ED Nurse is Embarrassed, Disheartened and Unemployed

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    So embarrassed and disheartened. I was fired from my last staff position. I had an elderly patient whose wife gave him too much laxative. He arrived via EMS covered in
    stool. Also had multiple stools during stay which I cleaned him up.

    In the
    meantime an EMS brought me a code yellow in resp distress. While stabilizing patient, the elderly man had another bowel movement. A curtain separated the two patients so the elderly man's wife knew what going on. All the techs were sitting with psych holds. After stabilizing the code yellow, the elderly man was cleaned up. The wife wrote a complaint regarding her husband wasn't cleaned up fast enough. And she stated she would have done it herself if she had supplies. So I received a write up.

    Another patient's wife wrote a complaint that I called her husband "honey" and stuck him 4 times each hand for an IV. Totally false, I am usually a backup for coworkers if they are unable to obtain an IV and I would never stick any patient more than twice.

    Last write up, a paramedic that was assigned to my area has a tendency to flirt with field paramedics. The charge nurse
    seeing I was extremely busy asked me if I needed help. I related that I had 3 new septic workups and that my assigned partner had been talking with field paramedics for some time and had not assisted in any patient care. Mind you, that I didn't take the time to speak with paramedic because I was busy meeting time constraints for lab draws including blood cultures and antibiotics. She was spoken to but not written up.

    One day she was assigned as receiving paramedic for EMS arrivals. Even though the other two nurses in my area (one traveler and one agency) had only 2 level 3 and 4 patients this particular paramedic placed back to back two septic alerts and one hepatic encephalopathy patient in my rooms. When she placed the final patient in my room, I asked if she had triaged or was a direct bed. She could have triaged instead of following paramedics to
    room and talking with them. She said she did not triage but she guessed she could. I told her I would do it. Which ended up in another writeup for alleged rudeness.

    OK. Deal with it and move on. Took a travel assignment out of state with great evaluation and without issues. New grads were hired and my contract was not renewed. Took another assignment for ER approx 1 hr from my home. Interviewed for ER and contract stated ER. Upon completion of
    hospital orientation was given schedule which was for clinical decision unit. I inquired about it and was told the manager would call me, I had stated I would do whatever to make contract work. Received a call later from recruiter that hospital cancelled my contract because I failed competencies.

    However, I did not take any competencies
    so i could not have failed. Agency failed to do anything to back me. Long story I know. I am an experienced nurse which in other words means I am an older nurse. Now I don't have any savings to speak of, single income and a totally disabled family member. I am losing my home, can barely pay my other bills even with cutting back dramatically. I go on interviews if I am called and they go seemingly very well but I am not selected for the position.

    Now in light of all the struggles and emotional turmoil, I can't force myself to reach out for travel contracts. They all want nurses to obtain own housing which I don't have money for anyway. And phone interviews which seem to go well and then face to face interviews which
    leads to nothing. I was offered a position out of state when I left the out of state contract immediately at interview but later declined because I was nervous about the financial cost of move. I want to work 7 more years but it looks like homelessness is in my future. I still have good relationships with previous co workers but am unable to share my difficulties. Any advice?

    Dear Embarrassed and Disheartened,

    I'm so sorry to hear you are going through this. Don't give up. You have valuable ED experience and if you are willing to look at and change the behaviors that are holding you back, you should be able to land a job.

    Often in interpersonal conflicts at work, it's not so much what was said as the way it was said. Right or wrong, you were considered to be rude and not responsive. And it's not always a matter of right or wrong, it's a matter of perception.

    If you are unable to land a job in ED, have you considered sub-acute just to pay the bills? You would have income and not have to re-locate, which I agree is expensive. There's always dialysis as well, that is always in demand.

    Register on Indeed.com and you may even think about working from home or case management. Since you have good relationships with past co-workers, ask them to let you know of any openings and put in a good word for you.

    Finally, it sounds as if you need to improve your interviewing skills. Here's an excerpt from my book:

    Prepare Three Examples

    To start with, prepare at least three examples. Examples make you memorable. Examples are short stories with a purpose. Stories are remembered.
    To prepare your examples, anticipate characteristics the employer will be looking for. Their questions will be designed to test for those characteristics. For example, you could reasonably expect that an RN employer may want to know about your:

    • Personal ethics and insight: "Tell us about a time when you made a critical mistake at work."
    • Customer service: "Give us an example of a time when you went above and beyond in customer service."
    • Conflict Management: "Describe a conflict with a coworker, and how you resolved it."
    • Flexibility: "Tell me about a time you had to adjust to a change at work"
    • Now, think back. Recall a concrete example of going above and beyond in customer service. Think of a time when you made a serious mistake, disagreed with a supervisor, faced an ethical dilemma, and so on. As you think back, more examples will come to mind.
    • Be sure to include at least one example of how you benefited a former employer through your customer service skills, as patient satisfaction is high on the radar in hospitals right now.
    • Your examples can come from school, work or life experience, because what they all have in common is you. You and your behavior. Behavior that illustrates the characteristics they are looking for in a candidate. Here's how to do this...

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!

    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Feb 22
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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,382; Likes: 4,123


  3. by   Elaine M
    You should look at Airbnb for housing options at travel assignments. People might be willing to decrease the amount they charge to have a stable renter for 3 months. A friend was able (admittedly about 5 years ago) to rent a room in the Houston area for $300/month.
    Last edit by Elaine M on Mar 18 : Reason: Typo