Letters to the Editor

Violence shouldn’t be a part of nursing | Letter


I currently work as an registered nurse at both a large urban medical center and our local hospital. As a nursing student in 1986, I sustained my first injury while trying to care for a mentally ill patient.

What I naively thought back then was a “once-in-a-lifetime” occurrence is now commonplace in hospitals, both big and small.

Many of my co-workers have also been injured by patients in the course of trying to provide safe, quality care.

We know this problem is getting worse as cash-strapped states close facilities, cut mental health care, eliminate addiction programs and curtail other resources.

Patients with significant histories of violence or mental illness are brought into emergency rooms because there is nowhere else to take them.

When a policeman goes out on the job, they know they may encounter violence and are equipped to protect and defend. In health care, we have no such protection.

It is important to combat the notion among police, prosecutors, courts — and, sometimes, nurses themselves, who are often reluctant to press charges  — that violence is just part of our job.

The sad reality is that nursing is quickly becoming one of the most assaulted professions.

I urge you to consider the roots of this issue and speak to someone in the profession. Then, join us to bring changes about, for the good of the patients we serve and those who take care of them.

Trish Nilsen, RN



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