image compliments of AllNurses.Com
I wish I could say this is an elephant in the room. But, it’s not. Everyone knows that nurses are complete and total assholes to each other. This is not news. But, let me say this…I had no earthly idea that it would happen to me. I know, I know. What an incredibly naive thing to think about oneself. Seriously, though, you guys…I am a very friendly girl who, for the most part, gets along with everyone.
Recently, I was pulled into my NM’s office to be given “some feedback”. While, in her words, I am “doing a great job,” my peers have given feedback that I am “chatty”. I blinked. Wait, I’m sorry. Did you just critique my personality? What does that even mean? How do I take that?
Not one person has told me that my friendly demeanor was a problem, nor that I am not progressing because of it. So, what gives? Why did I find myself in the nurse manager’s office hearing about myself being “inappropriately chatty”. I left her office feeling despondent. I had no idea what to do with that kind of feedback. And, what’s worse, she gave it to me at 11:30 in the morning. I had to go back to work for 4 more hours wondering who in God’s name went behind my back to tell my manager something like that and still do a great job at work for 4 more hours.
I didn’t eat lunch. I spent lunch hiding in the locker room annoyingly going over every single day in the past several weeks trying to figure out what I did that was wrong enough to end up in the manager’s office. I started crying. Not ugly crying — just what the fuck this is so frustrating crying. One of my (favorite) preceptors found that unfortunate time to walk into the locker room. She immediately asked me what was wrong. I told her. She stopped and said “BB, this is why I told you weeks ago to come in here, just do your job, and go home. Because I knew that the cats would go for the jugular on your bright light”.
You see, several weeks ago my preceptor warned me that the place I am working, while on the surface is very friendly and upbeat, can be back-stabbing and petty most of the time. I didn’t put much stock to it, because I hadn’t experienced it. Everyone was SO nice and encouraging, and I was progressing. But, this week, she proved to be absolutely right. I was completely blind-sided. I took it home with me, vented to my husband, my preschooler, my mom, my educator, my fellow new-grad coworker.
24 hours later, I asked my educator if we could meet with my NM and a few of my preceptors to squash this rumor-mill. One preceptor was available. And so, the meeting began.
10 minutes into the meeting and I am seeing an entirely different nurse than I had known over the past 2 months. Things came out of her mouth in that meeting that were never so much as muttered to me. I couldn’t believe it. Who was she and what had she done with the preceptor I had known over the past several weeks. My rose-colored glasses had come off. THIS, this, is where I work. Now, I see.
That was the most important move I could have ever made for myself. I realized then that the issue was not that I was “chatty” the issue was I was unlike everyone else — hardened, so used to the hustle and bustle of the OR that they feel there is no room to be human. To smile, to give patients their undivided attention, or to treat others in the room as if they are human beings (which they are). I am not Nurse Her. I am Nurse BB, and how I am going to operate is going to be vastly different than her. I received my first Thank You card from a patient recently — a feat that is almost unheard of in the OR because our patients don’t necessarily remember us. A surgeon has requested me to be on his dedicated “team” when he is performing surgeries at our facility. I am doing a good job.
Now that I understood that the problem is not me, but the worn out, disconnected nurses that I work with, I had to deal with the very real fact that their perceptions were now affecting my livelihood by way of performance evaluation and shitty feedback. I let her speak. I listened. I agreed that there were times when I participated in conversations that are better left until after induction, much like waiting to answer a text until after I’m finished driving. But, then, I laid into her, professionally. I have to trust you. I have to trust that every single thing you say to me is the truth and is there to make me a better nurse. If I can’t trust you to tell me the truth, if I have to keep finding out after you’ve gone behind my back to tell my management, how do I trust that you are a strong teacher? How do I trust that you have my best interest at heart? Her answer? She doesn’t want to scare me away from the OR. Oh, honey. Sweet, sweet, nurse.
YOU do not have that power. You cannot scare me by giving me the tools to be a stronger nurse. I told her never to smile in my face, and then go behind my back to chastise me about something you don’t have the balls to say to my face. Ok, I didn’t use those exact same words, but you know what I mean. She agreed. In the end, I got what I needed out of that meeting. I exchanged my rose-colored glasses for lasik corrected eye-sight; I made it very clear who they were dealing with and what I would NEVER put up with; and, I realized that sweating this was a waste of my time. Soon enough I will be on my own, and my practice will be honed then.
Do I still feel like I am in a great place to work? Yes. Am I going to be a raving bitch to those around me, now? Of course not. Am I going to watch out for myself? Absolutely. Am I going to stop sharing personal things about me? Yes. Because I can’t trust them like I could trust those before me. My trust is going to have to be earned, now.
How are you handling snark in the workplace?