Help!!!!! Placed in an uncomfortable position

Specialties Geriatric


I have a new DON (finally) at my facility. Accepted the ADON position in Aug. a month later the previous DON was terminated and I was left holding the responsibility of acting DON. The time between DONs went smoothly because the nursing staff trusted and supported me (I've worked with these nurses for years in the position of careplan coordinator prior to taking the ADON job) My problem is two-fold

1. The new DON is trying to bring in 2 of her nurses from her previous job which would mean some of the nurses currently on staff will have to go. I have talked to her about the loyalty these nurses have shown thru a very difficult time and informed her that staffing was not an issue in this facility however she seems determined to find an excuse to terminate some of the nurses. I feel I am beeing forced to advocate for the nurses we currently have, however I don't want it to appear that I am not showing loyalty to my new boss. We do have a wonderful group of nurses who come to work. Staffing is excellent which to my understanding was not the case in the previous facilty this new DON worked. I was told they used agency all the time. We have not had to use agency in at least 5 or 6 years. How do I deal with this new issue without appearing too negative? She is just not getting it!!!!!!!

2. To top it all off she keeps telling me about "this wonderful LPN" from her previous facility she wants to bring on board, and has scheduled an interview with her on Monday however she wants me to do the interview with her being present. I do the monthly schedule and there is no place to put this new "wonderful LPN" Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Most of our nursing staff are RNs and suprisingly upper management does not mind, I do not want to go to the administrator about this because I am sure it will cause a rift in our new relationship. I truly like the new DON I actually interviewed her for the job and recommended her hire. The nurses are feeling insecure about their position here and they talk to me because they trust me. I feel I am caught in the middle of a bad situation

:eek: :eek: :eek:

CoffeeRTC, BSN, RN

3,734 Posts

:( I think I would be very angry and can see why you don't want to upset the new DON. This happened in my building. New DON hired a few of "her" best RNs. Thing was we needed nurses, but do you know how hard it is to work with the DON's friends, esp when the DON has no clue and isn't very friendly or fair to the rest of us nurses...some who have been very loyal to the facility for 3-9 yrs!

Are you employment at will or do the other nurses have a union? I'm just wondering how is she going to fire these other nurses to make room? Maybe you can let it slip to upper admin? Hopefully these other nurses won't go easily and will fight for their jobs...sounds like a good place to work if there isn't much turnover.

Yah know.... why is LTC so unethical when dealing with their staff? (See newer post about ethics in administration)


58 Posts

Michelle we are employment at will. Some of the nurses are planning to go to administration about the new DON. She has been here three weeks and has not formally introduced herself to the staff, our 1st in-service she was introduced to the PM shift and the 1st thing out of her mouth was "welcome to my world" I feel so bad, because the nurses are looking to me for guidance. I keep telling them "well maybe she is just trying to establish herself" I have noticed that when we are in 1:1 meetings she is actually nice. I feel we do need a DON who can provide more leadership than our previous "airhead" DON but I am afraid if this continues the nursing staff will leave and who will be stuck working the floor? Me she just does not realize what a blessing it is to have inherited such committed nurses vs coming into a facility where there are staffing problems and so many other issues. I was actually offered the DON position but felt that I was not rady for this challenge I have been working here for 12 years and have seen DONs come and go particularly because of the way this new DON is acting it is as if she does not want to estalish a relationship with the current nursing staff because she does not plan to keep them.

PS glad you responded


780 Posts

If it were me, and It's not me so it is easy for me to say, I would talk with the administrator.

I feel your loyalty is to the facility. You are a long term employee. You have a right to have things clarified. Ask the ADM what he or sees for the long term plan and how he or she would like you to support the new Don.

Ask the administrator if he or she wishes to change staff and tell him or her that you are feeling uncomfortable and will take on what ever position your administrator wants.

But it isn't me in this situation, I can only wish you the best.


You aren't in a difficult position, you are in a HORRIBLE position!

One wonders who hired this DON? How clueless can one be? (Welcome to MY world???) But, and it's a big one....

You will need to weigh your own security against doing what is ideally right. There are pyrrhyic victories and there are true ones.

If you can support the loyalty of your functioning team, maybe that's the way to go. But you may risk the disfavor of this DON.

You can interview the LPN, but (so far) you don't have to hire her. If there is no place for her, there is no place, no matter how wonderful she is. If you are pressed in the interview, you might even just say that--gee, it would be great, but I don't know of any openings. Let the DON sort that out.

As for some of the other nurses having to go, my bet is that some would leave anyway, just because that's what happens when there is a new administrator. If they don't leave on their own, and the DON wants to hire some of her own friends, you don't have to fire anyone. Same deal as there being no openings: there are no nurses who need firing.

I guess, for me, it boils down to this: if you do the next right thing, if you don't compromise your own principles, if you make your decisions based on what is best (for the patients, the facility, the nurses, and your own security, pretty much in that order), I think you will be OK.

Have you thought of sitting down with and befriending this new DON? She could be really, really clueless about how she comes across, and what she is supposed to do.

You might be able to have the best of both worlds--an intact happy staff and her good favor.

I definitely would NOT participate in any trumping up of crap to eliminate good nurses in order to make room for her friends. You have to live with yourself, and if you didn't have a strong sense of what is moral and right, you wouldn't have started this thread.

I don't envy you, but my heart is with you!


58 Posts

Thank-you Chris

I do feel I have an obligation to these nurses and the facility. We are preparing for our annual state survey and I am afraid that we will have disgruntled nurses and CNAs during survey which would be a disaster, and all the DON will say is "we are in transition, these problems were here before I came" In all actuality this is a good facility or I would not have been here for so long. The facility sent me to school for my RN and was so flexible with my schedule it weas relatively easy for me. I feel an obligation to try and advert this disaster. Some of the nurses have been here 20+ years I really have no clue as to how to guide them, as the ADON (new to the position as of August) the new DON is acutally very nice to me after I had to inform her that I too had a part-time job on the weekend and NO I will not be on call every weekend because she works on the week-end. The administrator is a young guy, just got his license a year ago and for the life of me I could not understand how he could tell her it was okay for her to work on the weekend part-time and not take on call (neither of them seem to realize that this is now her facility and any problem that arises be it weekend or during the week it is her responsibility) Teh ADM has not a clue as to the problems he will incur if the nursing staff abandon him.

Thanks for the replies all I would love to chat more andf keep you posted as to the outcome

What a wonderful learning experience you are sharing with us....

Wish you were closer by, you are the sort of nurse I'd like to work for and with.

Do keep us posted, keep setting those limits and don't give up!


26 Posts

What a horrible situation to be in!!!!

First, I don't know the size of your facility, but here are a few suggestions:

1. Check your employee handbook and see what it says re: terminations. Is there a "progressive discipline" clause?

If so, make your DON aware that there are procedures to follow re: terminations.

2. Do you have an HR department? If so, is there anyone who you can speak to about this? Do it in a "friendly" way. Kind of, "this is what is happening and I am having a problem being able to deal with it".

3. The last thing any administrator or HR person wants is to receive is a letter from EEOC or Dept of Labor concerning an unfair or illegal termination. It costs the facility tons of money in legal fees. Make sure your DON is aware of this.

If nurses are terminated to make way for "friends" you will definitely have a turnover of staff. People will feel uneasy and find other employment rather than have a termination on their record. Morale will go down the toilet. Something like that can take years to overcome.

If I were you I would interview the LPN. If you feel she is truly "wonderful" say that. Follow up with "we will keep your resume on file and definitely call you as soon as we have an opening for an LPN". "Our staff is pretty stable so I have no idea when that might be."

I think you have an obligation to the facility to bring this to higher ups. I am sure your new administrator would want to know, but do go to him/her with the problem and possible solutions. Since this person is also new he will appreciate that. You certainly have a good amount of credibility after a tenure of 12 yrs.

Keep us updated on the outcome.


1 Article; 2,334 Posts

Originally posted by Diva


If nurses are terminated to make way for "friends" you will definitely have a turnover of staff. People will feel uneasy and find other employment rather than have a termination on their record. Morale will go down the toilet. Something like that can take years to overcome.


I agree, I have seen this happen over and over again (and there are many posts here on the bb on the subject).

One day you have a good facility with stable staff, few shortages and great patient care. It is all reflected in high patient & family satisfaction surveys and excellent State surveys.

The next thing you know there are not enough bodies to fill the shifts, everyone is being asked to work OT, patient loads increase when the "groups" are redistributed, quality of care goes down, med errors, skin breakdown and falls go up, State inspectors are there every time you turn around on complaints and there is a very real concern they will put the facility in stop placement.

Pretty soon the glowing reputation the facility enjoyed in the community is gone. Docs stop recommending it to patients, insurance companies don't renew contracts, eventually the nurses who leave have trouble finding jobs at good facilities.

I am sorry you got stuck with a DON who doesn't have a clue. If she is really determined to go thru with it I sincerely suggest you get out while you and the facility still have a good reputation.

CoffeeRTC, BSN, RN

3,734 Posts

Sounds a little like my newest DON. She has never really introduced herself to me or the other staff. After about 2 months I had to introduce my self to her (I was going to wait and see how long it took her) since I only work weekends. It took about 5 or 6 months for her to actually go into the facility on a weekend!!

That "welcome to my world" remark was really nasty and I would be a little offended seeing that I've been at my facilyt for 8+ more years than her!!

Edited to add: are you a corporate facility? We are and have so many regional directors, and consultants that I have gotten to know in the past few years. They love to hear what's going on (ie Hows the new DON/ ADM doing?) If you can trust them..maybe you can let them know some of your concerns..


58 Posts

Michelle we are a non-for profit facility The ADM is a new young guy who has never been through a survey until last year. Today some of the nurses have made up their mind to go to the CEO of the facility. I have tried to tell them to be patient, and to go up the chain of command properly However they want to go directly to the top because he had been the previous ADM. It is going to be prety interesting these next few weeks By the way. The DON will finally meet the staff on 12/11 (she or the ADM must have heard about the staff's concern) As I said previously I genuinely like this new DON and I think she would be a good leader for this facility, she has shown me nothing but respect I just don't understand why she feels she has to be so harsh with the nurses


70 Posts

Boy, can I relate. In LTC : Have had to quit two jobs for new DON's. And one for a new ADM. One DON was sooo nice to the managers and was really only picking their brains for the scoop on everybody and everything. What a snake she turned out to be. Doesn't your new DON know that the staff nurses are the backbone of the place and if she stirs things up and introduces her own pets and gets rid of existing nurses it will be detrimental? It doesn't matter how "nice" she seems to you. I have been there and it ain't fun. The DON I speak of got fired about 6 months after she came and by that time the damage was done. Everyone had quit and easily found new jobs.

The new ADM started using student nurses to do med passes, assessments etc. And he cut out one full time position, took all of the subacute patients off the subacute wing and placed them all over the building. Now we were short a nurse, had subacutes with IV.s, trachs, orthos etc all over the building. And students don't do narcs, call MD's, follow through with xrays, labs etc, do IV's etc. The last day I worked we had two RN's and a student for 80 patients. I value patient care and my license more than that!!!:o

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