When You Realize You've Made a Mistake ...

  1. I guess I have a really bad case of nursing school blues so ... if this thread is too long and too negative for some people, I apologize. But, the fact is, I'm starting to think this whole thing was a mistake.

    It's funny: you struggle so hard to get into the program but once you're there, reality hits hard. And I'm not just talking about all the usual problems with school either. Although ... I have to admit ... a lot of the bad things people say about nursing school are true, unfortunately.

    But here's what's really gotten me down about the profession. I worked as a student extern this summer and got a taste of what real nursing is like. That was a big wake up call. It's a really tough job. I realized I didn't want to have the stress of the job and school, especially since the class before us had a very high failure rate. I didn't want to take any chances, so I quit when school started up again so I could just focus on getting through the program.

    I gave them the full two weeks notice. I even worked while I was sick so they wouldn't be short on staff. This hospital makes you work as a CNA as well as an extern and a lot of student externs call out on their CNA days but I never did, even when my last day was a CNA day.

    However, I saw first hand how this particular hospital did anything to save a buck, often at the expense of patient care. In fact, some nurses just recently won a lawsuit against this hospital on these same issues. So I made a copy of my time card just in case they tried to screw me on my last paycheck.

    Sure enough, they didn't pay me. I sent them a copy of the schedule and my time card, and they claimed they would fix it. Yet, two months later, I'm still waiting to get paid. I've just sent another copy of my time card and made another round of phone calls to no avail.

    So now I've got to take the matter to the school administrators and, perhaps even the board of nursing and the labor board. The problem is that this hospital has a very close relationship with the school and this puts me in a very awkward position.

    I've already had to do clinicals at this hospital, which was somewhat awkward, and I'll probably have to do more clinicals there and perhaps, even my preceptorship. It just sucks to be put in a position where you have to fight to make people do the right thing.

    I know this is just one bad experience, and I'm hoping there are better facilities out there, but it is disillusioning, to say the least.

    Last edit by Sheri257 on Oct 22, '05
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   Tony35NYC
    Lizz,

    Sorry to hear about this experience. I found myself in a similar situation when I worked as an ICU tech/intern. It was a very high-stress environment. The pay wasn't so hot and the work was hard. I eventually decided to quit because I was in school full-time and I would perhaps not have passed my exams if I had continued to work at that place. After I gave in my 2-week notice, the manager retaliated by floating me off to the med-surg and tele floors, where they were really short staffed and I had up to 18 and more patients on some shifts. Now I am an RN, and the hospital where now I work is nothing at all like where I was before. True, the job is not easy, but the point is that some places are much better than others and when you become an RN you will be able to work where YOU want to work; especially in a state like California where there are so many opportunities.

    This hospital where you were working sounds pretty shady. It is illegal for any company to not pay workers for their labor, and they must know they could get into a lot of trouble and pay a hefty fine over this. I can't believe they would be so foolish as to get involved in such a mess because the fine would cost them a lot more than what they owe you. Have you spoken to the nurse manger for the unit about this? Usually that's the place to start because he/she had to have signed off on the time cards before they were submitted to payroll for processing. When you say you sent them your time card and your schedule and that you called, did you send it to a specific person, or to a department? And who is it that you're talking to when you call, is it someone of authority who can actually do something about the situation? If they are giving you the runaround over the phone then you should go in person and speak to someone. If they continue to refuse to pay you, you should report them to the labor board because you are entitled to your wages. As for the hospital's relationship with your school, certainly the college administrators can't fault you for wanting to get paid for the work you did.
  4. by   Sheri257
    Quote from Tony35NYC
    This hospital where you were working sounds pretty shady. It is illegal for any company to not pay workers for their labor, and they must know they could get into a lot of trouble and pay a hefty fine over this. I can't believe they would be so foolish as to get involved in such a mess because the fine would cost them a lot more than what they owe you. Have you spoken to the nurse manger for the unit about this?
    They are shady. They've recently lost two lawsuits where they had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars either for not paying people, malpractice, etc. And I have spoken to the manager. She claimed she would take care of it, but I haven't gotten a check. I sent yet another letter, again with copies of the time card and schedule. I also left messages but I haven't heard back.

    I realize that the school administrators shouldn't find fault but some of them work there and also sponsor the extern program at the facility. It's just awkward and I hate being in this position.

    Last edit by Sheri257 on Oct 22, '05
  5. by   Tweety
    Lizz, I've read other posts and it sounds like not only are you going to a dreadful school, but worked for a dreadful hospital.

    Best of luck in whatever you do.
  6. by   mariedoreen
    Is this not something for the labor board in your state? Sounds like they're violating a few laws here...

    So your dilemma is... make them pony up the dough or let it go because you're going to be a student in their facility and the concern is that any misstep could cost you the completion of your education. Correct?

    Hmmm. What would I do? I'd get an attorney, but then I can get onery about money owed to me. OP, we're talking about WAGES here and from the sounds of it, SEVERAL WEEKS worth. It's been way past time and you've been way too accommodating.

    Then as a precaution I'd start documenting my days there. Make sure you CYA on your charting and make sure you keep a log at home. It could all come in handy later.
  7. by   Sheri257
    Quote from mariedoreen
    So your dilemma is... make them pony up the dough or let it go because you're going to be a student in their facility and the concern is that any misstep could cost you the completion of your education. Correct?
    I'm not going to let it go. And I will report them. But I resent having to go to such great lengths to get paid for the money I'm owed. I'm just venting because it does put me in an awkward position ... both with clinicals and the faculty that works at the hospital.

    I find it sad, actually. This is not the way I wanted to start my nursing career. As a student, it's somewhat disillusioning.

    Last edit by Sheri257 on Oct 22, '05
  8. by   achot chavi
    For starters, Lots of Luck in school. stick with it it is rough but eventually I promise it gets easier and try to focus on the good parts (if you have any) . By not paying you the hospital is obviously breaking the law and this reflects on them as a whole. But when you enter the hospital as a student you have to focus on your education and forget (temorarily) your experiences as an unappreciated CNA. I too worked at Beth Israel Hospital in NYC as an extern/CNA while I was a student Nurse and the experience was extremely possitive. Regareding your unpaid salary....Do you have a friend who is a lawer aho can write a letter on your behalf to the Bookkeeping Dep't? Sometimes that is all it takes. I would not report them even though they deserve it. I had a friend who reported something like this and the hospital retaliated by refusing her a job and blacklisting her in the neighboring facilities. She eventually went to work in a Doctors office (not her first choice of positions) and she often said it wasn't worth it even though it WAS the right thing to do. Again a lawyers letter should help. This also keeps the matter impersonal. Chalk this up to building experince and try not to let it color your view on nursing. As in everything else, theres good and theres bad!!! Wishing you the best,
  9. by   fergus51
    This is not the norm. I can see how you would be disheartened, but I can assure you I've worked in a lot of hospitals in 2 states and 2 provinces and only one tried to cheat me. There are a lot of great places out there and if you are willing to go to them you can have a great career.
  10. by   Sheri257
    Quote from achot chavi
    I had a friend who reported something like this and the hospital retaliated by refusing her a job and blacklisting her in the neighboring facilities. She eventually went to work in a Doctors office (not her first choice of positions) and she often said it wasn't worth it even though it WAS the right thing to do.
    Blacklisting ... Hmmmm ... that's an interesting possibility. I could care less about that particular hospital. I NEVER want to work there again.

    However, I suppose they could get me blacklisted at two other local hospitals, but I'm not sure I want to work at those facilities either. One is a community hospital that's always bankrupt and on the verge of shutting down. The other is a good facility, but their retirement benefits aren't as good as other facilities located half an hour away.

    I was pretty much planning on commuting anyway when I graduate because there's so many more job opportunities half an hour away. There's also plans for two new hospitals in my immediate local area, so what are the chances I would get blacklisted there or other hospitals outside of the area?

    I also have to wonder ... with California's ratio law ... what are the real chances of getting blacklisted? The nursing shortage is pretty acute here because of ratios. I'm not dismissing the possibility but, just wondering how to assess how much I should worry about potential blacklisting.

    Two nurses just won a $1 million judgement against this hospital, which has been reported in the news. So ... in light of their sleazy reputation .... how much damage could they realistically do?

    At the same time, I see your point. If I've learned anything from this disheartening experience, it's that you should never underestimate the cut throat aspects of this business ... whether there's a nursing shortage or not. I was constantly amazed at how badly this hospital treated their nurses, even when they obviously needed them desperately and had to pay registry nurses outrageous amounts because they couldn't keep regular staff.

    Last edit by Sheri257 on Oct 22, '05
  11. by   Daytonite
    Hi, Lizz! I'm sure I'm around your neck of the woods. What you need to do is file a complaint with the Labor Board. You can call them as well to get information on this. There may be penalties they will have to pay for withholding your pay for so long to the tune of 2 or 3 times the money they originally owed you. (I had a friend in San Jose who wasn't being paid overtime and this is what the Labor Board told him.) Anyway, the Labor Board will get on your complaint very fast and you should have an answer from the Labor Board or your check in your hand within a week or two unless the hospital decides to claim they don't owe you the money. Then, it goes to a Labor Board hearing with a Labor Board employee (this is what happened with my friend). The Labor Board person was very helpful and supportive to my friend. If there is a risk they are going to get slapped with paying you penalties they'll come through with the money, especially since you have a copy of the time card. Most HR departments absolutely cringe when the Labor Board sends them a notice of a complaint filed against them and they KNOW they have to communicate with the Labor Board within a few days as to what they are going to do about the complaint: either correct the situation very quickly or fight the charge.

    It sounds to me like this hospital may have some serious financial problems. Don't worry about what your school will think. In fact, I would stop talking about this to anyone over at your school until it is all solved. They'll most likely advise students to stay away from this employer. This hospital is not acting businesslike at all. At most, it would take 2 weeks to cut you a check if they insist on putting it through their "system". However, having worked payroll before I went into nursing I can tell you that they can very well write you a check within hours if they want to.

    Call the Labor Board on Monday morning and get the fire burning under these toads. I doubt very much that your school is going to be able to do much to help you collect your wages. Once this hospital gave you a paycheck you were an employee and entitled to the rights of an employee. There will be no repercussions against you--it's against federal law for anyone to take any kind of retaliation against you for exercising your rights and filing a claim. Start a folder and keep copies of all correspondence that this involves, including envelopes with the postal cancellation dates on them. If you say nothing to anyone over at your school they will not know anything about this--HIPAA confidentiality, you know.
  12. by   Sheri257
    Quote from Daytonite
    It sounds to me like this hospital may have some serious financial problems.
    I doubt that's the problem. They just bought another facility in southern California so, I doubt they're in financial straits. I suspect it's just the usual greed ... screw the employees, patients and everybody else to make more money while the owners buy multi-million dollar mansions.

    I will file a complaint with the labor department, but I am curious about opinions regarding blacklisting. Does this happen more in small markets? What are the chances of being blacklisted in California?

  13. by   Daytonite
    I haven't heard of any kind of blacklisting going on here in California. They'd be nuts to do it. They have a big enough shortage already what with the push to get nurse/patient ratio laws passed. If you're working for the company I'm thinking of, they are huge themselves and own hospitals all over the country. If they wanted to get nasty they could mark you as unemployable within their system, but there are plenty of other facilities around. They have been particularly active buying up facilities in California. They are quite cheap. I'm going to guess that what's happened is that you have run up against a nutsy employee who is a little overzealous and taking management's constant haranging about saving money to heart and think they are helping to reduce costs without realizing the consequences of screwing with someone's wages. One of the little tricks that accountants will pull when a company is low on cash is to hold off on payments as long as possible. I know because I was an account clerk before I became a nurse and worked for a large company who did this and eventually went under. The manager in our accounts payable department always had huge piles of checks with remittance advice in them stuffed in envelopes ready to be sent out, except they would pile up and up and he would only release them to the mail room after word from the financial manager. However, this large corporation that buys up all kinds of hospitals is not going under, just cheap. Shake the bushes on them with the Labor Board. You shouldn't even have to get your school involved in this at all. You're living in a state that is very sensitive to the way people are treated and don't take kindly to taking advantage of others. You'll come out OK. Are you in Orange or L.A. County?

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