Monday, August 1, 2011

Crying at Work

In Floating, I alluded to the reality that staff on my floor don't always do their jobs thoroughly. It's a major frustration; the onus of work usually falls on the shoulders of only a handful of people.

I get particularly fed up when our manager seems to coddle the biggest transgressors. He does have his favorites. Usually leaving before our shift starts, he's not much of a presence and I've always attributed his lack of enforcing job responsibility to his ignorance of what really happens during the evening.

When I first started, I really liked my manager. He was welcoming and warm and seemed to really try to create a happy work environment. As the first months past, he seemed really receptive to all of my little ideas for the unit, posting bed phone numbers over the information board in each room, changing the location of the linen carts to be more generally accessible etc. I reorganized the way that the medical teams, patients and nurses were listed on our charge board, color coding them to make the information much easier to read. You should have seen the way they did it before, it would take minutes to figure out who the doctor and lead nurse was for each patient! I was allowed to join the unit council (their first aide!) and I thought, despite my lowly status as a grunt, my thoughts, ideas and concerns were being heard. I took on all the training of new PCAs and attended workshops to improve my clinical mentoring skills.

Last month, another aide, ignoring an imminently dangerous situation for the patient, neglected to do something important. I stepped in and performed the required task, then followed the her to the nurses station. I confronted the aide and told her that she could not disregard those types of situations.

Well, she started to cry and complained that she was having a really bad day. Her brother was having oral surgery to have his wisdom teeth removed and she was so anxious about it. She became hysterical,(seriously!) and needed a twenty minute smoke break to regain her composure. Of course, I was rolling my mental eyes the entire time.

The next day, I was called into the NM's office and scolded. He informed me that it was not my place to police my coworkers(!) and that, and I quote, "not everyone has your work ethic". I told him that I was indeed having trouble adjusting to lack of my* work ethic in my coworkers and that my actions stemmed purely from my concern for the patient. He nodded sympathetically and asked me to work on my tolerance.

Of course, I've thought that maybe I was out of line or too harsh with the other aide. I talked it over with one of the nurses who had been present though. She reassured me that it happened as I remembered: 10 seconds of me getting the aide's attention, telling her to do her job and her becoming histrionic. She confessed that she too has been scolded for scolding someone else.

I'm currently looking for a new job** but I'm saddened and frustrated by the entire scenario. I absolutely love the work that my job entails (but not the poop part) and I hate that I'm leaving with such sourness. All that I've read about the evolution of healthcare shows that the culture is one of increasing openness to policing each other in the effort to generate fewer mistakes. To be slapped in the face with the very antithesis was shocking.

*my work ethic being that I actually do my job!
**I did call the 'anonymous' hotline two weeks later for an incident that I wasn't directly involved in. I haven't seen nor heard any outcomes but I hope that someone is looking into the mess that is my unit.


  1. It's sad that, despite how important a field health care is, there are employees within it who treat it just like any other job. I'm sorry that you've had a run in with one such person (as well as a manager willing to tolerate such behaviour).

  2. It's so frustrating how people can have such disregard for the well-being of others, particularly those in such vulnerable situations.

    Having a manager who actually enables it makes me angry.