Are Termed Contracts Becoming a Trend?

  1. I've been a PICU nurse for over 10 years. I have worked in some of the sickest hospitals in the country and I am very confident in my skills. I also take criticism well and know how to use feedback to improve my practice. I start every contract by inviting feedback and reminding staff, charge nurses, and leadership how different institutions do things differently. If I am practicing differently than they are used to don't be shy about correcting me. I am happy to adapt to their unit culture.

    I traveled for 3 years earlier in my carreer. I had no issues, every hospital was great. Sometimes there were personality differences or practice differences, but I was always able to work them out in a constructive manner.

    I started traveling again last year. I came back to CA and my last two contracts terminated me and made me a no rehire within a month! They sited petty reasons like "being too autonomous" "aggressively drawing blood from a line" "forgetting to unclamp tubing" and other things that were completely misrepresented or misunderstood. They thought I wasn't involved in my patient's intubation when I was at the head of the bead applying cricoid pressure because no one else knew how.

    In each case I was never counseled, reprimanded, asked for an explanation, or even given a clue they were unhappy with my performance. Just a phone call from my recruiter on my way home from work.

    The only thing that is different about these hospitals and every other place I've worked is they are union hospitals. I've started seeing "blacklisting" articles popping up in nursing journals. Is this a new trend hospitals are using to get out of paying to cancel your contract?

    Has anyone else had any experience like this?

    It just can't be a coincidence this happened to me two contracts in a row and honestly I'm pretty close to going back to bartending.
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  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   8-ball
    I agree with you. I know that 2 nurses here (SOCAL Union hospital) were cancelled for stupid reasons. One was for not labeling IVs and one was for not documenting education. HOWEVER I would like to note that both had caused conflict on the unit. One nurse had refused to float on her 3rd day (she had already floated two days in a row) and the other was just confrontational all the time. So I think they are using this as a tactic to get rid of people without paying a fee. To them we are replaceable and as long as these big companies like AMN, CC, etc continue to place travelers with them this probably will continue.
  4. by   GaryRay
    It's making me think long and hard about if I even want to be a nurse anymore.
    I was accused of flat out lies, one of which is a board reportable offence. I don't think they really appreciate the gravity of the accusations they are making.

    If I take an honest look at myself I know I can be annoying, and I talk a lot. But I also get multiple daisy awards a year and surgeons telling the charge nurses to assign me to their sickest kids because they know I won't miss something.

    If I'm getting on your nerves tell me to shut up, I'll take that a lot less personally than getting fired.
  5. by   NedRN
    I've been terminated several times in over twenty years of travel. Very different reason each time and each a jaw dropper to anyone I tell the story to. For example, In one I was fired for not having a permanent license by the very director who signed my temp.

    Your story is more typical of other travel terminations I hear about. But wow, twice in a row is beyond unlucky. Certainly for myself, I admit I have an "edge" and as you can judge from my other posts, know-it-alls are not necessarily popular. You might be giving off a superior vibe from your competence reading between the lines of your post. Just guessing. Hard to change how others perceive you but sometimes it possible to make some changes if you can identify the real issue. It is almost never about your skill set.

    While there are no statistics about terminations, there is an industry metric: one in ten assignments fail to complete for all reasons. I don't know if that makes you feel any better but you could consider that you got your failed assignments out of way early.
  6. by   GaryRay
    So does this count towards the "have you ever been terminated from a job" question in your application? I don't know how to explain 2 back to back contracts lasting less than a month, but i doubt any hiring manager will believe it was just bad luck
  7. by   NedRN
    Personally, I get written references early in an assignment and as many as I can get for lots of reasons. They certainly would be good evidence should you be reported to a BON.

    I put terminated assignments on my work history if they lasted a significant amount of time and I have a good reference. It is certainly a judgement call. Lying on an application about termination is in itself an offense that can be used for termination. But it is not against the law and if you don't reveal it on your work history it is almost impossible for anyone to know.

    Finally, lots of travelers take off two months and more a year. That is one of the big pluses of travel. Nothing wrong with that. Usually travel companies don't even ask about employment gaps but if they do: "personal time".
  8. by   GaryRay
    Thanks that's actually really helpful, I did get references from both positions. The contracts didn't last long. Maybe I just made bad first impressions and didn't seem approachable for anyone to clear things up with. Who knows. I just really wish they would be willing to sit down with me and give it to me straight and honest so I could know what I really need to work on.
  9. by   NedRN
    I just noticed you are PICU. PICU and NICU can be overprotective until they get to know you. It is possible that they expect you not be assertive at first until they have observed you. You might ask for guidance on a task so you can do it as they would, perhaps watching as you change a central line dressing or a vent setting. Or asking for help to optimize your patient, even if you know well what minor thing you haven't done yet. That might give them some comfort that you have some self awareness of your limitations and will ask for help if you need it.

    As I know I can have an edge, especially the first couple of weeks on an assignment, I ask for feedback on interpersonal communication. While I know my issues well, it is still humbling to hear them again and it helps me up my professionalism. In your case, you may not be able to figure out without feedback. Take one of your peers aside and ask them how they see you. Be honest and tell them you have had issues with staff on previous assignments and ask feedback on how staff is perceiving how well you are fitting in.
  10. by   pinkiepie_RN
    I made a med error a couple weeks ago and was TERRIFIED I'd get terminated. Thankfully it was just a scolding from the resident, the weekend attending and an apology to both patients involved. I was terminated from two consecutive contracts 4 years ago because I was just not mentally stable - 1st time was for falling asleep after a long night of a screaming match with my husband over the phone and the 2nd was for handing a patient the completely wrong poured cup of meds. I won't be making either of those mistakes again but this recent thing was just a hiccup related to a tech malfunction. I spent the first 4 weeks of this contract walking on eggshells, worried about getting terminated over the smallest thing. I was like "There's no 'corrective action' chain for travelers, is there? Just "you're fired!"
  11. by   GaryRay
    It depends on the hospital. My last one gave us a corrective action chain in orientation and according to it I should have received counseling and been re-educated for the problems they had with me. But they didn't do that they just terminated me. The hospital before that actually had a policy that said you couldn't counsel Travelers. When I asked leadership for feedback in a second chance I was told Travellers shouldn't need feedback. Apparently we're supposed to be superhuman. Other hospitals I've worked in are more than happy to give guidance so that you'll be successful in your contract. The whole experience has made me decide I don't want to be a nurse anymore and I'm not taking any more contracts or looking for a permanent job at this moment. I can't take care of Critical Care children if I'm more worried about myself then them.
  12. by   CameToSlay
    I wouldn't take it personally and I wouldn't put it on a resume. Your agency is your employer so if they're still working with you then you haven't technically been terminated by your employer.

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