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

Nurses General Nursing

Updated:   Published

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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? 

Editorial Team / Admin

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

6 Articles; 11,638 Posts

Specializes in OR, Nursing Professional Development.

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

1,107 Posts

Specializes in Rehab/Nurse Manager.
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. 

Hoosier_RN, MSN

3,956 Posts

Specializes in Dialysis.

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

1,107 Posts

Specializes in Rehab/Nurse Manager.
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.   

SilverBells, BSN

1,107 Posts

Specializes in Rehab/Nurse Manager.

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.  

 

 

Editorial Team / Admin

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

6 Articles; 11,638 Posts

Specializes in OR, Nursing Professional Development.

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

3,956 Posts

Specializes in Dialysis.

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

3,956 Posts

Specializes in Dialysis.
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

1,107 Posts

Specializes in Rehab/Nurse Manager.

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

3,956 Posts

Specializes in Dialysis.
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

1,107 Posts

Specializes in Rehab/Nurse Manager.
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. 

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