"Work 20+ hours in your shifts or resign" - page 2

Hello all, My puppy and I recently moved from the northeast to Florida for a job. My current positions is a nurse with the Emergency Transport Team for a hospital in south Florida. A little bit about what I do: I pick up kids... Read More

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    Quote from alisjo865
    No I did not know about the hours before starting. My boss did not disclose that information during the interview. If she would have I would have turned down the offer right then and there. I didn't know places existed that cared so little about pt safety and employee safety.

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    My puppy and I recently moved from the northeast to Florida for a job. My current positions is a nurse with the Emergency Transport Team for a hospital in south Florida. A little bit about what I do: I pick up kids from other hospitals in an ambulance, helicopter or airplane (we do international calls as well- think Jamaica, St Croix, etc.) and bring them back to the hospital I work for. I do NOT do scene work or 911 calls. Sometimes the kids are sick but most of the time they are stable and coming for a second opinion or because the other hospital doesn't have pediatrics. A lot of the calls are non-emergent.

    Upon starting my new job in a new state with a new apartment lease, I'm made aware that I will be expected and required to work 20+ hours in a shift. It happens frequently where the nurse and paramedic as a team must work 24 hours or more. If the insurance is approved at 5:00pm for a child in Jamaica, the day shift is expected to go still even though it's at least an 8 hour round trip if everything goes well. If it doesn't go well- which it ended up not going well as Jamaican ambulance drivers in Jamaica did not want to go to that part of town the hospital was in because it was too dangerous, it may take 12 hours. Or ones plane can break down at any point and one may be stranded overnight.

    Obviously the patient must be stable in order for him/her to make an 8 hour transport. Why can't the nightshift team do the transport at 7:00p when they come in? The answer I received:

    because you still have 2 hours left in your shift. If you don't want to work the hours you need to resign. This teams policy
    states you must work 20 hours in one shift if you are asked to do so. If you work 24 or more hours in a shift you can come in
    late the next day if you are scheduled to work.

    I think from a safety perspective- safety for everyone me, my license, the patient, my dog at home this is incredibly unsafe and unacceptable. My former employer in the Northeast had a limit of one hour after ones shift- so if the transport was predicted to take you beyond 8:30p then the transport was delayed until the next shift.

    I've looked into florida labor laws- they basically have no laws. One can work 24hours a day x 7 days if you follow Florida Labor Laws. The Federal laws are no help either. The ANA has made a statement that a nurse has a MORAL obligation to decline an
    assignment if you are tired (exhausted). However the basis of morals is not going to work with my employer.

    I went to human resources. They did not gasp in horror as I expected when I told them this was going on. "so you don't want to work 20hours a shift?" I asked for a transfer to another department: "well it hasn't been 6months, I don't think we can do that."

    I don't know what to do. I moved myself down here, the hospital gave me a $3000.00 relocation bonus that I must repay if I leave within the first 12months and I signed a 1 year lease on my apartment- they are not forgiving here and will not allow someone else to take over the payments. I have been looking for other jobs but it's slim pickings and the pay will cause me to file bankruptcy.

    Does anyone have any ideas? Thank you so much for any and all ideas!
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    Have you discussed this issue with Florida's BON? It blows my mind that such working conditions exist.

    Is there ANY possibility you can stick it out until the 6 month period is up? If so, find a dog walker for your pooch. You have said you have looked for employment elsewhere; does Florida have nursing agencies?

    1. The Florida BON will not care one bit, this is not an infarction against the Nurse Practice Act. I doubt that they will even hear the issue. ( I have sat in on several FBON hearings)

    2. Florida does have nursing agencies, a lot of them....but very, very few offer guaranteed hours or benefits.

    THe Job market in Florida, especially South Florida is Terrible.

    I am an Ardent dog lover, in fact, I like dogs better than people...so, I of course, do not go along with leaving the puppy alone. However, this job is not 20 hours a shift on every shift....and in fact, and I am assuming here, that the actual job is three 12 hour shifts per week unless circumstances interfere. This allows a lot of time to spend with your puppy when not working.

    I am with the other poster, find a "Baby Sitter" for your dog for when it is necessary. THe elderly lady next to me in my condo babysits daily for a nurse who works nights. She also takes "Sammie" for extended periods of time when the nurse goes away for vacation, etc.

    This particular lady does not charge, because she says that she gets the benefits of having a dog without any of the vet bills or hassel. She is his Grandma!

    Since this is South Florida, the land of the "Blue hair"...I am sure you can find a doggie grandma as well. Can you post notices in your apt building? or in any one of the trillion Condo communities that abound here? If all else fails, try Craigs list or the local newspaper.

    Good luck,
    I don't know where you are located, but feel free to PM me, maybe I can help.
    Moogie likes this.
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    Thank you all so much for your responses and ideas. I have not yet contacted the BON, but I will at least try! I was thinking about OSHA however they seem to deal with materials and substances etc., I will probably give them a try as well- can't hurt.

    I realize that one may think my dog is the main issue and he is AN issue, however my main concern is accidently killing a child because I was so tired I could not think straight. We all know medication errors are made when we are healthy and awake can you imagine being up for 24 hours having to think about coding a kid on your own. Doctors do not come with us on transports. Its me and my equally as tired Medic.

    SWS RN- back to my dog- I have a friendly 100lbs rottweiler so the "grandma" you are referring too might not take to my pup as eagerly as she would a Yorkie. I can try for the dog walker but it doesn't help the main issue- only alleviates my worry of my pup.
    I have been in the actual "unit" for 3 weeks- in the three week time 2 of my 9 shifts would have been 20 hours (I declined to them), 6 of them I have worked 14-16.5 hours and 1 shift I actually got out on time. Not quite what I am used to or desire.

    nurse mandalyn- the team I work with is awesome! which makes the 16.5 hour shifts better. They absolutely hate working that many hours. One of the nurses has been on the team for 23 years- I have watched her cry every week from pure exhaustion. One week she worked 123 hours- ONE WEEK, most weeks she works 80hours. She stood up for herself the other day and said she wasn't going to go on a late, lengthy transport and got herself into a bit of trouble.

    Altra- HEMS might be like that, I wouldn't know since I don't do EMS. I only do interfacility transports. And at my previous employer, also interfacility transports, we worked max 13.5 hours in a shift.

    Multicollinearity- I will never forgive myself if I injure a patient since I know better than to work long shifts. Losing my license, would have far worse financial effects on my life than quitting and not paying my bills til I found another job.

    Thank you everyone for everyones suggestions. I have a lot to weigh. You all gave me food for thought. I hope I can make the best decision.
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    OP, I sympathize -- you've gotten yourself in a situation you didn't expect.

    In my region flight transport agencies tend to be combination HEMS and interfacility transport, and shifts are 24 hours but you can easily find yourself away from home for longer than that if your transport that ends your shift "ends" at a distant location from your base & home.

    I'm no expert, but 12 hour shifts are very short periods of time to try to juggle staff when the nature of the work is 3-4 hour transports, *if all goes well.*

    (BTW -- I am not advocating 100+ hour work weeks)

    Good luck to you - I hope you find a workable solution.
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    Well, it sure seems that you are in a tough spot.

    Was this an UNEXPECTED reality of the job or were they clear about what is required? I get your point - but, the nature of transport is strange - they call - we are expected to perform. I get the 1 - 2 hour argument and all, but that works both ways - imagine coming in and findingthe off-going crew "holding" a flight for a few hours with the explanation - "You were coming on fresh!".

    I guess the keys here - what is your flight volume? How do your pilots work - the FAA has some strict "time-out" provisions for pilots, the pilots "time-out" and you are where you are. Sucks - even more if you have duties at home and no one to be your "back-up".

    Is this your first transport job? This is a different speciality and the only known is the UNKNOWN.

    I was once "on-shift" over 60 hours. Sure, we took mandated rest and an long distance flight and pilots had issues, add an aircraft issue and an "unplanned" stop due top a stable patient becoming unstable and whew!!!!

    Transport is a tough speciality and almost impossible to "go alone" - IF you have any issue that mandates you must be home. I am a dog/cat lover too, so - I feel your frustration.

    You are where you are - if you can make peace with the job demands you will learn a lot and may even love it. I advocate finding some "back-up" plan for caring for your doggie and digging in - I wish you the best. This is a rewarding, though chaotic, field.

    I'd get off the topic of how "unfair" and "inconvenient" the schedule is - we are an odd group and if they feel you make too much of too much they may resolve your problem for you in a very harsh way. Sorry. TEAM players are essential.

    Sounds in a later post like it is a tough spot to work. Great self-care in this biz is ESSENTIAL. You have to have stamina. Regardless, there is NO ONE that can "hit it" for 24 and be safe. Not sure what your duties are - but if you are only aircraft mandated - no direct duties = rest. Force yourself. Do not be overly social at work. Private and quiet time were non-negotiable for me at work. Tough to "nap" during the day, but get caught up all night and it sucks. Relax, nap, on the dead legs - sleep once prep work is done. Partners can also "trade off" rest. Be deliberate and rabidly protective about your rest. Pre-shift - no alcohol, heavy meals, light exercise early, great sleep pre-shift. All will help with stamina.

    But, in the end the choice is YOURS - your money or your lifestyle.

    Good Luck!

    Fly SAFE!

    Last edit by NREMT-P/RN on Jul 1, '10
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    Hi NREMT-P/ RN,

    i did come into this position with a year of transport experience. I was fortunate enough to have gained an enormous amount of experience from the top ranked Childrens Hospital in the US. There we had a policy that one could be sent an any call at any time provided ones expected return time would be no longer than 1 hour after the end of ones shift. So if my shift is supposed to end at 7:30p and a call comes in at 5 and it's a 5 hour RT (estmating a bedside time of an hour) that call would be defered to the next shift unless we as a team decided to go- it was def not forced upon us. Granted one could never know how long the bedside time would be or any unforeseen circumstances and that is part of the job of a transport nurse/emtp. We would get out late, and by late I mean 9, maybe 2x a month.

    What I was saying before isn't that it's unfair but unSAFE- very different then unfair. I guess I see the difference between working at the top ranked hospital that truly does care for it's patients and staff and hospitals that aren't/don't. While hospitals needs to make money I don't think it should be at the expense of patient safety. Again, I see the difference in those instituitions that put patient safety above all else and those that put $$ b4 all else. In the end excellent care & excellent service - which both are centered around patient safety, is what brings new clients, referrals, return clients and therefore money. Patient Safety is and should be our main concern.

    I think fighting for what's right is terribly more important than just barely making it, or doing it cuz that's how it's always been.

    Thank you for your input.
    MaxAttack likes this.
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    Welcome to Air Medical Transport. Who are you working for, Miami Children's? Air Medical (Flight nurses and Medics) obviously isn't for everyone. If you are that unhappy, I suggest you just give two weeks notice and move on. You aren't going to change things much, and you just might alienate yourself with other prospective employers.

    Fixed wing in particular can be long hours. we used to say "8 hour pay for 18 hour day", haha. Some fixed wing people are with the aircraft for 14-21 days at a time, all over the world. You better like to fly to be in this field.
    Rotor is different, but still frequent 24-hour shifting there too.

    You should have asked a million questions before making the big move. look at it as a learning experience and move on. Air medical is an extremely rewarding field. You just have to find your place. Good luck.
    Altra likes this.
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    Here that is standard operationing procedure. We have 24 hour shifts in EMS. I do wish you the best of luck.

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