Starting a new job is always kind of rough but I felt that this time this was a job that I would really like. I had wanted to get into Detox Nursing for several years and this was the first time that I had actually taken the plunge, applied for and accepted a position in that field. I was convinced that this was going to be a major shift for me. I was excited when I got a call to work a full-time job there. I had just finished up a contract job at another location and I felt that it was time to take on a full-time job with better benefits.
Orientation was pretty much the same as other jobs, but I have to say that this was one of the worst orientations that I have ever attended. I really got nothing out of the week I spent on day shift and felt confused after person after person paraded in pedaling their spiel of nonsense. When I was told, I was going to nights the following week, I was happy because I was more of a night shift person, but I did love their cafeteria. That was incredible and had been free all week. Of course, it was closed on night shift, and I was told to pack.
I started on Night Shift with several other employees and orientation kind of fell into a normal pattern after that. Like all workplaces, there seemed to be a clique on nights, and that didn’t bother me. I was catching onto the job, and I figured I usually stayed to myself at first anyway. I stayed in the med’s rooms for break. No one really talked to me except the managers, so I just read by myself, or didn’t take a lunch playing on the computer. All the regular nurses sat together at a particular time and ate their lunch and talked. Orientation was ending and there had been discussion the entire orientation about how none of the previous nurses who quit would work the Men’s unit because it was so heavy with medications for the med passes and they needed two nurses to work that unit. This was a problem repeatedly, and it was OK during orientation because there were two nurses, but on my first night of orientation there I was, scheduled on the Men’s unit, a new nurse- alone. I was not only irritated, but I was also angry because they had discussed it all week and did it to me anyway. The charge nurse called me that night and I hung up on her. I had already gone to pick up meds and seen her sitting playing phone games doing absolutely nothing. A Detox nurse came down and started to help me pull meds. That saved me.
Things did not get easier. I was rotated from unit to unit, and no one spoke to me. I decided if I needed Insulin for a patient, and all of the people doing admissions were sitting chit chatting, I was going to walk in and just say, “I have an Insulin”, they all looked at me like I was insane. I lost a sense of caring, they all were chit chatting, and laughing, while lines of people piled around the corner and fights broke out by my medication window. I felt alone working with seven other nurses. I didn’t even speak to then in line at the time clock. We work in the same area. It’s really hard to explain to people how hard it is to break through that social isolation, and alienation that people put you through. You are ostracized forever it feels like it until someone decides to accept you. I hate that feeling. Nurses are the worst.
Then a nurse who I started orientation with, started working in Men’s with me. She was older so I guess they thought they’d pair us up and we’d do OK together. They finally “added” a second nurse in Men’s I thought. What I didn’t know was that she had some issues during orientation that they chose to ignore. She was in fact having severe performance issues and they needed her to be in an area where she could be constantly monitored. Instead of putting her with a long-term employee, they chose to put her with me, a new hire. (I never said they were great decision makers).
She would medicate someone, and on the way back to her cart call them a “fucking asshole”, or a “dick”, or a “jackass”, you get the drift. Everyone was “something nasty”. As I was working guys by my med window heard her, and looked at me and said, “hey, what the fuck is that about?” I had no idea. I was already in this new employee socially isolated stage where people smile awkwardly, and really don’t lunch with you, or invite you to things or include you. I wanted to quit a month ago, so this was pushing me over the top. My anxiety had me wanting to puke all over my med cart, and what do you say to some ahole who is acting like that at work? “Hey Ginger, could you tone it down a little?”, Fuck NO, I don’t care what Ginger says at this point. I think I had hit a point of shock that just was beyond words. She was well aware that the patients could hear her. I was just done. I could feel me writing out my notice in my head at that moment, that night.
As traffic died down, I went to talk to the night shift manager, and told her that my second nurse was acting like a total idiot, of course she didn’t want to deal with it and told me I needed to call the director. At lunch that ahole nurse talked about her wanting to blow someone’s head off because they were a transvestite. She was such a great representative of the nursing profession….not. She is exactly who you hope you never get as a nurse. After getting through the night, I was really struggling, but then I found out that one of the nurse managers was quitting. Wonderful I thought. I know that I can fix this mess! Getting a schedule 5 days in advance, working that Men’s med room with one nurse, that clique that plays video games while the entire department is struggling!!! I knew exactly why the night shift was struggling. I called the DON and had spoken to her about my vision, and the ahole nurse.
I did get the job, implemented the changes, and that team turned into a fantastic asset as a whole. They were running like a well-oiled machine. They surprised themselves at their accomplishments, and the schedule was self-scheduled 6 weeks in advance. Manpower issues were pretty well resolved. People helped each other, were kind to each other and everyone got their work done. I was so proud at the turn around and the great customer care. But I also loved the way that they started to treat the new people, like they welcomed newcomers instead of alienating them.
· My tips to new folks- try to hang in there. If I would have thrown in the towel, I would have missed the best part.
· Think of ways you might be contributing to alienating yourself. People always thing I am really strait laced and serious because I like to pay attention and learn so much in my orientation. I need to learn how to relax a little.
· Always be your best authenticate self. It will never let you down. I won on the end and became a manager who was loved and respected even though I had only been there a short time. Being your best self is always the right thing.
· Even if you are uncomfortable, you have to report employee misconduct on that level. Your supervisor is responsible to determine the next steps. You report because it is inappropriate and borders on abuse in a clinical situation. I still cringe. I honestly thought I was going to take a bullet, but she was just a bully. She quit before she got fired, but at least she was gone.
· Quit only as a last resort- the next job will start the whole isolation all over again, then you have to ask, are you the one who isn’t open socially? You need to be able to make friends at a workplace, and get along with people.