I thought I would ask this here since this seems to happen most often to new nurses. Sorry for the long post but I want to give some background.
I am a new nurse still orienting in the NICU. We have 40 weeks of training which is separated into Level II/Level III (20 weeks days and 20 weeks of nights). I just started my Level III training (24th week) and so far things are going fine with some days better than others and I'm with a good preceptor. My problem is that while doing my Level II training on nights I was initially assigned a preceptor who did not want to precept and I was basically ignored or treated with rudeness until I spoke with my Ed. Coordinator and was changed to another preceptor. The 2nd preceptor seemed fine at first but I eventually found out that she was a car-pool buddy with the 1st preceptor and at the end of 5 weeks our night coordinator had a meeting with me in which I was presented with a "memo" which included 5 weeks of "mistakes" I had made...none of which my 2nd preceptor had brought up with me...and many of the "mistakes" that were presented were incorrect and painted me in a bad light. I wrote an "addendum" to this memo and asked that it be added to my file. I felt like I had been hazed by these two and the worst part is they are part of a group of about 4-5 nurses that hang together on nights. A few other new grads have spoken with me about this group and are apprehensive about working with them. None of the new grads are happy about eventually working night shift because of the staff and several of us have had very bad experiences with night shift preceptors. After this meeting with the "memo", my Ed. Coordinator (who wasnt even in the loop about the meeting) expressed her shock but changed me back to days where I started working with my 2nd great day preceptor. Not surprising, I was so stressed out from all this I started questioning myself and if I'm really cut out to be in NICU or even be a nurse. Our Ed. Coordinator took another job between Level II and Level III training and we now have an interim Ed. Coordinator that is doing fine but doesnt really want the job. Because of the situation with poor night preceptors all the new grads were given 8 weeks on days with Level III instead of 5 weeks, but we will be going to nights next month and will have 2 weeks with a preceptor then be assigned a buddy and basically be on our own with a buddy as a resource. I have done great with my daytime training and with both preceptors that I have had, they have given me great feedback and both have been patient and are very knowledgable.
My problem is that the 2 bad preceptors that I had on nights barely speak with me and will not even make eye contact (I was afraid that this would happen when I initally spoke with our Ed. Coordinator before they changed me from night preceptor 1 to night preceptor 2). Yesterday my day preceptor and I took report from one of these nurses, which went fine, except that she would not make eye contact with me at all or even acknowledge I was there. This nurse was returning for night shift so my preceptor just told me I could give her report alone while she was assisting another nurse in our pod area with her babies. I started to give her report, asking her if she was ready, she was at an over-bed table taking notes from the chart...she just ignored me. I tried to just give her the updates from the night before and go over all orders received for the day...with no response from this nurse. She walked over to the 2nd babies warmer and started taking notes there. I went ahead and gave her updates on that baby and new orders...but she continued to ignore me...never making eye contact or acknowledging I was there, report was over very quickly. My day preceptor spoke with me a few minutes later and asked me if I made sure to give this nurse the new updates/orders etc. I told her that I had and that the nurse pretty much just ignored me and that I wasnt about to kiss her a** about it and that I had to go through this same treatment for 2 weeks with this lady until they changed my night preceptor. My preceptor then went over to this nurse and tried to give her more info., at which time this nurse pretty much ignored my preceptor, (NICU nurse with over 20 yrs exp. and well respected by everyone). This nurse never said a word to my preceptor or made eye contact with her either. We left together and neither of us said a word. My preceptor just said she would see me on sunday (our next day together)...but I know she was perplexed about it. I will be starting nights with a new preceptor (she is a part-time charge nurse and seems very nice) in 1 month, I will have 2 weeks with her then will be assigned a "buddy" for the remaining 12 weeks. My buddy could be anyone...as stated earlier night shift is not known for having the best nurses to precept or even help new grads. I am so anxious about this I am having strong thoughts of quitting NICU, which would be hard because I do enjoy the babies/families and many of the nurses, staff, etc.
My question, does anyone have suggestions on how I can be proactive about this before I start nights and all hell breaks loose? I am afraid this group of nurses, esp this group will haze me and that both my license and even worse a baby might be at risk. I would be fine if I stayed on days but unfortunately all the new grads are going to be working nights as that is where they need staff. I know night shift is struggling, they are 5-7 nurses short on a regular basis...most new nurses on nights try to get day-shift asap and many actually have gone to our in-house temp staff and now work prn shift in NICU on days. It appears that the turn-over on nights is very high.
Any advise would be appreciated. At this point I'm not sure who to go to or
who to trust.
Thanks in advance to everyone ! Sorry for the long post.
Feb 10, '07
Kill 'em with kindness?? It cannot hurt to try. I don't know if this is feasable or not, but could you approach the nurses privately and say something like, "Have I done anything to offend you? I'd really like to keep working with you and I think you are a really competent/knowlegable nurse. I hope I haven't done something to upset you. Is there something I can do better?" and so on. Most people avoid confrontation and if you were to compliment her it might open some doors or start a dialogue for you to work things out without having an all out war. If this isn't a reasonable idea or doesn't work out, I would think filing a formal complaint using the chain of command like the others mentioned would be your only recourse. Please let us know how things work out!
I wanted to add that I have had to swallow my pride and be humble in the past to keep things pleasant. Although I hated it, I sucked it up. Even if you are in the right, it is hard for others not to accept an apology or compliment! Most people find it hard to be nasty when you ask for their help and show them kindness even if you are seething below the surface. It is not an easy thing to do but it may help. Good luck!
Last edit by NurseNadine on Feb 10, '07
: Reason: more explanation
Feb 20, '07
I agree with NurseNadine, except I'd drop the "I hope I haven't done something to upset you. Is there something I could do better?" Because it does seem like it's sucking up a bit. I've said the first couple of lines many times in the past and finished it up with "If I've done something incorrect, I'd like to learn the right way. I'd love it if I could learn some tips and tricks from you."
It's still swallowing a little pride, but as NN said, it's hard for others not to accept some praise and it's hard to to be nasty when you seek them out for assistance.
If that doesn't work, and they still blatantly ignore you, I would (and have once in the past) let them know you feel you've done all you can to get off on a good foot, but you will be talking with the manager about it. Then document and do it. CYA and maybe have someone you trust listen to you approach the offender so that you have a witness. Sounds sneaky and ridiculous, but sometimes it's necessary.
I hate to say it, but NICU's are notorious for eating their young, most NICU's have nurses that have been there since the beginning of time and think things should be done their way, that it's the only way. I have trouble when I went to the NICU as well. Even though I had worked adult ICU for five years, and Peds and NICU graduates for four and a half years. But they've accepted me now. In the beginning there was a group of about five nurses who verbalized how little they liked me. It's just a protection thing. And I'm one of the sweetest (no, really) folks you could ever meet. Sometimes I think it is actually a test to see if you have the "stuff" to make it in "their" world.
It took about a year and a half for things to be 100% okay.
Last edit by Mags4711 on Feb 20, '07
: Reason: spelling