How to work your notice, gracefully

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    Often we move jobs because we really dislike the job, management or co-workers. We rarely leave a job we enjoy, working the required notice can be a chore we don't want to do, and sometimes we behave badly. How we manage ourselves during the notice period can be a positive or a negative experience, which could have long term consequences

    So you have decided to leave your current job, youíve had enough of working hard, no teamwork, you donít like your boss, co-worker, management, the drive is too long, the acuity is too high, you never get a break and you hate bedside nursing. Yes there are numerous reasons why you want to leave and get a new job, I could go on for pages for the reasons nurses are leaving their job but this article is about how to manage yourself while you are working out your notice.

    Whatever the reason I personally believe there is a way to give your notice in and leave gracefully. Donít shut the door behind you, leave it ajar. Trust me you just never know if you might need to go back, or how your reputation could follow you.

    Do not let your work slide during your notice period, make sure you maintain your high standards and do not slack off. Hold your head high no matter what the circumstances are that caused you to leave your job in the first place. Remember you are still being paid to do your job, and it is no excuse to say Ďitís not my problem, Iím leavingí

    Employers will be contacted for references; most HR departments will only provide dates of employment and will not get involved with lengthy discussions, however they are allowed to answer No when asked if they would rehire. This one word speaks volumes, sometimes new employers will take their time obtaining references, so how you behave in your notice period could have a devastating effect.

    Make sure you give the required amount of time as specified by HR, this can be anywhere from 2-4 weeks depending on your position. Inform your manager as soon as you can, so they can prepare for the inevitable. Schedules may need to be changed, they appreciate as much advanced notice as possible. Put your notice in writing, giving your last working day. Keep it simple and to the point, you do not have to give a reason for leaving.

    If they allow you, sign on PRN which will let you keep that foot in the door!

    No matter how much you hate your job, work your notice! you should not just walk out without working the required notice. People talk and talk follows, you would be surprised how small the HR community is within healthcare and heads up is often given. I often read on that RNs hate their job so much that they walk out without notice which is just not professional.

    Do not under any circumstances Ďbad mouthí your current employer, it is not tasteful and causes concerns that you do not have loyalty. It is suffice to say that it wasn't the job for you and you are moving on because you want new opportunities. Be professional at all times, I know you will want to run through the halls singing and shouting at the top of your voice about the news of your new job, but try some restraint.

    Be positive during your notice period, the weeks will soon count down and before you know it you will be heading through the door for the last time. You have choices; you can either slam the door shut or gently pull the door to, allowing it to creep open if you need it.

    Do not commit professional suicide by being miserable, and informing all and sundry how you have to wait for weeks before you can leave, be upbeat and cheerful. I cannot tell you how many people I have worked with who begrudge working their notice and let everybody know that they don't want to be there. There is often huge sigh of relief when they do go, which is a poor reflection on that person. Being resentful has such negative connotations especially with your co-workers who chose to stay

    Think before you slam, your current position may be not what you want but you have a long career road in front of you, life tends to be full of twists and turns so you can never say never!
    Last edit by Joe V on Mar 2, '13
    CrufflerJJ, Cauliflower, jadelpn, and 13 others like this.

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  2. About madwife2002, BSN, RN

    madwife2002 has '24' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'RN, RM, BSN'. From 'Ohio'; Joined Jan '05; Posts: 9,539; Likes: 5,270.

    Read more articles from madwife2002

    24 Comments so far...

  3. 4
    Wonderful article. I admit, I have burnt a bridge or two by not leaving gracefully and it has come back to bite me at times.
  4. 1
    Good advice!
    madwife2002 likes this.
  5. 5
    Perhaps, a version of this should be created for employers.

    A coworker has just worked her notice. The unit manager was horrible to her the entire time. Shifts were cancelled. Verbal jabs made in front of people. She is a good nurse and her new unit is lucky to get her. She can and will be replaced but until the new nurse fits in her departure will be felt.

    Favourtism is rampant on our unit and it's the real reason she left. I proof read her resignation letter and it was extremely graceful, not a complaint in it. Yet our Manager who has a hard time covering the shifts this woman left keeps up her game of playing favourites and is going to lose this nurse as soon as she can find a job that interests her.
    mrsbacktoschool, joanna73, ceridwyn, and 2 others like this.
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    A nurse came to work for night shift, her first night back after some time off on workers' comp. She came in, looked at the assignment and threw a fit and walked out, leaving the night shift hanging short one nurse. That was in October. She still doesn't have another job. Pretty stupid move.
    jadelpn, azhiker96, tokmom, and 4 others like this.
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    Excellent advice, madwife! I myself have quit places that I later went back to; thankfully I never burned any bridges, no matter how badly I wanted to or how strongly I felt I'd rather live on the streets than work for that facility again.

    Like you said, the healthcare community is much more tightly-knit than a lot of people give it credit for, and word spreads quickly when one of its members behaves unprofessionally in leaving a job. It's not worth the brief satisfaction that slamming a door shut may bring.
    MBARNBSN, madwife2002, sunnybabe, and 1 other like this.
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    Great article. I have noticed though, that certain workplaces will speak ill of an employee even if the employee left on good terms, with plenty of notice. They aren't supposed to, but we all know there are loopholes. It was common knowledge at my other hospital that the boss would sabotage any attempts by her people to find a new job. I managed to sidestep it by asking another manager to give me a reference while she was on sick leave.

    I saw this happen to a former coworker of mine. He finally had to resort to calling the HR department of the old hospital and requesting to see his file. He offered to bring his attorney with him. Funny, after that he started getting calls for interviews again.

    So sadly, I believe that you can do everything right and still get screwed.
  9. 5
    I have a mixed reaction to this post.

    I left my first nursing job on good terms, filled out my notice happily and thanked HR for the oppurtunity and did everything right. But was leaving bc I had what I thought was my dream job waiting for me. So when I found out it wasn't, were 8 months later, they accpted me back with open arms.

    My 2nd job, the one I left for, was a horrible exp I will never forget and would leave nrsg and eat dog food before working for them again. I gave my 2 wks after 6 months. I gave it my all, even stayed over completeing my work 45 mins after my shift on my last day. Did me no goood! I went on 5 interviews before having too crawl back to first job. I don't know what HR said or did, but I have my suspicions, bc how would I know what there saying?

    So basically I'm saying the article is right, but it still may or may not do you any good.
    GadgetRN71, MBARNBSN, Fiona59, and 2 others like this.
  10. 0
    Quote from redhead_NURSE98!
    A nurse came to work for night shift, her first night back after some time off on workers' comp. She came in, looked at the assignment and threw a fit and walked out, leaving the night shift hanging short one nurse. That was in October. She still doesn't have another job. Pretty stupid move.

    So what was wrong with the assignment, was it full of heavy patients that would cause her to reinjure her back? Maybe she decided to stay on workers comp?
  11. 0
    Quote from brandy1017
    So what was wrong with the assignment, was it full of heavy patients that would cause her to reinjure her back? Maybe she decided to stay on workers comp?
    I don't know that it was her back that was injured. When I went back and looked, it was actually FMLA so who knows. She was to be the patient care tech instead of nurse, which she used to like doing. When she wigged out the charge nurse switched her OWN assignment with her, and the charge nurse on nights always gives themselves a lighter assignment since they will have to answer questions and deal with problems all night. That still didn't do it for her. I don't think she intended to stay no matter what.

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