospital. God knows what kind of targets we are as we go into expanded practice as primary caregivers because doctors are no longer willing to accept the treatment that we have been willing to for so long. Now, though I’m a big believer in education, I’m forced to ask what the benefit is to getting a better education if there’s no organization that’s going to cover our backs, and no legal team to help defend our right to practice?

We all got so used to “Groupthink” as nurses, and are so fearful that we don’t want to change the status quo. What I’m grateful to Amanda for is she put herself out there, whatever her agenda was. I can’t know that, so I take her at her word. It worked for me because I was able to see what kind of a system we really had, who was there for us, and what our resources were if we made mistakes.

I haven’t determined who’s right or wrong. I know a lot of the situations that Amanda was accused of, I’ve encountered over my own years in nursing. They are truth to me because of my own experience. Therefore, I owe it to myself to give Amanda the benefit of the doubt – as I would any nurse – because I know how many times I was falsely accused. All of what any of us think is only projection unless we know the real truth, which even the law doesn’t reveal.

All I know is that if I look at the difference in the power positions of doctors and nurses, I can see the potential for abuse. Once you have doctors bringing money into a corporation, and nurses as part of a hospital budget, that hospital can cut at their discretion, there’s no way it can be fair to nurses or patients.

The fact that we don’t know what resources are available or what steps to take if we as nurses get into trouble if we follow our organizations suggestion to get a higher education, and also our own Code of Ethics to advocate for patients, leaves me with only one conclusion.
Healthcare has to change, and we have to find it within ourselves to help implement that change. Knowledge is power. And we – as nurses – have the knowledge. Now we need to stand together so that tomorrow’s nurses can be all they can be.

We managed to get rid of our caps, but what did we replace them with?