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so far, love the job, hate the culture

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As a second career nurse, I have over 20 years of work experience and have been rudely slapped in the face this past month at my new RN job by just how horrible nursing culture is. What is up with this? I had some inkling of what was to come in nursing school, but I'm still shocked. As a feminist it saddens me that I can't help thinking this has to do with the fact that the overwhelming majority of nurses are women. My complaints so far:

1. Paranoia

2. Coworkers writing each other up or chewing each other out

3. Gossiping about others' mistakes or lack of skills/experience

4. Unfriendliness to new nurses that borders on rudeness

5. Looking down on CNAs, reinforcing a hierarchy that that nurses themselves hate when they deal with doctors

[Just last week a nurse manager at a staff-wide meeting told the CNAs that there were plenty of people lining up for their job. I was shocked!]

But maybe this kind of brutality happens at other "blue collar" jobs, too, and I've just been oblivious because I've always worked at pink collar or white collar jobs.

Why is this happening? What's the dynamic here? Is this workplace hostility coming down from management?

Every time I say something or make a suggestion, something I would do at any other job, I'm looked at like I'm from outer space or like I'm some kind of idiot. For instance, I'm on orientation and I asked if I could take one day and rotate through other parts of our hospital so that I could get a handle on the institution as a whole and I was shut down and given an eye roll by my manager.

I hate to say it but you are right, but not in general. I like everyone that I work for or work with, but that cynicism does creep through. I hope things will get better, or I can find my place. I most likely will find my place and keep threading in the allnurses site to keep grounded. lol.:wink2:

psalm, RN

Specializes in Staff nurse.

It sounds like it is them and not you. But as a new person, it is better to keep a low profile at first and watch the dynamics. Learn the paperwork, protocols, procedures...work on your own system and then little by little offer some insight.

I would hesitate to think that it is because nursing is primarily women's work historically. We've all been around men who are gossips and can't keep a secret, etc.

My first job was a disaster, a horrible fit. Looking back, it could have been the stand-offish behaviour of co-workers was because I lived in a different city from the hospital...and it might as well have been a different planet. Cliquish behaviour, etc, like we're back in junior high.

Also, are you a high-profile feminist? Maybe they don't want you rocking their boat. I was anticipating a position at one particular hospital, the interviews went very well with the NM on the floor, etc. Then I got the form letter that my services weren't needed. My name recognition probably did me in, as I had picketed this hospital in the past. So it could be that...

Let us know how things go.

Dolce, RN

Specializes in Day Surgery, Agency, Cath Lab, LTC/Psych.

I hate to sound trite, but one person really can make a difference in a unit. Instead of being forced into the role that is common for nurses to fall into, strive to be the leader and example for change. Don't allow yourself to submit to the stupid "hierarchy" of healthcare professionals. Have an attitude that is constantly positive towards others. I have been in "toxic" work environments in the past but was able to avoid the gossip and sniping. Maybe my coworkers work environment was "toxic" but my own personal work environment was not. Why? Because I have control over my own personal work environment.

franciscangypsy

Specializes in ICU, MedSurg, Medical Telemetry. Has 10 years experience.

As a second career nurse, I have over 20 years of work experience and have been rudely slapped in the face this past month at my new RN job by just how horrible nursing culture is. What is up with this? I had some inkling of what was to come in nursing school, but I'm still shocked. As a feminist it saddens me that I can't help thinking this has to do with the fact that the overwhelming majority of nurses are women. My complaints so far:

1. Paranoia

2. Coworkers writing each other up or chewing each other out

3. Gossiping about others' mistakes or lack of skills/experience

4. Unfriendliness to new nurses that borders on rudeness

5. Looking down on CNAs, reinforcing a hierarchy that that nurses themselves hate when they deal with doctors

.......

Every time I say something or make a suggestion, something I would do at any other job, I'm looked at like I'm from outer space or like I'm some kind of idiot. For instance, I'm on orientation and I asked if I could take one day and rotate through other parts of our hospital so that I could get a handle on the institution as a whole and I was shut down and given an eye roll by my manager.

I've noticed a lot of this too. Where I work, people waste so much time complaining about other people not doing their jobs, even if it is a honest human mistake.

Example: after each shift, the CNA not passing meds for the shift must take the trash out. every once in a while, someone will forget. I have known girls on the next shift who will absolutely REFUSE to take out that trash and will leave it for the shift that forgot it. And when I have gone ahead and taken my trash and someone else's trash, I've been told "oh, just leave it for the next shift. they left it anyway". I'm like "no, that's okay; i'm headed out anyway."

What with that? I want to shake people and go "HEY! Grow UP, girls! We're a TEAM! We work TOGETHER! That means if one of us makes a mistake, WE PICK UP THE SLACK! It's about the patients and keeping our retirement home a pleasant place to live, not about who did or didn't remember to do some small task."

Do we just forget why we got into nursing after a while or are we really that unhappy in our jobs to have to nitpick? Sorry, just ranting.

I just don't understand the whole back-stabbing, always complaining (and not trying to fix the problem in some way) attitude.

ICRN2008, BSN, RN

Specializes in Infection Preventionist/ Occ Health. Has 5 years experience.

I too was shocked by how petty and unprofessional some nurses can be to each other and to other health care professionals. There is something in the culture that allows for this type of behavior. IMO there is not enough emphasis on professionalism in undergraduate nursing programs.

When I worked in the laboratory (still health care, mind you), there was very little of this type of behavior happening. If someone started acting inappropriately, they were usually put in their place pretty quickly.

How do you begin to change an entire culture? This is a question to which there are no easy answers...

SummerGarden, ADN, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in ED, ICU, MS/MT, PCU, CM, House Sup, Frontline mgr. Has 13 years experience.

As a second career nurse, I have over 20 years of work experience and have been rudely slapped in the face this past month at my new RN job by just how horrible nursing culture is.

You might want to look at another place to work. I am not kidding. I worked in a place similar to this a few years back. I dismissed the "culture" as possibly the norm because I was new and, at the time, it was my first job in that field. I was WRONG!!!!

Three things you have wrote has given me flash backs... First, your co-workers are so stressed they try to get each other in trouble and they do not support one another in need. Guess what? You are next!! No matter how well you do your job, someone will find something small and blow it out of proportion! And no, they will not point to all of your good hard work to justify not writing you up, giving you a poor evaluation, or doing anything else negative to you in the future.

Second, you are not allowed to give a positive suggestion without being made to feel dumb. OK, well maybe you do not feel dumb now; give it some time. They will slowly but surely chip away at your soul; they are too negative (and some are too evil) to do otherwise.

Last and definitely not least, you say that you tried to take the initiative and learn about the company. There is NOTHING wrong with this!!! Within a normal/productive/positive work environment you would be looked at as if you have potential to lead a department some day! Instead, your nurse manager rolled her eyes! Why? Probably because she is thinking, "Give me a break, peon. You are not going anywhere! You will be here in your current position forever so there is no need for you to learn about the other departments!"

So, in short... RUN!

Sincerely,

A third career Nursing Student who will take her own advise should the time come....

Less nursing staff = more job security...

That was my first job and I graduated last year....The CNAs informed me that the nurses would point out your mistakes to the DON to make a new person quit or get fired..

Geez, this all sounds like what goes on in my neighborhood with all the moms. hehe. I guess the high school antics do not end even when are older. I would believe this goes on in many occupations. I am currently a pre-nursing student but was a cosmetologist for 10 years. I had seen the same gossiping/bashing among hairstylists too. As long as you go to work and do the best you can possibly do then whatever anyone else has to say should be ignored. They say people gossip about people who are important. If it is you they are gossiping about then you must be IMPORTANT.:lol2:

starcandy

Specializes in tele stepdown unit.

My first job was horrible with gossip and rudeness to new grads. I was having a hard time staying a year. The shift wars were crazy. I remember I worked dayshift and had a pt with a GIB. Dr wrote order for a stat CBC and a type and cross. I sent the blood to lab and notified next shift to look for results. THe results were Hgb was 6.5 and afternoon nurse had a busy shift and did not call the Dr. He reported to midnights and she did not report it because afternoons should have done it. I could not believe what I was hearing. I come back on dayshift and hgb 6.2 now and ended up tranfusing the patient.

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN, CNS

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU. Has 27 years experience.

For many work situations you get back what you put into it. I am not denigrating the fact that when you work short-staffed consistently, you are more stressed. However, to blame the female gender for nursing's woes isn't helpful either.

To the OP, your plight has been adequately documented here by your numerous posts about your tough time in school to which you attribute to the female instructors, to the first two jobs that you had where you were fired by two females and now further issues with females.

In all honesty, why in the world did you choose a female-dominated career field? If you are consistently unhappy, sometimes its important to be more introspective.

I am a first year nursing student and an EKG tech of 2 years. I have to say that I basically agree with you. Not all - but definitely a significant percentage of nurses, in my experience, are either rude or just plain apathetic. Not just to me and other personnel, but also to the patients and their concerns. Sometimes nurses just get frazzled and things come out sounding the wrong way, but I honestly am convinced that for some reason this profession tends to act as a magnet for women who just know how to be real b****es. Again, not all of them are like that, but quite a few are. Also, I used to date a nursing student (many years ago, before I got interested in the field myself) and also had a boss at a job who happened to be a former RN (the job was not healthcare-related) - and I had very, very sour experiences with both of those individuals. Oddly enough I eventually got interested in becoming a nurse myself...I know that there are good nurses out there as well, and it's always refreshing when you do meet the good ones...

SmilingBluEyes

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

to the op, your plight has been adequately documented here by your numerous posts about your tough time in school to which you attribute to the female instructors, to the first two jobs that you had where you were fired by two females and now further issues with females.

in all honesty, why in the world did you choose a female-dominated career field? if you are consistently unhappy, sometimes its important to be more introspective.

amen!!!! great post!

For many work situations you get back what you put into it. I am not denigrating the fact that when you work short-staffed consistently, you are more stressed. However, to blame the female gender for nursing's woes isn't helpful either.

To the OP, your plight has been adequately documented here by your numerous posts about your tough time in school to which you attribute to the female instructors, to the first two jobs that you had where you were fired by two females and now further issues with females.

In all honesty, why in the world did you choose a female-dominated career field? If you are consistently unhappy, sometimes its important to be more introspective.

I'm not sure what posts you're talking about. Some of my instructors I liked, some I didn't. And this is my first nursing job and I've never been fired from a job. I'm not sure what you are talking about me being consistently unhappy or not instrospective. I don't think much about whether I'm happy or not. It's not an issue that's important to me. (I think most people are too focused on their own "happiness" whatever that is. I'm kind of a Buddhist.) And, frankly, I don't know a person who is more introspective than myself.

I was thinking today about high stress jobs that are traditionally male, such as fireman, police, soldier. The work cultures are very protective and fraternal. Why aren't nurses that way? Maybe because those other jobs are dangerous? I don't know.

Anyway, I chose to be a nurse not because of or in spite of it being female-dominated but because I love nursing and I want to help sick people. Isn't that a good reason? Why do I have to buy into the current culture? Is it that great that someone shouldn't change it? Is it really better to see something you think is wrong and go away because it will make you happier to be somewhere else? Or is it better to work to change it?

I'm not bashing women. I AM ONE. But I don't have pretend everything it great when it's not.

SmilingBluEyes

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

I was in the military 10 years, in a shop that was 98% male. Believe you me, there was PLENTY of backbiting, gossipy and petty behavior there too. I agree that one person CAN make a difference and I treated them how I wanted to be treated. Most I came to respect and they respected me back. Some never could come around but I did not sweat them.

There is also the problem of the toxic workplace. If you are in one of these, nothing you say or do will change it. You have to make the change and walk. But please, do not blame this on nursing being primarily female. This is just not fair nor right IMO.

And not all workplaces are toxic. I have been fortunate not to work in any in my 10 years, anyhow, in several different hospitals.

Like Trauma said, most often, you get what you give. Really in 10 years as a nurse and 10 years of prior military service, that was SO VERY TRUE.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

Anyway, I chose to be a nurse not because of or in spite of it being female-dominated but because I love nursing.

... but could it be that you don't like nurses very much?

There is a movie called "Mass Appeal" about 2 priests (played by Jack Lemmon and Zjelco Ivanek). In it the younger priest is hyper-critical of the people in his congregation. One conversation in the movie goes something like this:

Older guy: "Why are you so hard on them?"

Younger guy: "Because I want them to be better."

Older guy: "But how do you feel about these people? Do you love them?"

Younger guy: "Yes."

Older guy: "Then love them for who they are"

If you are ever going to have a satisfying career in nursing, you have to learn to accept nursing for what it is -- a stressful career that sometimes brings out the best in people -- and other times, brings out the worst.

We can and should all acknowledge the problems within our profession and work to improve ourselves and encourage positive growth in our collegues. However, at some level, we have to come to terms with the fact that not all nurses will always behave the way we want them to -- and we have to accept them as collegues, too.

Instead of pointing our fingers and saying "Those nurses are behaving badly," we have to accept the fact that "those nurses" are "us." That's an important necessary step in promoting a more positive culture. We must consider ourselves a part of it and change it from the inside.

nightmare, LPN

Specializes in Nursing Home ,Dementia Care,Neurology..

Isn't it just the case that we are all stressed out from working short staffed and therefore not being able to do what we consider our best for our patients? This leads to dissatisfaction and general unrest because we have this vision that if only we had more nurses/carers/equipment/better facilities we would be better at caring for our patients. The need to stand out as better and more caring "I'm the only one that cares" (A pet hate of mine!) Dissatisfaction can quickly spiral into a very toxic workplace!

prmenrs, RN

Specializes in NICU, Infection Control. Has 42 years experience.

I think Firstyearstudent has a legitimate issue. (by the way, if you want a new user name, it can be done!)

I think MBA2BRN summed it up well. You're basically in an untenable position. As soon as it is feasible, move on. You deserve MUCH better!

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