Dear Nurse Beth,
I have been working in my first nursing job for the past 5 months. Amid applying for nurse residencies I submitted an application to a place that I had seen many job listings for. I immediately heard back, interviewed and was offered the job. I decided to accept the position because it was a day shift position, which I knew I wouldn't get in any hospital residency.
There have been red flags about the facility and leadership throughout my tenure, mostly circling my nurse manager. She had already over-seen 100% staff turnover (minus one holdout employee) when I was hired. When I gave notice, I was 1 of 4 RNs leaving (a second batch of turnover), out of a staff of 7. My question is- is it right to detail the way my manager has acted in my exit interview? I think she is having a tough time in her life, but I also feel she needs help with her professionalism and leadership skills. She once said to me, "I wouldn't have hired you if I knew you didn't drink [alcohol]" and talks frequently about her alcohol consumption outside of work. She said the other day something akin to "I go for the third glass of wine, I've just accepted I'm addicted." This sort of talk feels too familiar to take place between manager and employee and gives me cause for concern.
She can be a sweet lady, but seems unaware of how unprofessional her behavior is. I am torn because I am grateful she gave me my first job and she's not a villain. But, aside from being unprofessional she has attempted to manipulate me repeatedly and has treated me cruelly. Basically, I don't want to do something that makes her lose her job, but I also feel I should give some feedback to HR.
This is a good question because what to say, or how much to say, in an exit interview is important. Saying the wrong thing can harm your career. You want to receive a favorable or at least a non-hurtful reference. Nursing is a small world, and it's entirely possible that the person in your exit interview can be working with you in another organization down the line.
It's tempting to think that of course, the organization wants your candid feedback so they can improve based on your first-hand experience. You really, really want to tell them what you think as you jump off the sinking ship. While not always the case, your insights are unfortunately unlikely to truly change the corporate culture.
HR's point of view
The HR person conducting the interview may just be filling out forms. Often they are just checking a box for data tracking.
Employee left because:
- They're pregnant
- They relocated
- Family illness
- Offered more money elsewhere
- Personality problem
Opinions about individuals are taken with skepticism. I would say that the organization is already aware that they have a problem, with the high turnover. And the problem may well be bigger than the individual nurse manager. Is it possible that the nurse manager reflects the organization? Meaning a troubled organization with red flags, as you say, is not likely to hire and retain top-level nursing managers. Does the organization provide leadership training and development? It doesn't sound like it.By the same token, it's unlikely that this organization is thoughtfully using guided exit interviews.
Your manager is less than professional, but some rookie managers try to gain popularity in any way they can. Remarks about drinking make you uncomfortable, as in TMI. You don't give any examples of your manager being cruel or manipulating you, but the turnover rate speaks for itself.
A diatribe is never a good idea. Never vent. Do not unload. You do not want to leave the impression that you're bitter or angry. For one thing, it gives reason for the receiver to discount all of your feedback. In your case, that means processing your emotions ahead of time. Write down your frustrations; talk to a safe person; but approach your exit interview calmly.
Unfortunately, your genuine desire to help your manager by sharing her short fallings will most likely not be effective and could backfire.Speak generally to leaving for a more professional work environment and transformational leadership without personal details.
Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
Quote from Have Nurse
This nurse is in a powerful position. If she needs help with her addiction, she needs to get it. Your state board of nursing should be contacted for guidance.
Not a good idea to turn someone in to the board after a couple of vague comments, if they haven't been impaired at work.
We need fewer witch hunts in nursing, not more.
Last edit by Oldmahubbard on Feb 9
: Reason: missing word