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by Dtwjj Dtwjj (New) New Nurse

Specializes in Trauma/ortho.

Hi all! It’s been awhile since I was on this site(long enough for me to forget my account info so I had to create a new one)  I need advice.  

Back ground:I work on a large(80 bed)surgical trauma unit at big hospital.  I’ve been a nurse for 5 years and this last year I’ve been a relief charge nurse on my floor. I typically do about 4-5 shifts as charge a month. I work 12 hr shifts 3 days a week, but my unit has many different shifts. I’m pretty easy to get along with and am generally well liked. My reviews from my manager have always been exceeds. I’m definitely not perfect but I show up on time and have minimal sick calls. I’m a big team player.  I was asked to be charge and I thought why not? I have no management aspirations and do it simply to be helpful on my unit. 

Situation: over the last two months being charge has been soooo stressful. We are short staffed everyday d/t vacations and people being out in quarantine from covid exposure.  We are having night nurses stay over until 11 with no relief scheduled to take over, so if we don’t really push discharges or get staff floated in we are left to absorb the pts from night shift with unsafe staffing ratios and Me as charge having to take an assignment. (Of note this is a Union hospital for RNs and we have defined ratios, which we are exceeding) it has just been so stressful to manage this situation.

Upper management and hospital leaders are aware of the problem but seem to be doing very little about it. After 3 shifts like this a couple weeks ago another nurse offered (I didn’t ask) to switch the next shift so that I would be in the floor and she would be charge. She loves being charge and seemed to really want to do it so I switched.

Fast forward to yesterday (I was charge over the weekend)that same Nurse told me she’s not allowed to switch Shifts anymore with me because one of my managers told her I need to “suck it up”. I was a little offended because, up until switching that one time  I have never asked to not be charge and have often came in to charge when not scheduled when asked if someone was sick or unavailable. But I just figured I’d bring up with that manager the next time we worked together and clear the air, get some feedback because maybe I’m missing something.

Fast forward to the end of that shift the manager that was working with me that day came over to my side of the unit(we normally split it in two and have a charge in each side since it’s a big unit)  to go over staffing numbers. This weekend we we were actually fully staffed and I made a comment about how nice that was and he started saying that I only want to be charge when it’s easy and I disagreed and said it’s rarely easy but I’m always here doing it. He then said well you weren’t here doing it last Sunday (the day we switched shifts) and that he thought I needed to suck it up because this is the way it is. A lot more was said but it was a little heated and I had to walk away because I was getting upset (I always cry when I’m angry ugh)  

But the way he said some things made me think that it’s not just his opinion but that it’s shared by the other managers, whom I always thought I had a good relationship with. So now I’m hurt that I go in and give my all and ONE time I asked for a break and now I’m thought of as the girl that only wants to be charge when it’s easy and I need to suck it up. I want to stop being charge at all over this. I mean, I’m only doing it to be a team player but now I don’t feel supported by the team and feel ridiculed.  Am I overreacting? I was crying over this at work and that has only ever happened 1 other time when I was a new grad and a Dr yelled at me LOL. I just feel hurt and angry. 

thank you if you made it though this very long winded post! 

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience.

Micromanaging at it's finest.   Let the emotional reaction pass and then take this to your immediate manager, not the jerk on that day. 

'another nurse offered (I didn’t ask) to switch the next shift so that I would be in the floor and she would be charge. She loves being charge". As long as the correct procedure was followed to change shifts, management should not be concerned about the reasons. One would think management wants  their nurses to be able to switch shifts without their interference and uncalled for judgement. Bring a union rep with you to this meeting.

" I want to stop being charge at all over this". I would present this in your meeting with your manager.  Charge nurse is the most thankless job in the hospital. You are not being appreciated for your efforts, you are being beat up over it.

Let some time pass, a good amount of time. Think about whether being charge is what you want to do anymore, all things considered. If you decide the role is not worth the trouble, then tell the appropriate person you no longer wish to be considered. Long discussion is not necessary, just say you don’t want to do it.

Thank you, Dtwjj, for openly sharing your thoughts and feelings about your recent struggles at work.

In response to your question (am I overreacting?) at the end of your post, I think the only person who would be able to answer that question is you.  What are your thoughts on your reaction to the events that took place? Did it feel like a fair and normal reaction to you?  I think it’s always important to consider as many factors as you can when you question a reaction you have to something because this process may uncover some underlying issues or non work related pressures that ultimately played a role in it (E.g. are there any other things causing you stress in life? Any lifestyle changes- sleeping habits, exercising less, eating less healthy, etc.?).

Although I am not sure how sensitive of a person you are in general, I know I am, and if I were in your situation, I would be quite upset too.  Doing the charge role to be a team player? Taking on the additional pressures of the role when the unit is short? 

I have been a nurse now for 9 years and have worked in a multiple nursing specialties (primarily outpatient), and one thing that I have seen as a consistent issue between management and front line staff is this mentality of “sucking it up” or some other form of it (e.g. “just do your best,” “others can handle it, so you should be able to too,” etc.). This is not safe, unacceptable, and irresponsible.  Safe, high quality and compassionate health care for all should be the basic standard for all hospitals regardless of where you work, and when “sucking it up” is the best that management can do to support frontline staff to do their jobs, it is inconsistent with working towards this standard.

I applaud and admire nurses like you, who are willing to speak your truth and fight for what is right.  Unfortunately, there are not very many nurses whom I have met that are willing to “rock the boat” to create change for the betterment of our hospitals.  
Dtwjj, I hope you don’t forget these recent upsetting moments that you have experienced because if you’re experiencing them you are most likely not the only one, and only through people like you will impactful changes be made.  Best wishes to you and know that I appreciate and acknowledge nurses like you. 😃


41 minutes ago, dehoo said:

and one thing that I have seen as a consistent issue between management and front line staff is this mentality of “sucking it up” or some other form of it (e.g. “just do your best,” “others can handle it, so you should be able to too,” etc.). 

The entire house of cards relies solely on this foundation, though!

That's the entire playbook: this pretty-much-gaslighting malarkey of how everyone is supposed to produce ideal outcomes despite the conditions or anything else going on, and when they don't it is because there is something wrong with them; that the reality just isn't as bad as what they are making it out to be. They just need to step up, suck it up, be their best self.

"Just do your best"--I consider that something different and it is actually quite an acceptable encouragement to me. It is a doable thing. I can do my best (in a given situation) whether I have everything or nothing. And that used to be the prevailing theme--just take the best care of the patient that you can. That statement is meant to include an acknowledgment that the circumstances are not ideal and therefore what can be done within them may not be the most ideal things that could happen in better circumstances.  But that acknowledgment certainly isn't the deal now-- because a bunch of nutballs who fancy themselves leaders think they are very coy with their psychobabble about what all is wrong with nurses and how we can be better human beings so that others don't have to.

Edited by JKL33

JBudd, MSN

Specializes in Trauma, Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

Was this the manager that gave you "excedes" ratings?  I doubt very much all the other managers think that of you.

And you agreeing to switch with someone else at their request can hardly be interpreted as you wimping out on something.  If that manager keeps harrassing you about it, get the union rep; otherwise don't let it eat you up.