new er intern needs advice Help!!

  1. HELP I just started as a nurse intern in the ER and really need some advice. Since I have been here I spend 12 hours constantly running for the nurses to the lab, transport patients, cleaning rooms, and when I have a spare moment acting as a patient rep. I don't mind helping out, but I feel absolutely dogged out and with have 3 to 5 nurses giving orders, I really don't get a chance to observe or learn anything. One of the other interns has quit, and the others are trying to endure till they get their license.
    It is so bad sometimes you don't get a break and even when their is a moment to sit down, you feel very uncomfortable because the nurses talk around you and look at you as if you are doing something wrong. I have even had some of the nurses ask me to go get them a drink!
    I tried to explain how unbearable the situation was to the nurse manager and supervisor, but they seemed to get angry and told me "Your not a nurse" when I told them I didn't feel I was getting the oportunity to work on my nursing skills. I realize I am not licensed at this time (taking nclex test next week) and I know that I need to learn these things, but my question is: I thought that being an intern was to learn and orient to the area. I don't feel I am being taught much, and my preceptor barely speaks to me.
    Is the the norm for internships in the ER? At this point, I am so discouraged that I am living for the moment I get my license so that I can end this internship. I know this isn't something I am doing wrong because all of the interns there feel exactly the same, we were all relieved to know that each other was feeling exactly the same.
    I have thought of just quitting but, when one of the other interns quit, she was told that this wouldn't look very good on her work record.
    Please any advice greatly appreciated!!! IS this the norm for interns in the ER?
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  2. 8 Comments

  3. by   llg
    Find a new job first .... then quit or transfer out.

    Is there any chance that you can simply transfer to another department in the same hospital? That often happens during orientation at my hospital. In fact, we encourage it for people who discover that they don't have a good fit while in orientation. We tell them to visit our Nurse Recruiter who can help them find a better fit for them. We would rather "save" those people for the hospital rather than lose them entirely.

    As you are interviewing for new positions, be honest about why this first job has not worked out, but polite and respectful. You don't want to sound too disgruntled and too demanding -- like a "problem employee." Practice finding nice ways to say that the ER was unable to provide you with the type of orientation you feel you need. Have a few concrete examples (such as getting drinks for the RN's) to share that are clearly inappropriate if you are asked specifically about that -- but emphasize positive examples of the types of things you need more of (e.g. practice with assessments, drawing labs, etc.)

    I don't think it looks too bad to leave really early into a new job if you can clearly (and professionally and politely) say that you made a "mistake" when you chose that first job. You have learned from that experience and now have a better sense of what type of work environment would be right for you. Lingering for a little while in a job you hate won't help anybody.

    Good luck. Let us know how it works out.
    llg
  4. by   blue280
    I was intern in the ER and my experience was nothing like that! They were very good to me and my preceptor was wonderful. They were truly trying to nuture the new interns because they wanted us to stay. Does your ER normally hire interns? You sound like you were doing CNA work instead of intern work. I will say that I left the ER because I felt the pace was too fast for me. It did not reflect badly on me. When transfering, you can always say thet the ER was not what you expected. With the shortage the way that it is, they would like you to be in a position that you are comfortable with. Good luck!
  5. by   Talon
    The purpose of an internship/orientation is to get you ready to practice independently, NOT to have you perform gofer tasks for the already overworked nurses. This applies to nurses who are already licensed and begininng a career in ER nursing (or any area for that matter), or a graduate nurse awaiting NCLEX testing. I can really sympathize with you as I had a very similar experience recently. I had been out of school for several years with LTC experience and wanted desperately to break into ER nursing. The only facility that would take me with no critical experience was one hour away from home, but I wanted it so badly that I went for it. Since I had had the LTC/skilled experience, I was ok until I was assigned the critical care area. The facility that I worked for was one of the busiest ERs in the state and from day one, my so-called preceptor went one way and I had to run the other--it was the only way that we could complete the patient assignment, an assignment that was supposed to be for one RN! Critical care patient assignments consisted of at least three criticallly ill pts, sometimes four, and there were always another 2-3 on stretchers in the hall, your so-called "stablized" pts, unmonitored, of course, as there were never enough portable monitors to go around. I was very scared about the volume of the assignment and felt that there was nno way I could safely handle this number of critically ill pts (wasn't unusual for you to have 2 vented, one active GI bleed, or a code, drug od, etc) When I spoke to "the powers that be" in charge of the ER about how unsafe I felt that this was, especially in light of how little critical care experience I did have, I was told point blank that just because I had no critical care experience, they were not going to lighten or change the pt assignment, and if I wanted to work there, I had to "learn how to just deal with it!" Talk about pt safety, not to mention licensing issues! Well, I tried my best to deal with it and lasted slightly less than one year. I left without notice after "dealing with" an expecially high volume, high accuity and dangerously understaffed weekend and have not been able to find employment since because my previous employer has chosen to badmouth me because I felt that I had no other choice but to leave under those horrific and unsafe conditions.

    Sorry this is so long, but I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in how you feel and what administration can and will do to its RN's. I wish I could tell you that after you pass NCLEX, things in your ER will change for you and I appologize if I'm bumming you out with my story. If you really really want ER nursing, try to find another ER that will take you after you pass your boards and are licensed. It's just been my experience that even if you tactfully try to work things out, you may get a bad rep where you are right now. Talk to as many other nurses as you can to learn about other facilities, keep reading and studying; that knowledge will help you to keep your hard earned license safe.

    The reality of nursing today is just what you and I and so many others are experiencing--very little training, very high acuity, very high volumes and an attitude from administration that this is how it is, deal with the chronic understaffing, deal with the chronic pt safety issues, find your own way to keep your license safe, and if you can't deal with the way things are, get out and find another career! So many of us are doing just that. Again, I apologize for the long winded reply, it just saddens me that this is the reality of nursing today, I just keep thinking, after all that hard work and all the sacrificing, this is how bad things really are for RN's.

    Anyhow, I wish you the very best of luck when you take your boards and no matter what happens, you have friends out here on this BB. Keep us posted!
  6. by   tinga
    Thanks everyone for the replies. I haven't much time, I have to get ready for work, but wanted to thank you for the advice. I have a meeting with the supervisor this afternoon to discuss this but not feeling too good about it. One of the other interns tried to yesterday and said she felt meet with anger and intimidation. So we will see, I will let you know what happen. Oh, I am not an R.N., but a soon to be LPN. Didn't want any misunderstanding. I plan to start RN classes but wanted to work a while and get experienced first. I thought this was going to be a great opportunity to learn so many things, but feeling like it was bad mistake.
    Anyway, must go will let you know how things work out, and thanks so much for the support!
  7. by   TazziRN
    If you are an intern there should be a resource person available to you? What would have been the equivalent of your instructor in school, I mean. Could that person intervene for you? You've done what you should have so far, which is following the chain of command, but it sounds like there needs to be outside intervention if you're not the only intern who has experienced this. Good luck.
  8. by   daya512
    Last edit by daya512 on Jun 21, '03
  9. by   mother/babyRN
    They will pick on you as long as you allow it....I would say, " I am here to observe and learn, and if you would like to help me out with that, I would enjoy helping you out with things...You aren't their slave...Going to another position will not be bad for your work record..It will mean you recognize when something isn't working or can't be fixed, and changed the situation, which would look good on your work record because it speaks to assertiveness and appropriateness....Those are two important and valued characteristics for anyone in any field..Good luck. Don't let them keep you as their doormat...Open the door and either go through it, or close it on them...
  10. by   Rapheal
    As a new nurse I received treatment like that the first couple of weeks. I calmly, nicely, politely, got the point across that I am not a doormat. The good nurses now treat me with respect. As for the nasties-I do not give them the time of day. They have learned they do not get a rise out of me and do not bother me anymore. Good luck. Nice people will treat you decent, nasty people need to be ignored.

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