I need advice, STAT! Very discouraged : (

  1. Hello fellow nurses!

    I am a 30 year old nurse and graduated with a BSN in nursing last year, 2005. I began working in a very well known top notch level I trauma center on an acute surgical trauma floor...I recently was forced to resign due to several medication errors, 5 that were documented and drawn up in a warning notice...before I had a chance to discuss the plan of "what to do with me" with my nurse manager, I had made another med error, in which I gave less than the documented amount of an oral narcotic. None of the med errors that were made were fatal or caused direct harm to the patient. Anyway, I was given a choice of returning to work while following a preceptor around again (a year after my orientation had ended)...but risk being fired if another mistake was made. I worked on a very stressful floor and wasn't about to return to work, walking on eggshells and being a little nurse puppy dog again...my pride was completely shot and after my nurse manager did not find alternate ways to support me in this horrible situation, I chose to resign. Since then it has been very difficult for me to find another job...I am a very qualified nurse, but because of the circumstances surrounding my resignation, the medical center where I worked has refused to provide me with a supervisor reference. They will only confirm my dates of employment. Needless to say, prospective employers raise their eyebrows at this, and I have already been offered a job on the spot, only to have the nurse recruiter at this facility call me after she had contacted my nurse manage and clinical nurse educator to discontinue the interview process with me. I am broken hearted, discouraged and don't know what to do. The only nursing job I have had was on this trauma floor and after being on 3 interviews, I can see that prospective employers will not rely on references from peers...What can I do? I am a good nurse, very dedicated, and I never got a chance to redeem myself at this institution...Attention to detail and working on med errors can be improved, but no one wants to hire a nurse who is potentially unsafe. I've tried being honest during interviews, and that seems to backfire as well. Am I destined to forever work as a waitress? My Bachelor's degree is being wasted and my self-esteem is dropping . Any advice would be appreciated, especially by hiring managers...I would love your input. Thanks! ~Nursygirl
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  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   Tweety
    I am very sorry for your troubles.

    Actually, you did have a chance to redeem yourself by going back on orientation, but you refused. Six med errors in one year is a lot. The first written warning was your chance to redeem yourself as well.

    No judgement from me however, because I've made a few in my life, and working on a busy med-surg trauma floor, I feel your pain completely.

    I hope something will comes up for you soon. Keep plugging along and believing in yourself, putting one foot in front of the other.
  4. by   Mudwoman
    Patient safety. Nothing else matters. Med errors happen because you aren't checking yourself and you aren't paying attention. I have been nursing for 13 years and nursing is stressful and hectic. Period. Your biggest mistake now is that because the med errors didn't cause a fatality or "harm", you don't quite see them as enough of a big deal. Any med error is a big deal. Any med error causes harm to a patient!!!!!!!

    I would recommend you contacting your local state BON and seeing if they have a continuing ed class in medications. If so, take it. Then when interviewing you can say that you realized what a danger it was that you were making these errors and did something about it. Might help. Somehow, I think your attitude is coming through in the interview and it is hurting you. Your self esteem is not your problem, it is your pride.

    Your best course of action was to take the offer to go behind a preceptor again. You say that you are a good nurse and dedicated. If so, after the first med error, you would have been devastated and would have done what ever you needed to do to avoid another. Even after being warned in writing, you committed another one. Our patients are vulnerable. They depend on us. They need to know that you checked it once, twice, three times, with another nurse---whatever you have to do---to do it right.

    I'm sorry to be so harsh, but you have to get your thinking right on this one. Nursing 101. 5 rights. Right patient, right medication, right route, right dose, right time. Don't wait until your error does cause a fatality.
  5. by   indynurse#2
    I too hate to sound harsh, but 'several medication errors' in one year would often get you fired on the spot - you were lucky to be given the opportunity to follow a preceptor and keep working at that hospital! Is there anyway they would allow you to re-orient at that hospital, either on that floor or on another floor? I also was going to suggest taking a remedial med admin course on your own, that would show some initiative on your part to correct the situation...I also agree that you need to adjust your thinking on the situation - any med error 'big' or 'small' has to be thought of as a big deal!!! My first year as a nurse, I had two pts getting Metoprolol 10mg - one of them IV, one of them PO - I accidentally gave the IV dosage to the PO pt and it freaked me out - I was in tears, called the doctor (who didn't seem to care, probably b/c this was about 2am ) filled out a report then read everything I could about the meds to see if I could have possibly caused harm to the pt. I was scared to death but let me tell ya, I never made another med error after that night. It doesn't seem like you let yourself learn from your mistakes which is vital to being a nurse. Every nurse makes mistakes, it's how you learn from them and let it better you that makes you a good, dedicated nurse!!! Good luck!
  6. by   traumaRUs
    I would continue to be upfront with prospective employers. I would also tell them that these are the steps I have taken to ensure patients are safe in my care:

    1. Double-check dose, calculations, etc..

    2. Ensure that I have an adequate orientation and that I understand the expectations.

    3. I have taken the XYZ Med Admin course offered by the BON (if one exists in your state) to refresh my education.

    4. I have attended X hours of continuing education on the prevention of medication errors.

    Good luck.
  7. by   NRSKarenRN
    Please re-read what you wrote and posted:
    ...I recently was forced to resign due to several medication errors, 5 that were documented and drawn up in a warning notice...before I had a chance to discuss the plan of "what to do with me" with my nurse manager, I had made another med error, in which I gave less than the documented amount of an oral narcotic. None of the med errors that were made were fatal or caused direct harm to the patient.

    Anyway, I was given a choice of returning to work while following a preceptor around again (a year after my orientation had ended)...but risk being fired if another mistake was made. I worked on a very stressful floor and wasn't about to return to work, walking on eggshells and being a little nurse puppy dog again...
    Until you take ownership of the med errors and your part in their occurance, you will find this issue repeating itself over again, to the point of possibly lossing your license, therefore your livelyhood.

    Attempting to "explain away" this issue isn't going to work if employers are seeing/reading into your account of the story same way I'm reading it with my managers hat on: I see NO accepting/understanding of seriousness of your actions. Agree with Indynurse"
    It doesn't seem like you let yourself learn from your mistakes which is vital to being a nurse
    You had an opportunity for counciling/remediation but as you state your pride got in the way.

    Your only option since quiting your job is to take a college pharmacology course or nursing referser course which will allow you to be precepted in medication administration. This will show potential employers that you have taken additional training to strengthen your performance as an RN.
    If you find it impossible to find a job, try volunteering for an organization as a way of getting your foot in the door.

    Again echoing
    Quote from indynurse#2
    Every nurse makes mistakes, it's how you learn from them and let it better you that makes you a good, dedicated nurse!!! Good luck!
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Oct 3, '06
  8. by   CseMgr1
    I know firsthand what you are going through. Years ago when I had been an L.P.N. for only two years, I had to quit my job at a local hospital which I loved....because I was getting married and moving 50 miles away. The staff at this hospital had been so supportive of me, from the day I first walked in the door as a terrified Graduate Practical Nurse. I felt comfortable there and learned so much. But that all changed, as soon as I went to work at this larger hospital after getting back from my honeymoon. I felt as if I were setting myself up for target practice every day I worked, for I could do nothing right. The floor was incredibly busy, and I wound up making a lot of med errors. Instead of being offered the choice of going under a preceptor as you were, I was written up and told that if I made one more error, I'd be fired. My self-esteem basically went to hell in a handbasket after that, and on the advice of my husband, I resigned. "Just take responsibility for the mistakes you made in your resignation letter and move on", he told me. "You don't need this, and I'm tired of seeing you coming home in tears every day", he added. So I did, writing in the letter that I accepted "full responsibility" for the errors I had made, and was resigning in the "best interest" of not only myself, but also the hospital's. After I turned it in, I got a call from both the DON and ADON that they wanted to see me in their office. It was there that they both commended me on the "professionalsim" of my letter and agreed that I was doing "the right thing". That made me feel better. If I hadn't done what I did, I would have not only been fired...but could have also risked being reported to the BON. After that, I focused on reeducating myself and rebuilding my self-esteem, in order to become a safer practictioner. I did, and so can you. Take care, ok?
  9. by   traumaRUs
    Good advice CseMgr1! It is always better to own up to your own shortcomings and come up with ways to remedy the problem yourself.
  10. by   Nursygirl76
    Just wanted to thank everyone for their input...It hits home hard, as of course it should. I will look into refresher courses at my state BON and keep trying to find my footing again. Thanks again.
  11. by   WindyhillBSN
    Quote from Mudwoman
    Patient safety. Nothing else matters. Med errors happen because you aren't checking yourself and you aren't paying attention. I have been nursing for 13 years and nursing is stressful and hectic. Period. Your biggest mistake now is that because the med errors didn't cause a fatality or "harm", you don't quite see them as enough of a big deal. Any med error is a big deal. Any med error causes harm to a patient!!!!!!!

    I would recommend you contacting your local state BON and seeing if they have a continuing ed class in medications. If so, take it. Then when interviewing you can say that you realized what a danger it was that you were making these errors and did something about it. Might help. Somehow, I think your attitude is coming through in the interview and it is hurting you. Your self esteem is not your problem, it is your pride.

    Your best course of action was to take the offer to go behind a preceptor again. You say that you are a good nurse and dedicated. If so, after the first med error, you would have been devastated and would have done what ever you needed to do to avoid another. Even after being warned in writing, you committed another one. Our patients are vulnerable. They depend on us. They need to know that you checked it once, twice, three times, with another nurse---whatever you have to do---to do it right.

    I'm sorry to be so harsh, but you have to get your thinking right on this one. Nursing 101. 5 rights. Right patient, right medication, right route, right dose, right time. Don't wait until your error does cause a fatality.


    Excellent advice!!

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