Hard Working Nurse Who Smells
by Anonymus RN
It happened in a hospital in the USA. I'm an RN, educated in the USA, graduated being already 42 years old. I have been working in the profession for almost 5 years on many different contracts in very hostile, chaotic hospital settings. My RN license has never been in trouble and there have never been complaints about my performance. I have "been safe, no harm " - nurse. However, being the only one with an eastern-european accent, each time I'm in a new environment it is never easy in my profession to have an accent. I become a target in nursing groups wherever I go. I'm that one who takes blame and never gets a chance to speak up because of being alone and different. Nurses and managers were frequently very hostile to me, treating me different than others with harsh discipline, making my working day very stressful, with the hope that I will not survive and quit.
It was one day before Thanksgiving and all nurses were planning to have an easy shift with minimum effort with no complicated patients. Someone had to do the hard work. The Nurse in Charge assigned all easy patients to her friends, well known nurses, providing them a lot of extra help. We were short of staff assistance. The Nurse in Charge made decisions so helpers and resources were taken away from me, assigning them to other nurses, so they will have easy shifts and will go home on time and not tired. I got an irrational assignment — 5 patients with some admits and discharges. I was sending patients to procedures, admitting them back, monitoring. One, a stroke patient, needed a sitter to stay by them. My charge nurse took the sitter away from him and assigned them to another patient who was in much better condition and didn't need a sitter — but his nurse didn't want any effort and monitoring. One of my patients was taken from their room with a bed and placed in the hallway! Because another nurse wanted her two patients in the same room — so it would be easier for her.
No one even notified me. Why? My patient was not able to speak for himself and needed a decreased stimuli environment because he was a stroke patient, but my Charge Nurse placed him in the hallway, waiting for the empty bed. I needed power for an IV infusion and to elevate the head of the bed. It was "temporarily impossible." The House Supervisor was notified and showed up… but it only caused more hostile behavior toward me form the other nurses in the future.
Any possible problem was created for my patients, which affected my performance and of course made it look like I was providing poor quality care. The orders were not entered by the Unit Clerk and patient's charts were held under her desk - so they hoped I will fail to follow up with care. (I found out later.)
I had a patient who was a very needy, young male without developed extremities… so I had to assist with feeding, grooming, toileting, cleaning, personal care and multiple tasks, responding to call lights… since there were no CNAs for me. I had to transfer this male on my own by Hoyer Lift in front his family and had to prepare him for discharge. I had to make multiple phone calls to clarify the orders for discharge. I had to find the Hoyer Lift in an unknown unit. I have been running via hallways in a hurry, tired, almost short of breath — while the others were chatting and having breaks and eating well. I had been responding to call lights frequently and nurses had been calling my name, knowing well I was busy.
By then it was dinner time. I had been working from 0700 am without any breaks, with cruel nurses all around. It reminded me of a work camp, a kind of slavery. I haven't eaten anything, I had no fluid, I was not able to go to the washroom. I never got free time for lunch or dinner or any break because my patients always had some extra work or transfer to be done.
Before the end of the shift I was asked on the side by one male nurse. He was also new in this area, just like me. He was the only one who tried to help me with transferring and heavy work. Nurses didn't like when he was helping me, so he was communicating with me very discreetly. He provided me with hospital's deodorant and spoke in a quiet and shy voice… "Take this, the Nurse In Charge, the Unit Clerk and nurses keep saying you smell."
Wow, I was grateful for this feedback. Thank you — yes! Thank you, I will use this… Yes, all day I'm running around, no food, no fluid, no chance to use the washroom for almost 12 hours… performing all kinds of tasks (many of them unsanitary), of course I will stink!
Soon the Charge Nurse is calling my name.
"RN you have a new admit from ICU." How many more today, I was thinking… Yes, I said, let me say something now, another new admit?! Yes, how about if I take a break like you took and refresh myself? How about if I go to BR? How about if I eat something? (I was 116 lb) I smell? Don't I??? Let me refresh myself.
The Charge Nurse spoke "Are you refusing a new admit?" Okay. I left, to another room (but in reality I still didn't leave yet. While waiting behind the door, I heard the conversation: The Charge Nurse and Unit Clerk are now giving a bad time to the male nurse who provided me with the deodorant and the reason for it "Why did you tell her — why??" Now you will take her admit!
It was almost the end of the shift and he got my admit. I was in trouble for speaking up. The next day was my Thanksgiving!! Thank you God?? Why such cruel behavior from nurse to nurse? Why so much hostility directed toward me? What have I done?… except I'm an immigrant, the RN who got educated in the USA, paying loans, trying to live within my means, trying to start a retirement plan after 40 years old!
Soon more false accusations were made, more false stories were told to my managers I had no chance to clarify and I got terminated. No reason was listed. I was forced to sign some "blank paper".
I never defended myself, like I never do in similar situations. I got used to this type of harassment. It is expected no matter where I go.
Always something will be done, hostile behavior, shouting at me, false accusations — and sooner or later I will be terminated. There is a law, in reality "no law at all for the poor and immigrants like me." "The employer can do anything" I was told by a local lawyer. There are no unions for nurses, no organizations to protect some good nurses who are disappearing in silence. There is no one to speak up to. This type of health management reminds me of times of tyranny.