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Feeling defeated as a bedside nurse

Nurses   (636 Views | 8 Replies)
by wsunurse14 wsunurse14 (New) New

378 Profile Views; 6 Posts

Hello, 

I’ve been a nurse for 7 months at a high acuity, very large teaching hospital. I work in a specialized med/surg unit (infectious disease), however we do get a significant amount of medical overflow. 

I work 7p-7a, and I am feeling so depressed. Night shift combined with my overall dislike for bedside nursing has begun to make me feel hopeless in finding a career I enjoy. The patient population is very difficult on my unit to say the least. The staff turnover is high on my unit, and the overall staffing is poor. Night shift gets slammed with admissions because day shift clears out the unit. Our unit always fills up by the end of night shift, and we are never staffed properly because at the start of the shift there are always many open beds. It’s not unusual for us to have to take 2-3 admissions each per shift. 

The other night I was charge for the first time. I was the most senior nurse there (only on my own for 4-5 months). The other 3 nurses were fresh off of orientation. I had no guidance whatsoever. I had no clue how to fulfill the charge nurse responsibilities. I made a mistake that I feel extremely guilty about. Staffing office called to let me know that one of the nurses scheduled for the upcoming day shift was canceled. At 7am this nurse showed up for work, immediately my heart sank. I called the staffing office back, and they told me it was the charge nurse’s responsibility to let the nurse know she was canceled. This nurse was not employed on our unit, so I have no idea how I would’ve been able to contact her in the first place. Thankfully, the nurse was very understanding and helped to try and find a solution, but in the end, I ended up costing our unit 2 hours of pay for travel time for this nurse from our cost center. 

Ultimately, I’m just searching for advice, looking for a place to vent and see if anyone has had similar experiences. I already struggle greatly with anxiety and depression and being put in a situation where I’m the most senior nurse on the unit makes me have to go into the bathroom and wipe tears off my face. 

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Been there,done that has 33 years experience as a ASN, RN.

4 Followers; 6,256 Posts; 69,931 Profile Views

You will find many threads here on all of your issues. You are far from alone.

 Think about WHY you are the most senior nurse on the unit. It is because administration is working everybody like a mule and they leave. This unit is so toxic..I got cooties from it.

You will get relief from your anxiety and depression by planning your way outta there. Start applying now... it will take you to your one year mark to find a better place. 

"I ended up costing our unit 2 hours of pay" Get off THAT guilt trip, you were forced into a no win situation.

You are a registered nurse, many better opportunities await you.

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TriciaJ has 39 years experience as a RN and specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

14 Followers; 3,694 Posts; 38,301 Profile Views

I think you're doing better than you think, but I know it's damned stressful.  You will find your need to duck out and cry will decrease over time.

Main takeaway:  do not feel guilty about things that are not your fault.  Doesn't sound like you had much orientation to charge if you didn't know whose responsibility it was to call off the cancelled nurse.  Boo hoo.  They can provide you with proper training and resources (like maybe a house administrative person to run things by).  If they're too cheap to do that then they can eat the cost of your errors, which are really their errors.

And can I just say how much I despise the practice of staffing the next shift according to the current census, without taking into account the probability of admits, transfers and postops.  I used to work evenings on a surgical floor where day shift would clear the place out.  We'd be staffed according to that bottomed out census knowing full well we'd be getting slammed with postops.

Get good at standing up for yourself when they drop something in your lap that doesn't belong there.  Don't be too free with the mea culpas.  The people in charge of staffing need to own their part.  Hang in there.

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PeekaPooh has 6 years experience.

64 Posts; 938 Profile Views

I agreed with the above responses.  Something is fishy about the unit/hospital that you are at when you said "I was the most senior nurse there (only on my own for 4-5 months)."  This sounds really familiar... sounds like a SNF environment instead of a hospital...

Edited by ppham

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13 Followers; 4,056 Posts; 31,422 Profile Views

15 hours ago, wsunurse14 said:

The other night I was charge for the first time. I was the most senior nurse there (only on my own for 4-5 months). The other 3 nurses were fresh off of orientation. I had no guidance whatsoever. I had no clue how to fulfill the charge nurse responsibilities. I made a mistake that I feel extremely guilty about.

Not okay.

15 hours ago, wsunurse14 said:

I ended up costing our unit 2 hours of pay for travel time for this nurse from our cost center.

No you didn't.

Whoever has messed that place up such that someone off orientation for several months is the most experienced one on the floor and is charge nurse by default is who is responsible for this.

It's that simple.

Nurses have to stop feeling guilty, ashamed, responsible, blah, blah, blah, for other people's *** choices.

I will admit, it makes me both sad and irritated to hear you talking this way.

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6 Posts; 378 Profile Views

Thank you all for your responses. I guess I should clarify, I feel extremely guilty for that nurse having to drive in to work to learn she was canceled. I don’t honestly care that our unit was charged 2 hours of pay 😆

My manager is incredibly kind and helpful. She has allowed me to go part time while I am searching for another position in the hospital. She’s even wrote several emails to hiring managers within the hospital. I am hopefully on my way out of this unit soon. 

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Elven_RN is a ASN, RN and specializes in Registered Nurse.

49 Posts; 1,741 Profile Views

I am also a new nurse and work as the sole nurse overnight for 17 residents at a special needs facility. I share some of your same feelings, though for opposite reasons. I often have not much of anything to do with hours to kill, and overnights are not for me, so all of the variables make me depressed and anxious. I can relate to being in charge with little experience. Even though for the most part things are very repetitive and predictable at my workplace, there are times I have to do something which I received no clear guidance or training on and it's very frustrating. The supervisors also basically expect you to know things that you were not aware of or taught. All that being said, I definitely understand what you're going through!

Your facility does not sound healthy. They are placing way too much on you and you don't have enough experience to be adequately prepared. I would be actively applying for other positions, which sounds like you are. Are you applying just within the same hospital? I would apply at multiple locations. 

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455 Posts; 1,349 Profile Views

This sounds like my experience as a new grad many years ago - nurses 6 months after graduation were charge.  There were a lot of new grads on our shift, and our unit had a mass exodus of RNs because we felt like the blind leading the blind.  Your experience, unfortunately, is not unique but I really feel for you.  I agree with others' advice to start looking for something new.

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Daisy4RN has 20 years experience and specializes in Travel, Home Health, Med-Surg.

1 Follower; 1 Article; 1,176 Posts; 7,239 Profile Views

This sounds like the last hospital I worked at, didnt matter day or night patients just kept admitting and discharging, very unsafe. It was not in my contract/job description to ever be charge but they really pushed me into it bc I had previous experience. I tried it and soon bowed out, not worth the extra stress so I can see how you felt with no training. IMO, nurses with 7 mo experience have no business being in charge (nothing personal), it is just not fair to the nurse or patients. Hopefully you are having some luck on the job hunt, I hope you find a good fit!

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