Nursing Supervisor Problems

  1. Do any of you have trouble with the nursing supervisors that you have to work with? I might be just getting too worked up about this but here goes.
    I have been a nurse for 31 years and have worked in all areas of management. We moved to Seattle a few years ago after I gave up my director position and decided to retire from upper management. I have an extensive resume including most years spend in management positions at different levels. I have worked in all areas of nursing.

    I currently have a job that I love. I am in a small hospital just outside Seattle and I am the charge nurse on the 3-11 shift of a 34 bed med- surg floor. I love the people I work with and I love my manager. The job gives my just enough management to keep the job interesting. I am very happy with my job. My problem is this one particular nursing supervisor. She works in the ICU and picks up shifts as supervisor. She has no management experience. When she is working as supervisor her manner is that one would present if they were trained at the Atilla the Hun school of management. She is a bossy, uppity, nasty B----. She is so rude, it is just sort of interesting to just watch her and hear her. I have just never seen anything like it.

    When I was at work last night, when the night shift came on they relayed to me what a horrible night they had the night before when she was supervisor. On the 3-11 shift alone they received 7 transfers and 6 admissions. The charge nurse tried to ask her to let up a little bit until they could get caught up but she did not respond to that request.

    She came on shift at 7 pm yesterday and I was leaving early. I had to speak with her a couple of times before I went home and of course those conversations were not positive. I am always polite and cool in my conversations with her. But before I left I documented in an extensive email to my manager and to her manager the issues that we were having with her. And I was quite frank. I don't know if she hacked into his email or if some print out came automatically but she got a copy of the email (I am actually quite glad of this). When I go to work today it will be interesting to see if I have gotten my butt in a sling.

    I know that this issue has become quite emotional for me. I just don't quite know why she pushes my buttons so much except that she acts like she does not trust the information that I give her and she treats me in such a disrespectful manner. I am old enough to be her mother. If I don't manage to get my own emotions under control I know that I will finally say something directly to her that will get me fired. Do any of you have any recommendations on how you would feel about this? She is just so disrespectful.. She treats everyone like a small child. I am REALLY GETTING SICK of her and something is about to come to a head unless she is removed from that position.
    Last edit by diane227 on Mar 20, '09
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  2. 20 Comments

  3. by   DeepFriedRN
    Yeesh. Sounds like a nightmare. I don't really have any advice, because I am finding that the longer I work in this business, the less tolerance I have for BS. Just wanted to send you some support. I'm pretty sure she has a clone that works in every hospital in the world.. Here's to hoping her boss is reasonable!
  4. by   oramar
    She is acting like this because she is actually threatened by you. If I were you I would continue to keep my cool. My guess is that most likely you are a more experienced charge nurse, a more well liked person and an all around better nurse and it grates on her. It is so strange that some people react like this when there is someone that knows the ropes around. Myself I always feel so glad to have someone to turn to whose experience I respect. We would get along immensely well.
  5. by   RN BSN 2009
    Let her tear herself down.
  6. by   HouTx
    Typical ICU "know it all" . I can say that because I am also a 'recovering' ICU nurse - and admitting that I dont' know everything is part of the recovery process. LOL.

    Diane227 - I always enjoy your posts. You seem to have an ability to see through the B****t and an articulate way of expressing yourself. I'd LOVE to work with you!

    I am sure that you have seen this sort of problem before - it's a newbie problem with a lot of new managers and not unique to nursing. Some people just set off on an extended power trip the minute they get that new job title. In my experience, they don't last long because the staff quickly forms a very effective coalition intent on their destruction.

    In my consulting days, I used to be called in when new managers were having problems.... my feedback to the Nurse Exec usually ended with this observation - " the nurses in department ___ are mutually supportive and work well as a team. Unfortunately, their solidarity is driven by a singular shared goal and passion - to get rid of their supervisor". Yeah - definitely one of those good news/bad news situations. This normally resulted in a quick change of manager. No nurse executive in her right mind can afford to tick off an entire group of nurses because of one bad supervisor.

    Hopefully, your nurse exec is sane and will take appropriate action. However, if she shared your email with the problem Supervisor, I have my doubts about her ability to lead.

    Hang in there Diane!!!
  7. by   Batman24
    It sounds like she has issues with a lot of nurses so I'm sure it isn't personal. I'm also sure she is threatened by you in particular given your experience and expertise.

    I'm curious to see how she got wind of that email. Hopefully your management will deal with these issues in a professional manner. As others are having problems with her as well I hope they put their complaints in writing as well in a professional, calm and concise way. That could help management to see they have a real problem on their hands that shouldn't be swept under the rug. Keep us posted. Good luck.
  8. by   PDXSammy
    It might be easy to say something like, "Suzie, your tone of voice really sounds angry, so if I did something to set you off, let's talk. I really don't want you upset with me."

    I think she's running down the pier to hop on the Titanic. As long as she goes unchecked, it's only a matter of time before the percentage of her unprofessional conduct will overtake the few positives. Keep doing what you love to do...now sit back and watch her self destruct.
  9. by   chevyv
    Please keep us posted as to what happens when you get to work with her again. I'm interested in learning how to deal with difficult people so when I graduate at least I have a clue.
  10. by   VivaRN
    You sound like a solid leader and very good at what you do. Nothing to add, but my instinct is that whatever happens will turn out right in the end because of your wealth of management experience.
  11. by   hotmama2be
    There is nothing worst then a woman who thinks shes all that and a bag of potatoe chips. And to make it even worse she is put in positions of power, I think what you did was appropiate. And as far as I am concerned there is nothing wrong with setting her straight and telling her how you feel. And going to upper levels of management to take care of her and attitude.


    You go Girl!!!!
  12. by   diane227
    Unfortunately I was a bit over the top in my email to my manager. I am not sure how this supervisor got a copy of this email because it was late in the shift and there was no one to give it to her unless she went through the items in my managers box. I am taking a few days off work. I am going to have ACLS next week so I won't b going to work until next Friday. I have to go in on Monday to meet with my manager. It has been really stressful around there lately and I am just not doing well with dealing with it right now.

    One of the problems I discovered last night after talking the situation over with my husband is that I find my self taking on all the problems of others. Each shift comes to me with problems on the unit and I do my best to help them, but somehow this is going to have to change. They are going to have to get with the manager an work those problems out with her. I am just going to try to concentrate on my shift and my area of responsibility. In my past management jobs as director I had to take on all problems. It is has been hard to get out of that mode.

    You guys are SO GREAT!!!! Thank you all so much for your kind works of support. I hope that things turn out well. I know that I will not be able to offer her an apology to her so I hope that is not what they will expect. The one good thing is that my manager knows how bad she is and there are many people working to get her pulled off her supervisor position, so we will see. Thanks so much to all of you.
  13. by   diane227
    Well, I am in trouble. I whipped off my nasty email and my manager has called me in for a "chat" on Monday at 2 pm. I know that I should not have been so nasty in my email and I wish I had talked to some of you before I sent it. You guys gave me some great ideas regarding the supervisors motives and how to respond to her, but I was angry and instead of sitting on my anger for 24 hour before taking any action, I let my anger overtake my logic. And you know, it always sounds worse when you send it in email instead of saying it in person. I don't think I am going to get fired, but I won't be surprised if I get suspended (this has never happened to me before). But I guess I deserve it. I shot my mouth off and I have to accept the consequences of my actions. I will send you guys an update. But I still don't like her and I don't want to work with her. And I WON'T be offering her an apology.
  14. by   JBudd
    You can be sorry for the tone but not the content. How do you know you're in trouble? Manager might just want to review the problems.... well, we can hope!

    I've gone to managers and said "I reacted more heatedly than I would have liked, but the situation still needs to be resolved". It has worked for me in the past.

    I think you're right, you're just so used to dealing with everyone's problems that its hard to let go of old habits. Get used to saying "you need to take this up with Mrs. Manager", and at the most give advice on how to approach her.

    :icon_hug:

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