Hazing, what to do about this...almost ready to quit.

  1. Hi All,

    I thought I would ask this here since this seems to happen most often to new nurses. Sorry for the long post but I want to give some background.

    I am a new nurse still orienting in the NICU. We have 40 weeks of training which is separated into Level II/Level III (20 weeks days and 20 weeks of nights). I just started my Level III training (24th week) and so far things are going fine with some days better than others and I'm with a good preceptor. My problem is that while doing my Level II training on nights I was initially assigned a preceptor who did not want to precept and I was basically ignored or treated with rudeness until I spoke with my Ed. Coordinator and was changed to another preceptor. The 2nd preceptor seemed fine at first but I eventually found out that she was a car-pool buddy with the 1st preceptor and at the end of 5 weeks our night coordinator had a meeting with me in which I was presented with a "memo" which included 5 weeks of "mistakes" I had made...none of which my 2nd preceptor had brought up with me...and many of the "mistakes" that were presented were incorrect and painted me in a bad light. I wrote an "addendum" to this memo and asked that it be added to my file. I felt like I had been hazed by these two and the worst part is they are part of a group of about 4-5 nurses that hang together on nights. A few other new grads have spoken with me about this group and are apprehensive about working with them. None of the new grads are happy about eventually working night shift because of the staff and several of us have had very bad experiences with night shift preceptors. After this meeting with the "memo", my Ed. Coordinator (who wasnt even in the loop about the meeting) expressed her shock but changed me back to days where I started working with my 2nd great day preceptor. Not surprising, I was so stressed out from all this I started questioning myself and if I'm really cut out to be in NICU or even be a nurse. Our Ed. Coordinator took another job between Level II and Level III training and we now have an interim Ed. Coordinator that is doing fine but doesnt really want the job. Because of the situation with poor night preceptors all the new grads were given 8 weeks on days with Level III instead of 5 weeks, but we will be going to nights next month and will have 2 weeks with a preceptor then be assigned a buddy and basically be on our own with a buddy as a resource. I have done great with my daytime training and with both preceptors that I have had, they have given me great feedback and both have been patient and are very knowledgable.

    My problem is that the 2 bad preceptors that I had on nights barely speak with me and will not even make eye contact (I was afraid that this would happen when I initally spoke with our Ed. Coordinator before they changed me from night preceptor 1 to night preceptor 2). Yesterday my day preceptor and I took report from one of these nurses, which went fine, except that she would not make eye contact with me at all or even acknowledge I was there. This nurse was returning for night shift so my preceptor just told me I could give her report alone while she was assisting another nurse in our pod area with her babies. I started to give her report, asking her if she was ready, she was at an over-bed table taking notes from the chart...she just ignored me. I tried to just give her the updates from the night before and go over all orders received for the day...with no response from this nurse. She walked over to the 2nd babies warmer and started taking notes there. I went ahead and gave her updates on that baby and new orders...but she continued to ignore me...never making eye contact or acknowledging I was there, report was over very quickly. My day preceptor spoke with me a few minutes later and asked me if I made sure to give this nurse the new updates/orders etc. I told her that I had and that the nurse pretty much just ignored me and that I wasnt about to kiss her a** about it and that I had to go through this same treatment for 2 weeks with this lady until they changed my night preceptor. My preceptor then went over to this nurse and tried to give her more info., at which time this nurse pretty much ignored my preceptor, (NICU nurse with over 20 yrs exp. and well respected by everyone). This nurse never said a word to my preceptor or made eye contact with her either. We left together and neither of us said a word. My preceptor just said she would see me on sunday (our next day together)...but I know she was perplexed about it. I will be starting nights with a new preceptor (she is a part-time charge nurse and seems very nice) in 1 month, I will have 2 weeks with her then will be assigned a "buddy" for the remaining 12 weeks. My buddy could be anyone...as stated earlier night shift is not known for having the best nurses to precept or even help new grads. I am so anxious about this I am having strong thoughts of quitting NICU, which would be hard because I do enjoy the babies/families and many of the nurses, staff, etc.

    My question, does anyone have suggestions on how I can be proactive about this before I start nights and all hell breaks loose? I am afraid this group of nurses, esp this group will haze me and that both my license and even worse a baby might be at risk. I would be fine if I stayed on days but unfortunately all the new grads are going to be working nights as that is where they need staff. I know night shift is struggling, they are 5-7 nurses short on a regular basis...most new nurses on nights try to get day-shift asap and many actually have gone to our in-house temp staff and now work prn shift in NICU on days. It appears that the turn-over on nights is very high.

    Any advise would be appreciated. At this point I'm not sure who to go to or
    who to trust.



    Thanks in advance to everyone ! Sorry for the long post.
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  2. 7 Comments

  3. by   traumaRUs
    Whew! What a mess! I am not a NICU nurse but this is not acceptable. The care of the patients is being jeopardized. It sounds like you are getting a solid 40 weeks orientation which is great. I've never heard of any unit with that much orientation - is this the norm for new grads? I think with that amount of time and money spent on you by the hospital, that the unit manager is going to want to keep you. So...I would start by talking with the interim educator to inform them that you are being harassed. I would cite specific examples: ie ignoring you when you give report, not answering your questions (if that has occurred), etc.. I would be very specific as to your needs. The atmosphere of this unit leaves something to be desired it seems. However, again, patient care deficits can be the result.
  4. by   Humbled_Nurse
    Reading these type of posts make me so angry. Why do some nurses have to be so rude to new nurses. It just sickens me. I'm sorry that you are going through this. If I were you I would speak with the nurse manager not the educator about the issues you are having with some of the nurses. I don't blame you for wanting to quit. I would probably want to as well. The first year as a new nurse is so stressfull and it sure doesn't help to have these rude, "prima donna" nurses trying to push you away. I find hazing behaivor EXTREMELY CHILDISH and shouldn't be tolerated. There are nurses out there who enjoy seeing new grads "not make it" in the unit. There will always be a few nurses in the NICU who have been there forever and can be intimidating, but they shouldn't treat new nurses like you have been treated.

    Anyway, enough of that. If I were you when you get back to nights just do your best to ignore these nurses and just do your job. Try to make friends with some of the other new grads so you will have someone to be buddies with. Do your best to hang in there. Give yourself a time frame such as if things aren't better in 4 months I will then look for a new job. I don't agree with staying in a job that you are miserable at, but I do agree that you need to give it some time. When you get done with orientation and build up some of your own confidence maybe you will find that the nurses will start respecting you more.

    I do ask that you don't leave NICU because of these immature nurses. That would be a shame. If it is still bad in a few months find another NICU to work in.

    Hang in there and keep us updated!
  5. by   lencialoo
    Thank you traumaRUs and Humbled_Nurse for your supportive replies !!

    I know that there are alot of nurses who do care and we have many of those on day shifts. I have heard of other NICUs that have the long orientations too and that is one of the reasons I wanted the NICU was because of the great training. I really do love working with the babies and also with the families and want to stay in NICU. One good part about nights is that we have alot of travel RNs and they are very nice and are easy to make friends with...probably because they are newbies most the time too. I also have a contact with a travel nursing agent that keeps encouraging me to try and stay at least through my training because he can get me travel NICU jobs in a nearby larger city but I need at least 9 months to 1 year experience before they can travel me. This NICU is the only one in my city at this time, although another hospital is opening a Level III NICU in 2008.

    I'm not a young nurse, this is a 2nd career for me but I guess I was naive enough to think that nursing would attract more than it's share of caring people...unfortunately it seems like that may not be true, but there are enough good people to make me want to stay if I can get through this rough time.

    Thanks again and I will update this post, I always learn so much from everyone here !!
  6. by   traumaRUs
    Good luck and take care and let us know how things are going.
  7. by   Daytonite
    lencialoo. . .first of all, i need to correct you. what you are experiencing is not hazing. it is out and out nasty behavior toward you and it is inappropriate and immature. we all have people that are less than desirable for one reason or another to work with, but as professionals we are not supposed to let that interfere with the work relationship. having been a preceptor for many years as well as involved with a new grad orientation program for a large hospital i have some suggestions for you.

    first, i am giving you a link that is a powerpoint program teaching people the main points on how to act as preceptors. take notes. this is how a preceptor should act. demand this of your preceptor(s) and your program. if they are not living up to it, then note this on any evaluations you are given when you feel they have wronged you as preceptors and do it in writing. http://www.lcahec.com/images/thepowerofthepreceptor.pdf

    second, i would also make my specific concerns known, verbally and in writing, to the nurse recruiter as well as your nurse manager. base them on the principles presented in the powerpoint above. if you continue to be treated in a condescending way, this is not hazing. it is immature game playing and has no place among professional workers who are supposed to be precepting and overlooking the training of new persons in the profession and for the facility. when it affects patient care, it is a serious matter that needs attention. what you can do is provide written documentation of the transgressions being made by these persons, so the management of your facility has something with teeth to work with--if they are willing to do something about it. training new nurses is part of most rns job responsibilities. if your manager is not going to be responsive to their failure to do this in the right way, not able to help you figure out some strategies on how to handle the situation, then there is something wrong with your manager and i feel you should re-think your choice of being there. ride out your time and consider transferring to another unit in the hospital as soon as transfer is possible. for sake of survival, don't reveal your plan to transfer. a manager who is not willing to help a new worker who is being bullied like this is running a pretty bad ship to begin with and the problems are going to continue. it is possible that your manager doesn't know how to deal with the behavior problems of these night shift nurses. behavior problems, i found, are one of the hardest things to discipline. it's often very difficult to find just the right wording to write incidences up objectively. however, it can be done. perhaps some specific written complaints against these two nurses that specifically detail their nasty actions will make them straighten up--that is assuming that your manager or someone who has influence over them takes it seriously. another possibility is to get the shift supervisors involved in helping you out with this. the shift supervisors act in place of the unit managers when the unit managers are not in physical attendance.

    third, there is something you said that bothers me a bit and i can see where it is contributing to the personal problems that you have with the two night shift preceptors you have talked about.
    my day preceptor spoke with me a few minutes later and asked me if i made sure to give this nurse the new updates/orders etc. i told her that i had and that the nurse pretty much just ignored me and that i wasnt about to kiss her a** about it and that i had to go through this same treatment for 2 weeks with this lady until they changed my night preceptor.
    that kind of editorializing demonstrates attitude. it gets around, becomes gossip, and it doesn't make you look innocent or pretty. you put yourself in the gossip mill when you make comments like that because you have no control over where your words are going to end up. you could have been overheard. believe me, everyone else on your unit knows what these two nurses are capable of doing to new employees because they've witnessed it. the reason they are still there is because they don't cross these people. everyone likes to watch a good fight and as long as they aren't the ones getting picked on, so much the better. are you willing to be yet another sacrificial lamb of these two bullies, or do you want to survive? you put yourself in the same category, put yourself in the same game, as these two night shift preceptors by saying things like that. it is not the attitude you want to portray. on one hand, you are saying you are being picked on; on the other, you're itching to take a swing. you are one of the new guys on the block and to say those kinds of things is about the surest way i know of to get yourself excluded from an established group. you have no way of knowing who is going to take what you say back to these two preceptors as a way to ingratiate themselves with them. best action, don't make any kinds of comments like this at all and keep your cool. don't drag yourself down to their level because that is one of the goals of the little game these kind of people play. they lure you into their web where they can shred you to pieces and dispose of you. the problem is that you end up being the loser, not them. they've played the game too many times, know their strategy well and know how to stay standing on their feet. you don't. at least, not yet. you can outsmart them if you have a manager or supervisor who will help you.

    "the silent treatment" is a dysfunctional game played by people who cannot confront others honestly or deal with their own disappointment. keep that in mind because that is what these two night shift nurses are dealing with. your way to confront them will be to question their method of confronting you (inappropriately written assessments of you, their nasty behavior) by documenting it in writing on your responses to their written evaluations. make your written response organized, acknowledge your weaknesses, but also point out their failures as preceptors.
  8. by   NurseNadine
    Kill 'em with kindness?? It cannot hurt to try. I don't know if this is feasable or not, but could you approach the nurses privately and say something like, "Have I done anything to offend you? I'd really like to keep working with you and I think you are a really competent/knowlegable nurse. I hope I haven't done something to upset you. Is there something I can do better?" and so on. Most people avoid confrontation and if you were to compliment her it might open some doors or start a dialogue for you to work things out without having an all out war. If this isn't a reasonable idea or doesn't work out, I would think filing a formal complaint using the chain of command like the others mentioned would be your only recourse. Please let us know how things work out!
    I wanted to add that I have had to swallow my pride and be humble in the past to keep things pleasant. Although I hated it, I sucked it up. Even if you are in the right, it is hard for others not to accept an apology or compliment! Most people find it hard to be nasty when you ask for their help and show them kindness even if you are seething below the surface. It is not an easy thing to do but it may help. Good luck!
    Last edit by NurseNadine on Feb 10, '07 : Reason: more explanation
  9. by   Mags4711
    I agree with NurseNadine, except I'd drop the "I hope I haven't done something to upset you. Is there something I could do better?" Because it does seem like it's sucking up a bit. I've said the first couple of lines many times in the past and finished it up with "If I've done something incorrect, I'd like to learn the right way. I'd love it if I could learn some tips and tricks from you."

    It's still swallowing a little pride, but as NN said, it's hard for others not to accept some praise and it's hard to to be nasty when you seek them out for assistance.

    If that doesn't work, and they still blatantly ignore you, I would (and have once in the past) let them know you feel you've done all you can to get off on a good foot, but you will be talking with the manager about it. Then document and do it. CYA and maybe have someone you trust listen to you approach the offender so that you have a witness. Sounds sneaky and ridiculous, but sometimes it's necessary.

    I hate to say it, but NICU's are notorious for eating their young, most NICU's have nurses that have been there since the beginning of time and think things should be done their way, that it's the only way. I have trouble when I went to the NICU as well. Even though I had worked adult ICU for five years, and Peds and NICU graduates for four and a half years. But they've accepted me now. In the beginning there was a group of about five nurses who verbalized how little they liked me. It's just a protection thing. And I'm one of the sweetest (no, really) folks you could ever meet. Sometimes I think it is actually a test to see if you have the "stuff" to make it in "their" world.

    It took about a year and a half for things to be 100% okay.
    Last edit by Mags4711 on Feb 20, '07 : Reason: spelling

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