March 16, 2022

UMC Requires Mandatory Overtime For Nurses Due To Staffing Shortages

UMC Requires Mandatory Overtime For Nurses Due To Staffing Shortages

Overtime. Sure.

Time and a half. Sounds good. 

Mandatory overtime. Hard NO. 

Beginning Wednesday, March 16 nurses at University Medical Center (UMC) of Southern Nevada will be expected to work mandatory overtime as well as extra shifts to compensate for the short staffing. 

A memo was sent out on March 7th by the Chief Nursing Officer explaining the decision to force mandatory overtime. The memo appears to partly blame the nurses for this new requirement. The new requirement would require nurses to work one OT shift per week for the next 60 days. Nurses can sign up for the shift but they aren’t guaranteed it and if they don’t sign up - one will be assigned by management to fit the needs of the units and hospital.

“In response to the discontinuation of the crisis incentive pay, actions demonstrated by some of our nursing department members surprised and saddened me,” read part of the memo, which was issued by Debra Fox, UMC’s chief nursing officer.

“First, there was no longer a need to continue this expense when our dynamic staffing needs could have been managed using voluntary standby and extra shifts/overtime shifts,” said Fox in the memo.

It also added that every other area hospital discontinued similar crisis pay and ended by saying the incentive “was no longer being valued as a short-term way of recognizing those going above and beyond, but rather as an expectation of entitlement.”

Nurses Take To Social Media

With over 3100 comments, the memo was posted on the widely popular threat “r/nursing” on the website Reddit. Comments are less than positive related to this new requirement and the wording used in the memo. 

User mec1088 an RN in the PCU said “Ok, CNO - time to roll up your sleeves and get to work!! You’ll have no choice with all the nurses exiting stage left….”

Another user mll254 said “I’ve quit “good” jobs over mandatory OT. Your personal time and your sanity are worth more.

Images: Reddit 

It’s quite impressive the comments that have been left on the thread and most with some colorful language about the CNO and the hospital. Interestingly, there are MANY stories of nurses quitting the hospital over the mandatory overtime that was implemented during the height of COVID. Furthermore, there were other stories from nurse travelers about the working conditions. 

Serarrist , an RN in the ER said, “I was fired from there last year two days after I called the union to complain about the mandatory OT during Covid. I was told by the director of critical care that doing MOT was “part of my commitment to my community.” This user also shared a first-hand story from another nurse stating, “One ICU nurse I met while I was working there told me the mandatory OT during Covid made her suicidal and led to a nervous breakdown.”

Reddit isn’t the only social media platform that nurses are talking to about the mandatory overtime requirement. The widely popular account “the.nurse.erica” on TikTok and Instagram has hundreds of thousands of views on videos where she detailed and subsequently ridiculed the memo.

Interestingly, according to her profile, she was a nurse at UMC for over nine years and still has many friends and contacts at the hospital. As a result, hundreds of nurses sent her the memo in hopes to make it become more public. “It's essentially blaming the nurses, it's the epitome of gaslighting,” she said.

Union Steps In 

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Nevada Local 1107 is the union representing1400 nurses and certified nursing assistants at UMC.

Liz Bolhouse, the SEIU chief nursing steward for UMC, said that union representatives met with UMC executives including Fox, to discuss the concerns and several grievances filed on behalf of the nurses following the memo.

The grievances were filed for several reasons. According to the union

  • Nurse contracts require a two-week notice to change shifts so they can, for example, have time to find childcare accommodations.
  • There was no posting for voluntary overtime before mandating it.
  • There was no provision for a reasonable review of employees' requests to be excused from mandatory overtime or portions of mandatory overtime.

After the meeting between the Union and hospital executives yielded no real results, nurses protested outside the hospital holding signs reading ‘overworked and understaffed.’ 

Currently, there is no plan to overturn the memo and it is slated to take effect later this week. Nurses are expected to sign up for their shifts before the OT takes effect. 

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