DON Refuses to Give Performance Feedback

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I obtained my nursing license in June 2016 at the age of 55 and started working at a skilled nursing unit two days later. I've worked now for over a year at that same unit.

    Recently, I asked my DON for her opinion. I've been wondering if I'm actually contributing to the world as an RN and wanted her opinion of my
    performance, if I should continue to pursue nursing or even if I was cut out to be a nurse. She told me she could not answer that question for liability purposes.

    In my opinion, if I was a good nurse, would she not tell me? What liability would there be in her encouraging me to continue pursuing nursing if she thought I was a good nurse? I take her answer as a sign that I should not pursue nursing. I've had a couple of seasoned co-workers tell me they thought I was a good nurse. Had patients tell me I was a good nurse. But shouldn't my boss encourage me to pursue nursing ... unless she thinks I'm really not cut-out for it?



    Dear DON Refuses to Give Performance Feedback,

    Congrats! You are an inspiration to all older nursing students, and that's intended as a compliment, my friend.

    As far your DON's reply- that's a very odd and unhelpful response. Actually it's hurtful. At the same time, while asking for performance feedback is one thing, asking if you are cutout to be a nurse and should continue to be a nurse is not how it should be framed when requesting feedback.


    Let's say she does have concerns about your performance. Maybe she's an avoider and doesn't have the skills to give constructive feedback. That's a possible explanation, but not an excuse,
    as she is the DON, after all. Her lack of skills should not be your problem.


    It is reasonable to expect feedback on your performance and in my experience, when employees do not receive it they ask for it. I always tell preceptors that if their resident has to repeatedly ask how they are doing, it's a sign they are not being given enough feedback, or effective feedback.


    Have you had your performance evaluation? If not, or if it was vague, I would I would directly ask your DON for a formal performance evaluation.


    The other issue is your own self-doubt. What is the basis for it? Seasoned co-workers and patients say you are a good nurse. Is it just that you need confirmation
    from an authority (which is reasonable) before you believe it?


    One thing I would not do is come to any conclusions based on an inappropriate, evasive response from the DON.


    The only real answers here are going to come from your DON. Make a time to talk with her, and let her know ahead of time you'd appreciate her feedback
    on your performance to give her time to prepare.


    Be sure and read When You Receive a Warning at Work. You'll find it helpful to know what you should expect if/when you are given constructive feedback.


    Best wishes,


    Nurse Beth



    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Nov 3
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  2. 1 Comments

  3. by   caliotter3
    After getting that response, don't be in a hurry to force the issue. If she thought you needed to improve, she would have told you already. At the very least, she does not welcome being pressured. Let her approach you in her own time.

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