Mandated!

  1. I started a new job as an ICU RN in January, and I'm still on my 6 month probation. I work for a large University State hospital and mostly it's a good place to work, but now I'm starting to think otherwise. Last week I worked 6 12hr night shifts in a row by choice as I pushed all my shifts together so I could arrange a few days off to go home to England and see my family. On the morning of the last shift, 2 hours before I finished, they told me I was mandated to return at 3pm, although I only finished work at 7.30am. I told them that I was due to leave for the airport and had a flight, hotel and car rental booked and spent $2000 on my trip, and everybody knew I was going on vacation. They told me that they didn't care and that I had to return to work from 3-7pm or I would be in trouble. I refused as I thought this was unfair. I know we may get mandated on occasion but I thought there should be some leeway if you have mitigating or unavoidable circumstances. Anyway, I went on my trip as I hadn't seen my parents in 6 months and I wasn't going to miss it.

    When I returned nobody said anything to me, but on the the very first shift I got mandated again, this time to work from 7am to 11am after a night shift, so I effectively worked from 7pm until 11am...a 16 hour shift! I had no breaks at all in 16 hours, and I kept on getting more and more patients. During that shift I had about 5 ICU patients, and even though I managed to transfer all but one of them they still didn't let me go home. The last patient was not intubated and was waiting for a transfer, and for some reason they'd drafted in a floor nurse and a 1:1 that the patient absolutely did not need, and yet they still demanded that I stay and take responsibility for this patient, even though the floor nurse was more than capable of caring for her. It didn't seem to make sense to me. I can not understand why a low level non-ICU patient needed an ICU nurse, a floor nurse and a 1:1 all to herself when we were so short staffed. Madness! At 10.10am they even had the cheek to give me another patient, after working nearly 16 hours with no break. The worst thing was, I was required to return that night at 7pm for another shift, and by the time I got home that day, I'd only had 3 hours sleep. I felt terrible and now I've very annoyed at the whole situation. It seems very unfair.

    It appears that they use mandation as an answer to every day staffing problems instead of solving the problem in other ways. They never cancel scheduled open heart patients if they don't have the staff...they just mandate people to come in instead. In England this would never happen. In my old unit in London if we didn't have the staff we would not accept the patient, and if there was no bed then scheduled (non-emergent) surgery would be cancelled. Also, this unit appears to accept any old thing into ICU. In England patients had to fulfill criteria in order to be accepted into ICU. Here we take anything. The other night I had a post surgical hip arthroplasty. When asked why he was coming to ICU I was told because "he was bilateral"! I mean what's up with that? He wasn't even intubated or even very sick. He went out the next morning. I work with a travel nurse who wants to become part of the staff, and yet they tell her there are no vacancies, despite us getting mandated all the time. I don't think I can live like this as I play in a band that travel all over the US, and if I have a plane ticket to a show I won't be able to stay at short notice. I believe a day off is a day off unless it's an emergency. I need to be able to have a life and plan things and not live by the phone waiting for the call from work. I am seriously considering leaving and becoming an agency nurse.
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    About Rocknurse, BSN, RN Pro

    Joined: May '03; Posts: 1,290; Likes: 4,544

    43 Comments

  3. by   Dixielee
    I don't know what your other employment options are, but I would be quickly looking for something else. They may or may not be legally allowed to mandate you to work insane shifts, but if continue to work there and make a mistake and cause someones injury or death, I doubt they would admit it was their fault. There are several good studies out now about mistakes made while working more than 12 hour shifts. It sounds like you need to be job hunting ASAP.
  4. by   rjflyn
    I say depends on what your contract says.... dont have one i'd do what the other poster says .. be looking for work elsewhere.

    rj
  5. by   madwife2002
    OMG,
    I cannot believe you have been made to work this way surely it is illegal. Do they not have reps you can discuss this with? You need to leave as you will not have a leg to stand on if you injure a patient because you were exhausted. I just cant understand why on earth anybody with any sense would expect another person to work those crazy hours.
  6. by   Rocknurse
    Quote from madwife2002
    OMG,
    I cannot believe you have been made to work this way surely it is illegal. Do they not have reps you can discuss this with? You need to leave as you will not have a leg to stand on if you injure a patient because you were exhausted. I just cant understand why on earth anybody with any sense would expect another person to work those crazy hours.
    Welcome to America, madwife. It's hard for a UK nurse to comprehend as this sort of thing would never happen in England. We don't have unions here. I really miss the NHS now! The nursing over here is completely different, and changes from hospital to hospital and state to state. It's not a national standard like back home. I yearn for my old unit in London where we only ever had one patient at a time. This is really, really hard, and the worst is you have to be absolutely perfect or you get in trouble for the silliest thing, like forgetting to write in a daily weight. No matter you haven't had any sleep in 48 hours....god help you if you forget that daily weight! In England if you had a really busy shift you could pass on stuff to the next nurse...not here. You stay until it's done, even if you've had 5 patients and worked a 16 hour shift. I sound bitter coz I feel bitter.
  7. by   Hellllllo Nurse
    Now, do you see why there is a so-called "shortage" in the U.S.?

    There is no shortage, but there are plenty of nurses not working, as they are sick of being abused.
  8. by   Rocknurse
    Quote from Hellllllo Nurse
    Now, do you see why there is a so-called "shortage" in the U.S.?

    There is no shortage, but there are plenty of nurses not working, as they are sick of being abused.
    I totally agree with you. I really love being an ICU nurse but I don't know how much of this I can take. In England there is a true nursing shortage, mainly because of the pay. All the UK nurses come over here and then they see the other side of the coin.
  9. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Quote from Hellllllo Nurse
    Now, do you see why there is a so-called "shortage" in the U.S.?

    There is no shortage, but there are plenty of nurses not working, as they are sick of being abused.
    yep

    I am sorry for this Rocknurse. Any other job prospects? This should not happen to anyone. But like Hello said above, it's a big reason there is a shortage in the USA ---or nurses willing to put up with this sort of thing any longer. They pay here may be better, but best believe, like you said, there is "the other side of the coin". I am so sorry.....

    Look over your contract carefully, if it says nothing about your agreeing to mandatory OT I would not do it.

    HUGE HUGS. I am so sorry.
  10. by   Spidey's mom
    I would never work somewhere that would mandate me to work over my scheduled time. Never. I've also never heard of it happening where I live. I think it is a dinosaur fast dying out - fortunately.

    You can't be taken advantage of without your permission. Good for you for going on your vacation.

    Did you really take a job that required mandated shifts?? If there isn't anything in your job description and/or contract then I'd say "NO" firmly.

    Not all nursing jobs in America sound like the one you have.

    steph
  11. by   TiffyRN
    Employers like this don't understand anything except nurses leaving, there is no reasoning with them. I would look around for other employment, as an ICU nurse you should have a vast choice. Until then, learn what the rest of us have learned to do; get caller ID and stop answering your phone unless you know the number. That won't help when they mandate while you are at work, but it will help if you are home already. I get urgent messages from my employer an average of once a week and sometimes everyday I'm off.
  12. by   studious
    I wonder if they are deliberately trying to make your life a misery for going on holiday????????

    Sorry I'm a cynic.

    When you are mandated, do you get paid for the extra hrs??? Probably a silly question, and also sooooooo off the point. I was also amazed that you don't have unions. I can see why they don't have them, otherwise they couldn't treat you like they do. I'd go for another job. I'm sorry your having such a hard time. I'm starting to see the NHS with slightly more rose coloured glasses.
  13. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Unions are not universal in the States. And their value (or lack of it) has been hotly debated here before, believe me.

    I still say unless it says in one's contracts he/she must do mandatory OT at the whim of the employer, the word "no" would be all they heard from me. You have a right to a life and your vacation.
  14. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from SmilingBluEyes
    Unions are not universal in the States. And their value (or lack of it) has been hotly debated here before, believe me.

    I still say unless it says in one's contracts he/she must do mandatory OT at the whim of the employer, the word "no" would be all they heard from me. You have a right to a life and your vacation.
    And it still comes down to the individual . . .. did someone really take a job where they could be mandated????

    If not, just say no, no, no.

    I don't need a union to help me there. It is frustrating to me that people knowingly get themselves into situations where there is chance for abuse and then complain when they are abused.

    Walk away.

    steph

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