Durkheim Division of Labor

This post is by Jay Rasmussen, uploaded by Dr. Kate

Looking at the hospital system each unit from the medical surgical unit, pediatric, cardiac surveillance, intensive care unit, and surgery each of these units are their own environment but they are part of the hospital system. In the medical field, they have their own way of language that people from the outside. Sometimes the staff may speak in medical language and the patient may nod their head like they understand. However, they really may not understand so it is essential to explain things in a laymen’s terms. Because our jobs are extremely stressful we sometimes joke around and to help relieve that stress. This however can be perceived by patients and their families as distasteful or they think it is about them. When a patient comes into this environment it is scary because they don’t understand what is going on with themselves as well as the environment of a hospital system. Because of the restrictive environment patients may feel more vulnerable and restricted because of this. Our culture has a dress code for each area of the hospital to easily identify which department you work in. Even the patients have special clothes. The hospital system has its own unique way of life from the people who work there to the visitors and patients.
The division of labor is broken up into different categories especially in the hospital where education and training divides the labor. The first level is nurse aide they will have approximately one semester of training. The next level is the nurse tech which is time at the facility and classes. At this level they are doing blood pressure checks, temperatures, and basic assessment. The next level is an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) to get to this level it requires a diploma, certificate or two-year degree. This role allows you to do everything the tech does and administer medications under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN). At the RN level this requires either a 2 year or a four-year degree. A four year degree focuses on more of the theory behind nursing and is also more sought after in a work environment. Then you have the level of Nurse Practioner which requires a Master’s degree. They work directly with the physician and can write out prescriptions. The highest level is the physician they have they go through college then resident training and medical school. The higher the degree the less direct contact these employees have with patients, however the pay is more and there is more paperwork and responsibilities involved. During a normal shift the nurses and techs are doing a lot more documentation then actual hands on care. The main reason is because of insurance and state requirements This has changed over the years, there is a saying in the medical field, ”if its not documented, you didn’t do it “. Each unit has its own specialized training to best serve the patients. Floors or units consist of medical surg, orthopedics, pediatric, cardiac, ER, labor and delivery, are just a few of these specialized units. The division of labor does exist and needs to exist in this setting for the simple reason of patient care and safety. You wouldn’t have a nurse aide prescribing medications and though you don’t have doctors cleaning up patients typically it can happen. So it would be considered a division up but not back.


4 thoughts on “Durkheim Division of Labor

  1. mhstephanie says:

    I like how you approached this topic. I know I never pay attention to those details when I am there. I just know I don’t feel well or the perspn I am there for needs to get better. You get crabby waiting and your brain seems to be thinking the worst, so your attitude towards the staff is horrible sometimes. This is a great perspective and makes you think about those people, and how they feel and why they grin and bear it just to dp their job and make everyone comfortable, safe and confident in the job that is done. Doctors are there to heal you and those working in a position of vitals and drawing blood are just as important as the next person. Its interesting when you have to be reminded that those people are there to help, but are they taken for granted a lot? Helping the public is hard to do when you’re expected to do a lot and make their world right again. I have friends who work in a hospital setting and they have tough days. But a person with the right kind of mind set goes home at the end of the day knowing that they are doing the right thing. Even through all of the verbal hostilities they still go back the next day, since they are essential to the functioning of the hospital and they know people will always need them.

  2. rebecca01c says:

    I enjoyed reading your perspective, its nice to have it voiced that our nurses are now actually doing more administration type work (documentation) than actual patient care.

  3. This is an excellent description of what Durkheim is talking about when he writes of organic solidarity. Durkheim, then, would have looked at a hospital as a good example of the importance of a complex division of labor, but one that also experienced the problems of ‘anomie’ that he noted re: suicide. That is, he would have advocated and maybe even devised shared ritual that would help people in this hospital ‘ecosystem’ (my words, not his) achieve solidarity.

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