Thoughts on being an old nurse in a new place

  1. It's difficult to go from being one of the known nurses to being an unknown nurse.

    Thoughts on being an old nurse in a new place

    I remember what it was like to be a new nurse, being unsure of what or how to do whatever my patient needed. I jumped in and asked a lot of questions and for the most part, my more seasoned coworkers helped me out by guiding me to the appropriate solution. I learned by listening to and watching those nurses. There were a few nurses who were difficult, who didn't want to help a newbie out; I rapidly determined who those nurses were and didn't go to them with my questions or for guidance. Eventually, I became a seasoned nurse and enjoyed helping the next generation, and then the one after that. I was a good nurse, conscientious and loved my job and loved learning.

    Somewhere down the line, I became an old nurse in a new position; I retired after 30 years in one hospital system and decided to try something new, totally new, in a totally new state 1200 miles away from home. It took a lot of nerve, but I knew inside me it was something I needed to do if only to prove to myself that I could. I was recruited for my new job and was well qualified for my the position, I had been a co-investigator on a research project, had published an abstract for a national conference, had experience and was certified. My new job was in New England and I loved the scenery, the ocean and life there; but I found I had lots of things to learn--the local hospitals and clinics, the likes and dislikes of my "new" chronic patients, which pharmacy would compound meds and which ones always lost the script we sent, the nearby resources that my patients needed, the preferences of each of the three doctors I now worked with. I worked as the only nurse in my clinic three out of my four work days. I struggled with not having my fellow nurses to talk to, consult with, commiserate with. I struggled not being known for my abilities and my knowledge and skill. Everything that makes me a good nurse I had to prove again. I received very little orientation to this new job and although I did my best, eventually I decided it wasn't working out; the job wasn't a good fit for me and I wasn't a good fit for the job.

    Move ahead two years and I am back in the Midwest, my part of the country; working at a big city hospital. I was really excited to be back with my original love, the NICU. This 100+ bed inner-city unit was much larger than my previous NICU. I could work an entire shift and never see a fourth of the nurses working that night. I honestly felt lost there, I knew no one, no one knew me. Again I wasn't known for my skills or abilities. To them I was just a new nurse, I was treated with less than respect by many. I toughened up to that treatment. Even after two years I just don't fit in...I had surgery and was off 4 months, one person came to see me and when I came back to work very few noticed that I had been gone; I got married and no bridal shower, only one coworker came to my reception. Many notices/invitations for bridal showers and baby showers for other nurses cover the bulletin boards in the lounge and the Facebook page was full of them as well.

    I float into a different part of the NICU and I get the easy assignments, the ones a non-NICU float could handle. I missed having sick babies, I offer to start PIVs and am declined as "this kid is a hard stick". In my former jobs I have placed many an IV in many a patient, many times when no one else could get one; however my skill is not accepted here, I am not known.

    I have been certified in high-risk neonatal nursing for 25 years, I was one of the first in my hospital to take the certification exam. There are a few nurses who trust me, but for the most part, I am new and therefore without skills. This a hard concept to accept, I sometimes take it personally, I wonder if indeed I'm "too old". Providers also question my capability to care for my assigned babies. I often hear "I haven't seen you here before" or "are you floating" or "where do you usually work?" I feel like I am constantly trying to validate my qualification to be here, and that's frustrating and sometimes humiliating.

    So here I am two years later, still explaining carefully that I know what I am doing, still hoping to be accepted and have coworkers acknowledge my skill and knowledge. I am trying really hard to accept that this is the way it is, that most likely the culture of nursing will not change. Sometimes I think about retiring early and doing something else with my time, but I do love my patients and for the most part, love my job. For right now I will just settle for being not known.
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    About CoMoNurse, BSN

    I have worked in Midwest hospital system for 32 years, mostly in the NICU, with some outpatient pediatric specialty clinics including rheumatology, neurology and infectious diseases. I chose to move at the age of 55 across the country to New England for a job.

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    19 Comments

  3. by   traumaRUs
    I get what you are talking about: I changed jobs last year and went from being the experienced, well thought of provider to the newbie. Ugh and grrr....six months later I'm back at the other job. Many reasons but some of what you state is so true: I like being the expert.

    Best wishes
  4. by   Medic/Nurse
    I am so sorry you are going through this - it's tough. Frustrating? You bet. I can't fully imagine. Even in word and deed of example of being a great nurse - so being noticed for your knowledge and skills is second to your age. That is killing me!!!

    As a 50+ nurse I'm dying here. Damn it.

    Bless you.

    Onward, amazing angel.

  5. by   Kooky Korky
    Yes, being new and unknown is hard. But try to look at things from the perspective of your coworkers.

    Would you be able to trust them with your precious babies if they were unknown to you?

    As for their not giving you a shower or inviting you to them, yes, it's painful. Perhaps the age difference
    is to blame for most of that? Or maybe they are just miserable people?

    Maybe you are trying too hard.

    I do hope you will keep on marching. In time, perhaps things will improve.
  6. by   Kaisu
    I spent 20 years as my own boss in systems consulting. I was the expert. I was the one that was called when others had taken a shot and failed. It was comfortable. I left that and became a paramedic. Not only was I a new medic, I decided to get my first job 2000 miles away in a different state in a different system. Some people felt I would never make it. It took 3 years before I was considered "solid" and a few years after that before people were telling me that if their loved ones needed EMS, I was the one they would want to respond. I was honored.
    Then I went to nursing school. First med/surg job was beyond scary.
    Then I went to home health. I scrambled like crazy - again. When I became comfortable, I went to hospice.
    Of all these new starts, hospice feels like home. Nevertheless, I am scrambling again.
    I think there is something wrong with me... LOL.
  7. by   SisterofMary
    This is rather unfortunate that you feel this way and/or that you have been made to feel this way. I think as a newcomer to an organization there is always an amount of time where you have to "prove" yourself...fellow co-workers have to feel confident in your skills and that you are a strong leg in the team. I think that's esp. in field of pediatrics and neonatology as nurses can particularly be protective over the patients. However, after 2 years I feel like you should feel comfortable where you work. And I don't think it's appropriate for other professionals to make comments that devalue you as a professional. I don't make it a habit of questioning the physician's competency.

    Also it is difficult to not feel a part of the nurse community on your unit or feel as if you are the odd one out. Because nurses need that community esp. in a field where you need to be able to rely on the education/skill of your fellow team members.

    I know that I am a nurse growing in my skill base and I always feel comforted when a nurse of how many years floats on our unit because of all the advice and skills that they have obtained over the years that I don't have.

    I commend you for sticking with your job for the two years that you have so far. Have heart my dear and even if you aren't recognized by your co-workers, the little babes you care for appreciate your care....
  8. by   nursej22
    I am sorry you are going through this. I have experienced something similar. I worked in cardiac care for 14 years, earned certification in progressive care, clinical nurse specialist and an masters degree. I switched to public health and find many in my work place look down on hospital nursing as something beneath them.
  9. by   LPNTORN704
    I've noticed discrimination towards older nurses.i work in home health and alot of families say they dont want old nurses.In my opinion the older they are the more experienced.
  10. by   Leader25
    I remember a crazy doc saying "we need young trainable nurses!!"------ha ha ha you mean handmaidens that wont talk back when you abuse them--ha! what a jerk,so glad he is gone
    I also find the culture of nursing is almost antisocial,cliques, ..you hear them bad mouthing their boss and then guess who they invite to their events instead of a nice co-worker.Always trying to make brownie points.
    You have not missed out on much by their not attending your events,they would only run it down anyway.
    Work socialising in nursing is not like other careers,something is missing,you usually see it in make believe hospitals of tv land.
    I adore and I am proud of my co workers but mixing work and recreation is best kept on a professional level.
    So sorry you are unhappy,find comfort in doing a great job.
  11. by   walkingrock
    Some of the attitude may just be the culture of the unit. For example, I moved and started a new job, had 25 years of experience mostly in NICU, and was treated like a new grad. Stayed there 2 years and moved on. Another factor could be the size of the unit, it is much harder to get to know people and their skill level, on a unit that large. That's not a good excuse, but a downside to large units. More impersonal than a smaller unit would be, although there are some good things about large units also. Once I was a big fish on a small pond, now I'm a little fish on a medium to large sized pond. There are a plethora of people, at my large unit, as good as I was at my smaller unit where I was exceptional; and at my large unit, a lot of people more skillful than I ever was, also.
    Last edit by walkingrock on Nov 2
  12. by   Julius Seizure
    Do you think you could speak to your unit leadership about (gradually, so as not to alarm people) being given harder assignments/sicker babies? So that you can prove yourself that way?

    What are your #1 top skills? IV starts, something else? Perhaps leadership can help you take a slightly more formalized role, like how new EMR systems and new IV pumps often have "superusers" on the units to help other staff when they have trouble. "IV resource person" for the unit. I'm just wondering if having that stamp of approval from leadership would make you appear more credible.

    Not that you SHOULD need it. I'm just trying to brainstorm ideas to get you into a better spot.
  13. by   sallyrnrrt
    Hey, I'm 46.5 years "RN old".......it does not take long for a newer employment environment to realize I know what I do, and can do what I Do....
    Some of. Us crusty ole' Bats still have " game"
  14. by   cleback
    As a side note, the photo chosen for this article is interesting... kind of puts older nurses in a negative light by itself.

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