Major disagreement with my preceptor...

  1. OK, I'd love to hear some words from the wise about what happened -

    I'm a new grad RN who recently started on the floor. I'm toward the end of my orientation and am working with a staff RN as preceptor. There's one RN who I work with whenever she works, but the other days I'm paired up with someone different each day.

    What happened was I was teamed up with a nurse who seems to be the sore thumb on the floor. Every one else is kind, caring, helpful etc, while this nurse is just nasty to everyone. I usually get along very well with pple so I figured if I keep a low profile I'd survive the day with her. WRONG! This nurse was criticizing every move that I took *in front of the patients, doctors, and the nurse's asistant's*. She was nasty and rude when she could have just as well told me in private to correct certain things. I know I'm not dumb and stupid, and I also know that at this stage of the game there's a lot that I dont know. But to be treated this way the whole day was too much. My nurse manager wasnt in that day so I couldnt even go over to talk to her (not that I had the time to do that). I listened to her criticism the whole day, held it in quietly and was looking forward to day's end.

    Toward the end of the day, the nurse educator came around to check up on me and see what I was doing. (She checks up on all new orientees each day on orientation). She asked how my day was going, and before I knew it I burst out crying. We went to a private area and I told her about my day. Apparently this wasnt new to her because she told me, quote: "It would've been better for you to work yourself, than to work with her. She was never meant to be a preceptor to anyone." We talked some more, and I cried the whole time. Then she told me to finish up only two more things and then give report to my preceptor and call it end of day already. She also told me that when my manager comes back to work she will speak to her about this whole scenario.

    I went to wash my face while the nurse educator went to tell my preceptor that I had a rough day and I would just finish up a few more things and then go home, leaving the rest up to her. Well 10 minutes later when I went to give her report, she just stood there and screamed at me. "You have no right to go behind my back, you're ungrateful, etc...." It was horrible! I kept quiet and when she finished yelling I walked away and cried some more. My instructor told me to ignore her and just leave. She even escorted me off the floor.

    Thats the story, but I know its just the beginning. I know that the whole unit is probably talking about this incident the whole weekend. Monday I'm going to have to obviously talk it over with my manager, and my nurse educator will be there too. Its not going to be a simple get it over with scenario, because action will be taken. This is a nurse that noone likes, and she walks around gossiping about others, like shes porbably doing about me right now. This incident didnt just involve 2 pple, it included other nurses, nruse's assistants...

    Question is - what should I, and what should I not say when I speak to my manager (who happends to be very nice)? Do I tell all her about ALL the upleasant encounters I've had with her?

    I feel so horrible about this story that i cant believe it happened. I dont cry in public, I usually get along every well with pple... Help! What do I do now?
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  2. 17 Comments

  3. by   jdc4672
    The first thing you should NOT say is anything personally attacking the other nurse. This is a delicate situation in which everyone knows the problem but no one will solve it. You need to be honest relay the FACTS about your day and remain calm. If she talks about you behind your back let her. You know that she is considered non credible by the other nurses and staff and that they know the situation. This nurse has personal/personality problems and should be counseled quickly and quietly. Another thing to remember is that you should NEVER have to withstand Verbal or emotional abuse by ANYONE including MDs. You did the right thing by talking about your situation with the educator and by Not yelling back to the other nurse. If you know you did the best you can that day then there is nothing to be nervous or ashamed of regardless of what she says. Another thing is "People will only make you feel inferior if you let them." ER I hope you have positive outcome from this and that you go into work with a smile knowing that you are NOT the person who was wrong. HUGS
  4. by   hbncns35
    This is what I would do in the situation:

    Instead of continuing on trying to explain all the different things that this person did (this makes you look bad when you rant on someone else)

    I would keep it simple and just say, " I realize that there are times when people are having a rough day and perhaps that day was just one of those days but I do think that so and so might need to work on some different ways of offering constructive criticism. I apologize for my part in what happened the other day but I was hoping if you could give me some guidance on how I could handle a situation such as this."

    This way you are not condoning her behavior but you are accepting responsibility for your part in the situation and you are also asking for their advice on how you might handle it in the future. People like to see that you can not only see someone else's errors but perhaps how you might have played a part in it and then looking for a solution that would be applicable.

    People generally like to help people who are looking to help themselves and improve the situation. This way you are not just a complaining idiot like the other one and you show you can be diplomatic and thus professional in the matter. Contain your emotions and be confident in your approach.

    Remember she may be the floor gossip queen but she has probably been there alot longer than you have and thus has a little more leverage than you. She's the type you have to go to and apologize even if its not your fault, save face and tell her that we all have rough days and you hope that both of you can find a way to work together. Use the no hard feelings approach and be sincere so you can put this behind you.

    Sometimes by your own admission it enable others to open up and admit their own wrongdoings but it takes someone to take the lead and that would be you......................Good Luck and let us know how you do.
    Remember Be Confident and don't mind read.............Heather

    P.S. - It's not wise to view the situation in terms of who is right and who is wrong. This is just your ego trying to protect itself. I would steer away from interpreting that you are right. There is always two sides to each situation and you can only be right in one of them. Don't feed your ego, self righteousness is an undesirable trait. Try the humble approach - goes further.............
    Last edit by hbncns35 on Dec 18, '05
  5. by   wonderbee
    Very soon I will be precepted for orientation. If a scenario like this occurs, I hope that I don't let it get that far. My way of handling it would be to speak to the preceptor one-to-one, privately, and thank her for her nursing wisdom and explain my discomfort at being criticized publicly. If there was no satisfaction, THEN I would take it up to the next level.

    I think there is so much fear of confrontation among nurses, and women in general I believe have a difficult time being direct. We wait till we emotionally bust and then it comes out whatever way it comes out. Confrontation doesn't have to be negative. Confrontation doesn't necessarily equate to "attack". Confront the situation, not the person. Use "I" terms instead of "you". It can be a growth experience for all involved and respect for boundaries is maintained as well as professionalism.

    The preceptor in this case was allowed to go on too long with unprofessional behavior. They're out there. They'll do it until you say "ouch". We have to take responsibility for saying "enough". OP, learn from the experience. It will eventually blow over. Surely something juicier than that will happen in time to keep tongues wagging.
  6. by   NewGradBSN
    Thanks for your replies. I dont think I will be the one to tell my nurse manager the story, but rather my nurse educator said she would speak to her first to keep the story objective. Then i'll fill in.

    It was more than a simple disagreement/uncomfortable criticism. It involved a lot more, but I'd rather not publicize it in detail b/c you never know who reads these threads.

    I will update you all, but until then, keep the suggestions coming.
  7. by   Tweety
    There is nothing wrong with telling the truth. Please let your manager know how she made you feel, using a few real life examples, being specific without attacking her personality, because what you have to say will spare another new grad. By then you will be calmed down and rational, but you will come across as a mature person who stands up for themselves, without sounding like a bratty tattle tale.

    Her behavior was not acceptable. Don't sit back and take it, or let anyone do the talking for you. I also think that you need to confront this person as well, calmly telling her "I did not go behind your back, the educator checked in with me as she does everyday, and I honestly told her how I was feeling. When you did/said such and such, you made me feel..........." Often times these kinds of people back off when they are confronted. Often, even though you go to the manager about a situation, the manager really doesn't handle it.

    Whatever you say doesn't sound like it is going to be a shock to your manager as your educator wasn't surprised. (Funny, it's our educator who says who can and can not precept, this person sounds like she shouldn't be on the list to begin with.)

    Don't worry about the gossip, if she really is the floor witch, she's the one who is going to look bad. I'm able to blow off a lot of behavior, and I realize people don't change, but she reduced you to tears, something has to be said.
    Last edit by Tweety on Dec 18, '05
  8. by   mzkede
    It Does Not Matter Who You Are, Where Your At, Or What Is Going On. As An Adult And A Professional That's Unacceptable And If Some One Doesn' T Speak Up It'll Continue. No One Deserves To Be Treated With Such Disrespect.
  9. by   anne918
    You can be rest assured that the nurse educator and nurse manager have been through this exact situation hundreds of times in their careers, and will hopefully guide you through the process of reestablishing yourself. I had a similiar situation (although I suspect I'm a bit older at 45!, and with that comes some cynical courage!) - I killed them with kindness - always a smile, look them in the eye, say good morning - even grumpy people can't put up with that for too long without responding positively - take the high road, and feel confident that that's the right approach. P.S. this preceptor is not going anywhere, if they know about her personality and haven't fired her already, there's a reason she's around, do get used to it
  10. by   GooeyRN
    Im sorry to hear about your rotten day. I hope that your nurse manager puts a stop to her behavior somehow. I hope that things get better for you at work. As if its not stressful enough to be a new grad starting a new job, and now you have to deal with this kind of crap.
  11. by   Daytonite
    Quote from NewGradBSN
    This is a nurse that noone likes, and she walks around gossiping about others, like shes porbably doing about me right now.
    What you don't know isn't going to hurt you. Don't be concerned about what she might be saying to others about you. I'm sure if she is the way you have described her, everyone else on the floor knows what she is like an takes her behavior with a grain of salt. Most people probably just tolerate her, but from your post it sounds like you expect that she might be disciplined over this. Just answer your manager's questions. Tell her about the way you were treated by this nurse as her behavior is the problem here. If the lady continues to harrass you over reporting her, just ignore her for now, but ask the manager what you should do when this nurse gets nasty and talks to you that way again so you will know just how far you can go with confronting this idiot. I, myself, would go so far as to ask that I never be placed with her again.

    Also, having been a nurse manager, I can tell you that when the nurse manager for any reason is not present (taken the day off, out of the building for some reason, tied up in some administrative meeting), there is always another manager during the day hours, or a supervisor during the off hours who is covering for her. Next time, don't wait all day, call the nursing office and ask them who is covering for your manager, that you have an urgent problem that you need to speak with a manager about and be assertive about it. This whole situation would get even worst for this nasty nurse if another manager as well as the nurse educator were approaching your manager as well.
  12. by   DONN
    First off NEVER EVER let em see you cry. It shows weakness and that their intimidation worked. Im a guy so trust me on this one. Then go one on one with the preceptor and tell her that she cannot treat you that way. I would not hesitate to tell her/him that you dont need to be talked to in that way period and if she persists then I would tell her that you are going to the Nurse Mgr to get this squared away and if she doesnt like it its tough. I know its difficult to do especially if you are younger and she is an older experienced nurse but you cant let this go on and unfortunately tears never solved anything......
  13. by   Billy5949
    Hi there. I feel for you. I feel for all of us new grads. I am on orientation myself. I only hope that the nurses who choose to devour their young know that they are attributing to the nursing shortage. I will be leaving my current position very soon. My plans are in the works.

    My problems stemmed from my first preceptor, who acted much like this one your speaking of. Only difference was that she was very fake -nice in front of people to save face, very coy and very deceiving. And very close with the RN manager, who is also a nightmare. General concenus on the floor is that she uses up all the incident reports. One of which was used on me. Quite frankly, I feel set up. Paranoia? I don't think so. I've watched a half a dozen nurses make the same mistakes I've made with no write-ups in place - including the nurse who wrote me up. It's just a matter of who likes you. And I confronted the writer-upper on this. What a scene. I should consider that a mistake, but I don't.

    I created quite a stir when the nurse educator cornered me. I didn't mean to but she caught me off guard. I never would have said a thing. Like you, I just wanted to stay in the background. But in a way I am happy that I did. I have a new preceptor. I should have asked for a new one a long time ago. I would have avoided being in the situation we're both in. Everyone is talking. We just have to remember that we are not wrong. We may be new, but we're not morons to be taken advantage of.
  14. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    A person like this has no business being a preceptor. And it sounds like she needs a LOA.

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