For the first two years of my nursing career I worked weekend option. This means I worked 7am to 7pm, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I could only have off 8 weekend days a year, for whatever reason, I still was obligated to work holidays, and the acuity of the patients was often much higher as well as usually having to take at least 4 or 5. The benefit was an extra $7.25 an hour, which as a new grad, where I live, is HUGE! I mean honestly in Georgia, the minimum wage is still only $5.15, so I was making more than what many people make in an hour on time of my actual base pay. It was liking working an overtime day on every paycheck. The money was really sweet, and it was definitely a learning experience.
Unfortunately, even though the money was nice, it was a very rough start to my nursing career. In addition to the fact that working weekends took away valuable time from family functions and outings, at work there was often minimal help, no authorities to go to if you have a real problem that your “teammates” aren’t or won’t help you with. As a new grad, and a sometimes overly confident, eager to prove herself, I tried to do as much as I thought I could on my own and often when I asked for help/questions I already had an idea and just wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing. It was not uncommon for me to stay an hour, often more, over my shift to finish things because I felt they were my responsibility.
What did this get me? Nothing. Well actually, it did get me something. The entire shift of people I worked with didn’t care for me in the slightest and told my on many occasions they had no desire to be friends with me. They also told me that they were tired of having to compensate for my mistakes to Doctors/ext. And honestly, I really can’t recall many mistakes that I made. What apparently was going on is that they were looking for errors, reviewing my charts, my notes, looking at my patients, literally looking for errors, gathering together, making lists, and not helping patients. I literally once had a patient whom another nurse said was having respiratory distress, and even though I was sure she wasn’t, I ask her explicitly for her help to fix it and to help the patient, she refused to help me, sat on her but, crossed her arms, and stated I needed better assessment skills. What bothers me so deeply about this, is that is trusted her own assessment skills, and was so sure she was in distress and that I was incompetent to handle it, then why on earth would she allow the patient to suffer and possibly die? Why? So she could say I was incompetent, claim I didn’t ask for her, and eventually verbally assault me.
The patient, by the way, was never in any sort of respiratory distress. She had malfunctioning pulse oximetry and the alarm was agitating her. I went into the room, assessed the patient, assess the alarm and tried to remedy the situation every time is alarmed, and when I realized that I couldn’t, I asked for help, to which I was denied. All the other nurses sat in a circle, while my patient was apparently in respiratory distress, according to them, and talked about how incompetent I was.
What could I do?
Well apparently, the next move was to be threaten to have my ass kicked by my charge nurse when I tried to tell her that we have to work as a team for the well being of our patients. Her response to my request for teamwork was to threaten me with an ass kicking.
There really is merit to the phrase “nurses eat their young”, even though she only had 1 year of experience on me, she was the nurse to end all nurses and she needed to prove how incompetent I was.
Whew. I rehash this day in my head often. Why? Because it led to a life changing move to night shift, which I initially loathed and was very upset by my boss for her literally forcing it on me. Why did she do this? She believed them over me, and almost admitted so point blank to HR. HR also caught her omitting the truth, and picking favorites, when she admitted she never asked the patient/family if she ever felt I wasn’t trying my very hardest, ever felt in respiratory distress, ext. She admitted the only information she had was what she was quoted by another nurse, which for some reason, she though her version was more valid than mine.
At any rate, I moved to night shift. I was so fearful of this at the time because I was sure I wouldn’t be able to stay awake and I was also working about what sort of dynamics this group may have. I mean, could it be possible for them all to hate me?
I was pleasantly surprised.
The ladies I was received into had apparently heard through the grapevine the poor treatment I had received, for going on 2 years now. On my very first night working I was welcome with a party, cake, smiles, and more appreciation and respect that I had ever felt as a nurse. And it has been wonderful ever since.
They want my opinion on things. They want my help on things. And even the nurse who is fantastic, and has been a nurse for 20 years asked me, little ole me, if I would be her nurse during her surgery. If that doesn’t show confidence, I don’t know what does.
I am no longer dreading walking into work. I know I won’t get the worst of the worse patients. I know that I have support and teamwork. I know I have friends when I go to work. I know I’m doing the right thing. I know I have support.
I know I am good nurse and that others know I am a good nurse. And that, that alone, makes life so much better.