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Terrible Unit Politics, Please help!


Hello everyone!

I'm hoping I can get some help. I started in the NICU about 8 weeks ago, my first nursing job. My first preceptor was terribly mean, demeaning all my questions and being very short and abrasive when I did something wrong or didn't chart something. After 2 weeks of this, crying during shifts and dreading work, I asked for another preceptor. The only person management could think to pair me with was a 2 yr nurse who had never precepted before. I felt everything was going well, I was learning and gradually getting the hang of things. After a particularly stressful and overwhelming assignment, the second preceptor seemed to give up on me. At the end of that shift the PCC asked to speak with me in her office. I was told that things aren't working and I would be meeting with the unit manager the next morning. I was given a wonderful nurse to work with and a fairly easy assignment that night. Come the next morning, I step into the manager's office and am told "so, I've been hearing a lot of things about you and none of them are good". I was completely taken aback. As a new graduate, I expected the seasoned nurses and staff to help me learn, and teach me what is needed. The manager was very harsh in her discussion, mentioning that they have 90 days, then can drop me without question. Yet, still said that if I would like to pursue this, they are willing to work with me on the issues. The next shift, I am placed with a nurse who says "they expect you to be doing everything for this patient tonight" The infant had a trach and g-tube, both which I've worked with during clinicals but not during orientation, and not on an infant. I did well and had help from RT and other specialties but the nursing staff was incredibly rude towards me. Later that night I found out the first preceptor had gone around room to room and told people something about why I was not working with her anymore; she has yet to say another word to me.

I have an interview with the pediatric department of the same hospital (dream job).

How do I handle this? What do I tell the pediatric manager?

Thank you!

First off, it is a tough gig to work in NICU. There's got to be some sort of wall up, a certain personality associated with a nurse as a nurse dealing with very ill infants. In other words, who you work with may and most likely are a completely different person in "real life" outside of the hospital. NICU nurses need to be guarded, as if not, everyone would be a puddle after about 5 minutes I am sure.

With that being said, focus on your patient, not on the nursing personality of co-workers. Your goal is to learn clinical skills. Not to dwell on someone's presentation of same. However, your manager would need to be more specific in what is meant by "none of it is good". A timelined, written improvement plan would be a way to accomplish this.

If you are interviewing, I would be clear in that NICU as a specialization is complex and multi-tiered. That you learned as many clinical skills as possible given the complex nature of the unit. That your preference is a pediatric population, that was made clearer during your time in NICU. I would not bash policy, I would not bash co-workers or your manager. I would focus on what you did learn, and how you can apply those skills moving forward. If the manager you are interviewing with is then speaking with your current manager and the "not good things" is brought up, I would be clear that you are more than willing to show compentecy, that a plan for improvement was not given, however, you are willing to learn and improve on anything that you may not be efficient in. Your ultimate goal is to be a good nurse in practice, and a valued member of the unit team.

Best wishes and let us know how it goes!!


Has 6 years experience.

ICU nurses in general tend to be ridiculous (I struck gold with my unit). I would look into a transfer. You're not going to get what you need from those nurses or an extremely negative manager like that.

NicuGal, MSN, RN

Specializes in NICU, PICU, PACU. Has 30 years experience.

You say she "gave up" on you. What exactly do you mean? Usually the newer girls are a bit more forgiving so I think there is something more. How is your time management, basic knowledge, are you studying on your own and looking up policies? Some NICUs have a rough culture unfortunately. But always take the bulls by the horns. Did you ever sit down with the manager or CNS before you got this far and had so many issues? I don't mean to sound harsh, but every now and again we get someone who is struggling, didn't have a good fit with their preceptor but they had yet to take a good look at how they came across to other people.

And as for the transfer, look at hospital policy, you may not be able to transfer until you have been in your current position for so much time, or even not at all if you are still in orientation.

I hope things end up looking up for you!