Is there less cattiness/gossiping/laziness in the ICU environment?

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    Please excuse what may seem like a rant, but I can't vent anywhere else and the relative anonymity of cyberspace seems like a safe space.

    I've currently been working on a cardiac step-down for a year and have been looking within my institution for critical care positions. I generally like my floor, the patients, and my co-workers, etc... but sometimes the gossiping/cattiness/laziness really, really gets to me.

    Many times I feel like the nurses I work with, especially some of the older gals, just want to do the bare minimum of work, throwing a fit when I (or anyone who is the designated "team leader") give them a higher acuity patient or a central monitor pager in order to try and make everyone's assignment as fair as possible. Many times these nurses will sit on facebook while their patients' call lights are double blinking. Don't get me wrong, I like to check my e-mail and facebook when (if) ALL of my tasks/charting/patient care/reading progress notes are done, but sometimes it is ridiculous; if I notice another nurse's light has been double blinking for a while, with no techs in sight, I will go answer it myself.

    Granted, some of the other nurses gossip about these individuals' slovenly work, but they also like to nit pick other, irrelevant things about everyone. It makes me paranoid that whenever I enter the conference room and it's quiet, that they were talking about me the second before I opened the door. I have very little trust for most of my co-workers and I'm tired of cleaning up after them. Many times, their assessments have been lacking, missing very important things, like fixed pupils, femoral bruits and such. By no means am I perfect, but for whatever I lack/mistakes I've made, I've done everything I can to learn from them as well as helping out my co-workers when they're in a bind.

    I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place since I'm fairly new there and don't want any suggestions/constructive criticism to be taken the wrong way, which it would be by many of these individuals, so I bite my tongue, be helpful and nice and bide my time until I can try and confront these individuals in a constructive way. I don't know if management needs to get involved.

    The other night I was running from sundown to sun up with a difficult patient who really belonged in the ICU, but the service wouldn't transfer. I was proud of myself for handling his difficult, demanding family and exceedingly complex care needs...by the morning his temp went down from 40C at initial assessment to 36.5, HR from 130s to 80s. In-between paging, calling, hanging gtts, passing meds, doing an admission and generally taking care of this very sick patient and my others, I wondered, if this is what it's like in the ICU, it seems like nobody would have the time or energy to really sit around idly and gossip, play on the computer. I was ready to pass out during report because I gave my patient and his family everything I had. I seem to remember being impressed during my senior year in school about the cohesiveness of the nurses and doctors in the SICU where I had my clinicals and wondered if it was a general ICU phenomenon.

    I have very high standards for myself and thus for my brothers and sisters in this profession. I don't know why they became nurses, but I did it because I want to help ameliorate people's suffering and save lives. Please tell me there's a Valhalla out there somewhere for a young, motivated, Type-A, detail oriented nurse like myself who is tired of indolence and cattiness. I have reached a turning point in my first year, where I no longer cringe at difficult situations, where veteran nurses are now asking ME how to do certain things on the unit and I feel like I'm ready to step it up a notch. Please tell me if I'm deluded with my critical care dreams...

    If you reached this sentence, thank you for taking the time to listen...
    Last edit by tRiguN on Sep 28, '11
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  3. 5 Comments so far...

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    On night shift, there are times when you're just in monitoring mode, everything is cool and you're making sure it stays that way. Other times it's hitting the fan, and you're pulling your hair out, "Oh gawd ... oh gawd ... oh gawd ... " There are all sorts of people, and they work in the ICU too. No guarantees who you get to work with!
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    I see a bright future for you. You're what this profession needs; smart, hardworking, independent, critical thinkers. ICU might not be an answer, but worth exploring. Or you could work with your manager about changing the culture in your unit. Good managers see talent when they've one and you're a good asset to your unit and facility. Good luck.
    Good Morning, Gil likes this.
  6. 0
    Every ICU I have ever worked in had a high percentage of male RNs. So yes I have alwasy found less "cattiness" and gossip.
    Some ICUs are like you describe, just go, go, go all night long. In particular ICUs that recieve trauma patients. Some ICUs, in my experience MICU, are usually not like that, though the crap can hit the fan anytime.
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    In my particular unit (MICU), I have not witnessed the cattiness/gossip/laziness. This was a positive change for me, and I am so glad I am working in this unit now. I feel as though I make a difference every day and actually can be thorough with my patients. I feel very fortunate as I know all units are not the same. I don't think ICU is immune to gossip, etc....just depends on the unit culture, so you take a chance on a unit and hope for the best. Maybe try floating to your ICU a few times, if that's possible, to get a feel for it? If you've been there a year, most places let you do an internal transfer. I will also say that since I'm so new (on orientation), I am so busy that I don't have time to sit at the desk and chit-chat lol. I wouldn't do this anyway as I feel there is always something that can be done. If I am done with my stuff, well, maybe the other nurse over there has a patient that has had a code brown for the 4th time and is stretched thin lol. You sound like an awesome employee, and the other nurses should be thankful that you're so helpful rather than whining about their assignments.
  8. 0
    In any environment you will find there is less of it if you don't participate in it, listen to it, stay where it is going on, or allow it to happen in your presence.
    Just get up or walk away and find something else to do.
    It's really find to say "I will leave this to you" and find an activity of some benefit.
    They will get the picture soon enough.


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