Hey ChristinaNcRN; having been a practicing RN in ICU (NSICU) for 27 years, I can tell you honestly that I too have had to be "written up". The difference is that if I found that I had done something outside our institutions P&P manuals, or realized I made a medication error, I always reported myself and would document the event and present it to my supervisors, not that I am in the habit of being negligent, or careless in providing care and in giving ordered medications. The few times I brought my mistakes to the attention of my charge nurse or my supervisors; were errors that would otherwise never have been detected without self disclosure. These few times early in my career taught me that if I made an error and reported myself, honesty and accepting responsibility for what ever the "incident" was earned the trust and respect of my supervisors, who also seemed to think I had an over developed sense of responsibility.
Today I advise my orientees to be honest not only with their colleagues, but with their supervisors and themselves. I tell them it is better to admit mistakes, own them, discuss them with your supervisor and provide a plan that would help you avoid making this error/mistake again. This mature, responsible response from you to your management will enhance their respect and trust.
In our facility we don't as a rule feel threatened by "write ups", this is not used as a "threat" but as a learning experience for all involved. Many times it may be something benign to the patient or have nothing at all to do with patient care, but be some violation of P&P such as tardiness, absenteeism, uniform policy..what ever.
rarely are drug errors an issue, or narcotic counts a problem. What ever it is, we deal with it and move on.
As for how long does this affect you professionally? Depends on so many factors. The obvious one is was the error life-threatening? Was the wrong medication, wrong dosage, wrong route..or whatever involved and was there an untoward reaction as a result of the error. Does the error represent something non-life threatening?, Get my drift?
Unfortunately many times the "write up" is used to "intimidate" staff which is absolutely the wrong way to handle incidents. Poor morale and anger, resentment will rule the unit when staff feel administrators unfairly use the "write up" system as punishment, not for the actual error, but to punish the nurse for other, unspecified wrongs.
I don't know how your institution uses write ups in your personal files, with us, it has to be important enough to warrant close management follow up for it to affect future job prospects.
I agree with NRSKarenRN as far as the progressive counseling system. We too use something similar in our institution. Honestly, it does seem to work. We are also represented by our union, SEIU (Service Employees International Union) in certain situations.
My best advice...just be the best you can be, be honest, be receptive to both positive and negative feedback from your supervisors and colleagues. Everyone makes mistakes, the trick is to learn from them.
Chill and be happy...End Game RN