Nurses notoriously get hit with all the work that no one else wants to do. Part of that is what a nurse signs up for, but not all of it. It is important to understand the difference between reasonable job expectations and being taken advantage of. Before the stress of that workload takes you to the brink, it may be time to put your foot down. First, we have to find the line…and the culprit.
Total patient care includes washing, feeding, toileting, medicating, charting, cleaning and wound care. If these are the problem, well, nursing may not be for you.
The things that typically get piled on a nurse’s duties come from, oddly enough, other nurses. In fact, they may be technically “nurse responsibilities”, just not yours. Nursing is hard, and both newbies and seasoned healthcare workers have been known to push their work onto a different plate given the opportunity. It’s a kind of survival technique, and you have to stand strong if this starts to happen to you.
Addressing the Culprit
So, what do you do when you get a line of 20 people to draw blood from and your co-worker did 5 then went into hiding? Well, it can be tricky. You will need to be patient and take lots of notes. Accusations thrown out in the heat of the moment could backfire. When there is a clear pattern, first talk to the nurse who is dumping their workload on you, then a supervisor if need be.
It is critical that nurse in-fighting gets resolved quickly. When a nurse feels overworked and undervalued, it creates a negative environment that can impact patient care. Supervisors need to be aware of the dynamics between employees and intervene when inequity in the workload is perceived.
If the supervisor is the issue, you can always go above them to report the problem. Just be aware that those plates are heavy. So, make sure that your concerns are valid, critically important and handled as well as possible before taking concerns to the Head of Nursing. Petty issues could be a strike against you; but, important and substantiated ones that affect patient care absolutely need to be addressed.