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Seasoned with Sage
Dragged Down by Unprofessionalism

When I first graduated nursing school 25 years ago I started out on an adult Med/Surg unit. Because I worked as a nurse aide during school in the float pool, I knew many of the nurses on that floor to begin with. However, by the time I started there was a different nurse manager (back then "head nurse") and some newer faces.

The head nurse was one of those power-hungry, self-important people who used her position as a stepping stone, not to improve the unit. One nurse - who graduated from nursing school six months before I did - seemed charming and welcoming…at first.

As time went by in those early months, the head nurse was demanding and would dress you down in front of everyone if you didn't step up your game. It's kind of difficult to do that when you are the least experienced person on the team with the most difficult assignment on the floor!

But, she left for another department, and our next head nurse was a great advocate for our team and made many positive changes. I felt I grew as a nurse; it was a positive experience with her at the helm. Unfortunately, she left after having a child and another head nurse came on board.

The next head nurse was a nice person, was a year ahead of me in nursing school and everyone liked her. However, she was NOT management material. She would pander to both sides of the fence (her staff and her superiors). I did not feel supported or encouraged and found it difficult to have any respect for this person in her position.

As for the "little darling" who was on the floor when I got there - yeah, sure, she was fun and exciting and pretty darn smart. But watch out: if you out-shined her in any capacity, you had to watch your back. She was the one who got all the rich patients, barely showed up in the poor patients' rooms, and was the master at back-biting and sabotage. She got me one time by calling me hours after my shift to let me know that I did not take any care of a person all day that was on my assignment. I could swear that person was not on my assignment. When I got in the next day I looked at the assignment sheet (done by hand in pencil); sure enough, the assignment had been altered and that patient's room number was under my name. Hmmmm....

When that person left to go to an outpatient department, and her little shadows went to other facilities or departments, things brightened. I was told I was one of the best nurses on the floor, was sought out to preceptor senior student nurses, assisted w/ administrative stuff, and mentored new staff/agency workers. My confidence soared.

But, it was painfully obvious in that facility that the only way to better your position was to be someone's pet or leave all together. It wasn't what you knew, it was WHO you knew that got you a place in another department.

Unfortunately, I left that facility because I cried when I got up to go to work, cried when I was at work, and cried when I got home. I was no longer effective. I now work for a major health insurance company where nurses are a valuable commodity—and opportunity abounds.

As for nursing being a "profession" - it is a profession. It's just dragged down by those who act in an unprofessional manner. I wish they'd grow up and get a clue!

Read more Seasoned with Sage articles

2 Responses to “Dragged Down by Unprofessionalism”

  1. Carolyn Gbur Says:

    I also graduated from nursing school and went straight to a med surg floor. I love my job, but quickly found out that I was not there to make friends. Don’t get me wrong, I respect many of the nurses that I work with, but you also have the ones that eat their young. I have been a nurse for a little over two years now. When someone new comes onto the floor, I see them as a team player, and that is what I want them to be. It amazes me, that some nurses will not help them out, and act bothered or indifferent with a new nurse, when she/he is in need of something. I vowed when I graduated that I would never forget being a student nurse, and would always respect the up and coming. I will never forget what that felt like, and wish that many would take the time to think about that aspect of it. It is supposed to be all about taking care of our patients to the best of our ability, as a team when needed. It is like every other job. You have some that are in it for the money and some that love what they do.

  2. truedat Says:

    It is sad but true, yes there are nurses out there like that, it’s not a myth they do exist. The best thing you can do as a new nurse is endure for a short period, develop your skills, get as much experience as you can without losing your passion or yourself in the process, by that I mean become bitter. Then just be be your own nurse, go where you want, when you want if that’s what you want to do. Try to make the most out of each experience take what you can from it, and move on. Live and learn, don’t stagnate and wilt. Don’t let negative people hold you back or shred your dreams, Infact don’t even let them know they bother you, even if you hate them. If they call you at home, don’t answer it or at least listen to the message first to see if it’s something serious worth your time, and if it’s not well they can talk to you back at the office, or worse if they call you when your sleeping, well then their just taking their lives in their own hands, I can’t be held accountable for what might be said while I am half awake. Why feed a power hungry monster, food. Leave a message at the tone BEEEEEP:> Trust me, the walls won’t collapse when you leave, as they would like you to believe.

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