Problem with work environment

  1. Hi everyone, yesterday I was in charge on the afternoon shift with two other nurses. A male nurse did not like my allocation because he wanted the lightest load. So he began telling me that I should have the heaviest patient list. I explained that I was in charge and it was my decision to allocate. This nurse carried on getting in my face and then he went out and told the other staff that I was unfair etc. The day before he asked if I could swap his patient with mine as his patients family were anxious and would ask him questions. Mine was a incompliant verbally abusive patient. So I agreed with him but when he found out that this person was going to have infusions etc he wanted to swap again for a light load. The other staff made comments about me that I shouldn't say im in charge and began to give me the cold shoulder. I cried and walked off the ward wanting to leave. This male nurse disappears for extended breaks, he did not back me up when I was faced with a aggressive man. In fact he said I will be back just going to make a cup of tea. I cried in front of him and apologised for making him upset instead. At the moment I feel like leaving because the other nurses are ignoring me because I dared try to do my job as shift charge. Im trying hard not to get emotional or cry. I feel ashamed that I showed my feelings and I feel railroaded by my work mates. I've always been a good nurse and cared about my workmates. But feel like walking out. To top it off that nurse asked to change patients again one hour into the duty because mine refused everything. I feel like why be in charge of you can't make decisions and try to run the ward properly. I don't think I can cope with being excluded. This nurse has been on the ward for almost ten years and im only 18 months. The culture is very laid back, nurses don't answer bells, have 2 hourly breaks, healthcare assistants sit on the internet most of the shift and are verbally abusive toward some of the quieter nurses. Patients complain that no one is on time to give them pain meds etc. It's hard to go against this environment to improve things.
    Last edit by Flossy73 on Jan 6
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  2. 28 Comments

  3. by   Flossy73
    would you leave ? or stay ?.
  4. by   ponymom
    Stop with all the crying just stop it. Tears are blood in the water. Since you also apologized, that just made it all the worse. You're not ready for charge yet and It's more than likely too late to gain any respect with this crew. Normally I always advise to stand up for yourself, but I really think you are best to leave. Possibly even with little or no notice and this is because if they know you are leaving, they just may set you up with something that will endanger a clean record. But others may advise differently.. Are you 18 months a nurse or 18 months in this facility?

    Good luck to you..I do wish you well but you need to work on those emotions.
  5. by   iluvivt
    If you are going to be in charge you have to get some strength here and stand by your decisions and not allow yourself to be manipulated.This guy has your number now and knows your Achilles heel.It may be too late to fix this but STOP allowing this guy to manipulate you and only change the assignment if you have a good reason to do.Stop caring about him gossiping about you as it really says more about him than you and anyone with a brain will see that.You need to earn respect...it will not be bestowed upon you because you are given a title....so get in there and stand by your decisions and help your teammates.
  6. by   macawake
    Quote from Flossy73
    The culture is very laid back, nurses don't answer bells, have 2 hourly breaks, healthcare assistants sit on the internet most of the shift and are verbally abusive toward some of the quieter nurses. Patients complain that no one is on time to give them pain meds etc. It's hard to go against this environment to improve things.
    What you are describing isn't a laid-back atmosphere. You're describing a work culture that lacks discipline, professionalism and a work ethics. Since you seem to be among the newer nurses on this unit, I doubt that you'll be the one to change the culture. If you've given an accurate portrayal of how things are, I would expect that this culture is deeply ingrained and those of your coworkers who are used to doing not even the bare minimum and still receive a paycheck, will likely not give up that "perk" without resistance.


    Quote from Flossy73
    Hi everyone, yesterday I was in charge on the afternoon shift with two other nurses. A male nurse did not like my allocation because he wanted the lightest load. So he began telling me that I should have the heaviest patient list.
    To me it makes no sense that the charge nurse should carry the heaviest load since that person also has other duties apart from the assigned patient load. Unless you allocated the patients in an extremely unfair/unbalanced manner and he had a legitimate gripe, what he was doing was simply challenging your authority and trying to find out exactly how far he could push you and manipulate you.

    What rationale could he possibly have for thinking that he should have the lightest load? You were charging, that's an added responsibility and a role I'm guessing you might be fairly new at? He's got 10 years experience on the unit, compared to your year and a half. Is this your first nursing job?


    Quote from Flossy73
    I explained that I was in charge and it was my decision to allocate. This nurse carried on getting in my face and then he went out and told the other staff that I was unfair etc.
    I would never get drawn into a discussion about this. If I was charge nurse I would listen to my coworkers if they had a valid complaint or concern, but I would not tolerate a witch & moan session. I understand that you might have felt the need to explain or justify your decisions, but I don't think it was the best course of action. He already knew that you were charge nurse, you didn't need to and shouldn't in my opinion have reminded him about it. He knew, he just wasn't respecting it. By trying to justify your decisions, you in my opinion showed weakness and you gave him the opportunity to "get in your face".

    If I was charge and knew that I had made a fair allocation, I would likely have simply said that this is your assignment for today and now I have patients to take care of. And left. Listen, I'm not saying this to cast blame on you. I think he was the one in the wrong, but with that type of person you need to be firm and confident, or they will eat you alive.


    Quote from Flossy73
    This male nurse disappears for extended breaks, he did not back me up when I was faced with a aggressive man. In fact he said I will be back just going to make a cup of tea.
    I can see two possible reasons for him saying he was going to get a cup of tea and then leaving when you were dealing with a (verbally?) aggressive patient. One possibility is that he's simply a sadistic *** who enjoys seeing you uncomfortable or even afraid. But there is another possibility as well. Are you perceived by him and perhaps other coworkers as being too timid and expecting backup in situations where a reasonable nurse should be able to cope on their own? I don't know you so I don't know which is true.

    The fact that he and from what you've said others as well, are in the habit of taking many and long breaks is a problem that management should address. As I started off by saying, I doubt that you'll be the one who changes a rotten work culture. Cultures like these seldom exist without the tacit approval of management, so I think that you need to decide whether you are willing to continue working on this unit, bearing in mind that the culture will likely remain the same at least for the near future? I personally wouldn't, but I can't decide for you. But if I'm honest, I think the culture sounds borderline toxic.

    Quote from Flossy73
    I cried in front of him and apologised for making him upset instead.
    This makes me sad to read. How's your self-confidence and self-esteem? The reason I ask is that this reaction is common in victims of abuse, both psychological and physical. In my experience it happens when someone's sense of self-worth has been systematically eroded. If he got upset, that's on him! You aren't responsible for his reactions. He owns them. You should only ever apologize when you have done something wrong. You should't apologize for someone else's behavior. Especially not when that someone is being less than nice to you.

    I understand that working in an unsupportive environment will have a negative impact on ones emotional wellbeing but it's still worrying that he manages to elicit this response from you. You sound very vulnerable and if you've described him fairly, he sounds like a bit of a jerk. I guess I could tell you to just stop crying, but I suspect it's not as easy as that? As I've already mentioned, I don't know you at all, I just have your words here to work with.

    Quote from Flossy73
    I don't think I can cope with being excluded.
    The fact that you cry in several situations at work makes me think that you feel emotionally overwhelmed. I don't know if it's a general lack of confidence or if it's the work environment that's robbing you of your confidence, but do you have someone in real life that you can talk to for support and advice? A friend, family member or even a counselor?



    Take care OP!

    Best wishes.
  7. by   NightNerd
    That really sucks, Flossy; I'm sorry you are dealing with this.

    I agree with above posters that it's important to stand your ground and stand by your decisions as charge. Unless someone is able to give you a solid explanation of why the current assignment is unsafe, stick to your guns. Don't let them manipulate you into an easier assignment. Offer to help, be at their side if they need assistance, but remember that you made the assignment a certain way for a reason. Don't apologize. If you get upset, walk away and take a moment to collect yourself.

    It sucks when it becomes a power struggle, but it will get easier. Even if you do move on from this job, having a thick skin is important. It's great to work on a unit where people help each other and don't bring each other down, but you will still need to defend your rationale on occasion. You will grow into it. Remember that one person's opinion, even shared with others, is no verdict on how good of a nurse you are.
  8. by   Munch
    Everyone has given good advice. I just want to add, stop being so concerned with what the other people think of you. Who cares if he told everyone else how unfair you were. You arent there to make friends and while I do agree that how cohesive staff are can really make your job easier or harder for that matter..making friends isn't everything. Just be cordial and kind to everyone and they will see him for what he really is. Tell him when he is in charge he can allocate the patients to the nurses..right now its your decision.

    And please don't apoligize. That's idicitave that you did something wrong and you didn't.
  9. by   brandy1017
    When I was a new nurse I bent over backwards to please my coworkers. I would take the heaviest patients as charge and you know what, I wasn't appreciated or respected anyway. People can be petty and impossible to please and many times won't appreciate what you do instead take it for granted and disrespect you. I've learned to take care of myself, to create balanced assignments, but you don't have to take all the heavy patients. It is ok to delegate. I agree don't change an assignment unless your coworker has a legitimate issue ie a patient goes bad and is taking up more time so they need one less patient or simply help them as you are able. It could be as simple as passing meds. But you already know this nurse is lazy and manipulative and literally doesn't have your back as he walked away. I would have spoke up that you needed his assistance and he could go on break later, that safety takes priority.

    By crying in front of him and apologizing to him you have shown yourself to be weak and easily manipulated. Never cry in front of someone, they won't have sympathy, rather it will embolden them and cause them to disrespect you. If you can't control your emotions, walk away and go cry in the bathroom alone.

    It may simply be easier to transfer to another unit or hospital than try to change the situation you are in. Whatever you do you need to forget about what others think and stop trying to please everyone. I guarantee you people are impossible to please! Be pleasant say hi how are you doing, do you need any help but leave it at that, keep work separate from your personal life.
  10. by   canoehead
    It sounds from your post, OP, that he's asked for a different assignment three shifts running, and then asked to change back when he found out how much work they were. Is he physically unable to do his work...because that's and issue he and his boss need to discuss if he can't keep up. Switching back and forth is disruptive to patients and staff. He need to take his workload and plow through. If there's not enough time to do everything, report it off. But know that if he's not completing his work, that's a performance issue, again, his boss needs to address that. If you find him confrontational and disruptive, write him up. Every time. The time spent arguing could be spent getting stuff done.

    It sounds like the manager won't be doing too much to address the problem, and you have a big problem. You may be right, but you don't have the confidence at 18 months in to stand up to a bully like that. Not your fault. In your position I'd talk to the manager, see if s/he wants you to write up any of this behavior, and start putting out resumes. Resolve to make the assignment, and stick to it as well. He's already proven that he'll just want to switch back, so what's the point of catering to him?
  11. by   Crush
    I do think you need to tell him no more of his shenanigans. As of now he needs to do his job that you have allocated period. He has displayed lack of respect, trying to be manipulative and inability to do his job and taking it out on you. He is throwing a hissy fit cause he has seniority on the unit and you are new and are charge. Keep doing what you are doing in trying to improve things. If things are not resolving though you may want to consider talking to your manager about this.

    I've been in your position before and it sucked big fat monkey eggs. But after a while, things got better and my being consistent earned my respect on the unit. Make the assignment and that is it ( it is set with no switching ).
  12. by   NurseCard
    "Laid back" is not how I would describe this environment.

    If you are going to be in charge, you have to be in CHARGE.
    You have to be able to stand your ground.
    You can't worry about "being excluded". You aren't there
    to make friends, especially if you are in charge/the boss.

    Being a charge nurse isn't for everyone. I can't be in
    charge. I'm too much of a softy. I like to get along
    with everyone. I hate confrontation. I hate having to
    hand out any discipline.

    The environment you work in sounds toxic though, not
    "laid back". I'd consider making a fresh start somewhere
    else, if it were me.
  13. by   Jedrnurse
    If your nemesis was a woman, would you emphasize it by writing "this female nurse" did not like my allocation...? Or are you implying that his behavior was related to his gender? Just curious...
  14. by   SpankedInPittsburgh
    Yeah, you know why the 10 year nurse isn't in charge and you are? Because being in charge sucks in many ways and he has gotten used to a codependent environment where he doesn't have to carry the responsibilities of charge but essentially still calls all the shots. This is a toxic work environment where you have one abusive idiot and a bunch of simpering twits that enable his behavior. Usually when relatively new nurses are put in charge its because the ones that have been there a while wouldn't touch the position. In this case it sounds like the Nurse Manager made her problem (the idiot) and his antics your problem. Nurses allow this to happen to them all the time. Tell her to park her charge nurse position up her fanny & start looking for a way out of this hellhole where nurses don't answer call lights, don't support each other and put up with stuff they shouldn't. Our careers are up to us. In this case you can choose to join the codependent victims and get used to felling victimized and buy lots of tissue for crying or move on to a better environment. This one ain't changing this guy has been playing this scene fulltime for 10 years it will most likely continue another 10.

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