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Nurses protest Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center’s proposed schedule changes

Nicholas Cole, a UCLA registered nurse, holds a sign protesting scheduling changes for float pool nurses outside Ronald Reagan Medical Center. The proposed change from the hospital says float pool nurses will now be required to work at least one shift per week instead of being allowed to schedule their own shifts within a four-week period. (Shiv Patel/Daily Bruin)

By Shaun Thomas and Alexandra Crosnoe

May 29, 2024 12:58 p.m.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly referred to the California Nurses Association as California Nurses United.

This post was updated May 29 at 10:52 p.m.

Around 70 registered nurses and community members rallied near Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center on Wednesday morning to protest changes by hospital management to float pool nurse scheduling shifts.

Float pool nurses work in multiple units within their specialties and address staffing shortfalls throughout hospitals. Instead of being allowed to schedule their own shifts within a four-week period, float nurses will now be required to work at least one shift per week, said Nicholas Cole, a UCLA registered nurse represented by the California Nurses Association, a union affiliated with National Nurses United.  

Nurses walked in a circle Wednesday morning holding signs that said, “UC, we are not disposable” and “UC, respect your nurses” while chanting, “UC, step off it, put patients over profit.” Several nurses also spoke at the rally, calling on the hospital to allow more schedule flexibility for float nurses. 

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson from UCLA Health said the organization remains confident in its staffing decisions. 

“UCLA Health strategically recruits, trains and flexibly deploys nurses consistent with our overriding priority of providing safe, high-quality patient care,” a spokesperson said in the statement. “We value the commitment, compassion and skill of our nurses and are confident in the details of our staffing program.”

Many nurses are recruited with the promise of flexibility, as they tend to be travel nurses and need to care for their families or work multiple jobs, Cole said.

Float pool nurses at the medical center are trying to uphold the current practice of being able to freely schedule their shifts, Cole added. He said he rallied to support his fellow nurses and to fight for their rights, including work-life balance.   

Protestors hold up signs and march in an oval. (Shiv Patel/Daily Bruin)

“Twenty percent of our team will be forced to quit as a result of these scheduling changes,” said Jannel Gooden, a pediatric float nurse. “We signed on because of the flexibility. We signed on knowing that we could schedule ourselves in the way that it aligns with our lifestyles.”

Nurses also want to demonstrate to hospital management that sacrificing nurses’ schedules for operational efficiency is unacceptable, said David Yamada, a nurse in the coronary critical unit in a speech.

“Management thinks that a nurse is a nurse is a nurse. We’re all replaceable like we’re in a factory,” he said in the speech. “But if you work at bedside, you know that all nurses are not created equal. We have experience, skills and expertise that we’ve all built up.”

Gooden said these changes will also negatively impact patient care, adding that she believes the move will endanger their ability to adequately staff their department.

Neil Rudis, a float pool nurse who works in the intensive care unit, said he believes the scheduling changes are not the first time management has prioritized profits over patient care, such as when the hospital packed patients into hallways, which he said lacks “basic human dignity.”

Yamada said other hospitals do not require float nurses to work one core shift per week, adding that  float nurses could leave if UCLA does not increase its scheduling flexibility.

Rudis said he believes the hospital has disregarded its workers and patients.

“It’s nurses who are being sacrificed. It’s safe patient care that’s being sacrificed,” he said. “The bosses are choosing to sacrifice us. They’re choosing to sacrifice our patients and our community.” 

Contributing reports by Shiv Patel, Daily Bruin staff.

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