New nurse, difficult coworkers

  1. 0
    Hey everyone!

    I recently graduated nursing school, and landed my dream job on an inpatient psych unit on the west coast. I have always had a passion for working with the mentally ill, and I love my unit because it's an excellent mix of mental health issues, combined with medical issues... therefore I'm able to keep the majority of my med-surg skills sharp.

    What I love are my patients. We have a "frequent flier" base of 50-75 or so, and I've gotten to know the majority of them quite well in the year I've been working there so far. While I find it sad that people come back to frequently and don't maintain wellness for that long, I do enjoy that when those patients present I know about them and generally know what to expect from them.

    What I am having difficulties with... my coworkers. I am the youngest on the unit (had my RN at 19, will be 21 this year). I work a mixture of day and evening shifts. Day shift is amazing... most of the nurses are very seasoned (7-10 years working on the unit, or more), and are incredibly hard workers. They go the extra mile in everything that they do, and treat patients with dignity and respect. While I love that staff, I have difficulties with waking up so early in the morning, and my manager needed me more on evening shifts so I have been working mostly those lately.

    Evening shift is a completely different world. The staff are nothing like day shift. They spend much of their time sitting in the nurse's station, playing on their cell phones or gabbing about personal, non-work related business. The work ethic and attitudes are so poor. Much of the staff are seasoned, but not quite as much as the day shift. I constantly feel myself picking up slack for these individuals, and I am so frustrated, to the point where my "dream job" has become unenjoyable.

    Here's a little example of how things go. One night while I was assisting another patient with bedtime care, a call light in another room began to ring. Now I know there was at least 1 person sitting at the desk. Not wanting to leave the patient I was currently working with, I continued with what I was doing. About a minute passed. The patient then asked me to get her a blanket, so I had to walk to our linens area to do so. Two minutes have probably passed now, still no answer to the call light. I look at the desk, and see one of my female coworkers sitting leisurely, texting friends on her iPhone. At that point I was about ready to explode. I dropped the blanket I was about to carry to my patient, and ran to the call light (which was actually coming from the room of an elderly woman, extreme risk to fall). I helped this patient for several minutes, then went back to the first. I then went back to the nurse's desk to complete my charting, which I had no time to complete earlier in the shift. I watched this same coworker continue to play on her phone for the last two hours of the shift.

    I have had continuing issues with her... she always seems to feel "above" answering call lights, or helping the medically compromised patients with things like toileting or ADL's. Every night in our shift huddle we are asked not to use phones on the unit unless we are in the break room, yet she continues to use hers and get away with it, even though our manager walks by her and sees her not complying. She is not my only issue though. I feel generally unwelcomed by the majority of the staff on eves. While I bust my tail every night, putting my all into everything and often leaving late, my coworkers do the bare minimum and often leave early. I also feel generally excluded in conversations, belittled when I give my viewpoint on patients, and laughed at when I speak about patients I enjoy working with (usually getting responses like "that person is an idiot, that person is immature, etc.). These people clearly do not enjoy working with the mentally ill, and do not give them dignity or respect. While I realize that sometimes patient behaviors are difficult to deal with, our patients are still human beings and deserve good care. I feel that while these staff are less seasoned than those on days, they are more burnt out, and dislike dealing with our patients.

    I am now at my wit's end. While my manager needs me more for 2nd shift, I am very close to asking her to be placed on day and night shifts to avoid all the conflict I am faced with. Being a new nurse, I feel it's inappropriate for me to speak my mind about poor coworker work ethics, and I also don't want to be viewed as the "tattle-tale". There is a massive amount of staff gossip that goes around on our floor, and everyone finds out about each other's business. It has become such a negative work environment, and it's affecting my ability to give my patient's the best care they deserve.

    To any new nurses like myself, or any seasoned nurses who have been through it... how should I tackle these issues??
    Last edit by psychnurse47 on Feb 25, '13
  2. 3 Comments so far...

  3. 1
    Switch back to the shift with the better coworkers. Do your best, with time getting up early will get easier. In a few years, you might feel differently about what frustrates you now. Years of repetition can burn you out.
    canoehead likes this.
  4. 2
    Quote from psychnurse47
    To any new nurses like myself, or any seasoned nurses who have been through it... how should I tackle these issues??
    I would follow the previous poster's advice and switch to a different shift, if that is possible.

    You cannot instill a good work ethic into seasoned nurses who want to do the less than the minimum amount of work. You cannot make coworkers move if they do not want to budge. Since you're the new employee there, complaining about the situation will accomplish nothing and direct negative attention toward you. If I were you, I would attempt to switch to days or nights where teamwork actually exists.

    However, there's probably a reason your workplace cannot keep new hires on the evening shift.
    canoehead and jadelpn like this.
  5. 0
    Judging from your post, and some past experiences, if you bust your tail while everyone sits around, they will resent you for 'making them look bad'. Here is the new bright eyed nurse running circles around them. You probably get better reviews from patients.

    I will agree with PPs and recommend you move back to day shift if you can get the amount of hours you want. I get that you want to be a team player and help the manager fill shifts she can't keep staffed, but you can't burn yourself out either. Heck, she might ask you why you refuse to do evenings. Then you can mention the negative attitudes, or lack of teamwork, or borderline patient neglect. Or you can just not say anything about it, make an excuse about the hours being inconvenient, whatever you want.

    I guess what it comes down to is this: Do you want to change the atmosphere, the staff, the poor attitudes? Or do you just want to keep your head down and get through your own shift, and let others continue what they are doing?

    You could choose to stay there. Maybe make detailed, objective notes of behaviors. IE 'call light in room x went off at 9:07am. Nurse y sitting at nurses station, looking at cell phone. Writer in room z with patient doing AM care. 9:15am, writer goes to get extra linens, call light still unanswered, nurse y still looking at phone at nurse station.' Then maybe make an anonymous report. Obviously, it can only be anonymous to a point, since there are only so many nurses on shift that day who could be reporting. If you feel your nurse manager is not managing properly, then maybe submit reports above her head. OR submit to her, if nothing done within a couple of days, go above her head to DON or something.


Nursing Jobs in every specialty and state. Visit today and Create Job Alerts, Manage Your Resume, and Apply for Jobs.

A Big Thank You To Our Sponsors
Top