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Your co-workers are not your friends

I learned the hard way

By sara burdickPublished 3 months ago 5 min read
Your co-workers are not your friends
Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

When I worked at the hospital, almost all my friends were nurses. We hung out after work; we went to happy hour, we all partied together. Unfortunately, it is normal nurse behavior.

As a staff nurse, you are all on the same playing field unless you are the manager or working your way up the clinical ladder, as we say.

You would notice those nurses never hung out with the regular staff, maybe a quick drink, and then they were off.

I never wondered about it until now, after years, and from what happened to me.

Staff nursing is so much different than working in a specialized unit. At one point in my career, I worked in Interventional Radiology; it is a very small unit; there were only 4 or 5 of us nurses at a time, and we had IR techs and doctors.

I thought it was like the floor; we all are friends, go out, and confide in each other, and no one ever hears about our secrets or who we secretly like or don’t like on the unit. On the floor, there were over 20 or 30 nurses, plus management, plus techs, plus a ton of doctors; IR was less, much less.

When I started working there, I liked it mainly because I did not have to do the heavy lifting, and my job was easy. It is one of the easiest nurse jobs at that particular hospital, and everyone wanted to be an IR nurse.

So lucky me. I hated the job, but I became really good friends with the other nurses, one in particular. So I stayed working there, and it was easy, and good money, why not.

We frequented happy hours almost weekly, and my new friend and I would also hang out often on the weekends. Everyone at work knew we were close, she had a few quirks that I looked back at and saw red flags, but I ignored.

I had friends outside of work, but having a work best friend makes the day much smoother.

We bitched about work, what co-workers we liked, and hated working with what doctor drove us nuts. Everyday work talk and I am easily sucked into the middle of the storm and then get all the blame.

So typically, I stayed out of trouble and gossip, but once we started drinking, you know, ¨loose lips, sink ships¨. All my secrets revealed not that I have many, but she knew which buttons to push and how to get me to talk.

It was around a year before I even got suspicious; at this point, I had decided I wanted to quit, put in my two weeks, and I was done.

Then my managers called into the office.

They wanted to make a deal; I was open to suggestions. They did not want me to leave, as I fit in, and they thought I was competent, so I negotiated. Side note: my friend wanted to go part-time but was afraid to ask.

So I told them I would stay part-time, with full-time benefits, and I wanted six weeks off to go on a planned vacation, and they agreed.

So when I told my friend, I knew she was instantly pissed; of course, she pretended she was happy, but something changed. I told her she should have asked because now she would never get part-time unless I left. Yet she said it was fine.

We continued hanging out and were friends, but one day, I got to work, and a co-worker told me to be careful what I said around her. She could not be trusted.

She was talking about me, spreading gossip about things I said or did not say, and most likely exaggerated lies. She was good at that, and I knew she did, but I wanted to see the good in her, even though my gut instinct told me from day one to be careful.

So I pulled back, but at that point, it was too late; I began to distance myself from her. But I did notice that a specific doctor stopped talking to me, except when he had to, I still, to this day, wonder what happened.

Then flu season came along.

I do not get the flu shot, but I stay healthy and rarely get sick; in the past years, if we did not get the shot, we could wear a mask at work, which I always did. So I planned on doing that again.

However, the hospital decided to make the shot mandatory, and I would not comply, so I became the enemy, the only part-timer, and now the defect.

She was mad because she would have to take more calls, and I got moved to an outpatient unit and wore a mask. In my department, we wore masks 99.9% of the time anyway; since IR is like an OR setting, we had special scrubs, always hats on hair nets, and masks.

So I was put in a super chill place, and we slowly drifted away; I think the universe was giving me an out.

It was then that I finally decided to put in my two weeks again, and this time, since I was the defacto and red flag in the department, they let me leave. I had another job anyway, which I enjoyed and made double the money.

Anyway, so now I have a rule. Work stays at work, and my friends will be made outside the workplace. You never know who has it out for you because they seem ¨nice¨ and ¨on your side¨.

I am happy my one co-worker warned me, but I wish I had seen it earlier; I did not leave on a sour note, but I still wonder what gossip she said about me; she still works there.

I have messaged her a few times when I am home to meet up, and she always ignores me. Which I think is for the best.


About the Creator

sara burdick

I quit the rat race after working as a nurse for 16 years. I now write online and live abroad, currently Nomading, as I search for my forever home. Personal Stories, Travel and History

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  • Alex H Mittelman 3 months ago

    She’s probably jealous because you’re a better nurse and smarter! Great work!

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