Ready to leave supervising

Nurses General Nursing


I've been a night shift supervisor for 4 years off and on. The hospital where I work expects us to be an extra hand for any unit that needs it, and sometimes every unit needs a hand at once. I LOVE that part of the job! I get to go where the action is and assist with problem solving and teaching. I also love coming up with unique ideas to get us through unusal situations so family and staff both are happy.

I really don't like being the enforcer of policies, or correcting staff that are neglecting issues, or not giving 100%. I also hate it when I get called just because someone else doesn't feel like getting up off their hind end and doing the job. If I see people sitting around reading magazines when they've called me to help, or if I know they've had all night (a good night) to be ready for a busy final couple of hours I'm not inclined at all to bust my butt. I get very cranky (VERY) when that happens, and just snapped at someone last night. I don't think they deserved to be snapped at, but it had built up to "I can't do this anymore" status.

I really feel used when I know people are calling the office to see if I've sat down yet so they can call me to help. If they need help- that's cool- but if they've had a 2h break and I've been going from unit to unit all night, it's not. I go to each floor every 2 hours to see what's up, and will do housekeeping, answer bells, whatever, if they are busy. Then again I get so frustrated if I answer a bell on a slow night and find the central line dressing is half off, the room's a mess, patient needs a full linen change and scheduled meds, and I ask the nurse if they need blood drawn while I'm in there and they say, while charting at the desk, "I don't know if she has any draws this morning, look at the chart." Is it just me, or should she KNOW what her patient needs are?

Help me out folks, I think 85-90% of the time I do a great job, but I can't do everything. There's gotta be a limit on what I'm responsible for.

Nurse Ratched, RN

2,149 Posts

Specializes in Geriatrics/Oncology/Psych/College Health.

Sounds like you get taken advantage of - people are so used to you being there that they expect it. Truth be told, I don't even see the house super on our unit - she calls before shift change to make sure the census count in the computer is accurate, and that's it.

Doesn't sound like as house super you should be responsible for all this. Shouldn't the nurse manager of the individual units be responsible for staff discipline, esp ongoing problems?

Keep your chin up and get some sleep. Things generally look a little brighter for me then :).

lsyorke, RN

710 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Wound Care.

Thats why I don't do supervision anymore!! I love being a bedside nurse, responsible for me and my patients.

canoehead, BSN, RN

6,856 Posts

Specializes in ER.

I think, and the managers agree, that if I see something happening that immediate feedback is more effective than for the manager to talk to the nurses a week later. The only thing is sometimes I get so angry if the patient has been neglected, or if someone is really out of line that I am not the best feedback-giver. Plus, if they say, "I was too busy to check those vital signs again..." I perhaps will someday lose it and yell "DAMMIT! If that BP kept declining at the same rate your patient is in there DEAD right now, and that's gonna be a WHOLE LOTTA PAPERWORK for ME!"


4,516 Posts

Sounds like you are one of those special supervisors everybody loves, but the lazy ones take advantage of. I love to work with team players!! But I will not take advantage of 'em like some I know would and do. When I was a supervisor I was on the receiving end of what you describe, and it got old. I got tired of being everything to everybody, and carrying lazy and inexperienced staff who found it easier to get ME to do their work. Now I just do staff and am only responsible for my own patients...much easier on the sanity. I believe good people will burn out faster in supervisory roles. :)

Tweety, BSN, RN

33,525 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

Gee, a supervisor that actually goes to the floor and helps???? What a concept.

I hate supervision and do it only on a relief basis and let them know I'm there last resort. I dread it. It does get your goat when you ask someone to do something and the answer is "I'm too busy" and you go to the unit and their giving each other back rubs, and the patients are a mess. grrr.....

Don't have any answers, sometimes as a charge nurse I feel the same way. When my coworkers leave on time and I'm still admitting a patient they claimed they couldn't help with, it gets me angry. They think we are there for them, rather than part of a team there for the patient.

Good luck.


1 Article; 1,146 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Education.

Canoehead - I feel your pain. I supervised for a while at my hospital in Florida and can tell you that I hated every minute of it. I really liked going to the units and helping out and the patient contact, but the nurses really took advantage of me, much like you are describing. I felt like if I were ever to really be successful in the role, I had to recognize that I was indeed the supervisor and represented leadership to the hospital on the shift that I covered. I mean, we did everything ... pharmacy, problems, staffing, you name it, the supervisors did it. Anyway, I had to eleveate the position in my mind and decided that I needed to hold the units accountable for the care they were providing. If a charge nurse called me to help .... she knew that she better have a full assignment herself, or at least be out on the floor as well. Finally after a while, the nurses got the message. However, like anything else have to restate the obvious every 6 months because of turn-over.

Needless to say, I really was unhappy in that role and made a decision that I would much rather be responsible for myself rather than the actions of a bunch of nurses that really could have cared less what help I provided them, because the help I offered was simply never enough for them.

Hang in there because there are a lot of people on the board that are where you are now or have been there. :)


2,099 Posts

Specializes in Corrections, Psych, Med-Surg.

Sounds like the float pool might be the ideal place for you.

qc rn

14 Posts

Being a supervisor is an incredibly demanding and demeaning )ob. You can never make everyone happy especially yourself. I think most supervisors are perfectionists and demand there fellow workers be the same. I can say this cause this is me and I am almost always irritated at someone or something not done correctly. The best advise I was givin is Do not expect the same work from others as you would expect from yourself because this is NOT going to happen....I still feel if the supervisor does not set the example who will....Hang in do not give up..


20,964 Posts

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis.

You sound like a great supervisor ----sorry to see you are leaving; you are a rare one.

canoehead, BSN, RN

6,856 Posts

Specializes in ER.

Thanks everyone, I do feel better, after sleeping and coming back in to work for a fresh crew. I did ask my boss if she felt that maybe a designated float nurse would work for the hospital, since everyone hates to float, but they decided not. Seems deciding who would get the float when everyone was short, and whose budget the pay would come out of was too difficult to negotiate.


2 Articles; 2,806 Posts

I'm a supervisor that works 11p and 7p shifts. We tried float nurses here and it didn't work very well because some units would try to "capture" them and keep them, plus if it's quiet they don't have much to do. I'm ready to call it quits here after a year. I worked here during a 6 week strike then came on as a supervisor. So far it's 2 hours into my shift and I've nurses whining because of admits to 2 med units. It's not my fault that patients keep showing up in the ER even if the ER is on divert. Maybe I messed up 30 years ago when I started my nursing career in a trauma center and had as many as 50 patients show up per shift. Maybe I screwed up by being in a M.A.S.H. unit. Maybe I had too much fun here during the strike taking care of 7-8 patients on 7a-7p shift, sometimes having to give all their meds also. I wonder how I took breaks, lunch and never stayed overtime during this hard time. I wonder how nurses, a couple hours into their 12 hour shift, call me and say that they will need OT because they are so busy! Give me a break! Didn't something register in your little brain during nursing school that this was not going to be a piece of cake? I don't care to hear any whining for 5 minutes when I call your unit to give you a patient; I've already been there and the patient can't go back home! It's payday weekend and all your nurse buddies have called off sick; that's why you are short-handed. When did I take a sick day last...must be over 10 years now. Just went down into the bowels of the hospital to get urinals for the ER and guess what? No urinals in central supply! Management here does not want us to do any patient care. However, I've helped turn heavy patients and even helped a CNA turn most patients on her unit since she was by herself. I also help transport patients from the ER to ICU/CCU since I'm ACLS or from the floor in case of codes. I also respond to every code and get report from every floor on every patient...which I think is sometimes unnecessary and a waste of the nurses time. And one more thing...people, nurses and physicians just don't have common sense anymore. Just a few days a recent graduate was complaining that his patient had multiple complaints. She wanted her IV pole on her left side (her IV was in her right arm). The nurse was complaining that the IV line was running across her body and the patient wanted it longer. I asked him to just put an extension on it but there was none on the unit (surgical floor). He had called the IV team and the IV nurse made the patient cry. Patient was Korean and told me that the IV nurse shouted at her that she could not understand her. I had no problem understanding her. The IV nurse had grabbed the patient's IV pole and moved it to the right side of the bed, knocking the patient's eyeglasses off on the floor in the process. The patient requested to see me and I "listened" to her. She had to go to the bathroom a lot and it was closer to the left side of her bed. There was also an overhead frame on her bed so it was difficult for her to roll the IV stand around to the other side of the bed. Getting out on the right side of the bed and walking around the end of the bed in a crowed room was unnecessary. I went to central supply, got an IV extension, hooked it up and told her she could keep her IV pole on her left side. She was very happy. How many times do I have to "role model" for nurses so they don't waste their time arguing with patients? That's all for now.

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