How To Recover From Near Rock Bottom...

  1. Hey allnurses world...wonder if anyone had sage advice...

    I'm in a career slump. I have a history of adult critical care for 10 years, and had a chance to switch to peds critical care a couple of years ago. I love the new challenge of working with children, but it seems that for the most part, the parents of the children don't like me. I've been working with my manager to improve this via a performance improvement plan. I have been successful enough to be taken off of it nearly a year ago, and I thought things were ok. Well, I have had 2 double whammies in the past month:

    First, I have been called in to the office again to discuss my interpersonal skills with the parents. My manager told me that she was not going to put me on a plan or write me up, but rather asked me I felt peds was the right place for me.

    Second, due to low census, I have floated back to my old adult unit a few times. My manager called me to set up an appointment to discuss floating to my old unit...they apparently don't want me to come back! And I have absolutely no idea what I could have done to warrant that!

    Critical care...up until these two events...has been my passion! I can't imagine doing anything else...ED, PACU, IV Therapy, teaching, clinic work...none of that interests me. I do feel my manager is one of the few decent ones that does want to see me succeed, however my confidence and self esteem is at an absolute low that I know it will affect my performance. The anxiety of being under the microscope is going to adversely affect me. I know scared parents is a weakness I need to work on, but if another unit is seeing something in me that is a red flag to them as well...it's clear I have some personal growth to contend with. But, can I do that and keep a job that I am afraid I may get fired from? I work in a no-cause state, non-union hospital.

    How do I attempt to look for another job when my old unit (that I left on good terms with) does not want me to float there, and my current unit may very well put me back on a PIP and start that process of a termination? What do I say to potential new employers?

    Any advice would be appreciated...I am having trouble sleeping at night and very upset by all of this. I know that a lot of this needs to come through working on myself...but that may not be enough. Any advice with how to deal with the interviews and HR of a different hospital system would appreciated!

    Thanks!!
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  2. 31 Comments

  3. by   KatieMI
    1) some people just have a kick with kids and parents. Some just appear not to have it. It is just a fact of life, and it is OK.
    2) there are a lot of sub-perceptions and stereotyping in nursing, and sometimes these affect relationships between units.
    3) working under a microscope and nanomanagement are among the absolutely worst things that might happen in anyone's career. Applied long enough, they can affect a human being literally for life.

    I might think that, after years of being intensely micromanaged, your communication style changed enough (and, probably, your personality got suppressed enough as well) to look strange for your colleagues from your former unit. That's why they might not want to see you back; in addition, they might perceive that your skills with adult patients grew somewhat stale, whether it being true or not. On the other side, some people just naturally do not have a kick with kids and parents. It is just one of the facts of life, and it is OK.

    While all of us have a lot to grow as persons and professionals, the fact that after 12 years of nursing your self-esteem and confidence fall below the floor mean that your management, who draw you there, is not "decent". It pushes you down, not helps you to develop. So, it might be a good time to part ways and find another job where you can be free and yourself again, possibly not having anything with sick children. Make sure that the management in your former unit remains the same, or find where an old one went so you can use people you left on good terms for recs.

    (((good luck))) (I went through the similar situation once but managed to find a place where my communication quirks, strange as they are, were discovered to be filling of a dire need)
  4. by   Snowana
    I am sorry if this posts up twice, don't seem to see the reply come up.

    Thank you KatieMI, I appreciate your feedback so much!! Peds on a parental psych/social level may not be a great fit for me, but the physiology of congenital heart defects is beyond fascinating to me! I went to the PCVICU from the adult SICU because we are starting to see adults survive to their 20s and 30s with some congenital heart problems. Total demolition and reconstruction is by far more challenging and interesting than traditional adult roto-rootering/simple valve replacement!!

    My current anxiety lies mostly with how to deal with an outside hospital system. I only have 2 references in the last 12 years...my old adult unit that does NOT want me back for reasons I still don't know, and my current peds unit that has concerns with my interpersonal skills. What do I say in my interview, and how do I word things to HR that does not ensure total dismissal during the reference check?
  5. by   jennylee321
    Im sorry you are going through this. Is there any way you could get to the bottom of why your old unit doesn't sang you back? Could you sit down with the manager?
  6. by   nurseandtell
    @snowana. It sounds like you are going through an extremely tough time, especially because you cannot sleep at night. I admire the amount of years you have put in your work, 12 years is no joke. Going through this situation with all those years of experience sounds even tougher. To me, it sounds as if you have the right approach already. You are attempting to work on your personal growth, an avenue no nurse is too experienced for. This situation sucks, and there's nothing wrong with how you are feeling, but I truly believe you are already equipped with the tools you need to figure it out. See what YOU can actually DO from your end. You cannot control how others are and how they'll react (I'm sure you know this). Focus on your actions, focus on doing them right, and I firmly believe it will work out for you.
    Feel free to e-mail me at nurseandtell@gmail.com to chat more, I'd love to hear more about your situation.

    I wish you the best,
    J
  7. by   cleback
    I have no advice for you but just wanted to say you come across as a very caring and consciencious person in your post. I hope you find resolution to your situation.
  8. by   Snowana
    Thanks, I do appreciate that. I'm not so sure it will be enough...and how to answer questions in future interviews. Most threads here seem to indicate that once you're on a PIP, there's little chance for recovery despite best efforts...
  9. by   Lil Nel
    Can you give more details regarding the problem that parents have with you? I am asking this question in order to figure out a way to improve in this area. Do parents feel as though you don't care about them or their child? Do they not like how you talk to them? I would say interacting with parents is fine art.

    As other posters have suggested, try and find out why your old unit doesn't want you back.

    Believe me, I empathize with you. It seems as though intellectually, you are a good fit for the unit, but perhaps not emotionally? I don't know. Your original post didn't give much detail into the problem with parents.
  10. by   roser13
    I congratulate you for taking ownership of the issues that are cropping up at work. It is refreshing to see someone ask for help/insight/advice on how they might work on themselves, as opposed to complaining about the bullying/mean nurses, etc. I know this doesn't help solve anything, but I think you sound very conscientious and industrious. You will no doubt find your niche somewhere.
  11. by   not.done.yet
    While finding the health condition fascinating is all well and good, it concerns me a little bit that your focus is so intensely on what fulfills you. Meaning, I think you may be so fearful of change that you are unable to evaluate the fact that change could actually lead you to a better place. From what you have said here, you likely need to open yourself up to the possibility of trying something that does not seem to interest you on the surface but may be a better match to your skills and gifts.

    As far as you current employer goes, though you were on a different unit, they are all the same employer, if I am understanding correctly. It is not unusual for people to deny permission to contact their current employer when applying for a job. Your 12 years of experience will be tempting enough to get you interviews without the references having to happen.

    I do wish you well. Try to open yourself up to the possibility that this is just not where you belong and that you are being guided by a higher call to something you never imagined yourself doing. Try to be curious rather than anxious. I know it is hard! I have seen SO MANY times people wind up in a place they never saw themselves that is a better fit and therefore leads to a more peaceful mind and a happier career and life.
  12. by   JKL33
    Snowana,

    I think you will be fine looking for other employment and should go about doing so.

    I personally would not take it as a given that your old unit doesn't want you back. Finding out why (knowing that, even if it's true, you can't do anything about it at this juncture) is going to be a huge waste of time and emotional energy. If I had to guess I would say that if she as much as told the Adult manager that she had you on a PIP a year ago and there are still some lingering issues, they are going to also say 'no thanks.' It's probably nothing more than that. Either way, you have no idea what kind of a conversation they had about you and it's not worth perseverating on it.

    I really think that the relationship at this place is tarnished - - take it as a fact and move on. Based strictly on the way you write in your OP, I'm guessing that this is more an issue of "history" rather than completely incompetent communication skills at this point. Unfortunate. I agree with Katie, essentially there's a limit to the amount of "improvement" (sometimes nit-picking) that can be done to one person's style - - we are human beings after all. You certainly don't write as someone who has a shockingly bad communication style. Parents of sick kids are a special population that I wouldn't attempt to put myself with exclusively every day. I don't enjoy it and I wouldn't do it. Some people are just not wired that way and it says zero about them as caring human beings.

    Based on discussions here, I think you should check with HR to make sure you know how to leave in good standing. Also, as mentioned above, do consider other areas that are mentally stimulating in their own ways - Nursing has much to offer in that regard. You do need to fit an area that fits your style!!

    Best wishes
  13. by   matcha-cat
    Quote from KatieMI
    1) some people just have a kick with kids and parents. Some just appear not to have it. It is just a fact of life, and it is OK.
    2) there are a lot of sub-perceptions and stereotyping in nursing, and sometimes these affect relationships between units.
    3) working under a microscope and nanomanagement are among the absolutely worst things that might happen in anyone's career. Applied long enough, they can affect a human being literally for life.

    I might think that, after years of being intensely micromanaged, your communication style changed enough (and, probably, your personality got suppressed enough as well) to look strange for your colleagues from your former unit. That's why they might not want to see you back; in addition, they might perceive that your skills with adult patients grew somewhat stale, whether it being true or not. On the other side, some people just naturally do not have a kick with kids and parents. It is just one of the facts of life, and it is OK.

    While all of us have a lot to grow as persons and professionals, the fact that after 12 years of nursing your self-esteem and confidence fall below the floor mean that your management, who draw you there, is not "decent". It pushes you down, not helps you to develop. So, it might be a good time to part ways and find another job where you can be free and yourself again, possibly not having anything with sick children. Make sure that the management in your former unit remains the same, or find where an old one went so you can use people you left on good terms for recs.

    (((good luck))) (I went through the similar situation once but managed to find a place where my communication quirks, strange as they are, were discovered to be filling of a dire need)
    Hi, Katie, do you mind telling me what your "communication quirks" are? My personality is one where I'm very quiet and serious, and when I do speak, I speak analytically about a situation because "small talk" doesn't come naturally to me. Essentially, I just talk when I need to. I know a lot of times it makes people uncomfortable (I've actually had people become very rude to me for no reason at all, despite them being very sweet with everyone else, because I suppose they perceive me as being "cold"). I try to overcompensate by always being really polite, and smiling when I make eye contact with people. I know the smile trick works time-to-time because when I smile, I am being genuine, and I can see the genuine smile that people give me back after initially looking unsure.

    Of course, I definitely don't think I'll ever be the "favorite" nurse or CNA because I'm not a talker.. I jokingly get called "robot" by my family lol, so I'm still trying to figure out what area would be best for me. Just wondering if you could elaborate on your own personality a bit.
  14. by   NurseCard
    I don't particularly think that, if you search for a new job, that you need to mention these issues that you are having at work, although some employers do ask on the application, if you've ever been placed on a Performance Improvement Plan. While I certainly do not advocate lying on an application, I'm also not sure how an employer can confirm that information, however you answer that question.

    It sounds like you do have some interpersonal issues that you need to work on. I myself have gone from being a nurse that patients really didn't like much at the beginning of my career... To being one that receives a lot of recognition and praise on those survey thingies. ... Maybe you have a close friend who you can ask honestly.. "How do I come off, to other people?" "What do people think of me?" Do some self reflection.

    Good luck!

    *note: I don't ever like to tell people not to be themselves, or to care what people think about you... But sometimes in health care, the old "fake it til you make it" cliche is very true.

    I'm a pretty introverted person and really don't enjoy talking a whole lot. But, I've become SO skilled at dealing with patients over the years, that when I walk into their room, I suddenly turn into Miss Personality. Weird.
    Last edit by NurseCard on Aug 10

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