Taking one for the team...ugh

  1. I work straight midnights on a medical floor. I took a vacation day Sunday night (that's not really important but I felt like mentioning it). On Monday and Tuesday nights, I had an okay assignment. Not too busy, no complete cares, nice people. Monday was rather hectic, though, because I was hanging blood and stuff but Tuesday was just fine. I knew Wednesday would be kind of busy, because one patient would be doing a bowel prep and another would be going for angiography in the morning, plus two patients would be discharged and who knew what kind of patients I would get.

    Anyway, I had all this in mind as I walked onto my floor Wednesday night. I greeted one of the evening shift nurses, who says to me that she's sorry I'm following her. I laughed and said I shouldn't be following her because I've had this other assignment for two nights and I knew there were eight hour people in it so I shouldn't be bumped. She said she hoped she was wrong because it was a terrible assignment. Gosh, I hoped she was wrong also!

    I looked at the assignment sheet, and guess what...my friend was correct. The charge nurse was already on her way over to me because she knew I'd have a bit of a problem. She said, "look, you don't really want to know why I put you there, and if you were charge you would have done the same thing." (Let me add that I LOVE this charge nurse. She is a wonderful person, very helpful and thoughtful. One other time I grumbled about my assignment and she changed it for me so I could retain some of the same patients. So she's understanding and believes in continuity of care.)

    I told her that I wanted to know the reason, and she explained that we had a pulled nurse from another floor, and she couldn't put her in the awful assignment because that district only has one nurse, unlike the other districts that have two. Okay, that made sense and was thoughtful but didn't explain why I had to be moved. There was another assignment available for that nurse. My charge nurse hesitated and then told me that the only other choice was to have "Reesa" in that assignment, and "we can't do that because she can't handle it. You can. I'm sorry." I couldn't help it, I started to cry out of frustration. I wasn't sobbing or anything, but tears were running down my face. I collected myself and took report.

    The night wasn't so bad, and I felt that Reesa could have handled it. At least she should be able to...I'm not paid any more for having a harder assignment. The next night, I talked to the charge nurse again and explained that I felt I was being punished for being a stronger nurse and that's why I had been upset. She said to me, "so are you going to start slacking off? No, you know you're not." And she's right. I'm not going to start slacking off, but I am not encouraged to work hard if this is the recognition I get! I understand that a difficult assignment requires a stronger nurse but I think we all have to pull our own weight as well.


    Sorry, had to get that off my chest.
    Last edit by Penelope_Pitstop on Jun 6, '09
  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   cruisin_woodward
    Sounds pretty typical... ICU, and OR same thing happens. I try to take it as a compliment....
  4. by   everthesame
    Oh, I have been in that situation and hated it. Hopefully when it comes to your annual review your boss remembers how well you "take one" for the team. No, of course you are not going to slack off or give substandard care but you should somehow be rewarded for being a strong nurse.
  5. by   cursedandblessed
    ((((bluehenrn)))) i'm glad you're a good nurse, and your boss knows it too. i guess i feel bad for you, as i know when i graduate i'll be one of those nurses who can't handle all of the difficult cases at one time at first, and will put the experienced nurses in the place you were in this week. i'm apologize in advance. i hope next week is better!!
  6. by   mjjlRN
    What I don't understand is, if the assignment was so bad, why didn't they split it up? At least you could have kept some of your pts from the previous 2 nights then.

    Also, we have 1 particular nurse who "can't handle it", too. We used to try to take the harder stuff, but she seemed to always end up with an easy assignment, and was still having trouble and/or/ complaining about it, so we stopped, and decided it was time for her to pull her own weight. Anyway, it just isn't equitable for one nurse to always get the harder assignement and another to always get the easier assignment, it is bad for staff morale,and I would let your boss know if this continues to happen.
  7. by   Penelope_Pitstop
    Quote from cursedandblessed
    ((((bluehenrn)))) i'm glad you're a good nurse, and your boss knows it too. i guess i feel bad for you, as i know when i graduate i'll be one of those nurses who can't handle all of the difficult cases at one time at first, and will put the experienced nurses in the place you were in this week. i'm apologize in advance. i hope next week is better!!
    getting an easier assignment when you're a new grad is one thing, but this nurse has actually been on my floor longer than i have. it's not an experience issue. you should receive a bit of a break when you're first on your own.
  8. by   leslie :-D
    aw (((bluehen))), i have to admit, i am guilty of doing the same thing...
    esp w/the aides.
    i often alter assignments so that aide annie will be caring for pt patti.
    now, pt patti is a pt that we all avoid.
    yet aide annie has been blessed with that special gift, and can soothe the loudest of lions.
    or sometimes, it's aide eddie i want to care for pt monster mel, because aide eddie will put monster mel right in his place, all the while providing exemplary care.
    i select specific aides for various pts, thinking it will be a 'therapeutic' fit.

    i do understand why you've been hauled to deal w/the tough ones.
    obviously your cn thinks the world of you and sees you as more than capable and consistently reliable.
    i think i'd be noting all these times your assignment has been changed, and when it comes time for evals, this would be a great time to pitch for a great raise.
    it also wouldn't hurt for you to have a private 1:1 with the charge and share your concerns...
    that while you can appreciate the faith she has in you, what can be done to ensure that you are not always burdened?
    seriously, collaborate on a solution.
    if she's as golden as you say she is, i'm positive she will heed your concerns.
    why not see what can be resolved over a cup of coffee?

    while i truly sympathize with your predicament, just know that you are soooo appreciated by those that matter.
    but see what you can do to come to an amenable solution.
    and let us know how it goes.

  9. by   suanna
    I have always said- " be careful what you volunteer for" - todays exception becomes tomorows rule. We have a policy at my hospital of documenting when a nurse feels thier assignment is "unsafe". It dosen't mean you get to change your assignment, it just means the charge person, shift supervisor are going to have to explain to administration why resourses weren't made available to ensure appropriate patient care. You can bet , if you just take this in stride, you are going to get a crappy assignment almost every night- because you can handle it. I make it quite clear to the charge person whem my assignment is out of ballance with the others on unit that I can't 'handle it" safely and will be filing an unsafe assignment report as soon as I am sure my patients are OK- most likely on my own time after my shift. This usually gets some creative process working to ensure there is no one with an unsafe workload- whether it be offering extra pay for some one to come in extra of to stay over, or non licenced staff being assigned from a quieter floor to help with the workload. Do a good job, but don't "just take it", the next time it may truely be more than you can handle and your patients are at risk. You have every right to be upset!
  10. by   locolorenzo22
    I wish we had something like that at our hospital. We often have many confused patients and not enough CNAs to do the direct care...or sitters to help keep them safe. One nurse spent most of her shift in the hall outside one room and directly across from the other one because of a few yellers, and one crani. It sucks, because then your patients are complaining about the yelling, and you're trying to get them to go to sleep, but then your other ones need pain meds, etc. etc.
  11. by   Penelope_Pitstop
    I was off the weekend, went back in last night and guess what! I was back in that same assignment! It was a weekend nurse who made the assingment, not the charge nurse I can talk to, and besides...the other two choices aside from pulled nurses were "the nurse who can't handle it," and the nurse I walked in with last night, who didn't offer to switch with me and it would have been mean for me to ask.

    So I sucked it up...again.

    This morning, though, I talked to my nurse educator and one of my assistant managers. The nurse educator, who has no say in assignments, agreed with me 100% that the stronger nurses should at least be "rotated through" that assignment. The assistant manager said that it was dumb to put me back in that assignment after I was off but also said, "we have to staff based on patient acuity," which is a fancy way of saying "the better nurses will get the harder assignments."

    We'll see, I suppose. And guess what...last night was my first of FIVE.

    Holy bat crap, Robin...
  12. by   barefootlady
    You are just experiencing what often happens when you are a strong nurse. Does that seem fair, no. Should the assignment be split, yes. Now in real life, we do the job, often get the short end and just keep going. This is the reason nurses get burned out. Good luck and I hope the yearly raise is a good one, but do not count on it. It is just nursing, once again a tough job you got to love or get out of.
  13. by   PostOpPrincess
    There are limits to being the strong nurse. The number one? Burnout. Although I always appreciated the fact that I could handle any assignment given to me, I always made it a point to find a process to "help" the other nurse who couldn't handle it.

    There is only so much one can do before one pulls one's hair out. I knew this about me and I didn't mind being vocal about it. YOU MUST remember you have to TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.
  14. by   GaMBA
    How long is a nurse allowed to "not be able to handle it" before they are asked to leave? Is this common in the nursing field, having weak nurses who can't handle their job? Why aren't they fired?