The global financial crises has forced every industry to get a little creative. Rather than go with the stodgy “buy one get one free” approach of many struggling industries, the Czech health care system is wooing its nurses with unusual pizazz. Like most countries around the world, the Czech Republic’s health care system is teetering on the brink of collapse, in part due to the nursing shortage. The Czech Republic is in a particular bind: Nurses are emigrating to other countries for better pay and opportunity while fewer people are training to become nurses due to the negative stereotypes left over from communism. The idea of using incentives to encourage employees to renew their contracts is hardly newsworthy. The fact that some Czech medical establishments are using incentives like free breast implants, liposuction and tummy tucks does raise my eyebrows. (Not for long, however, should I decide to become a Czech nurse and opt for a face lift or Botox.)Now, before you start getting all hot and bothered let’s clear up a few facts:
- The nurses do not have to go under the knife to keep their jobs. The free boob job is a perk should a nurse herself chose to continue in her current job. No one will be penalized or unable to renew a contract because she does not want plastic surgery (just to note this offer is extended to male nurses and so far one has signed up for lipo).
- Offering free plastic surgery to a predominantly female dominated profession complete with stereotypes and kinky fantasies sounds bad. At first it seems blatantly sexist and demeaning to sex-up nurses, but after a ponder I have a different spin. What if companies are just offering what the women want? What is the use of an incentive that is incentiveless? Plastic surgery is absurdly popular in the U.S. and apparently even more so in Eastern Europe. If the Czechs love their Beauty Pageants as much as we love American Idol, then in a crazy twisted way, is winning a little lipo that different than winning a private singing lesson with Adam Lambert? If a couple of fake knockers keep the Czech health care system from tanking, can a bit of silicone really be that bad?
- Plastic surgery is not the only form of incentive: it’s not silicone valleys or zilch. OK, I admit the nonsurgical alternatives are pretty lame (free German lessons tops the list), but at least this way it’s not as if nurses who chose to go au naturale are missing out. Every nurse who signs up gets something, the only reason this story is getting any attention at all is that some of the “somethings” are controversial.
At the end of the day I get why some women are freaked out and consider the surgical incentives degrading. I would have a problem if women were being forced to have the surgery, but that isn’t the case. The Czech Republic is desperate for nurses, good-looking or not. Breast implants are not the most PC perk I have ever heard of, but unusual times call for unusual
measurements measures. [NY Times]