Hillary Clinton: Nurses Are Glorified Babysitters-Unproven!
Summary of eRumor:
A long-running rumor that Hillary Clinton once said that nurses were glorified babysitters or overpaid maids (depending on the version) resurfaced during the 2016 presidential contest.
There are a number of different versions of Hillary Clinton’s commentary on nurses — but we couldn’t verify the authenticity of any of them.
Clinton has been quoted as saying that “nurses are glorified babysitters” or “nurses are overpaid maids” or “nurses are overpaid and uneducated.” Although different, all of these comments carry the same message: nurses are under skilled, overvalued and overpaid.
These rumors appear on message boards like All Nurses going all the way back to her first presidential bid in 2008. While many posts question whether or not Clinton actually said it, one such forum post is a little clearer, and is the only one that actually provides a source:
I remember reading an article back when I worked in the neuro ICU where Hillary Clinton was quoted to say that nurses are under educated and over paid. I remember the nurses were so furious about it and posted the article of the pittsburgh post newspaper on the bulletin board so everyone could read it. This was during the 90’s so there is not internet documentation but you will find many nurses that remember it.
We scoured the Pittsburgh Post archives (the paper is now the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) for the source of the quote, but our search returned zero hits.
During that search, however, we found a transcript of a 1993 town hall speech that Clinton delivered to the Democratic Governors Association in Woodstock, Illinois, while she was advocating for healthcare reform as first lady.
In the speech, Clinton made a number of general statements about nurses, doctors and the healthcare system that could have been spun (right or wrong) into a commentary about nurses being “overpaid and undereducated.”
In reference to nurses (and other medical professionals) having to earn their salaries Clinton said:
We can no longer write a blank check for health care in this country. We will have to ask everyone — workers, employers, doctors, nurses, other health care providers, hospitals — to do their part. We’ll have to tell very other aspect of the health care industry that it can no longer expect to be raising its prices and profits growing at two to three to four to five to eight times the rate of inflation. We’re going to tell workers that if they do not do their part to be responsible users of health care, then we will never be able to adequately to rein-in costs.
Clinton’s comments don’t exactly match the notorious commentary on nurses, but they could be shoehorned into the general idea that Clinton viewed nurses and doctors as being overpaid at the time.
Clinton spoke to training and education for nurses at one point after she said that nurses spend half their time filling out forms:
Doctors and nurses will finally be able to do what they were trained and educated to do — keeping people healthy, not filling out forms
Again, the quote doesn’t exactly fit the commentary on nurses, but it relates generally to education and training of nurses.
Finally, Clinton made one last references to doctors and nurses in her speech that relates generally to nursing wages and/or education:
That is one of the most cost-effective things we can do — to encourage doctors and nurses and others to pay off their loans, to be forgiven for their loans, if they will go into areas that need their help. There is hardly a program that is more worthy of consideration than that, and it will be reinvigorated after being allowed basically to die on the vine over the last 12 years. If we make sure that all of our people are covered by integrated delivery networks like Governor Dean and others are talking about, then nobody, no matter where they live, will be without access to decent care.
So, although the Clinton town hall speech from 1993 doesn’t exactly fit the narrative that she believes nurses are overpaid and uneducated, that’s the closest thing we could find.
And, for what it’s worth, Clinton gave a glowing statement about the role of nurses in the healthcare community when the American Nurses Association endorsed her during the 2016 campaign:
“Across the country, nurses provide vital medical care to countless Americans every year. They care for our families and friends, they comfort us in times of uncertainty and grief, and they maintain continuously high standards of medical practice. You won’t find a harder-working, more dedicated, and more trusted group of professionals anywhere.
“As President, I will always stand with America’s nurses in the fight to finally achieve universal, affordable health care and fight against any efforts to roll back the protections and coverage of the Affordable Care Act. I will always stand with American workers to protect their rights and safety on the job. And I will fight to ensure that patients get the very best care, including by addressing the looming nursing shortage, investing substantially in tackling America’s substance use disorder crisis, and finally taking mental health as seriously as we do physical health.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean that Clinton didn’t once call nurses glorified babysitters, overpaid maids or said that they were “over paid and under educated” — but we couldn’t find any proof that she actually said those things, either. That’s why we’re reporting this one as unproven.