Dealing with a toxic work environment while in school?

  1. Hey again everyone,
    This year I started my first semester in nursing. I've spent the past 2 years finishing up most of my pre-reqs and general ed classes. I work as a vet tech part time (16 hours a week) and have been there for about 5-6 months. The problem is, lately my job has taken a sour turn. Beginning around Christmas, I feel my boss has become Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde. I'm one of two techs that work there, and usually Saturdays I'm the only one there, balancing the front desk and appointments. I've been in the veterinary field for close to 6 years, and my technical skills are proficient. Lately however, nothing I do seems to be good enough. And God forbid that a client comes in early while I'm there by myself, I get cursed at, lashed out upon, yadda yadda. If I ask a question, it's as if I'm the stupidest person in the world.
    My nursing classes run from 1-4:30 on Mondays/Wednesdays, and I have A&P on Tuesdays/Thursdays 8am-12. My clinicals start at the end of this month and run from 3pm-9pm on Tuesdays/Thursdays at a local nursing home. I work about 16 hours a week. On top of school/work, I have a 7 month old at home. The lack of time for myself or even school work doesn't bother me too much, I still manage to study and have been an A student, so far. It's the anxiety that my job creates that bugs me. Even on my days off, I'm constantly thinking about and dreading my return to work, even if it isn't for another few days. When I'm at work, the feeling of knots in my stomach is overwhelming. The worst part is, I'm unsure of exactly what I've done to deserve this new status as the "black sheep" of the clinic, and sadly, I'm almost too afraid to ask. I could survive with the loss of income if I were to quit, since my husband is the bread winner of the household to begin with. But with a 7 month old and us trying to save for a home, the income I get goes a long way.

    I'd love to hear from anyone who has been in this type of situation before, and what has helped you get through it. I'm not sure how well I will fare once clinicals start, but I'm determined to make it through this job as long as I can.
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    About nitrospeed16

    Joined: Apr '11; Posts: 11


  3. by   canigraduate
    When my boss turned into an a$$, I got a different job. I had enough stress in my life without having to deal with my boss's issues, too.

    In your situation, I would try to work it out first just in case it's a simple misunderstanding, then if things don't change, get outta there. Having a new baby, having a job, and going to school is hard enough without having to deal with all that extra crap. It will only get worse as you start clinicals. (BTW - in case your instructors, like mine, didn't tell you, it's the hours of preparation before your clinical that is the tough part)

    Also, you need to get used to standing up for yourself and confronting problems head-on, as you will have to do this quite frequently as a nurse. I suggest using assertive communication techniques (you can Google it if you aren't already familiar) to talk to your boss as practice for the situations you will have later on as a nurse.
  4. by   nurseprnRN
    well-said. it probably doesn't have anything to do with you at all if the evil mr hyde is the one who came to work today when you were hoping for dr. jeckyll. he might not even realize what he's doing-- people get wrapped up in their own problems so they can't see others', and can't see how they might be contributing to others'. you will see a lot of this in nursing-- the patients, of course, are so concerned with their own situation that they don't have the psychic energy to give yours a second's thought, and the other professionals with whom you work can also be carrying an invisible heavy load. "everyone carries his secret sorrows. many a man has been thought cold when he is merely sad."

    that said, if you used to really like this job before all this happened, and would like it to be that way again, but you are able to quit if you have to, you have nothing to lose by seeing if you can find a quiet moment to say something like, "dr. j, i have worked for you for six months and i have enjoyed the staff and patients and learned a lot here. the hours are good for me, too, since i am in nursing school. lately i have sensed a lot of tension here, especially when i am on alone on saturdays, and i was wondering if you had too. do you think we could talk about where this is coming from and see if we can resolve it?" the worst he can do is say, "tension? what goldang tension?" and storm out, or maybe fire you (extremely unlikely if you're the only one on saturdays). he might be unable to tell you what's bothering him, but he might also become more aware of how his behavior is bleeding into his professional life. if it really bothers you a lot and he can't respond, then you can say something like, "i am sorry, but the tension is beginning to affect my studies and my home life, and it would be best if i gave my notice. would two weeks be enough for you to find someone else to cover my shifts?"
    hard go. it is good practice for you, though. think of it as an early clinical.
  5. by   sillywilly
    The majority of Veterinarians I worked for in the past didn't know how or care to handle their stress in an effective manner and would take it out on everyone around them. He may just be stressed because the place is short staffed, or he could be dealing with money or personal problems. I would talk to him when he is in a good mood and say that you have noticed things are really tense on Saturdays and you were wondering if there is anything you can do to make the day go smoother, or is there anything you can do differently.

    Maybe he wants you to do things differently, or he may admit he is just stressed or whatever the problem is. But this will bring it to his attention in a non-confrontational way. He will either give you an explanation or suggestions, or he will ignore it and keep doing what he is doing. But you might as well talk to him before you make any decisions.

    If nothing changes and the stress is affecting you, I would quit if I was in your position. Personally, I would rather have as little stress as possible while going through nursing school. Keep us updated!