1st agency shift, horrible

  1. Hey all,

    Last night I worked my first agency shift in a brand new city. I am nurse with 5+ years experience in med/surg tele stepdown but last night they had me work in ER psych hold. I wasn't alone thank goodness but...
    The night shift nurse I worked with had been a psych nurse for 40 years. In Psych they have tons of legal papers and documents that are foreign to me. I would ask questions and she wouldn't help. She would explain some things but if I mentioned something, she would act like she didn't understand me. She was loud, she talked for an hour on the phone, and she actually fell asleep and snored for a while in the psych hold room!
    At 600, I tried to get a Keflex for a patient and I couldn't find it in the pyxis and in another, the drawer was empty. The patient had dropped off of Pyxis, and I added him back in my myself and still couldn't get the med, I let her know and she told me loudly, "YOU HAVE TO ADD HIM." I said "It's not there, I think I'm gonna call pharmacy." She said "why are you gonna do that?" She wouldn't help me but had a problem if I was trying to take initiative. I tried for an hour looking for the med and could not find it. The day nurse came and was irritated that I hadn't given it even though I told her I would keep working on it to get the medication. What she did was go to the pyxis to check the med and it was not in the drawer like I told her. I felt like no one trusted that I had checked the pyxis.
    She did end up finding the med in another 4th pyxis in another part of ER that I didn't know about. She, I'm sure felt vindicated, but she was irritated with me.
    I admit in the night, I might have twice sounded irritated with this horrid night nurse that was difficult to work with. But the day nurse and night nurse got irritated at me? I felt awful. I left so upset I couldn't think.
    I'm in a new city, struggling to get a travel contract when there are no contracts and my first agency shift ended horribly. Is there something about me that gets people upset? I also don't have a very thick skin. I can't understand how nurses can do agency....walk into a new hospital, new floor, new paperwork, new everything and hit the floor running. I learn fast but within reason. Oh well, thanks for letting me vent!

  2. Visit zacarias profile page

    About zacarias

    Joined: Oct '01; Posts: 1,352; Likes: 83
    RN; from US
    Specialty: 14 year(s) of experience in tele, stepdown/PCU, med/surg


  3. by   rabbitgirrl
    Oh, dear.
    I just started agency, too, and it seems all too true that many places need agency because there is something seriously wrong. The place I was at last: roving psychobullys.
    Two shifts I worked on all-agency units. No staff whatsoever. This did not stop psychobullies from refusing to help me with an empty pyxis, or from charging into a room, invading my personal space and screaming JUST as I was starting an IV.
    The last shift I worked was December 5th. They cancelled me all month and waited until Dec. 24th to tell my agency that I was not welcome back. Insult to injury. Per Diem is great in a lot of ways, but I think you really need a thick skin and a taste for chaos.
    Sorry, I had to vent in empathy, and feeling a little put out by agency, too.
    You're not crazy. Its crazy.
  4. by   Virgo_RN
    That sounds horrible. I'm sorry.
  5. by   FireStarterRN
    I can't believe they sent a med/surg/tele/stepdown nurse to ER.That's crazy.

    I had a horrible experience once. I think most reputable and responsible hospitals make sure you get some little bit of orientation to their systems. Flakey hospitals just throw you out there and expect you to swim, sometimes in alligator infested swamp water.
  6. by   mskate
    i signed up with an agency... worked a couple shifts, and now, even though the money would be great - cant get myself to do it. just not worth the stress!!!
  7. by   gonzo1
    Working agency can be a very bad experience. I have been doing this for about 2 years now
    and you never know what you will walk into. The nice thing is you only have to go once.
    I would not take what happened personally. I have been doing this long enough now
    to know that if they treat me like crap it is not me, but rather them.
    In order to work agency you have to have a very thick skin, and be able to work very much
    on your own with no help.
    And they wonder why agency pays more.
  8. by   TheCommuter
    Unfortunately, some people treat agency nurses poorly because they are resentful of the higher pay rate that you're earning. Agency nurses frequently get the heaviest assignments, the worst treatment, and the most minimal (if any) orientation. It is definitely not a gig for the lighthearted or thin-skinned nurse.
  9. by   heron
    OP, I'm so sorry you got nailed this way. The good news is that you can refuse to return to that facility, and if you do, tell your coordinator why. Of course, that might not be feasible for you if you need the work and other assignments aren't available.

    I worked agency for a number of years and now that I'm on staff, I think I do a pretty good job of orienting and working with new agency staff. I just keep it in mind that if she/he wasn't there, I'd be working alone.

    I really don't think that "jealousy" of higher pay is much of a factor in staffers' attitudes ... we're all pretty aware that a substantial chunk of what's paid goes to the agency. Then there's the job insecurity, the stress of going into unfamiliar environments and the frequent lack of such bennies as paid vacation/sick time. If that isn't enough, there's getting dumped with the worst assignments (because staff is sick of caring for the heaviest/biggest PITA pts) and getting blamed for any problems that occurred on that shift ... "The agency nurse did it"!

    There's a reason I didn't stay with agency nursing. No jealousy here!

    The only advice I can offer is what I stated above ... report the situation to your coordinator. If your agency can't fill shifts at that facility, they lose money ... they have an incentive to address problems with staff. Who knows ... it might work!
  10. by   leslie :-D
    i agree, heron.
    being an agcy nurse is not an enviable position.
    that said, if staff gives you a hard time, then sling it right back to them.
    i'm not talking about petty bs, but calling them on their unwillingness to answer questions or help you out.
    and, you need to let the nm know about these problems.
    if they persist, he/she will have some insight as to why they can't get agcy nurses to work there.

    and yeah, work on that thick skin, zac.
    you just can't survive in nsg, w/o it.

  11. by   DusktilDawn
    Sorry this happened to you Zacarias.

    I agree about reporting this to you coordinator and to the manager of that ER department. This isn't about developing a thick skin, it's about common decency and respect towards staff that are sent to that area to HELP ensure that they are adequately staffed. No unit manager worth their salt is going to be pleased to hear about agency, or for that matter, any staff sent to their unit being treated this way.

    you need to let the nm know about these problems.
    if they persist, he/she will have some insight as to why they can't get agcy nurses to work there.
    Just to add to Leslie's comment, it may also give them insight as to why they have staffing problems period. Wonder how many new nurses get run out of this ER with this behavior?
  12. by   zacarias
    Thanks to all who replied. You really have made me feel better. Just to clarify, I didn't work ER, but in a pscyh hold that was located in ER. I would have refused to work there if I was in the actual ER.

    I need to work on the thicker skin. I have always been overly sensitive and nursing has helped me fix that somewhat...but maybe I'm still too sensitive for agency.

    That day I almost mentioned something to the ER charge...but I didn't. If I said something, it would be "me against them." If they had blatantly made it difficult for me to provide safe nursing care, I would definitely have said something. I usually give people one chance.

    Thanks again for all who replied.

  13. by   iluvivt
    Some people are just plain mean. One of the benefits of getting older, IMO is being able to confront others without worrying about being liked. I often find that bullies and mean people back down after a little confrontation. They often are so good at being bullies they often do not expect it. I would have confronted her early on and told her exactly what I thought about her behavior and what kind of help that I expected from her. Sorry the shift was so awful.
  14. by   leosasha
    Have been an agency nurse for a number of years. Have refused to return to a few facilities due to craziness. Others have been great. Most generally, if I recieve flak I confront it directly having the expectation that I will recieve assistance with questions. On a rare occasion I have spoken to the nurse manager if I decide that a situation is salvagable. I'm all about the patient and I am very forthright about this. Let your agency know how you were treated. I work for a premier agency and they are very supportive.