New Employee, Low Morale on Unit

  1. 0
    Hi All,

    I'm currently in my first year of nursing school and was recently hired in a hospital as a CNA.

    I was really looking forward to this position, however the past few weeks have been one of the worst experiences of my life simply due to low morale on the unit. The drama, backstabbing and politics are downright awful. Nursing is a second career path for me, and in my 15+ years of job experience, I have never witnessed such terrible behavior occurring amongst co-workers.

    The nurses and aides constantly gossip about one another, the patients - some of whom are in hospice (!) - and its really devastating to witness how this distracts the staff from their patients. The patient is not the focus at work, but rather drama on the unit, and I can't stand it. It is a known fact in the hospital that this specific unit has very low morale (something I wish I had known before accepting the position), and at a recent staff meeting it was the first point of discussion.

    It has brought so much anxiety into my life that I'm seriously considering leaving, as the stress distracts me entirely from my nursing studies. However I'm worried if I leave so soon, I'll ruin my chances at ever being hired at this hospital again, and that it will be difficult to ever explain my short run of employment at this hospital to a future employer. Not to mention that the unit will probably gossip about me leaving so soon! The fact that hiring in my area of the country is slow for new grads has me feeling like an idiot about considering leaving over this, but my anxiety is through the roof.

    Since I haven't been there for a year, transferring to a different unit is not an option.

    I guess I'm not sure what to do! How to handle this? Has anyone been in a similar position before? Advice is needed! Seeing this type of behavior has me nearly running and screaming from this profession. I just can't believe that hospital staff can be so mean to one another!

    Help!
    Thanks.
  2. Get the Hottest Nursing Topics Straight to Your Inbox!

  3. 13 Comments so far...

  4. 2
    All I can say is welcome to nursing. Everywhere you go you will some of the same issues, after all you are working with women. The place I worked at as a CNA was the same, but I stuck it out for 3 years and I am glad I did. That 3 years taught me how cut throat nurses can be and how fast they will turn on you. If you dont have to work dont but if you do stick it out!
    tnmarie and nursingstudent2015 like this.
  5. 2
    Quote from YogiGal
    However I'm worried if I leave so soon, I'll ruin my chances at ever being hired at this hospital again, and that it will be difficult to ever explain my short run of employment at this hospital to a future employer. Not to mention that the unit will probably gossip about me leaving so soon! The fact that hiring in my area of the country is slow for new grads has me feeling like an idiot about considering leaving over this, but my anxiety is through the roof.
    .
    Just from those couple of sentences I teased out of your post, you...

    1) Really WANT to work here after you graduate? You're a CNA now, but you want to start your nursing career here? Really? Why? Do you think it'll somehow get better once you have a license and more responsibility as an RN?

    2) Your work as a CNA gives you some familiarity with nursing, but it isn't as if you took a nursing job and just up and quit for no good reason. If it's causing you that much stress, leave now and plan to tell your future employer the truth. "I worked there for a while, but the morale was low and the environment on the unit wasn't a good fit for me." Done.

    3) So what if they gossip? You're out of there, so what does it matter?
    TurtleCat and anotherone like this.
  6. 1
    Thanks for sharing your experience and your honesty about the field. Glad to know it was worth sticking it out. I have worked female dominated fields before (education), so I refuse to believe that it is just about working with women, I think it must be something specific to nursing. Or maybe specifically this unit, as other nurses in the hospital make an awful face when I tell them what unit I'm on. It's just so strange, and I can't believe individuals working in a field where compassion seems to be necessary can treat each other this way. ICK!
    RNtobeinSoCal likes this.
  7. 0
    Thanks serenitylove for sharing your experience and your honesty about the field.  Glad to know it was worth sticking it out.  I have worked female dominated fields before (education), so I refuse to believe that it is just about working with women, I think it must be something specific to nursing.  Or maybe specifically this unit, as other nurses in the hospital make an awful face when I tell them what unit I'm on.  It's just so strange, and I can't believe individuals working in a field where compassion seems to be necessary can treat each other this way.  ICK! 
  8. 0
    Thanks serenitylove for sharing your experience and your honesty about the field.  Glad to know it was worth sticking it out.  I have worked female dominated fields before (education), so I refuse to believe that it is just about working with women, I think it must be something specific to nursing.  Or maybe specifically this unit, as other nurses in the hospital make an awful face when I tell them what unit I'm on.  It's just so strange, and I can't believe individuals working in a field where compassion seems to be necessary can treat each other this way.  ICK! 
  9. 0
    Quote from YogiGal
    Thanks for sharing your experience and your honesty about the field. Glad to know it was worth sticking it out. I have worked female dominated fields before (education), so I refuse to believe that it is just about working with women, I think it must be something specific to nursing. Or maybe specifically this unit, as other nurses in the hospital make an awful face when I tell them what unit I'm on. It's just so strange, and I can't believe individuals working in a field where compassion seems to be necessary can treat each other this way. ICK!
    You may be experiencing one of those nurses eat there young type situations. Honestly if I could have quit I would have but I loved my extra money lol. It was hard to work full time and go to school full time but I appreciate my fre time more now. I think any unit has issues like this, but some worse then others, maybe it has something to do with management? Or maybe they just like to form clicks, which both were the case in my situation.
  10. 0
    Hi SoldierNurse,

    1) Yes, I love the hospital (or at least I thought I did) so it was my plan to stay there after graduation if able. I've had important life experiences there, so originally I thought this was *it*. Also, in meeting other nurses and nursing aides on other units within the hospital, they wouldn't transfer to my unit for anything because it is known for being so terrible, so I really do not think like its like this throughout the hospital but I'm locked in to this unit for one year and I'm not sure I can make it.

    2) I'm glad to hear you think I can be honest with a future employer on this topic. Thank you!

    3) You're right. It shouldn't matter but it does because (I didn't disclose in my original post) is that I have an immediate family member who works in an entirely different unit w/in the hospital but we fall under the same ND. My fellow unit co-workers know that we are related (not by my own disclosing but by GOSSIP) and I'm worried if or how leaving will reflect on her.
  11. 0
    Serenity, that's a very good point, I found this oldish NYT post: When the Nurse Is a Bully - NYTimes.com on the topic so I guess its not just the unit I work on which makes me feel better.

    I suppose I'll just have to weight the consequences, but thanks for your input I do appreciate it. Hopefully I can leave gracefully and the market will pick up here on the east coast by the time I graduate... but I'm not counting on anything. Thx again.
  12. 2
    I have no experience working in a hospital, but I have worked in toxic work environments. It's not easy to leave, especially when you hope to turn the experience into something better with the same employer. Here are a few random thoughts.

    1. Don't worry about your family member. If the unit has the reputation you say it does, I don't think anyone will form a negative opinion of you or your relative if you decide to leave.

    2. In case you haven't seen The Devil Wears Prada, here's the 10-second recap. Young optimistic woman goes to work for a horrible editor who treats her staff terribly. Woman considers leaving but reminds herself that assistants who can stomach working for this woman for just one year "prove" themselves, and editors around the city fall over themselves to hire these assistants. Imagine yourself in the same position. If you can prove to administration that you can handle working in this environment for a year, they will see you as an employee who can handle ANYTHING.

    ------This is also good advice for new nurses who find themselves in less-than-desirable jobs after graduation, or for those new nurses who are complaining that they can't find a job, but they're only looking for $22 per hour with full medical and dental at facilities within 10 miles. Just get your 1 year in. Take whatever you can get and make the most of it.

    ------Other valuable lessons from Hollywood movies: don't talk about Fight Club, never say "whew, that was a close one!", and don't kiss on the mouth until you're ready to give up your life of prostitution.

    3. Just go in, do your work, and leave. Don't get caught up in the grapevine, and don't take it personally. If you focus on work and don't respond to the gossip (whether it's about you or not) then it's harder for them to make you a target. Maybe they'll say you don't belong there, you don't fit in, you're not a team player, whatever. It's probably true - you DON'T fit in there. But someone has to be there for the patients - they need someone like you looking out for them, and your coworkers are dropping the ball.

    4. Focus on finding constructive ways to fix the problems. Is there something the unit manager can try? What policies might help? What training is needed? Even if you don't feel comfortable bringing up your suggestions or if they're never implemented, this type of thinking can help hone your problem-solving and leadership skills, which will be helpful later in your career.

    5. Not everyone on the unit can be as poisonous as you think. Some of them may just go along with it because they want to fit in. If you model a different type of behavior, you may find someone else who thinks the atmosphere is appalling and admires your courage in refusing to give in.

    6. If they pressure you to conform, try some evasive maneuvers. School works to your advantage. "I can't talk, I need to go practice palpable systolics." "Sorry, I can't eat lunch with you, I have to review my physiology notes for a test." "No, I didn't hear those awful things you were saying about our patient, I've been reciting the cranial nerves in my head."
    Last edit by logank622 on Feb 11, '13 : Reason: formatting
    SoldierNurse22 and NB19938 like this.


Top