Nurse Blake is a nurse, an advocate for others in the profession, and a comedian with nearly 1 million followers on Instagram. He uses his platform to raise awareness of the challenges and triumphs nurses go through, while creating a community for these healthcare workers to come together and laugh. We talked to him about the state of nursing and how to find fulfillment and safety while working in healthcare.
When did you realize being a nurse was the career path you wanted to pursue?
Since I was young, I always knew I wanted to go into healthcare. My parents steered me in that direction from an early age. I started working as a patient transporter at 17 to get my foot in the door in the health space.
How have issues with understaffing affected you and the nursing industry as a whole?
It’s been really alarming to hear what hospitals around the country are considering acceptable as far as staffing goes. I have members of my community messaging me daily about how appreciative they are that we’re bringing awareness to this issue.
Understaffing is dangerous for both the nurses and patients. Nurses are working extremely long shifts often without food or water, let alone any breaks. Meanwhile, nurses truly just want to give their patients the best care.
What many people don’t think about is that understaffing affects every element of the hospital system, from nurses to patients and beyond. I’ve made it a priority to use my platform to spread the word about this — flying around the country to stand by the sides of nurses in certain areas that are fighting for their staffing rights.
What can healthcare systems do to avoid understaffing nurses?
I think there needs to be break nurses. I know in some states and cities, they have nurses that come in to work overtime and relieve other nurses so they can go on break and take lunch. Nurses need better break rooms and spaces where they can nourish themselves with food and water. A lot of nurses can’t even have water at the nurses station. Many times nurses can’t even leave the nurse station because of unsafe staffing.
What have you done to ensure the best quality care for your patients despite the demanding workload?
I’m primarily focused on education in my work today. In doing so, I’m able to make sure other nurses have the resources they need. I created NurseCon at Sea, the ultimate nursing conference, to offer an opportunity for nurses to come together, renew CNE (continuing nursing education) credits, and have a good time, all in one place. It’s become an incredible event each year.
Beyond this, my comedy allows me to give nurses a community to laugh about many parts of this industry. All of this contributes to myself and other nurses being the best versions of ourselves for our patients.
What advice do you have for other nurses dealing with the challenges of the profession, and aspiring ones who will be soon?
For people who want to become nurses — If you want to do it and have a passion for helping others, definitely do it! We need more awesome nurses in this field because there is understaffing. Get your butt out and help work the floors with us. Don’t let it scare you. Nursing is an incredible career. You don’t have to be in a hospital to be a nurse; there are plenty of jobs and opportunities for nurses to have a positive impact in their community outside of an unsafely staffed hospital.
If you are a nurse dealing with these issues, find a job you love and that is safe for you and your patients. You deserve to work in a healthy work environment and give care to patients in a healthy environment. If you ever feel unsafe, that’s the time for you to go out and find a job that makes you feel safe and allows you to give the highest quality of care to your patients.