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Nurse Managers: Do you answer your phone on your days off even when not on call?

Updated | Posted

Specializes in Rehab/Nurse Manager. Has 6 years experience.

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For those of you who are in a managerial or supervisory role at work, do you answer work phone calls on your days off, even when you are not on call? 

In my role, I work Monday through Friday anywhere from 8-20 hours a day (usually ends up being 16-20).   I am not designated as the weekend nurse manager or supervisor.  

Yet today, my phone was blown up with calls and text messages from nursing staff wanting assistance with call-ins, how to deal with a fall, and how to handle a verbally abusive patient.   

I slept in late this morning, so missed any opportunity to 'assist' with any call-ins.   I simply ignored that text message since it was already too late in the day to do anything about.  

Later, I got a text message from a nurse wanting to know the steps to take after a fall.  Although this nurse has worked at the facility for awhile, they had a question as to who should be contacted.  I had no problem answering this question.  

After this, I was hoping that any contact from work would end for the day but instead at dinner time, I was called because a patient was being verbally abusive to the point that some of the nursing assistants were too upset to work with her.   I really wanted nothing to do with this drama, as it is nothing new, it was my day off to be free from this nonsense, and I am technically not the manager overseeing the care of this abusive individual.   Yet, I felt guilty by not responding, so I ended up calling back and spoke with the concerned nurse about possible solutions.  I also did recommend calling my colleague/co-manager to see if she had any suggestions since she knows this patient better.  

The thing is, all of this communication from work stressed me out on a day that I was supposed to have to myself and work on other things, or just relax for once.  I was also not hired to work on weekends or to be on call.  My pay/salary does not include compensation for on-call duties since it was not in my original job description.  Yet, it seems as if the facility/staff members expects that I am available at any time, any day of the week even though I am not the DON and therefore, not responsible for the facility 24/7.  

I really don't mind answering questions or helping out every once in a while, but my work weeks are already long enough without having to be pestered on my days off as well.  

Anyone else have experience with this? 

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 16 years experience.

You need to set boundaries. Working 16-20 hours a day is insane. You are likely salaried and not getting paid OT. When do you sleep? It's not healthy and it's not sustainable.

SilverBells, BSN

Specializes in Rehab/Nurse Manager. Has 6 years experience.

17 minutes ago, Rose_Queen said:

You need to set boundaries. Working 16-20 hours a day is insane. You are likely salaried and not getting paid OT. When do you sleep? It's not healthy and it's not sustainable.

My work hours are insane, but are often necessary in order to ensure that everything is completed.   Because many of my colleagues leave after working over 6-8 hours of the day, it often falls on me to stay late and make sure that everything gets done, especially on Friday nights.   If I don't, important orders/tasks will not get done because no one else is there to put them in.  For example, if it is a Friday night and a provider has just prescribed an antibiotic for a patient, that patient will often go 2 days without their new medication unless I stay to put that order in.  Stool samples or urine specimens will not be collected because there is no one else around to ensure that those orders are put in, supplies are available, and staff are aware that these things are needed.   I also end up sticking around often for patients who are declining and possibly need a transfer to the ER/hospital because other staff during the day did not address concerning symptoms.  

With that said, I really do rely on having Saturdays/Sundays to relax and catch up on sleep.  Therefore, constantly receiving texts/calls from work on my days off, when I am not being paid extra, causes me stress and defeats the purpose of me having a couple of days off.   And yes, I am salaried, so I get paid the same as my colleague/co-manager who only works 6-8 hours a day. 

Edited by SilverBells

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 28 years experience.

You're coworkers do this to you because they know that you'll do the work. Stop. Or, stop complaining on here if you're going to continue to do it. Your last 20 or so threads have the same theme. My answer: people will only walk on you if you allow it. Case closed...

SilverBells, BSN

Specializes in Rehab/Nurse Manager. Has 6 years experience.

6 minutes ago, Hoosier_RN said:

You're coworkers do this to you because they know that you'll do the work. Stop. Or, stop complaining on here if you're going to continue to do it. Your last 20 or so threads have the same theme. My answer: people will only walk on you if you allow it. Case closed...

This is probably unfortunately true.  Unfortunately, I feel guilty if I delegate/leave work for others and then later on find out that the work was never done.   I also felt guilty about letting the floor staff figure out how to handle a patient who is verbally abusive even though I wanted nothing to do with the drama.  My frustration lies in that when I was a staff nurse, I did not call my managers or supervisors for every event that came up.  I solved problems on my own, so it's frustrating to supervise staff that do not do the same.   

I was just wondering if others took phone calls from work on their days off or if they felt guilty if they chose not to respond.   

Edited by SilverBells

SilverBells, BSN

Specializes in Rehab/Nurse Manager. Has 6 years experience.

I also get tired of having to take care of my co-manager's declining patients because she has left so early in the day.   From an ethical standpoint, I can't possess the knowledge that a patient is not doing well and do nothing about it.  

I find it interesting that all of my co-manager's patients are doing "just fine" when she is there but when she leaves for the day or takes PTO, these patients all of a sudden start declining and start needing things.  

I have sent more patients into the hospital recently than any other nurse at my facility because I respond to patient concerns/complaints and they do not.   Either that, or I am simply an unlucky individual who is constantly in the wrong place, at the wrong time.   Regardless, once I see a problem, I am unable to "unsee" it and need to do something about it, no matter how late it requires me to stay.  

 

 

Edited by SilverBells

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 16 years experience.

Healthcare is a 24 hour entity. It will not stop if you leave at the time you are supposed to leave. Things need to be passed on to others to do. You are not super nurse. 

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 28 years experience.

Stop answering phone/text/messaging when not on call. If not, you are inviting this to happen, so no cause to blame others

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 28 years experience.

5 minutes ago, SilverBells said:

I also get tired of having to take care of my co-manager's declining patients because she has left so early in the day.   From an ethical standpoint, I can't possess the knowledge that a patient is not doing well and do nothing about it.  

I find it interesting that all of my co-manager's patients are doing "just fine" when she is there but when she leaves for the day or takes PTO, these patients all of a sudden start declining and start needing things.  

I have sent more patients into the hospital recently than any other nurse at my facility because I respond to patient concerns/complaints and they do not.   Either that, or I am simply an unlucky individual who is constantly in the wrong place, at the wrong time.   Regardless, once I see a problem, I am unable to "unsee" it and need to do something about it, no matter how late it requires me to stay.  

 

 

Most LTCs can effectively deal with issues that come up. Antibiotics, pain control, respiratory issues. The last few that I worked at, no one went to the hospital unless chest pain, MI or stroke symptoms, and that was only for dx, possible short stay-if that, then sent back to tx/rehab

SilverBells, BSN

Specializes in Rehab/Nurse Manager. Has 6 years experience.

For me, not responding to calls/texts is easier said than done.  I need my time away from work, but also do not want my coworkers to view me in a negative light or as unapproachable.   More likely than not, someone might complain about their weekend and how they were unable to receive support from management if someone does not respond to these calls or texts.   Many nursing staff will complain about managers who do not respond to their concerns.  

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 28 years experience.

7 minutes ago, SilverBells said:

For me, not responding to calls/texts is easier said than done.  I need my time away from work, but also do not want my coworkers to view me in a negative light or as unapproachable.   More likely than not, someone might complain about their weekend and how they were unable to receive support from management if someone does not respond to these calls or texts.   Many nursing staff will complain about managers who do not respond to their concerns.  

1) If you aren't on call you aren't responsible. 

2)  you almost make it sound like you're trying to win a popularity contest. You won't. If you don't have to respond, put a do not disturb on your phone for the night with the out going "nurse sue is on call tonight, please contact her for answers to your questions" and activate a list (family,  friends, other managers) who aren't blocked in case of a true emergency. 

3)  again, you allow this, then complain. You can't have it both ways. Set boundaries, and keep them. You will earn respect. Being a doormat does not. It doesn't mean you can't help others

SilverBells, BSN

Specializes in Rehab/Nurse Manager. Has 6 years experience.

6 minutes ago, Hoosier_RN said:

Most LTCs can effectively deal with issues that come up. Antibiotics, pain control, respiratory issues. The last few that I worked at, no one went to the hospital unless chest pain, MI or stroke symptoms, and that was only for dx, possible short stay-if that, then sent back to tx/rehab

Theoretically, my facility can manage many of these conditions as well.   However, many of the floor nurses are of the belief that the managers should be handling each and every situation that comes up.  They do not seem to realize that I did not learn how to my job by asking someone else to do everything for me.  I became proficient by learning how to solve my own problems and only calling for a supervisor when truly needed. 

SilverBells, BSN

Specializes in Rehab/Nurse Manager. Has 6 years experience.

I'd actually thought about blocking the number to work on my phone temporarily over the weekends and then unblocking it starting Monday morning if only to obtain some peace and quiet, but wondering if that is too extreme.  

Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 28 years experience.

5 minutes ago, SilverBells said:

I'd actually thought about blocking the number to work on my phone temporarily over the weekends and then unblocking it starting Monday morning if only to obtain some peace and quiet, but wondering if that is too extreme.  

Not realistic. They'll just start calling/texting from their cells. Do a "do not disturb", then you specifically select who can reach you 

dream'n, BSN, RN

Specializes in UR/PA, Hematology/Oncology, Med Surg, Psych. Has 28 years experience.

To be honest and blunt.  You have some issue with believing you are a more superior nurse than the others.  Is it an ego or self-confidence issue with you?  Do you NEED to feel needed.  You have stated that you check over others work even when it isn't your job or even needed just because you don't trust them to do things right.  You seem to feel that only you can handle things correctly.  You are not allowing others to figure it out, learn from mistakes, or deal with the ramifications of their actions.  I wonder why that is.  Let it go.  Let others be independent without watching over their shoulders.  They have nursing licenses and I do not believe that they are all just big dummies.

SilverBells, BSN

Specializes in Rehab/Nurse Manager. Has 6 years experience.

24 minutes ago, dream'n said:

To be honest and blunt.  You have some issue with believing you are a more superior nurse than the others.  Is it an ego or self-confidence issue with you?  Do you NEED to feel needed.  You have stated that you check over others work even when it isn't your job or even needed just because you don't trust them to do things right.  You seem to feel that only you can handle things correctly.  You are not allowing others to figure it out, learn from mistakes, or deal with the ramifications of their actions.  I wonder why that is.  Let it go.  Let others be independent without watching over their shoulders.  They have nursing licenses and I do not believe that they are all just big dummies.

I don't necessarily think I am a better nurse than anyone.  I have some colleagues who, in many respects, are much stronger clinically as nurses than I am.  I do like to feel needed (don't most people, though?), but that's not really the motivation for why I complete certain tasks.  I see things that are important and need to be completed, so I do them.   With that said, I do sometimes question the judgment of some of the floor nurses who ask for help with every unexpected event that comes up.    For example, I do have to wonder why a nurse would contact a sleeping nurse manager at 2am asking what to do for a patient with chest pain rather than simply attempting to treat the symptom, calling a provider, or calling 911.  And yes, that has happened.   I also don't necessarily see it as me overlooking everything that others are doing when they are the ones reaching out to me by constantly sending me text messages or making phone calls.  I'd love it if a weekend would go by that a nurse didn't feel the need to contact me at all, but that doesn't seem to be the case, and that's why I created this thread.  I'm really not being paid to be on-call during the weekend, and yet everyone seems to think I should be available 24/7 to answer every question.  And thus, the rotating cycle begins again...

Edited by SilverBells

FolksBtrippin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Public Health.

I just left this type of job.

 

But I learned to direct people to the person they should actually call when they mistakenly called me. 

Very simply like this: "the manager on call is Raggedy Annie phone 123456789."

That is all that is needed.

 

LibraNurse27, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community Health, Med/Surg, ICU Stepdown. Has 8 years experience.

I understand seeing things that aren't done and won't get done if you don't do them and feeling like you want to take care of everything. It's not a good system if the only way someone will get their antibiotics is if you stay late to put in the orders. Is this something you can address with the rest of the management team? Maybe there is a need for an evening shift manager. Or at least a Friday evening shift where managers take turns inputing orders for the weekend? One person shouldn't be the only thing preventing residents from receiving poor care.

Maybe the staff nurses need training on how to handle emergencies and behaviors. There should be a clear protocol for who to contact when. The weekend manager would be contacted on weekends. Let everyone know you can't answer work calls on weekends and kindly direct them were to call, then follow through by not answering work calls. If you're worried about how the facility functions without you, try to set it up to be a place you wouldn't worry about on your days off. This requires buy-in and help from your co-managers. There is only so much you can do about the work ethic of others.

It's hard to stand up for yourself and set boundaries, but if someone is working 6 hours and you're working 20, and you're letting it happen, they're going to expect it and enjoy it. If your coworkers won't do their fair share of the work when you talk to them about it and you truly feel the patients will receive poor care if you don't work 20 hours a day, I think you should get a new job. It's sad that some nursing homes don't provide good care, and you may feel guilty leaving your residents, but if every Friday there are piles of work that no one else is going to do and your choice is to work 20 hours or know that patients will suffer, that's not a good situation and will eventually harm your mental health. I hope you can work with your team to make the workload more equitable and address the issues you bring up on this site = )