1. Garvey, Pat RN, MSN

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When the nurses at my facility went on strike, it was the saddest, most emotional day of my professional career. Managers formulated a plan to allow our staff to leave the building as we brought in replacement staff, so that their paths never crossed. As an ICU nurse manager, I had to orient a new staff and ensure patient safety.


We moved to a new building on the second day of the strike with unfamiliar nurses accompanying each patient. These replacement nurses were the most adaptable, flexible individuals I'd ever met. They accompanied the patients in ambulances and crossed angry picket lines into a new facility for which they'd received no physical orientation - all without uttering a complaint.


The strike was eventually resolved after several weeks of emotional ups and downs for all involved parties. But staff return proved to be my/our next major challenge. I had to train myself to be accepting of the returning staff - I wouldn't discuss what happened within the confines of the building during the strike if they didn't talk about what happened outside of the building. But after witnessing their behavior on the picket line, especially toward the replacement staff and the nurses who dared to cross that line - this became increasingly difficult. I wasn't surprised that the administrative structure crumbled, and one by one, leaders in the organization resigned. I realized, too, that I wasn't welcome anymore, so I left the organization.


I still don't support unionization; I'm not comfortable working with the constant threat of grievances. And I have no regrets: I assured, to the best of my ability, that ICU patients were well cared for during the strike, and I became acquainted with new nurses from across the country. I also learned valuable lessons about life, people, and my own work ethic.


Pat Garvey, RN, MSN