The nurse's worst enemy is herself. It is a poor self-image as well as a failure to mobilize that prevents the nurse from commanding the professional status that she deserves.
Nurses are grossly underpaid. The average Los Angeles hospital staff nurse earns about $12 an hour. Thus the life and death responsibilities of a nurse are rewarded comparatively to the tasks of a receptionist or grocery store clerk. Added to low wages are horrendous hours with little control over work scheduling. Many hospitals require their nurses to work the graveyard shift as well as to do mandatory overtime.
The typical hospital staff nurse has little opportunity for advancement. If becoming charge nurse is seen as promotion, its minimal salary compensation is heavily outweighed by increased responsibility and longer hours.
Of even greater importance in the factors affecting the nurse's plight is the ever-increasing patient-nurse ratio. In recent attempts to curb the spiraling health-care costs, many hospitals have increased the patient-to-nurse ratio three-fold while at the same time terminating ancillary personnel.