Singing the "Burnout Blues"...

  1. Hi! I was following the twists and turns of the "whining" thread, and after HappeeWendy's wonderful ending, anything else said there would be anticlimactic. However, it did bring to mind an issue I'm dealing with right now, and the feedback from my Allnurse peers would be great. No, I'm not burned out myself (love my job!) but I'm helping a manager by acting as liaison and support for four burned-out nurses on a med-surg unit. This is painful because all four are good nurses (a couple are excellent), but they are at each other's throats constantly over such issues as assignments and workload (echoes of Wendy's thread again). Not all managers are evil; I work with managers who really care about their staff members (but that's another thread). The manager in this case really wants to see these nurses work together as a cohesive team. We've got pastoral care involved for conferences, but lots of "too busy" and "I forgot" going on as far as attendance (passive-aggressive?). My role has been the sympathetic ear and shoulder, and I'm wringing out my shoulder pads on a regular basis. No one wants to switch jobs, no one wants to switch shifts, but this state of affairs is poisoning the other shifts as well. As for their peers working with them, the general attitude, voiced to me, is "We lay low, do our jobs and keep out of the way." Allnurse peers, please help!
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  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Jeannie, didyou try posting this one in nursing mgt and staff dev areas???? maybe there are some folks there w/ solutions to help you w/this difficult situation. I feel for you.....burned out nurses are not only hard to work with but hard to manage. I hope have the sense to leave what I am doing before I get that way....it's a big field, and there are always options. Good luck! Wish I had more to suggest.
  4. by   l.rae
    Sounds like your NM needs to call a MANDATORY meeting of these individuals......they need to know that under no circumstances will this behavior be tollerated....Sounds like your NM is trying to be supportive and nurturing......but sounds like that isn't working and it is time for tough love! I say mandatory meeting, anyone who doesn't show needs written up.....big time.......this is a cancer that will eventually eat away at all the staff and all the shifts, i've seen it happen.......then guess what........after all this chaos and loosing good nurses......the original trouble makers remain and suddenly they are best buds.....Seen it at least a dozen times.........Do you have an EAP? NM can require employees to consult with them under extreem circumstances....sounds like they need to intervene.....In the words of the great Barney Fife,..."NIP IT IN THE BUD!"....good luck.......LR
  5. by   fedupnurse
    Does anyone know how they got to hate each other in the first place. Bet you they don't remember!! I'm with l.rae on this one. Mandatory meeting with the four of them and set the ground rules. You people are making the lives of other staff on this floor a nightmare and it will not be tolerated. I'd assume your hospital has some sort of policy about a # of write ups=termination. As a staff nurse, I hate to see anyone canned but I also know what it is like working with disgruntled people and it drags everyone down. Other staff leave while the troubles ones stay. Maybe they need a little push to get their acts together.
    Good luck.
  6. by   jevans
    I am a deputy manager and I would definately get them together and tell them that their performance is affecting quality of care, ward moral and further more they have a professional duty to be civil towards each other.

    Behaviour like this will eventually affect patient care and that can not be tolerated.

    I sound like an ogre but I'm not truely. I am a caring person who does understand
    Best of luck cos it's not easy
    j
  7. by   Jenny P
    A mandatory meeting with NM, pastoral care, and EAP; then lock the doors and don't let anyone leave until the cause of the whole problem is identified, agreed upon, and solutions are brought forward; and the 4 nurses agree to solve the problems together.

    Another idea might be that they attend some type of personal mastery workshop whee they look at what they bring to nursing and what nursing does to them.
  8. by   mattsmom81
    Excellent advice from everyone! I agree that being sympathetic to burnt nurses backfires eventually if the nurses don't WANT to work things out.

    I tried to get two of my coworkers together to work out their mutual hostility. I was a charge nurse. We all got sick and tired of their little passive aggressive games and their gossipping about one another. Finally I said to them : either you guys solve the problem here or I'm bringing it to the director to solve. They refused, I documented, they both have major counselings documented in their records. I hate to be a *****, but what else can one do???

    One of the set finally moved on, Thank God...LOL! These types can make the whole unit miserable!!!
  9. by   JeannieM
    Everyone, thanks so very much for the excellent advice. This afternoon the chaplain is bringing the group to a lock-in, mandatory meeting. I'm covering patients for an hour so that they have no work-related excuse for not attending. The "kid gloves" are to come off, no topic is off-limits, and swearing in front of the chaplain is permitted. The nurse-manager is not present so they can speak freely. The survivors can drag their battered and bleeding bodies back to work, hopefully more productively together than before. Clearly the warm-fuzzies weren't working. I'll let you know what happens. JeannieM
  10. by   teamrn
    Dear JeaneM,

    I think this may be what might have happened (and this is my opinion only), from my experience. In 21 years, I had numerous managers, and I can think of few who were willing to work with their staff to meet unitand patient goals. Staff tried to work with them by stafffing holidays, weekends, doing on-call, with the understanding that as managers THEY TOO, had jobs to do.

    But, one of those jobs, is/was to staff their unit, if noone is available. They can try to get staff to come in, get registry, get agency, but if all else failed, they needed to come in, and all too often, that NEVER happened. You were either given the guilt trip from h*ll, given POORER raises, or angry looks from other team members if you COULDN'T come in (i'e. if you were single, had prior committments, and any other scenarios). Maybe my skin was too thin back then, but I'd venture a guess that if you ran this by others, they'd find it echoed at least partially true.

    (I'm away from it all right now, so I try to take an objective look), but the manager/CNM/CNS who took patients (or helped) were few and far between. I did find them quick to critcize, and point out inferiorities. They did need to point out/discipline unsafe nursing practices, but given the option of 'coming down' on the side of the floor/staff RN and administration, they almost always chose administration. What kind of team spirit do you think THAT fostered? Why do you think so many RNs distrust administration?

    This is a something that I feel needs to be worked on; more RNs giving the benefit of the doubt to administration; and more CNM giving the benefit of the doubt to staff RNs.
  11. by   JeannieM
    HI, everybody. Once again, thanks for the great feedback, and here,s the update. Teamrn, you're right in that in the meeting many issues were discussed, including the perceived lack of mgt. support and practice issues. We're going to try to address these in a seperate forum. Fortunately, the group also focused on the issues between themselves. Fedupnurse, nobody really COULD point to a cause of the disparity, but there was a lot of mutual distrust, and a feeling that assignments were being made to "make things easier on the charge nurse". Interestingly enough, this was felt by everyone, even as charge rotated. End result: they contracted for professional and open communication with each other, and courtesy on the floor. There will be regular follow-up meetings with clergy. Naturally I'm available as an ear and shoulder; I'm in a "staff" rather than a "line" position (i.e. I'm not a manager-thank God!) so they can trust me. I'll keep you posted on whether they keep the contract or fall back onto their old habits. Thanks so much, everybody

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