I hit the ground running with my resume in hand. I had decided in nursing school that I wanted to work in the hospital setting. I want to start out in medical surgical nursing, and really get a good skill set. That was the thinking when I first started nursing school. Now medical surgical nursing is it’s own specialty, which it should be! I became disappointed when I realized most hospitals around my area were not hiring LPN’s. I had to shift my focus if I wanted a job. So I started looking into long term care nursing. It wasn’t long after I applied that I was getting calls left and right. I was in demand and it felt great! I decided on a long term care establishment and accepted my first nursing job!
The realities of nursing hit like a brick. I was given 3-4 days training, which basically consisted of “here are the keys, if you have any questions come find me”. I was taking care of 20-25 patients, more if I worked the night shift. It was a complete shock. I had treatments and charting, medications, families, and cna’s to manage. It was only for 8 hours, 5 days a week, but everyday was a race just to get care done. I could really only do the bare minim for my clients, because of time. I went from thinking I was going to change the world with care and compassion, to depression and guilt. Every shift I worked I gave it 100%, and I still felt like I came up short. I was finding out that nursing school was in a protective little bubble,and I was just now being let out to see the reality of nursing. It hit hard and I didn’t want to let my family know how I was feeling, because everyone was so happy for me. I prayed and decided to stick it out, and luckily I had a senior nurse who took me under her wing, that would help me when I didn’t know what the crap I was doing! She was also a great listener. Unfortunately, the assistant director of nursing (ADON) at the time decided I was going to be her new “punching bag”, and for a year I experienced workplace intimidation, bullying, whatever you want to call it. It was hell.
This nurse would come in, and in the morning her first stop was to make me feel worthless about the day before. Other nurses witnessed this and would intervene at times, or try and distract her. She would come in and criticize my charting, how long it took me to pass medication, or anything else she could think of. I understand this is part of her job, but it went above and beyond. I sought advice from fellow nurses, on how I could improve. I was told I was doing great that this particular person just likes to pick a punching bag (especially a new nurse), and will move on shortly. Well, shortly turned into months and I had finally had it. I had asked her politely to pull me aside if there were problems (she wouldn’t), to stop cussing at me (she wouldn’t), and I even asked her if she could start off with a hello in the morning before she started into yelling ( of course she didn’t). Her response was always “I am making you into a better nurse”. So I went to her boss the director of nursing (DON). I asked if we could have a meeting and possibly discuss what had been going on. Well needless the say it didn’t go well. The ADON was yelling in the meeting and calling me a liar, and getting real defensive. Finally, the DON just asked me to leave, and she would talk to her. I returned to the floor thinking “we’ll at least she saw some of the behavior I was describing, so surly my days of darkness had to he ending”! Well, not really. The ADON actually left the meeting and come found me on the floor I was working. I was in the middle of medication pass. She stormed down the hall like a bull charging at a matador! She slammed into my med cart pushing it at least 3 feet. I was in shock. I thought this is it she is going to resort to physical violence on now. Of course there was no one around to see this. She just stuck her finger in my face and told me if I thought it was bad before, I had seen nothing yet. I ran and found my nurse friend, I was visibly shaken. She didn’t know what to do. She told me just to keep waiting it out. So my torment continued on and off for weeks, until I got a survey where I could fill out how my supervisors were doing, and it was anonymous! This not only went to the DON, but corporate. The DON had already made very clear to me she wasn’t going to do anything about it, so I unloaded in the survey.
Well, a few days went by and I came back from a break, and saw the ADON sitting at the nursing desk where I usually sit. She looked visibly upset. I went behind the desk to put my things up, and she started to interrogate me. She stated “I know you were the one who ratted me out, admit it”. Needless to say she completely lost it in front of everyone and bought herself a one way ticket out the door. She was let go, basically given the option to resign or be fired. Another words she became another organizations problem. Looking back now, I cant believe a stayed in that situation as long as I did. Hindsight, I wish I would have stood up for myself more, and maybe prevented this person from moving on and bullying other nurses. Rumor has it she did end up getting fired from the other company for the same type of behavior. I did choose to learn from this situation. I developed better coping skills, and learned to be more assertive. I wouldn’t wish this experience on any nurse new or experienced, but I chose to not let it define me, and shape my future negatively. If anyone else is experiencing this type of workplace bullying, I strongly encourage you to reach out to your supervisors, and follow the chain of command. Let your family and friends know what is happening, and if you need to, talk to a professional. Most work places offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that can help. When something like this happens it can be frightening, and you can feel alone. You are not, please don’t do what I did, and what so long to stand up for yourself, and let others know about the situation. The saying is true you have to take care of yourself, before you can take care of others. It took me years to figure that out!