I'm still a fairly new nurse, about two years into my career. I've been at my current job for almost 3 months, off orientation for the last three weeks. Needless to say, I didn't encounter every single possible thing that I might need to know during my orientation period, so I still have quite a few questions for my more experienced coworkers when it comes to skills that i haven't done at our facility. The expectation is that if we are doing something for the first time (even after being off orientation), we will grab a more experienced coworker to talk us through the skill and sign us off on our competency checklist before we do it on our own.
The majority of my co-workers are fantastic and more than happy to take a few minutes to help the newbies. There are quite a few of us on the unit who very recently came off orientation, so I get that it can be overwhelming sometimes if you're constantly being pulled away from your own patients to help someone else. The charge nurse who I was working with during this particular episode that has me feeling kinda crummy is a very nervous and easily frustrated individual. She doesn't handle unexpected very calmly and was tense and jumpy for the bulk of our shift the other night due to some staffing changes and some issues with a few of the patients on the unit. So she was already on edge before the shift even started.
So a few nights ago, I had a patient pass away toward the end of my shift. I've dealt with this before in different facilities, but I was unfamiliar with the protocol for my current unit. It was an expected death, so I had just been providing comfort care for the patient until they quietly passed. After confirming absence of vital signs, I notified the charge nurse and told her that I would need help as this was my first time dealing with a patient death at our facility. I asked her where I could find the checklist for this (as I had seen one out on the unit another time, so I knew it existed) and she replied that it wasn't necessary, then rattled off an incomplete list of what needed to be done. She picked up the phone and called a few people to notify them of the event (without telling me who she was calling), and told me that I needed to wait for the MD to pronounce the death before we could do anything else. I again asked where I could find the list of tasks that needed to be completed and she replied with "For heaven's sake, haven't you ever dealt with a patient death before?" I said "Yes, but not at this facility. I know in general what needs to be done, but I don't know the protocol HERE."
I know that she was having a stressful evening, but her lack of assistance made it very difficult for me to do my job properly. Thankfully the family was very understanding and patient when I honestly answered their questions about what would happen next with "I'm not sure exactly what the procedure is here because I'm still new to this unit, but I'll let you know as soon as I find out." Still, it was a lot of running back and forth because I was flying blind by the seat of my pants with so little assistance. I did eventually find the checklist that I had seen before, so that helped somewhat. But there were still things on the checklist that I was unfamiliar with, and when I tried to clarify those things with the charge nurse she gave me answers that were different from what was on the checklist. I simply did not feel confident that I was doing things correctly because of all of the conflicting information I was getting and I could tell that she was getting more and more stressed/irritated with each question I asked. I said "I'm sorry, I know you're really busy tonight and you don't have time for this, but I need to make sure that I'm doing this correctly. This is my first time dealing with this here." She threw up her hands, made a sigh of disgust, and walked away.
OK, so that was mostly a vent session but I'll welcome any suggestions for dealing with a co-worker who doesn't want to answer questions from a newer nurse. Again, the majority of my co-workers are great and approachable if I need help. I could see where it would be bothersome if I was asking for help with things that I had done several times before, or asking for help with every single little thing. I try to utilize my own critical thinking skills before I bug someone, so I'm not asking questions every hour on the hour or because I'm too lazy to find the information on my own. After this experience with this particular charge nurse, I'm honestly a little afraid to approach her if I have other questions. It may just be that she is not a good resource when she's also doing charge duties, so maybe I'll make her my last resort from this point forward. I must be getting tougher because while it rattled me a little that she was rude to me, I didn't take it personally or as an indication that I was incompetent for not knowing exactly what to do the first time. Still, I'll take any feedback for how to handle people like this in the future.