Monday, June 29, 2009

I'm ready for my exit interview, Mister DeMille; or, Don't Ask If You Don't Wanna Know

"Why are you leaving?"

It's a question I get asked on a daily (at least) basis. Do you really want to know?

It's because, when I asked not to be assigned to a patient who'd been sexually aggressive with me and harassed me both verbally and physically, I was told I couldn't refuse an assignment....yet Manglement did nothing to protect me or the other nurses from that winner.

It's because, when I go into the clean supply room, I can no longer count on finding the things I need to take basic care of a patient. In the name of saving money, we now don't have enough urinals. Or bedpans. Or bandages. Or catheters. Apparently, we were being entirely too profligate with our Foleys.

It's because, though I've worked on the same unit for seven years, Friends of Manglement get preference for assignments, vacation requests, and scheduling. 

It's because, in the name of saving money, Manglement has reduced our staffing to unsafe levels.

It's because, if a patient or a patient's family member has a complaint about a nurse/care aide/cleaning person, that complaint is taken seriously and the response is punitive. Conversely, if a nurse/care aide/cleaning person has a problem with a patient or "guest", even if that problem extends to threats of violence, "customer service" techniques are used to "resolve the issue", and the professional person's concerns are belittled.

It's because I'm tired of fighting every single damn day to be able to care for my patients in a safe way. It's because I'm tired of getting saddled with six or seven patients of varying acuities because the staffing office says that's how it ought to be. I'm tired of big decisions being made for the acute-care units by people who live on carpet and haven't worked a 12-hour shift at the bedside in twenty years. It's because I'm sick to my eyeteeth of the notion that "customer service" is more important than "good nursing care". It's because I'm exhausted by chasing around whatever person it is that needs to approve a request for a chest tube kit or extra IV pumps or more crackers for the patient pantry. It's because I'm tired of every single thing I do being evaluated, not on the basis of quality of care, but on customer service.

All I can say is, it must suck to be the manager of my unit. My manager's stuck between the very real needs of the nurses and staff and the insane demands of Manglement. Manglement makes it almost impossible for the manager of any of our acute units to actually do his or her job; instead, there's a bizarre combination of micro-management and total indifference that has got to be raising blood pressures on all ten floors. 

Fortunately for me (and anybody else who wants to go into or is already in critical care), the critical care pods are managed by a totally different group. The nurses get what they need, from equipment to staffing, and their worries and problems are taken seriously. I get a real sense of community and teamwork, since there's not a culture of "rat out your coworker, get a gold star" there. The managers of the CC pods are working nurses who pull shifts at the bedside every week, not just when they feel like they're getting rusty. The upper management of the CC pod, likewise, are CC nurses who hold down a job in management and one in actual bedside nursing as well.

Several years ago, Manglement instituted a number of changes on one of our acute units. Mostly they had to do with staffing and the types of patients the nurses would be caring for. Within six months, there had been a complete staff turnover on that unit, with a number of the nurses ending up, surprise surprise, in the critical care pods. 

This year Manglement did the same thing to my home unit. Nothing like learning from your mistakes, hm?

I'm the first to go. Somehow, given how many of my coworkers have taken me aside and asked me about the application process for the CCPs, I doubt I'll be the last.


Sara said...

ugh, i am so sorry. that sounds terrible. once in a while we've run out of supplies, but i can't imagine dealing with that on a daily basis.

good luck in the critical care unit. i'm sure you'll do great there.

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

I'm sure this will be a good move for you. Sounds like your reasons are sound for making the change.


One Nurse said...

WOW, I am so happy for you that you are moving! That doesn't sound like a great place to be in, however it sounds all too familiar. The floor I was on for 5 years was like that before I went to the float pool. Now I don't deal with the politics and all that "carpet people" business. And there was enough people who complained that the supply issue was taken care of hospital wide. That was a Magnet and JACHO thing though.

macy said...

I think you need a break. If going out will give you that, you're in the right track.