I come on to my shift with blown IVs, meds not given and orders not entered. When I try to talk to the nurses responsible about this, I get eye-rolling, swearing and yelling. Should I write people up? Go to the boss? Complain to HR? I don’t mind standing up for myself but this is really getting to be too much.
Nurse Mentor Nancy’s reply:
Good for you for trying to solve this problem yourself! However, it looks like you will not be able to change this kind of toxic environment alone. You need help. You can’t hold your fellow nurses accountable. But your supervisor can. Your supervisor either doesn’t realize this kind of behavior is going on or more likely doesn’t know how to fix it.
You mention two issues:
1. Nurses are not doing their jobs.
2. Behavior of the nurses when there is a conflict. (especially when # 1 happens)
I suggest you ask for an appointment with your immediate supervisor. Tell her/him you will need about 30 minutes to discuss some issues you are concerned about on the unit. Prepare ahead of time by writing these down. Consider possible reasons that work is not done on the previous shift like limited time and staff to do too much work. If you can guess at some of the root causes for these problems, think about some solutions that you might be able to help with. One idea might be to come in a few minutes early when staffing is low to help the nurses on the previous shift finish their work. This might go a long way to improve your relationships with the nurses who are handing the unit over to you. When you meet with your supervisor, remain cool and calm. Let her/him know that you are not just complaining, but are willing to work at finding an answer to the problem.
First and best case scenario:
Your supervisor is appalled by what you say and is willing to look at the possible root causes for the problems and solutions. She/he expresses graditute that you had the courage to bring this to his/her attention. He/she asks you to let her/him know when these situations occur in the future. Thank your supervisor for her/his time and attention to your concerns. Then see if your supervisor is true to her/his word. If so, and you see real change taking place in the next few weeks, you may be able to stay.
Second and not as good scenario:
You get a lukewarm answer, excuses for the other nurses or why no action has been taken. Ask for you and your fellow nurses to have some conflict resolution training. Let your supervisor know that you will be writing down any problems you see with nurses not completing their assignments in a timely fashion or any negative behavior directed at you and giving this to her on a daily or weekly basis(whatever is easiest for you.) You will plan to walk away from any nurse who yells at you and will ask for her/his help with any conflicts that you are having difficulty resolving. Confirm that you would really like to continue working there, however this negative environment makes work very difficult. (In other words, hinting that you may not be around much longer if action is not taken to turn this around.) Meanwhile, look in your employee handbook to see if there are any grievance policies or if anything is said about violence in the workplace.
Last and worst case scenario:
Your supervisor gives you the impression this behavior is tolerated. Nothing is going to be done to change what is happening. Or even worse, that you are the problem, and you never should criticize the other nurses or point out their shortcomings. If this is the case, get another job as soon as possible. Meanwhile, let the supervisor know you are going to HR to bring your case to them.
I commend you for dealing with this problem directly. Confronting others at your workplace is never easy. When the interactions go badly, it is even more difficult to continue. How you resolve the issue starts with talking with your supervisor and her/his willingness to attack the problem head on. You must be willing to participate in this process. Whatever happens, the lessons you learn from this experience will serve you well in your career in nursing.