Dysfunctional Unit?

  1. I've had problems with one fellow RN in my unit which I posted about in the past. I started by confronting her, speaking to the manager...meetings were held, I started a paper trail about her interfering with my care in front of patients. Then she made a remark that I didn't like the color of her skin. It was suggested that I contact ethics, which I did to protect myself if she pulled the race card again. I asked only that the racial remark be reviewed, and not the rest of my paper trail. Long story shorter I was told she received appropriate disciplinary action in HR.

    So so about a month ago she told our manager that she had to stop me from taking a patient with a saturation of 88% to an unmonitored floor from the PACU. This was a blatant lie. She walked by a couple minutes after I took the patient's O2 off for a brief trial of room air. Of course I told her I was replacing the O2 and got a tank to transfer the patient. I documented everything I did. The next day I started telling the manager about the patient, and when I was done she told me what this nurse had said. I was furious. I told her that I could file an ethics complaint and confront her right now, or she could talk to her and if it happened again I would file the complaint. The manager discouraged me from confronting her and said she would talk to her. I have the specifics set aside if needed.

    Another co worker on a different occasion told he manager at I medicated a patient with a pain level of 3, and then had to give the patient a fluid bonus to bring up her blood pressure. I asked for the name of the patient so I could review my charting, and conviently no one remembered. Again I was furious. I was not written up or told that any of my care was not appropriate by management.

    RN #3 has recently started speaking very sharply to me. I told her several times not to talk to me in that tone with no behavior change. Our manager told me that this nurse 'barks' at her as well when I finally approached her, after much hesitation. So she spoke to her and her side of the story was was that I had spoken to her that way as well. ?

    The only other RN's on our unit are per diem. The first 2 have worked with this manager for almost 20 years. I've been there 2 1/2 years, but am NOT a new nurse.
    So now I go in and interact as little as possible. I try to mind my patient's and concentrate on work.

    Last week nurse 3 was barking at nurse 2. I mentioned this to the manager informally and she said "This is a dysfunctional unit". I asked her what could be done about it. She replied that everyone needed an attitude adjustment. I chose not to ask her how this could be done.

    Bottom line is my mental and physical health are suffering from the stress. The work itself is manageable, the environment is becoming intolerable. I am the major breadwinner and don't have the luxury of quitting. Starting over terrifies me because difficult people are everywhere.

    Thanks to those of you who read my rant.
    Last edit by VAC on Apr 15
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   FolksBtrippin
    Sounds like a toxic working environment.

    You can't fix the environment by yourself, but you can adjust yourself to become non-reactive to it, and that will help you feel better. This will also improve the environment because you won't be contributing to the problem anymore.

    Let me know if you want advice on how to do that.
  4. by   knurse10
    Attitude reflects leadership. Your leader is probably the one who needs the attitude adjustment. I think teams can be built back up over time, but it could take a while to regain trust on both sides regardless of who has been wronged.
  5. by   VAC
    Yes, please.
  6. by   FolksBtrippin
    First, you have to stop the fight. You stop the fight by not fighting anymore, including fighting back. It's all fighting back anyway. Then you can start healing the damage. To stop the fight:

    1. Don't report things to your manager unless they are real safety issues or issues of clear abuse. Tone doesn't count as abuse. Tone is a reflection of hard feelings. You can't fix hard feelings with disciplinary action, you are just going to get more hard feelings. Never report anything you were not directly involved in.

    2. Ignore all gossip. It's gossip if someone tells you something someone else said, unless it is part of a formal investigation, even if it comes from your manager. Don't believe anything you hear about another person.

    3. In all situations assume the best in your coworkers. The best possible reason, best possible motivation.

    4. Don't make a show of covering your ass.

    5. Don't make threats. For example, never threaten anyone with a write up. If you must write someone up, then do it, but never threaten.


    Once you've done all of the above for 2 weeks, you can start the healing. If you try to start the healing before you stop the fight, you will invite suspicion and distrust. It is imperative that you have done the above consistently first. If you are not consistent, you will need more than 2 weeks.

    To start the healing:

    1. Tell your coworkers that you want to be a team, and you want a good relationship with them and you are willing to do what it takes to make that happen. Do not precede this or follow this up with criticism of the past. Do not require your coworkers to respond positively. Stay positive yourself. Be strong, no matter how they respond.

    2. Compliment and appreciate others' work. Decide to find something good about your coworkers every day, and show your appreciation for it. Do not fail to do this. There is literally no one in the world that does not have at least one good trait.

    3. If you get a bad tone ask, "Is something bothering you?" Then listen. Be willing to fix it if you can. If you can't fix it, express your sincere wish that it all works out.
  7. by   calivianya
    Difficult people are everywhere... but in this case, ALL of your main coworkers are difficult. That is not true everywhere.

    Get out. Starting over is a lot less horrible than staying in this kind of environment, IMO.
  8. by   VAC
    Folks, I am going to try your plan. It will be a challenge,but what is there to lose?
  9. by   VAC
    Cali, yours is a good back up plan. Thanks.
  10. by   Calalilynurse
    I would start looking for another job.
  11. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Hmm the manager has given up, thrown up her hands and said, simply "it's a dysfunctional unit". Well that tells me what I need to know. Time to move on.
  12. by   Kooky Korky
    Quote from VAC
    I've had problems with one fellow RN in my unit which I posted about in the past. I started by confronting her, speaking to the manager...meetings were held, I started a paper trail about her interfering with my care in front of patients. Then she made a remark that I didn't like the color of her skin. It was suggested that I contact ethics, which I did to protect myself if she pulled the race card again. I asked only that the racial remark be reviewed, and not the rest of my paper trail. Long story shorter I was told she received appropriate disciplinary action in HR.

    So so about a month ago she told our manager that she had to stop me from taking a patient with a saturation of 88% to an unmonitored floor from the PACU. This was a blatant lie. She walked by a couple minutes after I took the patient's O2 off for a brief trial of room air. Of course I told her I was replacing the O2 and got a tank to transfer the patient. I documented everything I did. The next day I started telling the manager about the patient, and when I was done she told me what this nurse had said. I was furious. I told her that I could file an ethics complaint and confront her right now, or she could talk to her and if it happened again I would file the complaint. The manager discouraged me from confronting her and said she would talk to her. I have the specifics set aside if needed.

    Another co worker on a different occasion told he manager at I medicated a patient with a pain level of 3, and then had to give the patient a fluid bonus to bring up her blood pressure. I asked for the name of the patient so I could review my charting, and conveniently no one remembered. Again I was furious. I was not written up or told that any of my care was not appropriate by management.

    RN #3 has recently started speaking very sharply to me. I told her several times not to talk to me in that tone with no behavior change. Our manager told me that this nurse 'barks' at her as well when I finally approached her, after much hesitation. So she spoke to her and her side of the story was was that I had spoken to her that way as well. ?

    The only other RN's on our unit are per diem. The first 2 have worked with this manager for almost 20 years. I've been there 2 1/2 years, but am NOT a new nurse.
    So now I go in and interact as little as possible. I try to mind my patient's and concentrate on work.

    Last week nurse 3 was barking at nurse 2. I mentioned this to the manager informally and she said "This is a dysfunctional unit". I asked her what could be done about it. She replied that everyone needed an attitude adjustment. I chose not to ask her how this could be done.

    Bottom line is my mental and physical health are suffering from the stress. The work itself is manageable, the environment is becoming intolerable. I am the major breadwinner and don't have the luxury of quitting. Starting over terrifies me because difficult people are everywhere.

    Thanks to those of you who read my rant.
    Why did you not ask her how an attitude adjustment could be accomplished???? And what she meant by stating the unit was dysfunctional???

    I used to work with a barker. She was a miserable person outside of work and just brought it to work with her. I used to get her to laugh and relax somewhat by joking around with her, complimenting her pretty hair and pretty smile. It helped somewhat.

    You should not rat out the barker if she's not barking at you. Let the one she's barking at report her. Keep out of other peoples' affairs. And perhaps mention it directly to her if you think she's doing it to you.

    Somehow, maybe through no fault of your own, you have become a target for The Three Stooges. If you can't or don't want to start over elsewhere, just try to keep a low profile. Head down. NO GOSSIP. NO WORRYING ABOUT WHAT THEY TELL THE MANAGER. Why do you get furious? Just keep on doing your job and document, document, document.

    Good luck.
    Last edit by Kooky Korky on Apr 20
  13. by   VAC
    Kooky,
    i didn't ask the manager how she would effect an attitude adjustment because I was fighting tears at the time, and did not believe I could contribute anything positive.
    The Barker DOES bark at me frequently. The manager attempted to have a meeting with the 4 of us, which was disrupted when patients came out and we had to tend to them.
    i became furious when lies were told to the manager regarding my patient care. Wouldn't that bother any of you?
    i am avoiding gossip and trying to take care of my patients ; I mind my business and doing the right thing by he patient, and try to be a team player when needed.

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