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What do you do when admin doesn't have your back?

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by SnowDark38 SnowDark38, BSN (New Member) New Member

SnowDark38 has 3 years experience as a BSN and works as a School RN.

347 Visitors; 10 Posts

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I'm going to preface this by saying this is my 3rd year out of nursing school and my first year as a full-time school nurse. I was a substitute school nurse for 1/2 of the year in 2018 and was offered a job at a school that...suspiciously lost 12 teachers, their nurse, and an old secretary to other schools. The Principal has only been with the school for 2 years now and the AP came on halfway through last spring. I have no idea what happened to the old AP. 

I was highly demanded by some of the more prominent schools in the district as a sub. I long-term subbed at one school for 6 months and I was told that I needed to come back and sub for them every time. It was just an amazing experience and I worked with staff who were fully supportive and experienced. And when I first came into my current school, things went pretty well. My numbers were high, but I attributed that to the inexperience of the teachers. I would send out emails with tips on helping students with common ailments outside of the health suite and whatnot. And overall, I was told I was doing a good job by the AP. I had a few hiccups here and there, but after a while, the true face of the school started to show. 

My principal started by requesting that I call all parents for every visit to "save" myself "from the trouble," which I and my supervisor explained to her was not feasible, but I would attempt to call more often. More time went by and I come to find out she made multiple complaints against me to my supervisor for situations outside of my control and somewhat due to my own lack of experience. I've been trying to adapt and meet her expectations, but I've been thrown under the bus so many times that I don't feel that I can trust my principal to have my back.

i.e. today I sent a student back to class after observing and checking them out after getting knocked on the head with the stall door in the bathroom 15 minutes. Student denied HA/SA/dizziness/somnolence and stated feeling better. Teacher contacted parent 10 minutes later and the parent contacted me literally moments before I got around to making the phone call home due to an altercation that came in that I had to address and call home for. Teacher told parent she was sleeping in class and about the head injury. I literally picked up the phone and was like "oh, hi so and so, I was just about to call you. Blah blah blah came in because she hit her head on the....what? Sleepy? No one told me this. Let me go find her, I'm going to recommend a pickup w/ f/u." Mom was already on her way per the teacher's request. Couldn't find the student because teacher had dropped her off to lunch (sleepy eh?) and then had picked her class back up after calling mom and walked the student to the front office for dismissal. She did not speak to me once. So I went to address the situation with the principal first because I am trying to improve my communication with her. I'm the one who got in trouble and was told: "This is what I heard happened." Proceeds to tell me details I had not heard from the teacher (bruise on the kids forehead) and then she said "the teachers are just going to keep overstepping you if this keeps happening." She didn't even mention correcting the teacher or that not telling me about the student was wrong.

I know I could have worked on communicating with the teacher...but it goes both ways. My health suite was extremely busy and I could barely get around to calling parents because of the constant flow coming into the health suite, today especially with all the fights.

Every time there is a complaint about something from a teacher, I always end up getting these emails late at night saying "you did such and such....and it was wrong." My anxiety keeps going up because of these. I get to work every day scared that she's trying to get me fired or that I'm going to do something wrong. There's just this constant lack of feedback and I'm too scared to talk to her because I can tell she doesn't like me...or maybe I'm wrong. I hope I'm wrong.

How have you handled difficult administrators in the past, or currently? I need wisdom. My supervisor is very laid back and doesn't really offer me good advice. Stories of your own experiences are also welcome. I learn well through example.

 

(P.S. I'm sorry if this is really jumbled. My brain is just fried and I'm kind of falling apart.)

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SaltineQueen works as a School Nurse.

1 Follower; 5,764 Visitors; 713 Posts

My principals have always been very supportive of me, so I'm no help there.  I'm sorry you're being questioned and admonished so often.  Honestly, it doesn't sound like it's worth it.  I'd call the other corporation & let them know you'll be available to them again in 2 weeks.  Then I'd tell your supervisor thanks for the opportunity, but you're out.  In a nicer way, though.

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OldDude works as a School Nurse.

7 Followers; 1 Article; 28,834 Visitors; 4,756 Posts

First of all...I read your entire post which is unusual for me for such a long one but since you're one of "US" I sacrificed my attention several neurons for you!!

I offer my "duck or run" advice. You're only choice is to stay or go. You will not change the culture of your campus so don't stress or waste the energy to even contemplate such nonsense. You are the outsider in that tribe and, for the most part, you will remain in that role. 

Back to "duck or run." If you can't let such irritants as you describe roll off like "water on a duck's back" your only option is to leave. In your situation, YOU are the only one who can facilitate change. 

If the kids are safe, and your supervisor is happy with you, who cares? It's kinda like a bunch of barking chihuahuas...if you stand in the yard long enough they'll get tired and shut up after a while. So, if you like your "job" stand your ground, be consistent, and your campus will eventually accept it and move on. But, if you are going to haul all this baggage home every day with you and sit around wringing your hands over it I recommend you seek employment elsewhere. When I get miffed at school nursing, I often think about 12 hour shifts, nights, weekends, holidays, and the "grind" associated with that and think, "I'm good. Never mind." 

Best of luck to you. Keep us informed.

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ruby_jane has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN.

3 Followers; 7,980 Visitors; 2,264 Posts

What are your options for next year? Teachers usually get better this time of year (they're too tired to do anything else).

While I agree with OD...if you have another option in the district the running looks quite attractive.

Final thought: Have an 8x11 notepad and write it all down. Speak to your supervisor about speaking to the principal (apparently the chain of command is not working and you need to go above).

Best of luck!!

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1,361 Visitors; 291 Posts

I think you're realizing why they suspiciously lost 12 teachers, their nurse, secretary (and probably AP) to other schools. 

The culture won't change. Personally, I'd be out. No way would I stay in an environment that isn't going to support me and my professional decisions. If they don't have your back with the silly little things, they certainly won't have your back with the big things. Lots of positions are posted this time of year, start looking.

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NutmeggeRN has 25 years experience as a BSN and works as a HS Nurse.

2 Followers; 5 Articles; 42,165 Visitors; 3,720 Posts

My favorite line is

"In my best professional judgement, based on the inforamtion I had at the time".

In a calm, quiet voice, has been effective.

 

Good luck!

Edited by NutmeggeRN
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Blue_Moon has 18 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a Registered Nurse.

1 Article; 4,927 Visitors; 471 Posts

Oh dear! I'm SO sorry! Yes, this has happened to me but not to this extent. You're being undermined a lot. Why in the world did the teacher not call you and say they are sleeping so can you look at them again instead of just calling the parent which takes more effort and time? Apparently at that school teachers are used to calling the shots and getting their way. The principal is not helping this situation at all and is actually making it worse.

First, I would call off for a couple days. I'm dead serious. It's amazing how much more they appreciate you when you're gone and they've been left to their own defenses or a sub who isn't familiar with things. 

Then, I'd send an email to the entire staff that's firm. I'd say something like there has been some confusion and situations that do not make the school look like we are working as a team. My first priority is making sure the kids are safe and healthy enough to be in school. I'd like to offer some guidelines to help. I promise I'm not ignoring the kid's ailments but I assess based on how they are presenting in my office which is not always how they present in class. If I send them back it means I have deemed them well enough to return but circumstances can change. If their condition gets worse like in the case of a head injury please call me immediately so I can call provide emergency care if needed until the parent can pick up their child and do an incident report. (That way they realize you aren't just washing your hands of the situation.) I'd also say please be aware many kids at this age like to try to get out of school when not really sick so if certain kids start complaining of being sick all the time then no matter how good of an actor they are, they will not be allowed to go home unless fevered or witnessed vomiting. Things like that and address things teachers have complained about so they will know where you're coming from. I think if you reassure them you have things under control they will feel better. 

Thirdly, I'd try to transfer schools if you can. I've worked in many schools over the years and some just have a bad culture and you have found one. However if you can't I think communicating better until the teachers trust you will be important. Yes it shouldn't be like this but it is and you can't change that. Don't let anyone walk all over you. Stand up for yourself. They may try to bully you out but they really can't force you out for these things. 

It  may be a good idea to have your supervisor and you sit down with the principal and hash out what is reasonable. Good luck!

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SnowDark38 has 3 years experience as a BSN and works as a School RN.

347 Visitors; 10 Posts

Thank you all for your responses. I know it was a really long post 😅 and I really do appreciate you all taking the time to peruse and respond. I do get an option to transfer, but my school system requires two years of service at a school before you can transfer out. 

I will definitely have to speak with my principal regarding these matters. My supervisor has encouraged me to speak with her and the AP on my own, but I am very nervous because when I've done that in the past, they turned the conversation on me and made more demands. BUT I know I can use this as a time for growth. I will keep y'all posted. Thank you again!

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ruby_jane has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN.

3 Followers; 7,980 Visitors; 2,264 Posts

1 hour ago, SnowDark38 said:

 

I will definitely have to speak with my principal regarding these matters. My supervisor has encouraged me to speak with her and the AP on my own, but I am very nervous because when I've done that in the past, they turned the conversation on me and made more demands. BUT I know I can use this as a time for growth. I will keep y'all posted. Thank you again!

Nah. It's past speaking to them on your own. S/he needs to come in and back you up.

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1,361 Visitors; 291 Posts

Just remember to write all of your thoughts down, that way you won't forget anything you want to address.

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OyWithThePoodles has 10 years experience as a RN and works as a Registered Nurse.

1 Follower; 11,657 Visitors; 1,250 Posts

I've lacked support from admins at times, but not to the extent that you mention. I am so sorry you are going through this. 

Agree with others, do not talk with them without your supervisor. Also, keeping a log of the ways they are undermining you may give you a bit of leverage on transferring earlier. 

As far as the rest, teachers need to know they cannot overstep you and contact parents, it really does look bad. I tell mine "if you truly believe something isn't right, I will listen, but you have to come to me first, not the parent. Then we can discuss why I made my decision and why you are concerned."

You will have to stand your ground, while you are in the principals "house", she is not your boss, the district health coordinator is your boss and the good thing is she has your back. So standing your ground and telling them that you are the medical professional in the building, and them not letting you do your job is putting them at risk for liability is necessary. Also, contacting every parent is NOT possible, it just isn't. And it's stupid to think it is. The worst thing that can happen by you firmly, but respectfully standing your ground is the principals requests you transfer, win-win. BUT DO NOT COMMUNICATE WITHOUT YOUR SUPERVISOR THERE, that way your words can't be twisted. 

Best of luck, friend. 

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OyWithThePoodles has 10 years experience as a RN and works as a Registered Nurse.

1 Follower; 11,657 Visitors; 1,250 Posts

Also, you could be a little bit petty and any time you are in the classroom and something isn't going right, you could call the parent and let them know that while you were in the classroom, this is what you observed. This is pretty much what the teachers are doing with you and it has to stop. 

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