Alan was an excellent nursing student. At age 29, he was married with 3 kids and worked a part time job as a CNA during nursing school.
Ever since delivering his first child at home next to the midwife, he knew that midwifery was for him. It was his calling. As his wife became pregnant with their second, then third child, his excitement and passion grew. Completely involved in his wife’s OB visits, the monitoring, and delivery of each child, he got to know the midwife and spoke with her about the work.
The midwife was excited for him. They need more male midwives, she said. On his OB rotation for nursing school, he was somewhat discouraged, as patients or their significant others said they didn’t want a male student in the room. The primarily female staff heckled him about his desire to work in the field.
Still, he was determined.
At graduation, he was thrilled to get a job on a labor and delivery floor. The thrill quickly turned, however. Although management welcomed him, the other floor nurses decided to show him that he didn’t belong. Refusals to help, belittling behavior from preceptors, and other methods of sabotage were frequent. Labeled a ‘whiner’ when he brought up the mistreatment with the manager, he simply quit talking.
One year into his job and no longer able/willing to take the pettiness of the environment, he decided to change his field, and work as a dialysis nurse.
Sadly, Alan’s story is not an isolated one. Sometimes individuals are lucky: they transfer to a different location, realizing that it was just the specific environment they were in that was a problem. However, many more are led to believe that they are not cut out for the work, that staff are like this everywhere, and that they would rather leave the profession or specialty than try again.
The nursing profession has one of the highest turnover rates. But it isn’t always because of high ratios, or abusive patients. It is notorious for stories of bullying in the workplace and alienation of others.
Why, when we need more nurses and additional help in our profession, is this happening? Is the need for this petty behavior so dominant that we can’t stop and be grateful for those who are coming in to help, welcome them with open arms and do everything in our power to make sure they succeed? Is there a sense of self-achievement when a nurse quits and moves on? Does it make us proud to chase someone out of our unit? As if we can pat ourselves on the back and say, “One more person who can’t do my job”. Is there a sense of pride in the turnover and knowing that someone left, despite it being their dream job?
We can safely assume that the unit Alan left is similar to other nursing units around the country: understaffed, overworked and in need of fresh, new faces and ideas. So why not be relieved when they come to us, encourage them and get them comfortable as quickly as possible to alleviate our burden, help our staffing ratios, share the workload on holidays, and confidently relieve us for lunchtime?
So we ask: have you, or are you currently considering leaving a position you’d always wanted because of how you were, or are being treated? Has anyone managed to stay and make things work out? If so, how did you do it? Did you find someone to help you through? If you left and went somewhere else, did that help? Did you leave the specialty altogether? Your comments could help others who are in the same situation—please share. You may find you aren’t alone.