I'm a traveler with 10 years of PICU experience in some of the highest acuity hospitals in the country. I have NEVER had an assignment were I was not offered a permanent position or an extension.
I feel like my manager decided to hate me from day one. I have gotten so much negative vague feedback from her "you make the other nurses uncomfortable because you don't ask for help" "some people are telling me you look like you are winging it (with no specific examples)" "you forgot to chart one of your Q1 Neuro checks" (DKA on insulin drip q 30 min everything... so sue me one check didn't get charted, she even called me on my day off and said she herd a rumor I was planning to call in this week! Most places I have worked at have strict policies against gossip.
Now I have been applying for a few permanent positions in the same hospital (different unit far far away) I have had 4 amazing interviews followed by the "thanks but no thanks" email the next day. Apparently they don't call the reference on your application they if you work in the building they call your current boss.
I don't know what she has said about me but she has only been on the unit while i was working 3 or 4 times, how much could she really know? Plus she isn't a PICU nurse so she doesn't know what I am actually doing if she watches me.
I feel like I am getting a bad reference from her based on rumors and gossip, not facts. I sincerly requested criticism to work on my practice and blend with the staff better. I was told I do a great job but some new nurses don't know the difference between different and wrong. how do you say I'm doing a bad job then say i have nothing to improve on?
Anyway, any advice for how to answer the "why didn't you apply in the PICU?" question? Or what to do to get hiring managers to call my actual references, not someone who has bearly worked with me for a couple months?
Its pretty common practice for manager to call each other when someone is requesting an internal transfer. I usually don't even reach beyond that because in a good organization you don't let your "bad eggs" transfer out of your unit to be someone elses "problem". Now you have found the downside to this approach if you have a manager that is not a good fit for you as a nurse...which does happen. Unfortunately I doubt you will get an offer from an internal unit. You may have to apply outside of the organization and not list this manager as a reference.
Another approach you could take if you really feel like you are being unfairly treated and you have tried to take this up with your manager to get feedback already is to speak with the director of the area. I would be careful in doing this unless you have had an honest conversation seeking real feedback from your manager on how you can improve. The next place you could take it is to Human Resources to file an official grievance but again I wouldn't advise taking this approach until you have tried to work it out with your supervisors.
I hope this helps and if you are wanting to relocate send me a private message as we have opportunities for experienced PICU RNs in our PICU as well as a significant sign on bonus and relocation bonus. We would be happy to interview you.