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Is it OK for the nurse manager to change my job assignment to an endoscopy tech from an RN in same-day surgery?

Wednesday August 28, 2013
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Question:

Dear Nancy,

Is it OK for the nurse manager to change my job assignment to an endoscopy tech from an RN in same-day surgery? The head of human resources thinks that it is like an RN working as a nursing assistant, but I disagree, I know it is a totally
different job.

Jena



Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Jena,

Without including more details in your question, it sounds as though you are being used as an endoscopy tech rather than an RN due to some outside factor over which you have no control, such as needing to decrease costs in the department (hence, you are categorized as a tech at that level of pay and with those benefits). Although it may be permissible for an employer to use you in this manner and rationalize it in any way it selects to do so, it is generally not in your best interest to be working in a position that has lower responsibilities than what you have been educated, certified and licensed to do.

One problem with such a down-step assignment is that you never leave your RN endoscopy education and experience at the door of the endoscopy unit. Endoscopy techs have very different patient care responsibilities than does an RN in endoscopy. What would you do, as an example, if an endoscopy patient had a medical emergency and you were the endo tech assigned to that patient? Would you intervene as a tech or as an RN? Clearly, if there were a lawsuit due to a patient injury or death, regardless of what your title was at the time, your standard of care would be what other ordinary, reasonable and prudent RNs in endoscopy would do in the same or similar circumstances in the same or similar community.

To support your concerns, you might want to visit the Society of Gastroenterology and Associates' website at www.sgna.org . On the home page, click on Position Statements. One statement of particular interest to your situation is: "Role Deliniation of Nursing Assistive Personnel in Gastroenterology" (2010). There are other Position Statements and Guidelines that would be helpful to you as well.

Although you may decide that the tech job is better than no job at all, you might want to consider a consultation with a nurse attorney or attorney who works in regulatory law to advise you of your options in this situation, since it appears that neither the human resources department or your nurse manager is listening to your concerns. The attorney can help you formulate a voiced objection to your supervisor and HR that might change their mind about this type of job switching.

Sincerely,
Nancy




Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.