New Grad Being Eaten Alive

  1. I am a new grad RN, graduated in Oct 2004 been working since Novemeber. I am struggling to say the least! It is not the work that is necessarily too hard (although I am just barely keeping up) but I am finding that the staff is what is getting to me.

    Some of the other RNs are very snotty and do not help me at all. I may ask a question and they say they are too busy to answer it. Or if they do answer it, they will look at me like I am incompetent and should know this already. Truth of the matter is, I am a very good nurse but am still being treated like an incompetent fool. At times, even the nursing attendents are refusing to help me turn or wash pts (I work neurosurg). I am left to turn total care pts on my own! Then one shift I already had the full pt load and the charge RN insisted that we were short staffed and that I had to take another pt. I told her that I could not do that _ I did not feel comfortable but was told that I had no choice. So I received this fresh post-op cervical discectomy on PCA morphine. NVS q 15 minutes X 12 hours. Needless to say betwen all the pts and meds and assessments and charting and turning I was running around like a madman. NO help at all. And I missed filling out one section on a sheet (for charting) and was almost written up. I was almost in tears.

    I am not sure what to do. I am completely unhappy and dread going to work. This is not what I pictured my career being. I am not sure if this is a normal phenomenon and I should just stick it out or should I look to work somewhere else with more supportive staff?? Any advice would be appreciated for this overwhelmed new grad!
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  2. 23 Comments

  3. by   Gail-Anne
    Too bad you feel like you are being eaten by other nurses! What is the general stress level on the ward? Chances are you are working with a problem that preceeded you. Having said that, how you present yourself can be a big factor. Don't you have a Clinical Nurse Educator? Start there or with a senior nurse who has some patience. Ask (calmly) if he or she has some suggestions for you re: orginization or reading you can do at home. Often, if you offer to help someone else, while asking a couple of questions, you'll get a better response than expecting them to stop what they are doing. Some nurses are teachers too by nature, some aren't. Deep breaths and smile!
  4. by   purplemania
    It is normal for new grads to become frustrated and even angry the first year of practice. However, before you quit you need to know that the scene probably is not much different elsewhere. Before you burn bridges I suggest that you contact the nurse recruiter in HR to see if any help is available there. Also, talk to your nurse manager BEFORE talking to anyone else. There should be some support from NM. If not, then go to HR and if that does not help at least you will know you tried to work it out. Good luck.
  5. by   Mommy2Katiebaby
    Sigh, sounds familiar, unfortunately. You're in that situation where you're being "tested," it's sort of like RN boot camp, LOL. For some reason a lot of floors are like this - they totally torture the new people and anyone perceived as needing help - it's like being pecked to death by pigeons.

    If it were me, knowing what I know now after 15 years' experience, I'd look for a different job. I would *definitely* ask a lot of questions at the interviews to determine whether the job is a good fit for YOU, too, not just whether you're a good fit for THEM. Do you get mentoring or preceptorship? A good place to work will offer a mentor to a new grad for a minimum of six months, and a year is better. What's the acuity / patient load like there? How do people team up to see that everyone gets care? I used to do "primary nursing," which basically meant that you, the RN, were responsible for that patient from arrival till departure. There were no aides or care assistants, you did everything from feeding and bathing and changing beds to planning care and running labs and complicated IV's and transfusions. BAD fit for me - this was an Ortho floor, most of our patients were total care people who were mobility compromised, I lasted two years but by the time I quit I was about half postal.

    Different unit - Labor & Delivery. Usually one RN was in on each delivery, which sometimes meant chaos if baby was unexpectedly blue and mom hemorrhaged or something, but when I first started there we had an RT and anesthesiologist "on deck" in the hospital at all times. They brought an MBA in to "streamline" the unit, and that went out the window, along with allowing for two RN's in L&D at any given time. I ended up the only nurse back there one night with two ladies who were both set to deliver any second, no doc, no RT, and no additional hands. I put the patients on gurneys in toe hallway, delivered the first one, thanked goodness that she and baby were okay, and delivered the second one within about three minutes. All before anyone else could get there. Bad scene - I quit that job post- "streamline."

    Now I do agency work. I sign up to work the shifts I want to work, the agency knows not to bug me about working extra or any other assorted nonsense, I get paid, and I'm done with it. My recruiter (they don't call them "supervisors" calls me to check on how a given shift went and if I was treated fairly by a facility, I get to go where I feel supported, it's nice. But I paid dues for a few years to get there.

    Good luck - I really hope you find something you can live with soon!
  6. by   RAD72
    Quote from Phenomenon
    I am a new grad RN, graduated in Oct 2004 been working since Novemeber. I am struggling to say the least! It is not the work that is necessarily too hard (although I am just barely keeping up) but I am finding that the staff is what is getting to me.

    Some of the other RNs are very snotty and do not help me at all. I may ask a question and they say they are too busy to answer it. Or if they do answer it, they will look at me like I am incompetent and should know this already. Truth of the matter is, I am a very good nurse but am still being treated like an incompetent fool. At times, even the nursing attendents are refusing to help me turn or wash pts (I work neurosurg). I am left to turn total care pts on my own! Then one shift I already had the full pt load and the charge RN insisted that we were short staffed and that I had to take another pt. I told her that I could not do that _ I did not feel comfortable but was told that I had no choice. So I received this fresh post-op cervical discectomy on PCA morphine. NVS q 15 minutes X 12 hours. Needless to say betwen all the pts and meds and assessments and charting and turning I was running around like a madman. NO help at all. And I missed filling out one section on a sheet (for charting) and was almost written up. I was almost in tears.

    I am not sure what to do. I am completely unhappy and dread going to work. This is not what I pictured my career being. I am not sure if this is a normal phenomenon and I should just stick it out or should I look to work somewhere else with more supportive staff?? Any advice would be appreciated for this overwhelmed new grad!

    What your experiencing is sad but true. I'm sure at one time or another; All nurses have gone through this. In school we learned a saying, "Nurses that eat their young". In the fast pace of nusing today with the shortage and high demands of the job; teamwork can be low. My advice to you is hang in there, keep a stifff upper lip, find a mentor; someone who you feel comfortabe asking questions and don't give up! We need comasionate, enthusiastic, entergetic new blood out there; not burned out nurses who have forgotton; that once they too where a new grad. It gets better...


    RAD
  7. by   Antikigirl
    Yep, welcome to my first day..and well first 9 months! Now grantid, I had a lot of technical experience going in...so much of the technical issues I could handle or I had the confidence in doing or actually...looking up in my hospitals 'standard of practice for RN' book that most provide (a standard manual for hospital policies and procedures that most hospital floors have...trick is, finding someone that knows where it is...and guaging by the amount of dust on it..how long ago it was updated..LOL!) Lucky for me it was updated, just took some time to find!

    But the nurses really honestly ate me alive! They assumed I was some young upstart with a tude going in thinking I smelled like roses and farted glitter! Umm couldn't have been further from the truth! I was so eager to FINALLY work with real nurses with experience and learn what it is really like!!!!! I was very dissapointed with them, and started doing things on my own as I did in nursing school, kept up studies at home from my school books, and took it all head on by myself! That got noticed and in a few months they accepted me and started even asking me questions..which I did answer for them (I was better than to give them the same bs they gave me and I knew it!).

    After nine months of thankless running around doing things on my own without a team, seeing my patients were better off than most because I really focused all my energy on them and not gossip, dissing others, arguing with other nurses, or complaining about how horrible my work and life was...I found I was constantly swimming upstream to do it all...so I was about to leave. I wound up leaving one fine day when a DON I didn't even know accused me of things I had NEVER done, or patients I had never worked with...I asked her if she had the right employee folder...well, the yelling at me ensued and I left after my shift that night! That was the straw that broke the camels back!

    Get this..I have now seen 4 out of the 7 nurses I worked with there in totally different positions and companies complaining about the same things I did! WOW, if we had just talked about it in some open forum, we all could have worked on change and kept our jobs and not burned bridges or felt like you had to 'diss' your other nurses for fear they would do it to you first! Such a shame...and a waste of spirit and time!

    If you are not comfortable, continue to gain as much from the job as you can, but seek new employment opportunities. You will find many of these probelms are common, but during interviews ask to speak IN PRIVATE to another nurse that has been there for a while and really get the skinny! Be very careful of vague job descriptions and ask many questions of interest to you during your interviews! Try as hard as you can to judge or gauge potential probelms, and BE HONEST with yourself. If you have a red flag going off in your head and don't know why about a particular job...trust it and move on or really figure it out and whether you can comprimise on those issues. I find being honest with yourself is your best defense!

    Good luck to you!!!!!!
  8. by   mercyteapot
    Your story sounds so familiar. I have a cousin who is 15 years younger than me, she graduated nursing school in 1999, worked on a floor similar to the one you describe, and quit after 2 months. She has been working in a derm office ever since and loves it. I know others who left hospital nursing after less than a year, and are happily ensconced in their careers. Life is too short to deal with this, if it isn't where your heart is. Of course, if you really would like to stay in this field, it would be worth your time to try to make it work, but otherwise, do what would make you happy.
  9. by   *PICURN*
    How AWFUL!!!!!!

    I am so so so so sorry for you!

    I am now really glad that I was a nurse's aide during school. I think every hospital has a floor like this. Mostly old cranky nurses that hate everyone. I was "floated" around to different floors of the hospital as a nurse's aide and was able to figure out which floors I would love to work on, and which ones I would NEVER work on.

    I am sorry you did not get to see this for yourself before accepting this job. Are you under any contract? I would seriously leave (at least leave that floor!) It is not your fault, these nurses have most likely been this way for YEARS. That is really unfortunate. I would maybe shadow a nurse for a day at some other hospital or another floor if you really like the hospital you are working for now.

    Good luck! But PLEASE leave that floor. You don't want to risk losing your license b/c they give you a patient load that is unfair. I would not stay somewhere where I was that unhappy and treated that unfairly. There IS a nursing shortage and you can find a better place to work! Don't settle.
  10. by   Phenomenon
    Thanks for the quick replies!

    I love neuro, I am fascinated by it, but can't imagine working like this for long-term. I am not on contract, I am casual, but I have kids at home to support so I end up working almost full-time (they call every day!)

    Orientation was 5 days of classes followed by 10 shifts with a mentor. I am completely on my own. Unfortunately, I feel that if I find a new job that I would just be jumping in to the same thing! From what I have heard, this kind of thing is commonplace almost everywhere.

    The set up is also primary care, however, due to the number of total care pts, they staff 2 nursing attendants around the clock. But they end up helping everyone else and not me (cause I am the newbie). Can you imagine turning 4 heavy pts yourself evry 2 hours? I have been doing it for weeks, have even had to ask family to help me because nobody else will. Some of the nurses giving me hassle aren't even the old ones! There are new grads that have been there only a year that are just as bad. They make rude comments to me and glare and basically it is not a friendly environment. I am so terrified of being written up all the time that I never take my breaks. we are supposed to have 3 on a 12 hour shift and I literally chart in the report room on my breaks.

    Any other tips for dealing with nasty, unhelpful co-workers would be great. I would love to offer my help but it is not reciprocated and I am too busy that if I were to offer help to others, I would be compromising my pts!
  11. by   11:11
    Sorry you have to go through this.

    The experience is not unique as evidenced by the previous responses. The irony is we do it to ourselves.

    Even those who act this way towards newgrads and newhires have probably had the same experience in some form or fashion.

    I think this is the crux of the problem in nursing today besides hours and pay.

    Who the hell wants to works their tail end off, work holidays, nights, weekends, and be treated like a mongrel to boot? No one I tell you and kids these days wont have it.

    I dont think going to your NM or HR will help. I think what you need to do is reach down within yourself and find the strength to do your job. Try not to take things too personally. Each day go home and take a quick inventory of what you did well, and what you could have done better. Kick *** on your job. Educate yourself about your pt's. Get a certification. Investigate other areas of nursing.

    If in six months to a year things are still out of hand look for a job elsewhere.

    And try to show some kindness to others even though they dont show it to you. Its tough to do and the payoff isnt always apparent.

    The culture of my current unit is disfunctional. Everyone knows it in the hospital even the corporation. The NM supports it as do the veterans. They can have it. Point is I stuck it out for at least a year before moving on. Thats what I had to do for myself. Im stubborn that way for better or worse.

    Youve chosen a very tough profession to practice. I hope you do well-

    11
  12. by   Tweety
    Come work with me. We are very supportive of new grads where I work. I'm precepting one right now. Anotherone I precepted is on her own but we are constantly asking if we can help her. So, no it's not commonplace everywhere.

    I'm sorry it's like this for you.

    Sounds like a vicious cycle. You don't help them because they don't help you and then perhaps they aren't helping you because you aren't helping them. sigh....

    Best wishes to you, I have no advice, except that when you do need help, insist on it. You're the profressional and supervise the unlicensed personnel. If they are assigned your patients, you need to learn the delegation skills and the assertive to demand they do their job. Then document each time you delegate and it's not done, and report it to the charge nurse and the manager (since you don't seem to be getting support from the charge nurse, you might have to bypass her/him.)

    Good luck!
  13. by   zacarias
    Quote from Phenomenon
    I am a new grad RN, graduated in Oct 2004 been working since Novemeber. I am struggling to say the least! It is not the work that is necessarily too hard (although I am just barely keeping up) but I am finding that the staff is what is getting to me.
    Hey there,

    Sorry to hear that your fellow nurses/ancillary staff are not helping you like they should. I'm not too far out of school and I can say the real world of nursing is sometimes tough. However, By the sounds of your situation, your unit may have low morale right now. Low morale affects everyone and eventually nurses, CNAs, and unit secretaries all are just going to work, going through the motions, being unhelpful to each other etc. I think if you feel comortable with your NM, you could talk to him/her about what your feeling. You could tell her what you seem to notice in the unit without attacking anyone in particular. You could also ask her if the unit has had low morale for a long time or has there been better times. This will at least get some stuff off your chest and you'll hear the NM herself discuss the situation.
    Are you backed by a union? Anytime you are asked to do an assignment that you feel is unsafe (either too many patients or super heavy acuity), please fill out an 'Assignment Despite Objection" form. It's a form that states that you unequivocally do not feel OK/safe with the assignment you've been given. It's a non-punitive form and if nurses fill out these forms consistently, I believe a change (even if a small change at first) can be made.
    Please check up in and let us know how it's going.
  14. by   Antikigirl
    From Zacarias "I'm not too far out of school and I can say the real world of nursing is sometimes tough."

    No disrespect intended whatsoever...just a little wink here..from a nurse that ISN'T new....Nursing is always tough, if it isn't..your missing or overlooked something!!!!!!:uhoh21:

    Even in the smoothest of cases...there is always something a nurse can be doing...I mean look at a list of NANDA Dx and that alone will tell you...we deal with it all...everything in a humans life. It is tough..and if you have idle time or think you are done...you will find by experience..you are far from!

    Just a little pearl of wisdom I have found along the way...and yes, usually by trial and error (more trial though! LOL!):chuckle ...

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