Venting and Advice Needed...Just Can't Do This Anymore!

  1. OK...this is going to be long, so get comfortable!

    I was hired for nights...and worked nights for the first three months I was at my new job. There was an occasional day shift thrown in here and there and there were a lot of schedule changes made without my knowledge or consent, but overall, it wasn't too bad. We are really short staffed, so I was working at least four 12 hour shifts a week, sometimes five, sometimes six. One of the day shift nurses resigned and I requested to be moved to day shift as soon as adequate night staffing was available. I was told that the day shift position was mine. Then the nurse who resigned decided to stay. I told management that since she was staying I would be happy to continue on night shift. So...the past month I have been working two 0600-1800 day shifts and two 1400-2200 evening shifts. Every other week, they throw in a 1800-0600 night shift. Quite honestly, I am not handling the jumping around of shifts very well. Usually I only have one day off in between the evening or night and a day shift. On my day off, I don't know whether I should sleep or stay up or what. If I stay up, I am a grouch all day and I end up with a migraine. If I sleep, even for a few hours, I have trouble sleeping that night, which is bad because I have to be back at work at 0600 the next day. I asked when I am going to be put back on a consistent shift and was told probably not until SPRING because staffing is so short and they just don't know what to do. Now, they have contacted with agency nurses and somehow are overstaffed on some weekends and I am being scheduled to work the floor as a CNA. Normally, I wouldn't mind this, but they have reduced CNA staffing to ONE CNA from 1300-0600, because our census is low. So, I am going to be putting 20 people to bed by myself. I don't have the physical strength to care for a lot of our residents without help. And, since I don't work the floor a lot, I take a lot longer than the CNAs do to get people into bed...they're going to be up all night because I just don't have the routine down well enough! Also the schedule continues to keep changing...it changed three times since December 1st. And...I get to work 1800-0600 Christmas Eve...1400-2200 Christmas Day, and 0600-1800 the day after Christmas. Not only do I work three shifts in a row with only 8 hours in between, but, since I work out of town, there is no point in driving 30 miles home between my shifts...it cuts down on my sleep time too much, so I just stay in one of the sleep rooms in the facility. I have worked every holiday since I was hired and am scheduled for New Years Eve and New Years Day. I am scheduled for a day that my daughter has a doctor's appointment and was told that I need to just cancel the appointment, because the schedule clearly states that it is subject to change. I scheduled her appointment because I was supposed to be off that day. It is with a specialist and he is hard to get into and we need to take care of her problem ASAP, so rescheduling is NOT an option. Last week I woke up with severe abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. I was told to come in or be terminated...so I took a handful of immodium and went to work. We don't really have the option of calling in sick becasue there is no one to cover our shift if we do and the DON just does NOT work the floor at all!

    I like my job when things are going well. I like the residents. I pity the staff because we are so overworked. I am looking for another job, but am not sure how much longer I can keep this up. I may or may not give two weeks notice...I'm not sure if my body can take it. I am taking sleeping pills to sleep at night, but they are not working tonight. Hopefully, tomorrow will be slow. And now I am sitting here crying like an idiot because I am just so freaking stressed. The anxiety meds and antidepressants aren't helping either.
    Last edit by flashpoint on Dec 9, '06 : Reason: because I have my days and nights mixed up...
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  2. 23 Comments

  3. by   gitterbug
    Dear Cotjockey.
    It is time to have a serious discussion with the DON. Is anyone else working all 3 shifts consistantly as you? Is anyone else expected to work all 3 holidays with only 8 hours off in between? Not allowed to call in no matter what? Tell her you can no longer work all 3 shifts, you will not be working all of the holidays either, and the staffing is going to get worse unless changes are made. She can come in and fill in if necessary but you have no other option but to keep the appointment for your daughter.

    You are a hard working, care nurse but enough is enough. Making yourself sick before you make a change is no good. Be nice, be clear in your needs, and be firm. You deserve better and so does your family.
  4. by   RNinSoCal
    I agree, you have to stand up for your self. There are unscrupulous managers who will grind you into the ground if you let them. You are human and you need a regular schedule so you can sleep and have time for a personal life too. I would laugh out loud if anyone ever asked me to work as a CNA. If the DON won't change your schedule, vote with your feet. You are in control of where you work.
    You sound like a caring nurse who deserves a break!!
  5. by   GardenDove
    that is the most ridiculous thing i've ever heard. no wonder they are short staffed. you are being totally abused. that is horrible and every study in the book says that switching your schedule like that is unsafe! you are being absolutely jerked around. that is utter bull(profanity deleted)
  6. by   canoehead
    If a sincere heart to heart with your boss doesn't work...Call your doc and schedule a stress leave starting immediately, and lasting long enough to get your girl to the doctor, and include Christmas too while you are at it. Take the time to think about the limits you want to set. What is going to be the breaking point for you- what will make you hand in the resignation letter?

    If your position is only for 36 hours, and on the night shift, make them live up to that agreement. The schedule may be subject to change, but they should be staying within the limits of the position you agreed to take on. Anything above and beyond requires your explicit approval.
  7. by   ZASHAGALKA
    Places like that dish up as much as you will take. No more. No less.

    I mean: what are they gonna do? Fire you? Please. Who else are they gonna get that will take that abuse.

    Walk in with resignation in hand and demand a workable schedule. If not, turn in your resignation.

    There ARE better work environments. (Not that they will just let you go.)

    ~faith,
    Timothy.
  8. by   Silverdragon102
    agree with all the other posts, remember at the end of the day you have to look after number one as no one else will and you have to think what will happen when you health suffers which by the sounds of it is already beginning to
  9. by   BSNtobe2009
    Quote from cotjockey
    OK...this is going to be long, so get comfortable!

    I was hired for nights...and worked nights for the first three months I was at my new job. There was an occasional day shift thrown in here and there and there were a lot of schedule changes made without my knowledge or consent, but overall, it wasn't too bad. We are really short staffed, so I was working at least four 12 hour shifts a week, sometimes five, sometimes six. One of the day shift nurses resigned and I requested to be moved to day shift as soon as adequate night staffing was available. I was told that the day shift position was mine. Then the nurse who resigned decided to stay. I told management that since she was staying I would be happy to continue on night shift. So...the past month I have been working two 0600-1800 day shifts and two 1400-2200 evening shifts. Every other week, they throw in a 1800-0600 night shift. Quite honestly, I am not handling the jumping around of shifts very well. Usually I only have one day off in between the evening or night and a day shift. On my day off, I don't know whether I should sleep or stay up or what. If I stay up, I am a grouch all day and I end up with a migraine. If I sleep, even for a few hours, I have trouble sleeping that night, which is bad because I have to be back at work at 0600 the next day. I asked when I am going to be put back on a consistent shift and was told probably not until SPRING because staffing is so short and they just don't know what to do. Now, they have contacted with agency nurses and somehow are overstaffed on some weekends and I am being scheduled to work the floor as a CNA. Normally, I wouldn't mind this, but they have reduced CNA staffing to ONE CNA from 1300-0600, because our census is low. So, I am going to be putting 20 people to bed by myself. I don't have the physical strength to care for a lot of our residents without help. And, since I don't work the floor a lot, I take a lot longer than the CNAs do to get people into bed...they're going to be up all night because I just don't have the routine down well enough! Also the schedule continues to keep changing...it changed three times since December 1st. And...I get to work 1800-0600 Christmas Eve...1400-2200 Christmas Day, and 0600-1800 the day after Christmas. Not only do I work three shifts in a row with only 8 hours in between, but, since I work out of town, there is no point in driving 30 miles home between my shifts...it cuts down on my sleep time too much, so I just stay in one of the sleep rooms in the facility. I have worked every holiday since I was hired and am scheduled for New Years Eve and New Years Day. I am scheduled for a day that my daughter has a doctor's appointment and was told that I need to just cancel the appointment, because the schedule clearly states that it is subject to change. I scheduled her appointment because I was supposed to be off that day. It is with a specialist and he is hard to get into and we need to take care of her problem ASAP, so rescheduling is NOT an option. Last week I woke up with severe abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. I was told to come in or be terminated...so I took a handful of immodium and went to work. We don't really have the option of calling in sick becasue there is no one to cover our shift if we do and the DON just does NOT work the floor at all!

    I like my job when things are going well. I like the residents. I pity the staff because we are so overworked. I am looking for another job, but am not sure how much longer I can keep this up. I may or may not give two weeks notice...I'm not sure if my body can take it. I am taking sleeping pills to sleep at night, but they are not working tonight. Hopefully, tomorrow will be slow. And now I am sitting here crying like an idiot because I am just so freaking stressed. The anxiety meds and antidepressants aren't helping either.
    Night shift is pure hell on the body and mind to start with, without adding what you described to it. I agree with the others, that is more than should be expected of a person. Speak up!
  10. by   RNfromMN
    That's a ridiculous schedule. I just wanted to post to say that I sympathize with the jumping around of shifts. I absolutely loathe working NOC shifts, but I'd rather be full-time nocs than nocs mixed with ams, or pms, or both. I know I used to do it when I was younger & it didn't really phase me too badly. I'm not even 30 yet, & mixing up shifts now is still more than I can handle. It can make you nuts! Get out now.
  11. by   augigi
    People treat you just as badly as you permit. DEMAND a schedule which adheres to your contract. Otherwise, let them know you'll be leaving. You are not doing yourself any favours, and you're not doing the staff any favours by making it known this is acceptable treatment. Good luck.
  12. by   TrudyRN
    Quote from gardendove
    that is the most ridiculous thing i've ever heard. no wonder they are short staffed. you are being totally abused. that is horrible and every study in the book says that switching your schedule like that is unsafe! you are being absolutely jerked around. that is utter bull(profanity deleted)
    the profanity might have been deleted but we are all thinking it anyway.

    let me make this totally simple for you, you poor thing. get the h out of there.

    lay it on the line for your boss. you are working impossible hours and if they want you to stay, they will immediately, and i don't mean after this current schedule, change the schedule once again and put you on a schedule that you are going to hand them. otherwise, just work the shifts you can physically and emotionally do and immediately find another job.
  13. by   TrudyRN
    Another thought: Your letter needs to be sent to your state and federal legislators (senators and Representatives in Congress). This ought to help open their eyes to what nurses have to deal with.

    I bet you might very well be able to get off of your anxiety and depression meds when you start being able to sleep on some sort of regular schedule.

    As for their right to change the schedule whenever they like - uh uh. If you read their policy manual or their regulations/laws of human resources and operating procedures or your state's laws on this labor/personnel/HR topic, you will probably find that it states that they can do it if personnel are given "sufficient" notice. Well, who defines "sufficient"? In the case of your little daughter's specialist appointment, they have NOT given you notice sufficient for you to be able to not miss it or to be able to reschedule it so she gets seen in what you think is a safe and reasonable length of time. And what's to keep them from switching the schedule yet again so that you won't be able to get her to the rescheduled appointment? They already are jerking you around like a puppet on a string, making you mentally and physically sick, making you miss Christmas completely. BTW, you are likely getting only 7.5 hours off between shifts, which might very well be illegal. Talk to the Fair Labor Standards Administration people and/or OSHA.
    Last edit by TrudyRN on Dec 9, '06
  14. by   flashpoint
    One of the biggest problems with the schedule is that they have a contract with the agency nurses and they are not willing to pay whatever penalties it would take to get them out of it. So...they have too much staffing on weekends, starting after January 1st. They used to pay an RN to come in and sleep for 8 hours just to get their mandatory RN coverage, while an LPN charged the floor, so why can't they pay for an LPN to come in and work with an agency RN who is charging the floor? Seems like a perfect opportunity to get chart reviews, monthly summaries, policy reviews, etc done.

    I've always been a tightly wound person...I doubt I will ever quit the antidepressants, but the sleep and anxiety meds are new. My last job was stressful beyond belief and the average time a nurse stays there is four months. I lasted six, and took a sleep med about once a week. Now, I am taking it three or four times a week...sometimes because the stress just gets to me and sometimes because my shifts are just so crazy that I either go 24 hours without sleep or I sleep during the day and need something to help me sleep the same night.

    I have some applications out and as soon as I find another job, I will be putting in my notice. I can't quit or even threaten to quit until I have another job. And I have told my manager point blank that I cannot work like this...she told me she had no choice because of all of the other staffing problems...I would threaten to quit if she doesn't fix it, but with my luck she would just say OK and take me off the schedule.

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