Blarh

  1. I realize all of this has been said in one way or another on this board, but I just have to vent. For the past month or so, the unit I work on has been shortstaffed on nights at least 50% of the time. The thing is, we haven't lost anyone...we actually hired one new person to full time nights. So why are we short staffed all of a sudden??? But regardless of why, this is becoming soooo frustrating. Morale on nights is taking a nosedive. I love my job and I love working, but I HATE coming home every morning, feeling like I have been hit by a truck and wondering if I missed something important because I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off all night. So what do you guys do to get over this kind of thing? We are planning on bringing this up at the next staff meeting (if they stop cancelling them) but in the short term, we are becoming so tired and frustrated that it's taking a lot of the good out of nursing. Any suggestions???

    Indeed.
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  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Where I work, we have a different problem, but one that affects our morale nonetheless. We are being Low-Census'ed to DEATH. I think it might take your nightshift staff uniting, and making it a point to go knocking on your nurse manager's door w/ your concerns. What we have done is to actually get in touch with our DON since nothing seems to be able to be accomplished on our unit to change things. One of our biggest concerns is the day shift is losing roughly 1/3 to 1/2 FEWER hours than the dayshift staff are. It's not a dayshift versus nightshift fight but a matter of fairness.

    I realize this problem is a lot different than yours, but morale is a huge issue for us, and this is a situation we can't live with. People are burning up PTO (those that are lucky enough to have it; I don't) to get paid. And the worst is, it has been going on for MONTHS. Several of us have made application and set up interviews with other hospitals, not out of spite, but in order to take charge to change of an increaslingly unliveable situation. I actually love where I work but I need moolah, ya know?

    Anyhow, We have made management AWARE of the fact that several of us are looking at leaving employment there. Even the doctors are concerned and involved and (I hear) talking to the CEO about this issue. They sure don't want to see 50% or greater of their experienced night shift leave.

    Do what you have to do, but don't let this ride. Staff meetings getting canceled? Let them know you are making note of this and that your means to air out these things is being stymied. You may have to go higher up to get your concerns heard if you are being stonewalled at this level.

    Get your coworkers together and knock on some doors, write some letters. Document what you are doing to try to change it and let them know you are doing this. You obviously have a HUGE legitimate concern that affects not only morale, but safety! I wish you good luck. Sorry I am not much more help, but I want you to know I support you as a fellow nurse nightshifter. Keep us up to date! I feel for ya!
    Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Jun 7, '02
  4. by   hapeewendy
    the same thing is going on in our place
    so I can understand you completely.
    no one has a clue how busy nights are
    our unit admin doesnt want us to use agency nurses and has said in the past that she'd rather we be short on the floor then have an agency nurse!
    our morale is extremely low and gets even lower when the day shift comes in and starts complaining because their linen carts arent full, or there or the med cart garbage bag hasnt been emptied , etc.
    we are having a staff meeting next monday and we plan to bring up this issue.
    its insane really , out of our tons of part timers only 2 are available for night shifts, and both have jobs elsewhere.
    often times on days we have 2 extra nurses ,same with evenings, but when it comes to nights they expect you to sink or swim.......
    we are still swimming, but only by holding on to one another for dear life.
    I Have no words of wisdom other than what other ppl have already offered, I can just offer you my support and understanding and hope that your situation gets better , for you and the patients.
  5. by   fedupnurse
    Document your short staffing situation. We have a form that says:
    UNSAFE STAFFING SITUATION
    TO:____________ DATE:_______
    at: (time and date), (Unit spuervisor or nursing supervisor) was notified that, in my/our opinion the number of staff assigned to (unit, shift) was inadequate to meet the needs of our patients, and placed both these patients and the staff at risk.
    Please be advised that, in spite of the unsafe staffing situation, we attempted to carry out our responsibilities and provide patient care to the best of our ability.
    Signed:_____________________ _________________
    (and have several lines for signatures)

    Comments: On these lines I outline why it was unsafe. Example: 1 RN had 3 vented patients 2 were hemodynaically unstable. 4 RNs with one year or less experience had heavy assignments, etc. The more OBJECTIVE data the better.

    So after you make these forms up make a bunch of copies of the blank forms. At the time you feel your unit becomes unsafe notify management or the supervisor or both. Fill out the form before you leave at the end of your shift. Do Not use patient names or other identifying factors due to patient confidentiality-just an overall picture of the unsafe situation.
    After the form is signed by you and your colleagues, make copies for yourself, your manager, the nursing administration and most importantly, risk managment. I also send copies to the physician directors. Another thing I did was find out policies regarding bed closures during a time of short staffing (required by JCAHO and State DOH here) and any policy which states that the hospital will rpovide a safe working environment for the staff and/or patients. I cite these on the form as: The hospital is in violatio of policy #'s x,y,z. Risk management is the most important one here. They got 4 beds closed on our unit for a couple of months from us sending those forms.
    Cover your butt, my friend cause the hospital won't. If you don't have objective documentation they will say "they never told us it was that bad."
    GOOD LUCK!!!!!
  6. by   micro
    INDEED,
    I LOVE YOUR NAME HERE ON THIS BB. I AM ALSO IMPRESSED WITH YOUR 22 POSTS. AND YOUR POST HERE. YES, MAY HAVE BEEN STATED BEFORE, BUT YOU SHOULD AS YOU DID STATE IT AGAIN!!!!!
    I THINK THE BIGGEST ISSUE IS MORALE. FIRST OFF THE GROUP MORALE OF THE UNIT AND POSSIBLY EVEN LARGER THE ORGANIZATION. THE SAD THING IS THAT THE OVERALL MORALE SO GREATLY AFFECTS the individual nurse's morale.

    a vicioius cycle.....

    THE ANSWER I HAVE NONE, AND I AM "SHOUTING IN MY WORDS" HERE BECAUSE SOMETIME SOMEBODY WILL LISTEN
  7. by   OBNURSEHEATHER
    Like some of the others here have said, I also have no answers for you. I wish I did. All you can do is keep saying the things that need said, and eventually someone will listen once they see that it's something that CAN'T be swept under a rug any longer.

    Micro's right... morale just really sucks right now.

    Heather
  8. by   indeed
    Thanks everyone for hearing me out on this. I really like fedupnurse's suggestion about the form. Me thinks I am going to bring this up next time I am at work. We have been fighting this tooth and nail, telling anyone that will listen that it is getting to the point of being dangerous and we are always told "that's a good point...bring it up at the next staff meeting (in 2005)." The thing that annoyed me most last night was the expectations being placed on us...our night supervisor actually went around asking us to stay on for day shift so they wouldn't have the same amount of nurses we had, which just further illustrates the idea that we are somehow responsible for ensuring adequate staffing and we ARE NOT. Anyway, thanks for your kind words. And here's to a welcome night off!

    Indeed.
  9. by   micro
    Indeed!!!!!
  10. by   canoehead
    At our hospital we stopped doing mandatory call offs because people were eating up their PTO and no getting the money they needed to live- and getting other jobs. In the end we came out ahead because there was less recruiting and orienting expense and on slow days the managers could delegate some of their paperwork to staff nurses. Also brought staff more into the performance improvement aspect of hospital life.
  11. by   micro
    I am pushing 200 hrs of PTO myself.....tomorrow is lookin' awful good.........

    only I wish.....my conscious will not allow.........
  12. by   SmilingBluEyes
    welp being PER DIEM it is not an option for me to use PTO when they call me off, yet I am still oncall for the shift for which i have been called off. kinda sucks. til i can work fulltime (when the kids are older) i will have to find other ways to cope (e.g. another position)....oh well. i will quit b!tching now. nite nite
  13. by   indeed
    A little update for ya...still no staff meeting because (you'll love this)...our manager went on vacation. All I know is that I want a raise if I am going to continue doing this for the rest of my life. :stone

    Indeed.
  14. by   pebbles
    Why do managers always go on vacation when the staff need intervention the most? Grrr... I feel for you indeed, this is a very frustrating situation - and no solution in sight.

    A manager at our hospital went on two vacations last summer - one just before they moved the unit to a different floor of the hospital (construction) and one just as they were beginning to introduce LPN's into a staff that had been all-RN for 10 or more years..... The staff had no-one to take issues and concerns too, because the "covering" manager from another unit was swamped with her own work!

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