Hi friends out in nursing land... I just joined to see if anyone might read my insane tale of nursing woe and have some seasoned advice...
I'm a 2011 BSN graduate who held out for his dream position and eventually found it. I started as a new grad RN on a pediatric med-surg/IMC unit at one of the top-rated hospitals in the US. I couldn't have been more thrilled to be there, but from day one, things were nothing short of a disaster...
My orientation period was fraught with anxiety despite excellent preceptor support (most of the time) and pretty much general "stage fright." I was absolutely useless on my own. I worried about things that were never issues and constantly missed things that were important. I made mistake after mistake after mistake (though thank God, never a med error). The biggest problem was that no matter how much I tried to hide it, I was (apparently) receiving numerous complaints from other nurses and patient families how much I looked like I didn't know what I was doing (because I didn't). I was spoken to several times over the course of my orientation by preceptors and my supervisor that my performance was unsatisfactory, but they knew I was a smart guy passionate about pediatrics that could really succeed. I was placed on an official warning that if my performance didn't improve I would be terminated at the end of orientation.
At my supervisors' suggestion, I went to see a counselor through the hospital's faculty-staff assistance program. I was immediately involuntarily placed on indefinite unpaid medical leave and instructed to resolve both physical and emotional issues that they felt were affecting my performance. I was told my position would still be there whenever I was ready to return. Six weeks later, I was cleared to return under the agreement that I would have two weeks' remaining orientation and I needed to demonstrate competency before then. After working my first shift back, it became clear to me that nothing had changed and there was absolutely no way I was going to be ready to be on my own in five more shifts. This opinion was supported by my preceptors.
The hospital had, from day one, fostered an atmosphere of concern for your individual success as a nurse. We were told in no uncertain terms during general hospital orientation that if you were unhappy with your position or not performing well, under no circumstances should you quit - the hospital would be more than happy to work with you to find the best placement for you. My preceptors also assured me multiple times that this was what would happen if it didn't work out on this floor, and that at this point I needed to let my supervisor know that I felt I was not a good fit and she would assist me to find another position...
I was told in order to be considered for another position, I had to provide a letter of resignation from the current position and I foolishly did so. My supervisor arranged for me to shadow a nurse on the children's psych unit, and I thought this was a much better fit. The NM of that floor was supposed to meet with me that day to discuss the possibility of my transferring, but she did not show up. I received an e-mail the following day from my supervisor informing me that no other positions for someone with my lack of experience existed within the entire hospital and they were going to process my resignation as termination. Horrified, I replied that the letter stated I only wished to resign from my position on that particular unit and not from the hospital itself, and that I only gave such a letter because I was told I had to. I requested to simply finish my orientation to the best of my ability, at which time I would accept their judgment of whether or not to retain me. The NM told me this was not an option, citing patient safety concerns and terminated me anyway.
I filed for unemployment and was rejected because technically providing a resignation letter meant I left voluntarily without good cause. I took my case to the state appeals court. When no representative from the hospital showed up, I told them what happened and was granted unemployment since the state ruled that I was unfairly discharged. So I know at the very least the termination was not totally my fault.
So here is where I need help. I have absolutely no idea how to explain this to any future prospective employers. I have been applying for just about any job I can think of for the past three months since this happened and I haven't gotten a single interview. I've been putting on applications that I left voluntarily (because I technically did) and been putting "will gladly discuss in interview" as my reason for leaving. I know it's a horrific job market, and three months experience basically equals zero (although I have been rejected from new graduate positions because of it) so that's more likely why I can't get an interview. But I am an absolute loss for how to put a "positive spin" on this situation. Do I mention that I had medical difficulties that were affecting my performance and I chose to leave to focus on them (this is pretty much true anyway) or will that get me the boot immediately? Do I explain that I didn't "mean" to quit (because I didn't think I was) and the whole story or does that just make me look foolish and like I'm bad-mouthing my former employer? I have zero idea of what to say when I am inevitably asked to explain why I left. I know this is tl;dr but if anyone has any kind of idea how I can talk about this, I would be extremely grateful for your suggestions.
-Hopeless in PA
Last edit by 071911 on Sep 19, '12