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When you have a minute

Posted

How many times a shift do you hear these words as a tech?

I think a record was set my last shift with either "when you have a minute" or "I know your busy but..." It usually starts AS I'm getting report and keeps up almost continually all shift.

At one point in the middle of getting vitals I had 2 nurses at the same time come up to me and say this, then on the way to doing what one of them asked, another came up and had a "request", and then another. At one point in between dealing with vitals and glucose checks and ISCs and turns and call lights, I had 5 time consuming tasks different nurses had given me, with each expecting it to be done immediately, and all of them continually asking if it was done yet(on top of asking what peoples vitals were).

Sometimes I literally cannot walk down the hall for any significant distance without an RN asking me to do something, and im someone who doesn't need to be asked to do something that is already expected. In the middle of doing all this I had ANOTHER Nurse come up and ask if I had a minute to help them switch beds from one room to another. I said NO and kept walking, and this nurse complains to the charge Nurse.

This wouldn't be so bad if my sole job was to help out nurses as needed and I didn't have stuff to do myself that doesn't get done if I don't do it, and for which I am held responsible. It also wouldn't be as bad if the RNs who throw this stuff on techs continually were also running their butt off all shift, but that is rarely the case.

This is why I have said many times that every RN should not be viewed as your boss, as I've seen some RNs on here claim. They have no idea what your workload is and what else you have going on, and most have never been techs or CNAs. The level of multitasking a tech on some units has to do far exceeds what RNs experience. Yes they have the final say on THEIR patients, but if you treated every RN on your floor as being in charge of you, you would drown every shift, mistakes would be made, and patient care would suffer. I've seen it happen to new techs.

Pangea Reunited, ASN, RN

Has 6 years experience.

Communicate and prioritize. It's not appropriate to tell your nurse, "No." and walk off. It's also not appropriate for nurses to tell patients, families, CNAs, doctors, other departments, etc. "No." and walk off. What we can say is, "I'm giving 316 medication for pain right now, I can be there in five minutes." I would LOVE to have one or two things to do at a time, but that's not realistic.

"The level of multitasking a tech on some units has to do far exceeds what RNs experience."

That's just crazy talk! Only a very small portion of what can be done for each patient can be delegated to a CNA. The work an RN does may not be as psychical and observable, but it's definitely there. As a student nurse, my perception was that techs did all the work and nurses just sort of sat around. Now that I actually do the job, I realize I was way off on that one!

brattygrl

Specializes in Peds critical care. Has 15 years experience.

I remember days like that as a tech. Some nurses are very very content to sit around doing nothing while delegating everything possible to a tech. It was so bad at one point I actually walked off the job.

That's why as a nurse, I refuse to deligate/ask a tech for help without clearly stating what I am doing as well.

How many patients do you have and how many nurses are you assigned with? Seems like a lot of nurses to be deligating to just one tech, if ya ask me.

THELIVINGWORST, ASN, RN

Specializes in Public Health. Has 4 years experience.

Communicate and prioritize. It's not appropriate to tell your nurse, "No." and walk off. It's also not appropriate for nurses to tell patients, families, CNAs, doctors, other departments, etc. "No." and walk off. What we can say is, "I'm giving 316 medication for pain right now, I can be there in five minutes." I would LOVE to have one or two things to do at a time, but that's not realistic.

"The level of multitasking a tech on some units has to do far exceeds what RNs experience."

That's just crazy talk! Only a very small portion of what can be done for each patient can be delegated to a CNA. The work an RN does may not be as psychical and observable, but it's definitely there. As a student nurse, my perception was that techs did all the work and nurses just sort of sat around. Now that I actually do the job, I realize I was way off on that one!

And I was a CNA for five years before becoming an RN. Being a nurse is wayyyyy more difficult and complicated than you will ever know. There's a saying: you don't know what you don't know.

RedInScrubs, ASN, RN

Specializes in Medical-Surgial, Cardiac, Pediatrics. Has 3 years experience.

Communicate and prioritize. It's not appropriate to tell your nurse, "No." and walk off. It's also not appropriate for nurses to tell patients, families, CNAs, doctors, other departments, etc. "No." and walk off. What we can say is, "I'm giving 316 medication for pain right now, I can be there in five minutes." I would LOVE to have one or two things to do at a time, but that's not realistic.

"The level of multitasking a tech on some units has to do far exceeds what RNs experience."

That's just crazy talk! Only a very small portion of what can be done for each patient can be delegated to a CNA. The work an RN does may not be as psychical and observable, but it's definitely there. As a student nurse, my perception was that techs did all the work and nurses just sort of sat around. Now that I actually do the job, I realize I was way off on that one!

All this.

I also didn't realize how little responsibility I had a a CNA until I became an RN. After graduating, I ate every single word I ever had against the RNs and the idea that I did more work. I may have done a lot of physical labor, but I was the person to carry out the lowest-level tasks, and the RNs were truly the managers with so much more complex aspects of care on their plates.

Communicate and prioritize. It's not appropriate to tell your nurse, "No." and walk off. It's also not appropriate for nurses to tell patients, families, CNAs, doctors, other departments, etc. "No." and walk off. What we can say is, "I'm giving 316 medication for pain right now, I can be there in five minutes." I would LOVE to have one or two things to do at a time, but that's not realistic.

I was asked a direct question and gave a direct honest answer. I didn't yell or get snappy. I simply said no. I wasn't about to give yet another promise because I had way too much else going on, and what she was asking would take longer than a minute(like the previous 3 "do you have a minute" requests). There were plenty of other Nurses standing/sitting around talking about non nursing stuff and I was heading into a room to suction a patient after having a family member frantically plead with me that the patient needed it NOW, while another Nurse I agreed to help was waiting for me in an isolation room AND I had just received a page that an admission had arrived.

I was also having to clean up the mess from the previous tech, who had been drowned by the RNs and fallen hopelessly behind and left me with a ton of stuff that was supposed to already be done, including a couple q6 bladder scans and ISCs that were now going on q8 and several overdue q2 turns from continuously incontinent patients(One of them the isolation room the RN was demanding I immediately help her).

I was assigned to 13 patients, with 5 different RNs assigned to them in answer to another question. Since all this started at shift change a couple of the when you have a minute requests were actually from Nurses whose shift was ending.

danceyrun

Specializes in Oncology.

Also remember that just because the nurse isn't "running around like crazy" doesn't mean he or she is not busy. Charting is a bia and you don't realize how much more there is of that when you are a tech (this is coming from a former PCT so believe me when I say I have felt your pain in the past).

Also remember that just because the nurse isn't "running around like crazy" doesn't mean he or she is not busy. Charting is a bia and you don't realize how much more there is of that when you are a tech (this is coming from a former PCT so believe me when I say I have felt your pain in the past).

When you have long frequent conversations in the break room not sitting in front of a computer, or showing someone a youtube video, or checking your cell phone, you aren't THAT busy. Sorry.

Just to give you an example with ONE patient. I did all vitals, their q2 turns, I cleaned them up when they were incontinent, I fed the patient, I did their bed bath, I cathed them, I answered probably 90% of their call lights, I drew labs on them, Checked their blood sugar, weighed them, put them on a bed pan several times, and moved them to and from a chair with another tech. The Nurse probably went in their room a few times all shift, I was in there constantly, and I'm the one with 12 other patients, not 1 or 2. Yeah im sure they did some stuff im not aware of with the patient, but not THAT much more.

At one point during the shift I was trying to sort out with another Nurse whether or not an NG container was marked and recorded right by the previous tech, because she was about to page the doc about it(see what happens when you swamp a tech so badly their charting is a mess). In the minute we stood there trying to figure it out like 3 RNs interrupted us to ask me to do something, the RN actually snapped at the last one and asked if it was always like this.

Edited by funtimes

Ill also add that while the tech may not know everything the Nurse has going on, that has little effect on the RNs. Its not like were the ones telling them to do stuff. Whats important is whether the charge Nurse knows what that RN has going on, and they do generally. They decide the assignment for the RN based on the workload, and they work the floor as an RN and maybe even took care of some of the same patients, so they know whats realistic and what isn't.

In terms of the techs assignments the charges typically have no clue, and to be honest its not even an afterthought. As I mentioned earlier probably MOST of the charge nurses(or unit managers) were never techs. Or they were Nurse aides for such a short time and so long ago that their experience is outdated and incomplete. This is one of the frustrating things about being a tech, because you have people deciding your workload who have no idea what your workload actually is, or even what a normal patient load would be.

brattygrl

Specializes in Peds critical care. Has 15 years experience.

Doesn't sound like a very tech friendly environment. I'm sorry.

Some nurses will truly never understand what it's like to be in that position....

If management is not open to working on a solution to this problem (including talking to nurses about techs being allowed to politely turn down requests for help when they're busy and more involvement from nurses in "tech duties"), you may want to find a place that would appreciate the help.

THELIVINGWORST, ASN, RN

Specializes in Public Health. Has 4 years experience.

All I'm saying is that I've done your job and it's not an easy job but still nothing in comparison to being a nurse. You all need to sit down and figure out what really needs to be done by techs and what should be done by nursing.

Bladder scans, suctioning and blood sugars really shouldn't be delegated to techs IMHO. Especially with such high acuity pts. You would be better able to meet the needs of your pts if they lightened the load a bit.

As a nurse, there is nothing worse than having pt care to do while you are waiting for a Dr phone call. Or stuck in another room, etc. Just like you can't be everywhere at once, neither can we.

I have been a tech, if a Nurse asked me to do something that I could not I would respond with a simple explanation, but not a "no". If you see a Nurse that assigned you with 5 tasks sitting down in the break room shopping on their phone (while not on break), kindly go up and say "Excuse me, I did not have time to do X, but I see you have a moment, I just wanted you to know so you could handle it." I do not have techs in the CCU that I work in, but I have to agree with the others that an RNs shift is much busier, and more stressful than the techs work. The RN sitting behind the desk, might be waiting for a Doctor to call for a STAT order. The RN that barely came into the patient's room, might be spending 90% of her shift in her other patient's room or on the phone with consults. Just because you appear to be doing nothing, does not mean things are not getting done.

If you see a Nurse that assigned you with 5 tasks sitting down in the break room shopping on their phone (while not on break), kindly go up and say "Excuse me, I did not have time to do X, but I see you have a moment, I just wanted you to know so you could handle it."

I can tell you right now that if I said those exact words it would probably go down considerably less well than simply saying no, as it would be seen as accusatory and confrontational. Also, to be fair I didn't say no after being asked to do something, I said no after being asked if I had time to do something, there is a difference.

As for the earlier suggestion that techs shouldn't have to do glucose checks. It would be nice, but good luck convincing them that we shouldn't have to do a simple non invasive procedure that lay people routinely do. Its not the glucose checks, or any other single task that is the killer though, its the countless things that get added to that by patients and nurses.

The single most time consuming thing we do is probably taking people to and from the bathroom and BSC, which inevitably happens as were trying to get through vitals. Gotta love when the confused ultra slow moving heavy set fall risk patient with an NG tube, a couple chest tubes, assorted lines and drains, a nasal cannula, a walker, and a foley, insists on getting up and trying to have a BM at the worst possible time, while the sea of family hovering and getting in your way insists grandma then go for a walk( or better yet the RN suggests it). Try doing that in every 3rd room while trying to get through a dozen or more set of vitals, while several nurses say when you get done I need you to (insert extremely time consuming task here), and wondering aloud where the damn tech disappeared to now.

Edited by funtimes

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

Interesting, because in my work place, it's the tech who spends the entire shift watching movies on the computer, playing with their cellphone, chatting with their friends and taking "breaks" from all the stress of the aforementioned. If you ask them to do something (assuming that you can find them to ask them, because every time we discover a hiding place, they find a new one) they'll tell you no. "That's not my patient" or "You can do that by yourself" or "You're singled. You don't need help." We're in the process of a clean sweep -- getting rid of all of these techs and hiring new ones that will be socialized to work first and not play unless all the work is done. It's very stressful.

duskyjewel

Specializes in hospice.

funtimes, you're giving me bad memories of the 7 months I spent on a tele unit in the hospital. Your posts sound exactly like most of my nights.

To the people insisting this tech has no idea what he's talking about or that he must be exaggerating, we can tell the difference between a nurse who is charting, pulling meds, etc. and one who is facebooking on her phone or shopping for a vacation or the latest Coach bag on her workstation. We do walk through the nurse's station while running around trying to attend to our 13 or 14 high acuity patients, and we can SEE the little blue square with the f in it, or the tropical island and Travelocity logo on the screen. We may be less educated, but we're not blind or stupid.

SubSippi

Has 2 years experience.

While you are undoubtedly very busy, you are there to help. It doesn't make sense for a nursing assistant to be upset with nurses who are asking for their assistance.

I'm not implying that you're lazy, or that you're not actually overworked. Only that your frustration may be misplaced.

While you are undoubtedly very busy, you are there to help. It doesn't make sense for a nursing assistant to be upset with nurses who are asking for their assistance.

Here is what people apparently aren't getting. We are held responsible for what isn't done, what isn't charted, and what isn't done right. Our charting is audited. Some nurses seem to think hey we just float around helping out as needed. What's the big deal if they give you more work, that's what you're there for.

Problem is these same nurses saying you got a minute, are the same ones that will freak out at the end of the shift if every little thing wasn't charted. It also doesn't fly to say sorry I didn't chart it because in between doing it and trying to get to a computer several nurses and a patient grabbed me to do something else. Nurses have to deal with constant distractions as well, but with 5 times as many patients its magnified for us. For every time an RNs pager goes off, mine probably goes off 5-10 times.

Guess what happens when something goes wrong and something wasn't charted? The tech is getting thrown under the bus. I've seen it happen to other techs. If one of the patients im assigned to goes south the first thing I usually think is oh crap what didn't I chart or do on this person, because believe me, the RN is gonna make sure others are aware of that. I make sure I dot my Is and cross my Ts, like most experienced techs do. That's how I've lasted this long doing this job. The problem is that it becomes extremely difficult when every shift is this non stop deluge of call lights and "u got a minute"s.

duskyjewel

Specializes in hospice.

And that's exactly why I ditched the hospital. I hope to never work in one again. People talk about hospital jobs like they are the end all, be all of nursing and you must get one. Been there, done that, burned the t-shirt. Hospice gives me a good paycheck and nurtures my spirit, and I work on an actual team where we all work together to CARE for patients, not just do things TO them.