ICU RN let go after 3 months

  1. Worked at a Level 1 Trauma Center, great learning experience. Floor orientation lasted 11 weeks total. 7 weeks working 2 twelve hour shifts/week on the floor and the rest of the 80 hour pay period being in the classroom. After finishing the class work, I worked 4 weeks on the floor working 3 12's/week.

    My whole goal going in was to try to soak up as much as I could from my experience as possible, when on the floor I used a notebook to write down important notes about the unit. Always studied at home after work as I am single and had the time to do it so I would know the pathophysiology and fill the gaps of when I had questions medications, procedures, or conditions. I had it down so well I was able to draw the circulation of blood from the aortic arch to all the cerebral arteries where strokes were common (not too hard). Got to know and continued learning the different types of aneurysms, procedures, how they were done, I learned so much everyday... I always tried to help other people when asked.

    However, I didn't get along with and tried to get along with my preceptor but personality wise we were just different. I asked a lot of questions as I am new, but with every question my preceptor always asked "why/what do think is going on?" so I would be in the middle of trying to figure out multiple drips for a patient and ask for tips on how to hook them up and get the "how do think they should be hooked up?" question back for example. I wouldn't know and eventually my preceptor would help me after trying to figure out how while family members of the patient in the room watched me struggle to figure it out. Looking back I should have asked for a different preceptor. Anyways, towards the end of my probationary period, I asked my preceptor how I was doing, and got the answer that I would be on my own in a couple of weeks. Then come to find out, my last day of my probation period, my preceptor didn't show up, called in "sick". Later in the day, I was called to the unit managers office to be notified that I wasn't a good fit for the unit. Much to my bewilderment, the main reason cited is that I didn't understand the pathophysiology and conditions well enough. I was so shocked at the moment and was basically speechless and didn't see any use in arguing with my manager about it considering that whose word would my manager take someone who has worked for 8 plus years or someone who worked for 11 weeks? However, I was referred to another unit within the hospital, but I still want to be in an icu and my manager said that I couldn't use them as a reference to get in another icu. Long rant, but would I be crazy to apply to an icu at another hospital and how do I sell my story?
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    About rn_wee

    Joined: Apr '12; Posts: 7; Likes: 11
    from US


  3. by   bpomeroy59
    I would like to begin my reply by stating that I have been an RN for 33 years ( next month), have an MSN in cardiopulmonary nursing ( teaching option ) from SLU , and have 16+ years working in critical care, 16+ years in hospital supervision, and 8+ years teaching nursing clinicals ( incl. critical care nursing clinicals ). That being said, I am extremely sorry something like this happened to you. I am very deeply disturbed about your experience, both from critical care nursing and from educational points of view ( even though incidents like this occur more and more frequently ). Nearly each sentence you wrote contains management and education " red flags". I am a firm believer that nurses should not " eat their young" and you were not only eaten, but devoured and digested. I only hope the horrible scars of this incident do not permanently damage you !!!! First I want you to remember that not all nurses should be preceptors/educators. It takes a special person to be an educator. You must possess nurturing abilities as well as abilities to UNDERSTAND and abide by principles of adult learning. Too many times preceptors are chosen simply because they " have worked there a long time ". Unfortunately they do not understand or have been exposed to adult learning theory. The responses given you by your preceptor ( while trying to stimulate critical thinking) were inappropriate given the fact you are new to critical care. You were not an experienced critical care nurse ------ if you would have known the answer, you would not have asked the question !!! No question is stupid, esp when it comes to orientation!!!!! Another problem I have is with what happened your final day of orientation. I would sum it up as unforgivable ! I want you to always remember that a cardinal rule of management is that items brought up on an evaluation should NEVER be a surprise to the employee!!!! Clearly feedback to you about your performance was clearly lacking. You should have received WEEKLY evaluations from your preceptor that should have included strengths/ weaknesses, areas for improvement, and goals for the upcoming week. If you were not making satisfactory progress, your preceptor should have been communicating such information to both you and the nurse manager and appropriate interventions should have been developed by both the nurse manager and your preceptor. If you were not going to satisfactorily complete your orientation, you should have known about it LONG before the last day of an 11 week orientation !!!!!! In addition , your preceptor should have been present when you were given the bad news in order to provide feedback !!!!! I hope this helps you in some small way deal with the horrible psychological trauma you experienced with this situation and can move on and become the really good ICU nurse you can !!!! I would gladly be willing to talk to you more about this situation on the phone if you would like. . Sincerely , Bruce M. Pomeroy, MSN, RN. God Bless and wishing you continued success !!!!!
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Apr 30, '12
  4. by   traumaRUs
    Bruce - what a wonderful answer - thanks so much!!!

    You would certainly be a joy to work with/for!!!
  5. by   NJRN33
    Bruce what a great response... I wish all nurse educators/ managers were just as nice One thing I've learned as a new grad "you've got to stand up for your rights and speak up because a lOt of times people respect you more"
  6. by   mikeicurn
    When I graduated I immediatly got a PRN position in a small hospital ICU about an hour from my home. My local hospital had no positions open. I worked in the ICU for 5 months, and even though I was PRN I still worked full-time most weeks, but had no insurance. I worked with great people, and learn a bunch. I was contacted by the ICU manager of our local hospital because she had heard of me through people I knew at the hospital and she offered me a job. I took it because it was full-time and a lot shorter drive. It was a horrible mistake. These ICU's were almost the same size 6 and 7 beds respectively. And being 24 miles apart had pretty much the same patient demographic, but they were worlds apart. The average age of the ICU nurses in the first hospital were in their late 50's with decades of experience and nothing to prove. In the second hospital there were a bunch of 20 and 30 somethings that were the worst I have ever seen for backbiting and trying to make someone else look bad. After 5 miserable months of not fitting in and not being released from orientation, the manager pulled me into the DON's office and told me I was disqualified from working ICU. I was told I was not progressing as I should be. I was let go since there were no positions open on the med/surg floor. My confidence really took a beating. I was unemployed for a month.

    I took a med/surg position at the original hospital I worked at, as I was nervous about going back to ICU. After 2 weeks one of the ICU nurses retired, and I was told I was going back to ICU to take her place. No discussion. It was the best thing that could have happened to me. I am happy back here, and they are happy with me. I have never once had a problem here. I know I am a good ICU nurse. The problem at the other hospital wasn't me. It was them, and their loss. Don't let this shake you. And when I came back I was honest about what happened. I told them I was there for 5 months and told I wasn't a good fit. Nothing to be ashamed off.
  7. by   taramb7263
    I am curious.. When you apply to new positions what do u tell the interviewer? I know it's not professional to say bad things about the past facility or staff that you worked with but ... what do you say?. I was a new grad with the preceptor from hell! I was a victim of lateral violence .I experienced similar things but worse; i am older and worked very hard for my RN and I was offered my position after graduation which I took and had no issues with the first preceptor I was given. I was given a new preceptor for my unit once she was trained in the preceptor class. Thats when my problems started.Apparently she was new to the unit and sometimes I knew more. I tolerated her gossiping about staff, undermining staff ,reporting staff without even trying to resolve it first. I knew it was just a matter if time before she came after me! I started to hear from staff that she was trying to get me fired. She wouldn't teach me and would belittle me. This was after several weeks of me going to my manager hr staff development to report everything. I even sat in a meeting where she stated I refused to take patients! Lies! Such horrible lies I endured. I came home crying, was depressed and it was hindering my learning. They wouldn't resolve it and finally the last straw was when she suggested to me that I should do something that was a violation of hipaa. Now- hearing two days prior that she was trying to get me fired I went home and I did what any good nurse would do. I protected myself and my License. I reported her. Of course she lied. And I was told the last week I was there that they didn't think it would work out that they would support me transferring and hr wanted to see me. I was told I could resign which I did. My first preceptor cried and others said they felt this nurse won. I kept my lisence and walked out knowing I would do it again. Hr never returned my call or email. My manager has kept in touch. I've heard since I left she has tried to get 4 other staff members fired. But now when I interview and it's been at some great hospitals it comes up that I left my position. I never know what to say and how to explain that what I experienced was horrific. I just say it wasn't the unit for me and now I have my dream hospital interview next week!!! I am afraid the same thing will happen!
  8. by   mikeicurn
    "I am curious.. When you apply to new positions what do u tell the interviewer? I know it's not professional to say bad things about the past facility or staff that you worked with but ... what do you say?"

    I haven't had to deal with it a lot. After I was fired I ended up going back to the original hospital I worked at, but it was a different dept and different manager. I also interviewed at a couple of other places, and didn't accept those jobs because they were too far away. I didn't bad mouth the hospital or the people I worked at. I just said I worked there, I was there for 5 months, and it didn't work out. I tell them that I was OK on the night shift when I first started, but once I was moved to day shift there were problems with the day shift crew and after 3 months of that I was told I was disqualified from working in ICU. I was eligible to work in other departments, but at that time there were no openings. So I was let go, but told I would be contacted when something else opened up. I just leave it at that, and I haven't had anyone question me any further than that.
  9. by   taramb7263
    Thanks. I have said I resigned because I realized that the unit was not where my passion was and there were no openings within the hospital at that time. And I am continuing my RN to BSN. The hospital has been forwarding my applications to managers but I have still never been contacted by HR . I would never work there after they supported someone of that nurse's character. They lost an awesome nurse for an experienced nurse. I can learn the skills but she will never learn compassion and self esteem. She saw me as a threat because I was new and on my game and she was not. I would work in the worse possible area with no pay before I went back there. And I'm tough.. I can put up with crap and nonsense but when someone is a threat to me and my liscence on a personal level it's time to get out!
  10. by   rn_wee
    Thanks everybody, it's extremely encouraging to see the replies. I got an interview at another hospital 4 days after being let go. It is closer to my residence although, it isn't a Trauma 1 center or a ICU (its a tele job only 2 days a week). If I get offered the job, I'm going to take it. The reason I told them at the interview, about only working 3 months at my previous job, was that Neuro wasn't my first choice, and that it was the first interview/job offer I got. As simple as that, didn't elaborate any further as no more questions were asked about it. I may have an advantage as I do have one year experience on a telemetry unit as a LPN, its hard to predict interviews, but I think it went well.

    Now my thinking has shifted from working ICU to working part time on a med/surg telemetry unit, and picking up a couple of contingent positions. Reason being, if needed I could work up to 60 hours a week (to help pay off student loans) or just work my part time job 2 days a week and take a nice vacation/break to help preserve sanity. I know someday I will be back in the ICU, and I will continue to study and learn, but for now I think what happened may have been a gift in disguise.
  11. by   taramb7263
    It's great to have a positive attitude I'm sure you will get the job! I have had 6 interviews in 3 weeks 4 at top hospitals and 2 in others but I'm grateful to have the interviews!!! I have two looking to hire me and two that I just interviewed for and am waiting to hear from. I doubt I'll get into where I want to be but I'll take work where ever I can to keep working!!! Be strong and confident and you will end up with something great!!!! Good luck to you!
  12. by   rn_wee
    taramb7263 just curious if you landed a job yet and hopefully in the area you wanted to get in. I got an offer today for a contingent position on a m/s unit. Got offered 24.50/hr seems low for not getting any benefits. Am I out of question thinking the pay should be in the 30/hr range? Anyways, I got a few interviews next week, and waiting to hear back from a previous interview.
  13. by   taramb7263
    I got called back for a second interview after 4 weeks!!! I am impatient lol... Well- I was making 26.00 @ my last position and even homecare offered me 29.00 after I negotiated travel time figured into hourly rate.. That job is still a possibility. Also- there are two others I'm waiting to hear back from 1 is doing background and references and the other I'm just sure I didn't get but I felt I gave the best interview yet!
    When I interviewed for ED position in Newark they offered me 33.00 for days and 38.00 evening/ night yes... 24.00 SOUNDS LOW!!!!
  14. by   rn_wee
    A second interview? Geez, sounds like a prestigious hospital and or nursing position. Don't know many places that require a second interview. Yah, hopefully you will get a position that you like and is a good fit. It's difficult to tell how well a interview went. Sometimes it may be they have already selected the candidate, but have to interview a certain amount of people for some HR policy the institution has. I know one thing for sure after having a few interviews, is everybody asks the same questions. How important is customer service? Give me an example of when you went above and beyond to provide customer service. What is your greatest strength? What is you greatest weakness? Give an example of when yourself and a coworker has a disagreement and describe what happened to resolve that disagreement. Why should we select you out of all the other candidates for this position?

    Funny thing is when I had my interview for my previous ICU position, it was one on one with the manager of the unit, lasted less than 30 minutes, then I went on the unit for a while to see what it was like. That's it. My other interviews (for med/surg and tele units) have had two or more people asking all the awkward interview questions with a duration of at least an hour or more. Then a tour of the unit.

    One of the better questions I had was from a one of the senior nurses that was invited in on the interview that works on a med/surg unit she asked "What would you do if somebody needed to go to the bathroom but couldn't get out of bed?" I had sort of a confused look on my face as I thought it was maybe a trick question, but replied "I would put them on the bedpan." I guess she was trying to see if I was going to ask for a nurse aid to do it because she explained that a lot of nurses ask the nurse aid to do that even when the RN can easily do it them self.

    I took the contingent offer and gave myself a few weeks before my start date in hopes that I can find something with benefits before that. I know the pay is on the low side considering the hospital is a trauma 1 center in a major metropolitan city, and also is a good drive from my house. Not to sound pompous, but hey, if they want to keep the nurse retention saga going, I'm going to contribute to it.

    Pay nurses right, give us reasonable acuity ratios (I think there ought to be a country or at least per state patient ratio based on a easy to follow formula based off acuity) and compensate loyal nurses. From what I have already have heard from nurses who stay at their position for many years (like 8 or more years) is that they get paid a lot less per hour then someone who jumps around every year to a different hospital. Unless you work in an area you absolutely love. Whats the point in keeping a job other than getting your check to pay off the bills. And yes you are making a difference by helping other people and that feels great, but in what nursing job would you not be making a difference?