Wednesday, April 18, 2012

CNN iReport on Taiwan's Nurses

A Taiwan nurse speaks out on CNN:
When all of the medical workers in an unhealthy working environment, the patient must to facing a high risk care quality, because in Taiwan, every nurse should take care of at least eight patients in morning shift, even more. Over twelve patients in afternoon shift and almost take care of nearly twenty patients in night shift! That’s pretty incredible.

Nurses in Taiwan are not only superwomen or supermen, but are also patients. Staff shortages happened in past ten years, the trickiest thing is that Nurses do not have right to sick anymore, only because of nurses shortages. Taiwan's hospitals manager will not let their nurse get a sick leave if the nurse still able to walk even in public hospital system.

The Nurse’s working hour in Taiwan often over ten hours every shift, even more. However, the hospital did not give overtime fee; they only give nurses unreasonable pay to buy their break off. The medical environment of the culprit was created by the National Health Insurance System.
The emoting here is offputting, but the information is correct, as I noted in the post a few posts below this one. It would have been great if she had found a native speaker to edit it properly. But it would have been even better if she had identified the real culprit: the fact that many hospitals are essentially for-profit concerns that run by farming the government subsidy, and thus, nurses represent costly labor rather than profit centers. Taiwan institutions, whether public or private, health or manufacturing, all treat labor the same way. The real issue is not the NHI but that in Taiwan a nurse is like most laborers, without a real union.
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Anonymous said...

You are being way too lenient with the article on iCNN. Hijacking the nursing staff's situation for anti-Obama propaganda ("2012 election...") on CNN is malicious and nothing else. The last thing that could save nurses is a Tea Party, domestic or overseas. The article isn't even worth it for the picture, I have seen it circulate on FB for a while.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this series of posts which remind people of how hardworking and unappreciated Nurses not only in Taiwan but everywhere else in the world. However I have mixed feelings when it comes to unions as the sole answer which would alleviate the problems facing Taiwanese Nurses.

My first degree was in Biochemistry, then decided to get a B.S. in Nursing. I was an PICU RN for 6 years at a top hospital here in the States, and currently I am studying towards a PharmD degree.

Bedside Nursing at ICUs is demanding both mentally and physically. In the U.S. (less sure about Taiwan) RNs in the top ICUs collaborate with other members of healthcare team--MDs, RTs, etc..--on a continuous basis in order to ensure these very ill patients don't trend for the worse. We were the patients' first defense, if you will, in that we applied our clinical knowledge of pathophysiology/ disease process/ updated treatment modalities/ assessment to suit each patient's specific issues. We definitely used our brains during our 12-hour shifts. So that's my background.

The problem I have with Nurses unions is that it has its own political agendas which often are at odds with what is right for Nursing profession. For example, unions are against phasing out of 2-year Nursing degrees (Associate degree) because it would like to have as many members as possible. Top research hospitals only hire B.S.N Nurses now, and I say that is a good trend. Nursing as a profession would be more respected and truly viewed as a profession only if it has standardized education requirements of ALL Nurses. But unions disagree.

RNs also pay union dues which do not go to pensions or other benefits for individual RNs. No, those union dues are used to run the unions themselves....extremely high salaries and perks for the officers/ organizers/ staff and money set aside for lobbying/ political purposes which are accountable to no one except the top brass themselves (who aren't even RNs).

The grievances against unions go on and on. Now to tie in with the situation going on in Taiwan, I shudder to think what the level of corruption would be like if Taiwanese Nurses decide to elect themselves to have union representation. I am not saying that unions are corrupt in nature, I am just wary of the lack of transparency and the notion that Nurses need a Big Brother type organization to look after them. They might be trading in one bad thing for another. Think very carefully, explore other avenues and demand transparency on part of hospitals, govt. agencies, and continue to publicly shame these entities and people in charge.


Michael Turton said...

unions as the sole answe

Thanks for your thoughts, but no one said "sole answer." Unions are one necessary basis for change. O

Anonymous said...

I went to CNN website and read the responses to the CNNi report. Wow, just wow. I couldn't believe the range of complaints from RNs and MDs currently working in Taiwan. It is obvious that the next to free/ extremy low premiums and out of pocket expenses have encouraged large number of the population to abuse the system. I mean, intubating a terminal cancer patient, families requesting to have loved ones "live" at the hospital for upwards of two years? What kind of f--kery is this?! Government is too timid to raise premiums or to implement guidelines to flush out those who abuse the system. So they nickel and dime healthcare workers who are but a small percentage of voters, right?

The NHI needs a drastic overhaul across all spectrums: budgeting, guidelines of appropriate care, legal reform to address prejudice against healthcare workers, workers' rights/ fair pay, list goes on.... Public must be educated on end of life care, and that most importantly there is no such thing as free or discount healthcare of unlimited yet high quality care. Eventually the system will have to give; either the care suffers due to low pay/ shitty working conditions or the system goes bankrupt or maybe both.


yankdownunder said...


Why do reporters always use
terms like

"long-rumbling territorial dispute" in their reports.

The Chinese/Taiwanese government has only claimed the islands since oil was discovered in the area in the 1970s.

Are these "journalists" so ignorant or are they biased?

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr Turton for posting the CNN iReport. Unionization, however, is not in the Taiwanese culture; it'll never fly. And to Nurse Jen: Maggie Lin, RN, was stating the truth. It is very rare for a Taiwanese woman to voice her discontent so publicly and so emotionally. You are actually "watching the fire burn across the river" as the saying goes, the fire is a preview of things to come in the US - if the Supreme Court upholds Obamacare. Hospital-based nurses in the US may feel secure at the moment and perhaps even in the foreseeable future, it is only a matter of time when the catastrophe strikes.

Under the current NHI system in Taiwan, the almost-free high-quality health care becomes a birth right, so deeply ingrained now that no amount of education can change the consumer behavior. Indeed, a wholesale overhaul of the system is sorely needed; unfortunately, it is the third-rail as Medicare in the US, which no politicians dare to touch. The more sensible gate-keeping role of primary care physicians has been stripped by law and relegated to the nickel-and-diming after-the-fact non-physician NHI auditors. So we now have a slowly declining system and the first to fall is the once-noble nursing profession. And the next to go? Well, already we are seeing primary care and ER physician posts go unfilled.

The solutions offered by Jen are all good except they are not practical.

Anonymous said...

Nobody has mentioned that Taiwanese nurses already have a "union" or at least representation (護士工會), but it's most visible function is to collect fees and hand out one crappy present per year. Last year's plastic knife was not worth the membership fee, but without being a member, one can't work as a nurse.

Anonymous said...

No, this is incorrect, there is a 護士"公"會, not to be confused with the non-existent 護士"工"會. 護士公會 is mandated by law, it has no negotiating power at all.