I worked in a small local hospital for 12 years. First on the med/surg floor including orthopoedics. Several changes occurred; I ended up in ambulatory same-day surgery. I worked there five years. In the set up phase, I had been very instrumental in setting up the Gastroenterology suit. I had served as charge nurse.
We had two managers with completely different management skills. One for surgery, the other for the surrounding services. In that time, there were a great many difficulties. As well as combining two departments, our male surgery manager had obsessive compulsive disorder i.e washing hands, etc. He chose to sit in his glassed in office and do his ordering from there. Our other manager picked up the pieces by working in the trenches with the rest of us but not being able to stand up in our defense.
Ensuing difficulties arose, not only between managers, but between staff. The OR staff became angry when we asked for help. We would witness them sitting for up to 20 minutes between cases while the other staff nurses never got breaks, many times missed lunch.
Administration responded by hiring a third manager to assist the two other managers.
I witnessed some work place behavior between one of the nurses and a physician. Walking his patient into the gastroenterology room, the patient turned to me and asked me if the doctor was going to pay attention to him. This happened a few more times and I finally had to report it to my new manager which resulted in no action. Suddenly, my life became totally unbearable. I was told I needed a Preceptor because I had no assessment skills. My fellow workers embarassingly followed me around as my "teacher". I endured this for 7 weeks before I finally called in the union for harassment.
My new manager came up with 'stories' about my performance and up to this time, I had NO episodes in my file. She claimed I had suddenly become "A bad nurse".
My union was helpless; I had signed a piece of paper in her office after a grueling day at work stating I did not mind having a preceptor (since I was doing nothing wrong or different) and I gave permission to her to do this as long as she pleased under the guise that all was well from her.
In essense, I was fired. Under the pretense of lies, covering up, false testimony. My COBRA rights were violated and I sit now in disbelieve 6 months later that this actually happened to me. My coworkers still call; they are working in silence, afraid of what might happen to them.
I raised my children during this time at this hospital. I gave up holidays, weekends, always putting my patients, my job first. That was my first mistake. Second was trusting my union.
In this age of nursing shortage, how could this happen?
Fortunate for me, I was hired in the position of Director of Nurses at another facility. The administator was aware of what happened, I spilled it all out. I have been here six months and the stress is 100 times less than what I was experiencing on the floor at the hospital. Imagine that!
Apr 8, '03
wow, that's quite an experience. I'm glad you are out of that situation and in a less stressful position. Life is too short for that kind of treatment.
Apr 8, '03
You seem to be in a state of disbelief. I think you will go through all the stages of the grief process before you can get over the trauma of the horrible work experience you have been through.
I am so glad you have moved on to better. I offer you my support and encouragement on your new position.
An answer to your question of "how can this happen?" Well, no matter what job or position in life you hold, there will always be other people who suffer from human weakness and other problems. Sometimes they make problems for other people, and you like everyone else is not totally immune from the misdeeds of others. The reason I tell you this is because you may feel like "What have I done wrong to deserve this? or "Why did this happen to me?" If you do ever question yourself, try to draw strength from the fact that you did not do anything to merit this shabby type of treatment. Good luck in the future, and may the rest of your career be happy and fufilling.
Apr 21, '03
Hi, yes I do believe you are correct. I go from being in disbelief, angry, then reconciled to the fact, then angry, then disbelief. I found an article on BULLYING In the workplace. From what I read, a BULLY needs to get rid of those they find threatening or those they find weak. I am fully aware I was not the weak one. SO, since I have left, 3 others have also left. One ended up in Mental Health herself, 3 others cut back or took leave of absence. My question: How is it that administration let this go on? These are all seasoned RNs with 10 or more years of experience!
Now I found out that the Hospital is in financial crisis. I doubt fully this had anything to do with the situation but I really am shocked that a hospital that claims "OUR STAFF MAKES US STRONG" would allow a new manager to stoop to such measures.
I think they empowered her to allow her to "clean up" the department but I have heard from fellow workers it is 10 times as bad as when I left. Makes me feel good my absence is noticed, but I don t feel good my reputation has been tarnished with falsehoods and insinuations.
Apr 21, '03
You may not want to discount the Financial Difficulties angle quite so quickly. It is not unheard of for facilities in trouble to hire in new managers to "dispose of" long term, higher paid employees. Since Since Unions and other Employee Rep. organizations frown upon this practice terminations are usually described in terms of poor prior management allowing bad practices to continue.
If this is the case they probably did you a favor. You won't be there when the checks start to bounce. Other than weathering the emotional distress this caused it sounds like you are in a much "safer" and less stressful environment now. Take heart in your new position and remember "Sometimes the best things that happen to us in our lives occur because of a tragic event"
Apr 21, '03
What occured to you was bullying pure and simple and I am so glad you ended up with a better position and a happier workplace. A good resource ot access is www.nurseadvocate.com. www.qnu.org
also has some links and websites.
Professional impact: It is unsatisfying to leave a place in the way that you had to - especially since you had so much invested there and 12 years is a BIG investment. To help with this it might be worthwhile to set your expereinces down in a letter to the more senior management of the hospital. Do not assume that the senior management IS aware of what is happening. Many workplace bullies are successful because they are VERY VERY good at covering up the issues. (OH NO! They left because of family issues!)
Personal impact:- Bullying can rob you of self-esteem. proloned bullying can reduce self-esteem to self-hatred. It takes a LONG time for the poison to wash out of your system.
If you ever feel the need to speak to another survivor do not hesitate to contact me.
Apr 24, '03
Receiving insight and wisdom from others does indeed help. I do think you are all correct on all counts and I appreciate your insight. Bullying is a problem in the workplace; it is insidious and amazing how in nursing it can be such a problem.
I remember hearing from an instructor once: "Nurses eat their young". There are those that continue to gobble up any nurse in their path.
May 6, '03
That's exactly why when I became a nurse, experienced such behavior upon myself, I would not stoop to such childish behavior. In this day and age of nursing shortage, we need to support and guide eachother through tough times. Not every nurse knows everything about everything. I do believe it is a SHAME that hospitals, institutions cry and complain that they do not have enough staff but treat the ones they have with such despicable behavior, starting with their own managers! Why does a person become a manager? To guide the others and keep quality of care intact. If they cannot even treat their own with respect, how in the world do they expect good patient care??? Professionalism has taken such a nose dive.