New Grad & First Job in LTC - Lots of Overtime/Doubles - How Much Is Too Much?

  1. Hello,

    New grad with my first job in LTC. I was offered very generous salary and a full time position. I am to get every other weekend off and full time hours. On weeks that I do not have weekends off, my days off are not in a row. I definitely enjoy the job and I'm learning a lot. I have been at my job one month. When hired, I was told that it is important to come when called in if possible and that everyone should be a team player. This monday (03/03) I was to work 7 AM to 3:30 PM. I work 8.5 hour shifts. The DON asked me to work a double for overtime in the middle of my shift on monday (which is 7 AM to 11:30 PM). I was aware that a new nurse just quit and I agreed to the shift. It was very rough and I am still tired but I agreed to the shift to be a team player. I then worked my regular shift on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I have Friday off and am working Sat and Sun. I was just asked to work a double this Saturday and I declined. I felt guilty but I am still tired from Monday! Then, I was asked if I could work next Sunday, which would be my Sunday off. I said that I had plans Saturday night. I was told to think about working the shift. Here is my dilemma. I want to be a team player and I don't want to lose my job because i am not willing to work all the time but I also don't want to be overworked. I am tired and don't have time to do things that I enjoy and I was looking forward to my weekend off with my fiance since we don't normally have days off together. Am I foolish not to take the overtime and come across as a team player? No one has said anything to me yet but I am wondering if I will at some point get in trouble for not taking on as many shifts as my facility would like. What do others think? I am not complaining about having hours and being paid well, I just am not sure how to reasonably balance life and work as a new nurse. I don't know what to expect and what is expected of me. If anyone has any advice it'd be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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    About blackdiamond407

    Joined: Sep '13; Posts: 20; Likes: 12


  3. by   mhy12784
    Possibly not the best advice, but id try to split the difference.

    If someone asked me to do a double, id express my concern that I feel uncomfortable working 17 hours and feel that it puts both me and my patients are risk. But then state that id be more than willing to work a shift and a half (which is basically a "normal" nurses 13 hour shift) to help cover the vacancy and be a team player.

    I think 17 hour + shifts is legitimately dangerous.

    Even moreso for a new grad

    However if a facility is struggling, and you have an opportunity to earn favor with your bosses id personally hop at it. Yeah it sucks having to cancel plans, but making friends/a good impression goes a long way. I doubt youd get fired over it, I just think its a smart idea (unless youre worried about being too tired and making a mistake or something, in which case I agree 100% its best not to)

    If it was a long term frequent problem id understand not wanting to step up and pick up extra shifts. but the way it sounds is that its something that can be fixed once the vacancy gets filled.
  4. by   Been there,done that
    Team player = they have a pass to work you to death. You need to decline any of those "generous" offers in the name of playing with the team.

    You are expected to be as sharp at the end of your 16 hours as you were at the beginning. Read between the lines .. you will be observant and prudent at all times.
    This is NOT humanly possible.
  5. by   BrandonLPN
    One thing I think people forget is that an employer who is clearly having trouble filling shifts is not likely to fire a nurse for declining OT. Seems like that would just exacerbate the problem.

    If they really want to enforce some sort of policy where nurses "have" to come in when called, then said nurses need to be officially "on call" and be compensated accordingly.

    Of course, being available to fill in in a tight spot will be appreciated. And nurses who do pick up the OT when asked will often be rewarded in intangible ways such as being pushed up the list for promotions. That's really only fair. Nurses who cover a lot of call-offs really do deserve to move up a rung or two on the ladder for doing so. But you don't deserve to be intimidated for "only" working your scheduled shifts.

    I guess what you need to consider is whether or not picking up those shifts is worth it to you.
  6. by   Biffbradford
    List of promotions to what? Up a rung on two on what ladder? Can you be more specific on this?
  7. by   Not_A_Hat_Person
    Forget being a "team player"and focus on safe practice. If you make a serious error due to fatigue, being a "team player" won't make a difference to the Board of Nursing.
  8. by   VANurse2010
    You're not realizing this because you're a new grad - and I don't mean that in a condescending way at all - but they're taking you for a ride. Their unwillingness to hire and staff appropriately is not your problem You're not hurting the team by refusing to work doubles consistently or come in on your weekend off. They are trying to cheaply lay their responsibilities on you.
  9. by   blackdiamond407
    Thank you all for the feedback!

    Mhy, I'm not sure if working a shift and a half is an option but I will definitely ask so that I will know in the future. I think a 13 hour shift would be much more manageable for me. I do want the administration to think of me as an asset and someone willing to help out when needed. The problem is that I am not sure if the extra shifts are available because of the other employee quitting or because it is a chronic problem. There seems to be a high turnover at my place of work as I heard that a lot of the nurses there are new so that is why I am not sure if OT will be a temporary or more regular request.

    Been There, I definitely do not think that I can be as sharp at the end of a 17 hour shift. I worked my first one on Monday to see what it was like and I felt so burnt out. My med pass for the second half of the shift was much slower and it took me longer to think about things. Not only that but I felt unsafe driving home and that worried me.

    Brandon, I think you are right that I have to consider whether I want to be "just" a good employee and come in on my regular shifts or if I am looking for possible extra recognition that may come with helping out. I think part of the problem is that I am still new and that I am very tired after work and right now I think that I see my days off as more valuable than the extra money. Some may think this is crazy, and this may change with time when my work day becomes somewhat more "routine" but for now this is how I see things.

    Not A Hat, I also feel the same way about making an error.By taking on that shift,I believe that I am saying, "I feel that I can safely practice for 17 hours." I believe that is the way that the BON will view things as well. They will not care that I was trying to be helpful and I bet my facility would not back me up if something happened. This is definitely something to take into consideration.

    VANurse, I agree with you in the sense that I believe places feel that new grads are desperate for a job and will do anything to keep it and therefore they are trying to pressure people into feeling that they need to take on extra shifts. I noticed that they always ask me and another new grad to take on extra shifts first.

    After weighing all my options and taking into consideration all of the feedback I made a decision. I consulted my employee handbook and it says that employees cannot be forced to work over 40 hours a week unless of emergency. It also says that employees cannot be fired for refusing OT. I know that HR said they would call one other person regarding the day to see if they would like to work it. I am not going to mention it and just assume that I am not working that extra day. If the man from HR who does the schedule asks me about it, I will tell him to save me as a last resort. If they truly cannot get anyone else to work the shift, I will do it, but there are a few people who work PT who state that they would like more shifts and I am hoping they will give them the option of working that shift first.

    Thanks again everyone for the feedback! I was not sure if this was a common problem in nursing since I am new and I wanted to see what others had to say.
  10. by   Here.I.Stand
    You've gotten some great advice already; I'm glad to hear you're heeding it. "Failure to plan on your part (in this case, management) does not make an emergency on my part..." or something to that effect. I don't do doubles myself unless it's an emergency, but if *I* feel up to it, on occasion I will agree to stay an extra 4 hrs *if* someone can be persuaded to come in 4 hrs early to make up the balance of the shift.

    Turning down a double or OT is not crazy. Being a "yes" woman at the expense of your health and your residents' safety is crazy.
  11. by   Here.I.Stand
    Also, at a SNF I used to work in, a lot of nurses negotiated taking the OT if management agreed to take her/him off the schedule the next day. Of course that meant they had to find another nurse to cover THAT shift, but then they have more time to do it. Plus someone might be more willing to come in tomorrow, vs. in two hours.
  12. by   CapeCodMermaid
    There was a point in time when I was the nurse manager of a very busy subacute rehab unit. We had a huge staffing issue and I worked 16-17 hours for 4-5 shifts a week. I was tired but sure loved the paycheck. Only YOU can decide when enough is enough.
  13. by   blackdiamond407
    These are all very good points.

    Here I Stand, you have some very strong points. My major concern is that I do not want to be a "yes" woman and endanger my patients. The staffing issue at my facility is unfortunate but I am starting to understand that it is not my fault that they are understaffed. The orientation period for new grads at my job is only 2 weeks. It sounds like some new grads quit after the first 2 weeks because they feel overwhelmed when they are by themselves. I have only been on my own about 2/3 weeks now. I feel less overwhelmed from when I started but I am constantly finding myself in situations in which I am not sure what is the best thing to do. Luckily I have very supportive supervisors who always give me advice when needed.

    CapeCodMermaid, I am very impressed with your dedication and work ethic! I think you are all right, though. What it comes down to is what is too much for me and what I can handle. I think this is something I have to think about. As a new grad I did not think I would have this type of a problem because I thought that I would be fighting to get shifts instead of fighting for time off. Thanks for your input! Much appreciated!
  14. by   Blackcat99
    At my LTC, they are always asking "the new grads" to do the overtime and double shifts. They pay the new grads less money then the experienced nurses, so they always prefer to get "the new grads" to do all of the overtime and double shifts. They do sometimes ask the experienced nurses to do overtime too if they are "really desperate". The "experienced nurses" who don't want any overtime never answer their phones when they are home.