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Anxious, depressed, and might need to go to HR.

Nurses   (1,752 Views 26 Comments)

BeatsPerMinute has 5 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a Cardiac RN.

4,557 Visitors; 114 Posts

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I will try to make this as concise as possible: 

2years on the ICU & in trouble with the supervisor who started at the beginning of the year. The new boss frequently pulls me into her office to talk about "concerns". She said other nurses have witnessed me doing things incorrectly, that my charting is wrong, the MD's are becoming less confident/trusting in me, and that I keep making mistakes. She drills me on why I did this or that on a patient I took care of 2-3 weeks ago (as if I could remember...). She has shouted at me in her office and in the hallways a few times. When I ask her why she is concerned, for more details on the situation she's concerned about, or when I ask to look at my charting with her (so I can see what this problem is, and fix it) her response is that she "does not have time"  .. or she just changes the subject. She has told me that I had better fix my faults, however, or we were going to head down the disciplinary action road, and if things do not change: termination.

I was shocked... My previous boss gave me positive reviews, commenting that I was  consistently "cool, calm, and collected." He corrected me / pointed out my weaknesses when warranted, but with full explanation, and was always supportive & encouraging. I am certified / trained to care for any patient who walked into the ICU. I precept students and new nurses. I get along with my peers, even go out with the crew after work sometimes. I am on two different ICU unit committees. I am a focused worker. I do not understand what I am doing so terribly wrong. 

I tried to handle this on my own for awhile, (stayed late to chart every shift, triple checked everything, pushed myself harder and harder to ensure everything was 100% correct)...  but the complaints from my supervisor continued and got worse, and now a couple of the charge nurses are following her lead... I eventually confided to 2 nurse friends I trusted. I asked them to review my charting and even "nit-pick" at my nursing practice / patient care and to help me discover these "faults" ...but they said that they had no concerns, as I am always critcally thinking, asking questions when uncertain. They even chuckled with how I practice things in a very "OCD" like fashion - constantly rechecking everything. One of the girls recommended going to HR. Nurse friend #2 disagreed, arguing that they saying on the side of the hospital, not the nurses, and that these things rarely work out well for the nurse. 

Fast forward: its been 4 months. I work tomorrow early morning, but am up @ 0130, unable to sleep again because I am dreading work, am anxious about work, and cannot stop thinking about work. I started applying to other positions...which breaks my heart as I loved this job until now and was good at it. I fear getting fired, and my confidence as a critical care nurse is dwindling. I have nightmares about me accidentally killing patients and wake up in the middle of the night in panic. Work never leaves my mind... it consumes me every single day.. Maybe I am placing too much importance on this - it just a job - I tend to be a worst case scenario thinker.. i would hate to lose this position.. I moved over 1000 miles away from home for this job. 

I started going to counseling last week. I am exhausted, sleep deprived.... I feel demoralized and torn down. My counselor actually recommended that I go to HR for this situation... I am afraid (never done it... I hear "HR" and think -> "HR is on company side, not on your side" -> "you're just gonna shoot yourself in the foot or get fired if you go to HR") 

I need advice... and would appreciate personal examples / stories, if you have them. I am naive, and something like this has never happened to me. Would you recommend HR? Were you afraid of going to them? Have you had experiences going to HR about something similar? What do I even say / where do I start? How else would you address the situation? 

Thank you much ❤️ 

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TheMoonisMyLantern has 12 years experience as a ADN, LPN, RN and works as a RN.

1 Article; 8,195 Visitors; 192 Posts

Ultimately only you can make this decision, however just know that the burden of proof lies with you and that you'll need specific documented instances of these exchanges in order to be taken seriously. I would also keep in mind that it could easily go south and that you could lose your job.

If it were me, I would secure a new position first because no job is worth what you're going through. Make no mistake this woman is gunning for you and it would be wise to leave while it's on your terms.

I'm so sorry you're going through this, be sure to stick with therapy for a while so you have the support you need while dealing with this.

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TriciaJ has 37 years experience as a RN and works as a Retired.

10 Followers; 32,689 Visitors; 3,116 Posts

Your manager is gaslighting you and I don't know why.  Sometimes I can get a clue in the original post and understand what is going on.  In your case, I don't know.

We tend to put a lot of stock in what our supervisors say, not least because they have a lot of power.  But you really have two separate things going on here:

1.  You fear for your job.   2.  You doubt your competence as a nurse.  You really need to separate these two issues in your head.  They are not one and the same, even though your manager would like you to believe this.

You need to firmly and frequently remind yourself that you are a conscientious nurse, and will continue to be one wherever you go.  Keeping that in mind, now you can figure out what to do about the job situation.  From what you describe, I don't know if you have anything to lose at this point by going to HR.  If your days are numbered anyway, you might as well give it a shot.

What I would not do is let this supervisor intimidate me.  Yes, much easier said than done.  I take it you don't have a union which is a bummer.  If you do have one, please call them ASAP.

Whatever happens, know this:  you are a solid nurse and you will land on your feet.  Good luck and please keep us posted.

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BeatsPerMinute has 5 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a Cardiac RN.

4,557 Visitors; 114 Posts

3 hours ago, TheMoonisMyLantern said:

Ultimately only you can make this decision, however just know that the burden of proof lies with you and that you'll need specific documented instances of these exchanges in order to be taken seriously. I would also keep in mind that it could easily go south and that you could lose your job.

If it were me, I would secure a new position first because no job is worth what you're going through. Make no mistake this woman is gunning for you and it would be wise to leave while it's on your terms.

I'm so sorry you're going through this, be sure to stick with therapy for a while so you have the support you need while dealing with this.

I am tempted to secretly audio record these conversations, as odd as it would be. But that would be proof. 

Edited by BeatsPerMinute

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9,356 Visitors; 1,411 Posts

5 hours ago, BeatsPerMinute said:

I am tempted to secretly audio record these conversations, as odd as it would be. But that would be proof. 

Be very careful doing this - not all states allow for audio or video recording with out consent of both parties. Do not do anything illegal!

You can keep a journal of dates/times conversations with her happen, and specifics of what was discussed. You can also write down times she yells at you and any witnesses to the interaction. This can be used to establish a pattern of behavior for evidence.

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kp2016 has 20 years experience.

3,039 Visitors; 196 Posts

I started a new job a few years ago in an area where I had years of experience. My preceptor (who had significantly less experience in this specialty) was a nightmare. Criticized me constantly, publically and in front of patients. It was so unprofessional she was once shamed into apologizing to me when the patient told her her comments were mean and unnecessary. Our unit manager took every negative thing she said about me as fact. I was given several unfair verbal performance corrections. After a few months I was beginning to wonder if I really was as lacking in knowledge and skill as this person as this person managed to mentioned to me daily. I was terrified that I would be fired and given how apparently incompetent I was, would never get another job. I was depressed and hated going to work. I fantasized daily about walking out and never going back.

Preceptor left abruptly and the manager was fired (for incompetence !!) Our new manager gave me a glowing performance appraisal and a pay rise. Sometimes it really isn't you. I have never gone to HR, mainly because I don't believe they will do anything. I also believe from my own experience that many people on your unit are well aware you are being treated this way and don't want to get involved least they get the same treatment. If I was you I either pray the manager gets fired or start looking for a new job. 

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1 Follower; 13,291 Visitors; 1,470 Posts

You are being bullied by your manager. 

This happened to me. I was greatly relieved when I found a job elsewhere and then left.

It took me a little while to feel confident again, but I am finally healed, 1 year later.

 

 

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BeatsPerMinute has 5 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a Cardiac RN.

4,557 Visitors; 114 Posts

Thank you to everyone who has replied ❤️ I have been feeling so stuck and unsure of what to do... the responses are really helping me see the situation & options more clearly, reflect, and move forward.. 

I will continue searching for jobs, document everything, and explore the HR option. When I go to work I will better practice guarding myself against the intimidation and just focus on providing the best care that I can for my patients. I will continue counseling and take better care of myself when I am not at work. I hate that I have let this affect me so much, but it is what it is, and I am learning from it. Please continue to share thoughts, stories and experiences - they are truly helpful and provide more ideas for me to work with as I navigate through the situation.  

Again, thank you all very much. I sincerely appreciate the advice and encouragement.

Happy Easter! 

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5,714 Visitors; 758 Posts

I don't think it's you, sounds like jealousy to me. Sometimes it's like that. The fact that the boss wont tell you how to fix your errors or get a perfect nurse to lead you tells me all I need to know. There is no perfect nurse btw.

 

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DowntheRiver has 5 years experience and works as a Registered Nurse.

13,579 Visitors; 847 Posts

I feel so bad for you. It saddens me that a significant number of nurses can relate to this situation on this forum, me included.

Why do you think they've singled you out? Have you signed any of the reprimands? If it is something you truly did not do, refuse to sign those. Do you have a third person available during your manager conversations? This is where HR may come in handy. 

You have several options:

- Tough it out and hope it gets better.

- Go to HR and notify them of your concerns and see how that plays out. Before doing this, I'd ask HR to see a copy of your file. I don't know about what state you live in, but in mine they are required to give you access to your HR file with a written request. May be good to see what they are saying about you so you are prepared before filing an HR complaint. Does anyone else agree? 

- Transfer to another unit. Again, I'd suggest seeing your HR file at some point if this is an option. 

- See a medical professional and see if you qualify for FMLA due to a health condition, such as anxiety or depression. Is it ideal? No, but if you have STD you could still be partially paid, have job security, and then have some time to formulate a plan while you recoup and focus on your mental health.                                                                                                        - Put in your 2 or 4 weeks notice and look for another job. Hopefully you can find another job before quitting as that is always best but if you are already seeing a counselor it might be a good idea to quit ASAP.

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KrysyRN has 28 years experience.

3,920 Visitors; 234 Posts

I'm really sorry to read you are going through this. It triggered some memories for me that I thought I'd share. You're not alone in having this type of experience. I completely relate to your story. In the span of three years, I had two different nurse supervisors, back-to-back, at two different places of employment, in two different states, that could have been the same person. Same age. They looked so much alike they could have been sisters. But the kicker was they both had they same sociopathic personality. I don't use this label lightly. What they both did and said to me, while I was doing the best work possible, with a professional and positive attitude, was horrible. I started to wonder what was wrong with me that I could be so far off track in their eyes. I lost sleep, and a depression set in that I couldn't shake. Nothing brought any happiness to me.

At one of the jobs it started to occur to me early on that the problem wasn't me, it was both of these supervisors.

An example: I was alone in a very small room with my supervisor, and she shut the door to give me my monthly eval. I'll never forget the look in her eyes. The things she said to me were meant to be daggers and were in no way constructive. I remember thinking, I'm dealing with someone who is not right in the head. I wondered if someone had made the same comments to her in the past, and she was just waiting for an opportunity to maliciously use those comments on someone else. I said as little as possible during the eval. She made fun of me and listed what she thought were my character flaws. These flaws were fabrications in her mind. I think she was trying to get me to cry. 

After a few months of experiences worse than this, I went to her manager and said, "I can't work with someone I don't respect." I was switched to a different dpmt with a different manager. Talk about a night and day 180 degree difference for the better.  

Because of my experiences, I started studying personality types (borderline personalities, narcissistic, and sociopathic personality disorders) and the effects of these disorders in the workplace. It's eye-opening and has given me the tools to deal with people that show signs of these disorders.

I admire that you sought help and wish you all the best. Good things may come from this.

 

Edited by KrysyRN

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canoehead has 30 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a RN ER.

2 Followers; 48,399 Visitors; 6,576 Posts

I've been there, and found it was not worth fighting. Whatever disagreement you have with her, try to smooth it over so she finds another target. Schedule a lot of nights and weekends so you don't run into each other. Be super nice to her when you do see her, and consider transferring to another unit.

She won't last, it will take about two years, and it's up to you whether your job is worth the pain shes putting you through. You don't need to up your skills, you need a new manager.

If she is giving you feedback insist on having the chart and relevant policies at the meeting before coming to a conclusion. That will help ground the meeting in reality, not rumor. If she's speaking to you about a complaint, the complaint must be in writing, not just "someone said" or it's gossip, as opposed to a credible, actionable issue. I would decline to respond to gossip or rumor, or anything not in writing that you can examine and respond to. That's the legal standard, and you deserve that basic respect. Perhaps that's an issue you feel comfortable talking to HR about. You need the chart, the relevant policies and the complaint in writing before any "counseling" is discussed. You are being stressed out by gossip passed on as fact, causing a hostile work environment, and x, y, z symptoms that make it difficult to be productive at work.

That's how I'd approach it, but HR might back her blindly, and make it =easier to just move on. Good luck.

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