New Grad Needs Advice - Hostile Work Environment

Updated | Posted
by aap2020 aap2020, ASN (New) New Nurse

Specializes in Acute Care. Has 3 years experience.

how-did-this-become-a-race-issue.jpg.cc55b8302e032c0835a26647043d82a4.jpg

I will go ahead and state that this may be a sensitive topic, so please forgive me ahead of time if I offend anyone, it is not my intention. I just need some advice from people who may have experienced the same thing I am. This may get a little long-winded.

I am a new grad nurse who just took a position as a charge nurse on a post-acute unit. I absolutely LOVE my job from a clinical standpoint. I love my patients, and the environment is ever changing so it keeps me on my toes. I learned more the first day on the floor than any clinical rotation during school...which is awesome! That being said, my work environment is hostile.

I’m the new kid on the block, and I get that there will be people who don’t like me no matter where I work, but this feels like more than that. I am Caucasian, one of only two Caucasians who work on this unit. There is one particular tech who has been here since Jesus was a baby, and she makes my life hell. No matter how politely I ask her to do something, she refuses if it’s not something she wants to do right then. Ugh. I’ve offered to help her in completing certain tasks in an effort to establish that I am not “that nurse” who feels that I am above the work that techs do...still didn’t matter. She gives me an attitude, raises her voice above mine every time I speak and just flat out disrespects me any opportunity she gets.

She and I had a disagreement about the way she spoke to a patients family. The family came for a compassionate care visit to see their loved one who was dying from covid complications. This tech was rude, disrespectful and basically made a heartbreaking situation more difficult for this family. I pulled the tech aside and asked her to let me handle the family from that point forward. After the family left she proceeded to attack me and claimed that I think I’m better than her because I am white. Wait, what?!! How did this become a race issue?

Since then there is tension with everyone I work with. I’ve had several other nurses and techs approach me and ask me if I really did call her the “N” word (which is a term that I have never and will never use or be OK with). The nurse who is on the same rotation as me for night shift is close with this tech. Since the disagreement, the night nurse has gone above and beyond to make it known she does not like me. She leaves nasty notes instructing me to do things, she will chart pertinent information about patients and claim she gave report to day nurse, but actually doesn’t tell me about it. She throws me under the bus any chance she can.

There’s much more, but that’s the gist of it, and it is making the stress of being a new nurse so much worse. I’ve attempted to speak to both the tech and the night nurse, and that made things so much worse. I went to management and nothing changed. I actually had one manager tell me it’s best if I just keep my head down and mouth shut to avoid conflict. Seriously?!!

 I’m to the point where I would almost rather play in traffic blindfolded than to come to work. Here in lies the issue... I signed a 2 year contract with a sign-on bonus (which I cannot afford to pay back right now). What else can I do? Has anyone else been in a similar situation where you feel like your voice isn’t being heard because of your race, religion, gender etc.? 

meanmaryjean, DNP, RN

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 45 years experience. 7,899 Posts

OP: You will get far more reads if you break up your post into paragraphs. That wall of words is extremely difficult to read on a screen and keep one's place. 

aap2020

aap2020, ASN

Specializes in Acute Care. Has 3 years experience. 13 Posts

20 minutes ago, meanmaryjean said:

OP: You will get far more reads if you break up your post into paragraphs. That wall of words is extremely difficult to read on a screen and keep one's place. 

Thank you kindly! 

Davey Do

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years). Has 43 years experience. 1 Article; 10,140 Posts

I empathise and commiserate with you, for coworkers can make or break a job. It sounds as though you have handled the situations with her appropriately, e.g "pulled the tech aside"; we praise in public and criticize in private.

Searching through my four decades of nursing experience, I cannot find a pearl for you, so I relent to quote what a wise man once said to me: "With these oxen we must plow".

It is a fact that some will play the hand with the highest face cards which will trump anything we hold. That's just the way it is. Sorry.

There have been circumstances in my life and nursing career where I did not get along with another, initially, but ended up having a civil, and almost friendly, relationship.

For example, one nurse punched me in the back, hard, before a MN shift start. Later in the shift, I telephoned her, recalled the incident, and requested an apology or said that I would take appropriate measures.

She apologized and added, "It won't happen again". Fine with me. Matter dropped.

Then, I was pulled to that nurse's home unit, child psych, one night while she was off. In reviewing the MARs, I found an order for Depakote that was filled by pharmacy and far exceeded the recommended dosage. The other nurse had let the inappropriate order slip by, and  the dose was administered on day shift.

I contacted the pharmacy, the MD, and House Sup. A medication variance and incident report was generated.

The next night, I worked with the nurse on child psych and matter of factly informed her of the situation. It's what I would have wanted done had I made the mistake, but this nurse did not take the news so well.

She accused me of singling her out and would not listen to my rationale. Being a rather outspoken person, she verbally attacked me. I said, "Our conversation has ended! I want to hear nothing more from you or I will take appropriate action!"

We worked the remainder of the shift in silence, speaking to each other only when necessary.

Time passed and the other nurse and I were civil, yet cold, to one another until she handled a situation with an acting out patient which was an exemplary intervention. I publicly praised her immediately after the situation and our relationship improved significantly.

We worked together sporadically over the next few years in harmony until my retirement. I recently saw her at the supermarket and we exchanged niceties.

This too, could happen with you, aap2020. Continue being a good nurse and a person of integrity. It may all come out in the wash, who knows?

Oh, and BTW: I loved the "since Jesus was a baby" and "rather play in the street blindfolded" lines. Keep your sense of humor also!

The very best to you, aap2020!

aap2020

aap2020, ASN

Specializes in Acute Care. Has 3 years experience. 13 Posts

1 hour ago, Davey Do said:

I empathise and commiserate with you, for coworkers can make or break a job. It sounds as though you have handled the situations with her appropriately, e.g "pulled the tech aside"; we praise in public and criticize in private.

Searching through my four decades of nursing experience, I cannot find a pearl for you, so I relent to quote what a wise man once said to me: "With these oxen we must plow".

It is a fact that some will play the hand with the highest face cards which will trump anything we hold. That's just the way it is. Sorry.

There have been circumstances in my life and nursing career where I did not get along with another, initially, but ended up having a civil, and almost friendly, relationship.

For example, one nurse punched me in the back, hard, before a MN shift start. Later in the shift, I telephoned her, recalled the incident, and requested an apology or said that I would take appropriate measures.

She apologized and added, "It won't happen again". Fine with me. Matter dropped.

Then, I was pulled to that nurse's home unit, child psych, one night while she was off. In reviewing the MARs, I found an order for Depakote that was filled by pharmacy and far exceeded the recommended dosage. The other nurse had let the inappropriate order slip by, and  the dose was administered on day shift.

I contacted the pharmacy, the MD, and House Sup. A medication variance and incident report was generated.

The next night, I worked with the nurse on child psych and matter of factly informed her of the situation. It's what I would have wanted done had I made the mistake, but this nurse did not take the news so well.

She accused me of singling her out and would not listen to my rationale. Being a rather outspoken person, she verbally attacked me. I said, "Our conversation has ended! I want to hear nothing more from you or I will take appropriate action!"

We worked the remainder of the shift in silence, speaking to each other only when necessary.

Time passed and the other nurse and I were civil, yet cold, to one another until she handled a situation with an acting out patient which was an exemplary intervention. I publicly praised her immediately after the situation and our relationship improved significantly.

We worked together sporadically over the next few years in harmony until my retirement. I recently saw her at the supermarket and we exchanged niceties.

This too, could happen with you, aap2020. Continue being a good nurse and a person of integrity. It may all come out in the wash, who knows?

Oh, and BTW: I loved the "since Jesus was a baby" and "rather play in the street blindfolded" lines. Keep your sense of humor also!

The very best to you, aap2020!

Thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it. I’m praying that with enough time and effort, we can at least come to a civil understanding and learn to work with each other rather than be at odds. 

Daisy4RN

Daisy4RN

Specializes in Travel, Home Health, Med-Surg. Has 20 years experience. 1 Article; 2,125 Posts

I am sorry that you find yourself in such a horrible situation. I have also been in a similar situation and eventually won them over by showing them that I am not that nurse who thinks they are special, I have also been in the same type of situation where that didn't work so only time will tell but I would start there. I would also start documenting any and all conversations where the techs have been insubordinate and include what was said about your race. I would have a face to face with management about these issues and see where that goes, if it goes nowhere start putting it in writing (email or something that is documented, if that doesnt work than you may have to go to HR. That said, these things do have a tendency to work themselves out over time so you need to weigh that with whatever you decide because you could end up causing yourself more harm than good. Meanwhile I would look at the contract and see if there is anything you can do, probably not but I would double check. If you need to leave, and have good documentation about the issues they may let you out of the contract, you never know. I quit a job once because of a similar situation and would rather strip naked and drag myself over broken glass than ever return there (just wanted to keep up with your sense of humor LOL).

Also, if you do ever leave don't burn any bridges, nursing is a small world!

Good luck!!

Davey Do

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years). Has 43 years experience. 1 Article; 10,140 Posts

EXCELLENT advice, Daisy!

29 minutes ago, Daisy4RN said:

I quit a job once because of a similar situation and would rather strip naked and drag myself over broken glass than ever return there (just wanted to keep up with your sense of humor LOL).

You did keep up with aap2020's sense of humor, but...

... now I've got a mental image that is causing me to have re-manifesting symptoms of my PTSD.

aap2020

aap2020, ASN

Specializes in Acute Care. Has 3 years experience. 13 Posts

1 hour ago, Daisy4RN said:

I am sorry that you find yourself in such a horrible situation. I have also been in a similar situation and eventually won them over by showing them that I am not that nurse who thinks they are special, I have also been in the same type of situation where that didn't work so only time will tell but I would start there. I would also start documenting any and all conversations where the techs have been insubordinate and include what was said about your race. I would have a face to face with management about these issues and see where that goes, if it goes nowhere start putting it in writing (email or something that is documented, if that doesnt work than you may have to go to HR. That said, these things do have a tendency to work themselves out over time so you need to weigh that with whatever you decide because you could end up causing yourself more harm than good. Meanwhile I would look at the contract and see if there is anything you can do, probably not but I would double check. If you need to leave, and have good documentation about the issues they may let you out of the contract, you never know. I quit a job once because of a similar situation and would rather strip naked and drag myself over broken glass than ever return there (just wanted to keep up with your sense of humor LOL).

Also, if you do ever leave don't burn any bridges, nursing is a small world!

Good luck!!

Thanks for the advice, Daisy. I will have to add the “strip naked and drag myself over glass” to my repertoire ?.

JBMmom, MSN, NP

Specializes in New Critical care NP, Critical care, Med-surg, LTC. Has 10 years experience. 4 Articles; 2,290 Posts

So sorry to read about your experience. It certainly sounds like you're stuck, at least for the near term, so you will have to do what you can to get through. As others have mentioned, these things do tend to blow over, you can try to ride it out or you can confront the other nurse directly to try to clear the air. You probably have an idea based on her personality of which way that conversation might go, but it might help for you to clear the air.

Good luck with whatever you decide, I hope the situation improves for you!

aap2020

aap2020, ASN

Specializes in Acute Care. Has 3 years experience. 13 Posts

1 hour ago, JBMmom said:

So sorry to read about your experience. It certainly sounds like you're stuck, at least for the near term, so you will have to do what you can to get through. As others have mentioned, these things do tend to blow over, you can try to ride it out or you can confront the other nurse directly to try to clear the air. You probably have an idea based on her personality of which way that conversation might go, but it might help for you to clear the air.

Good luck with whatever you decide, I hope the situation improves for you!

I attempted to confront, or rather, discuss the current climate with the night nurse, it did not go well. Thanks for the advice. Hopefully this is just growing pains, and maybe it will all work out. 

brume

brume, BSN

Specializes in Nursing Student. 58 Posts

Is it normal for a new grad to be a charge nurse?  I can understand why your black co-workers might be resentful having a brand new white nurse as their supervisor.  This doesn't, however, justify lying about you.

It sounds really hard and stressful.  I hope you can find some resolution.

Edited by brume

jlpeace2

jlpeace2

7 Posts

On 1/16/2021 at 10:29 AM, aap2020 said:

I will go ahead and state that this may be a sensitive topic, so please forgive me ahead of time if I offend anyone, it is not my intention. I just need some advice from people who may have experienced the same thing I am. This may get a little long-winded.

I am a new grad nurse who just took a position as a charge nurse on a post-acute unit. I absolutely LOVE my job from a clinical standpoint. I love my patients, and the environment is ever changing so it keeps me on my toes. I learned more the first day on the floor than any clinical rotation during school...which is awesome! That being said, my work environment is hostile.

I’m the new kid on the block, and I get that there will be people who don’t like me no matter where I work, but this feels like more than that. I am Caucasian, one of only two Caucasians who work on this unit. There is one particular tech who has been here since Jesus was a baby, and she makes my life hell. No matter how politely I ask her to do something, she refuses if it’s not something she wants to do right then. Ugh. I’ve offered to help her in completing certain tasks in an effort to establish that I am not “that nurse” who feels that I am above the work that techs do...still didn’t matter. She gives me an attitude, raises her voice above mine every time I speak and just flat out disrespects me any opportunity she gets.

She and I had a disagreement about the way she spoke to a patients family. The family came for a compassionate care visit to see their loved one who was dying from covid complications. This tech was rude, disrespectful and basically made a heartbreaking situation more difficult for this family. I pulled the tech aside and asked her to let me handle the family from that point forward. After the family left she proceeded to attack me and claimed that I think I’m better than her because I am white. Wait, what?!! How did this become a race issue?

Since then there is tension with everyone I work with. I’ve had several other nurses and techs approach me and ask me if I really did call her the “N” word (which is a term that I have never and will never use or be OK with). The nurse who is on the same rotation as me for night shift is close with this tech. Since the disagreement, the night nurse has gone above and beyond to make it known she does not like me. She leaves nasty notes instructing me to do things, she will chart pertinent information about patients and claim she gave report to day nurse, but actually doesn’t tell me about it. She throws me under the bus any chance she can.

There’s much more, but that’s the gist of it, and it is making the stress of being a new nurse so much worse. I’ve attempted to speak to both the tech and the night nurse, and that made things so much worse. I went to management and nothing changed. I actually had one manager tell me it’s best if I just keep my head down and mouth shut to avoid conflict. Seriously?!!

 I’m to the point where I would almost rather play in traffic blindfolded than to come to work. Here in lies the issue... I signed a 2 year contract with a sign-on bonus (which I cannot afford to pay back right now). What else can I do? Has anyone else been in a similar situation where you feel like your voice isn’t being heard because of your race, religion, gender etc.? 

It doesnt sound like a good situation. I am reminded of a nurse saying "Companies wouldnt offer a bonus if they didn't have to to get people to stay" If you havent spent the money give it back and find another job.