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The Schedule.

You have a job, you need to know when to work, the schedule tells you when to work. You’d think it would be an easy topic.

Nothing causes more headache, drama, or complaints than the unit schedule. It is the bane of my existence as a nurse manager.

Nursing units must be staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Weekends, holidays, special occasions – you got patients, you need nurses. This should be no surprise to those working in healthcare. The hospital has a mantra much like a committed gym rat #nodaysoff

I staff the unit based on a par of nurses needed for the average daily census of patients. Nurses self-schedule themselves in our scheduling application, and then the schedule gets balanced by the leadership team so there’s not 15 nurses working Tuesday and 3 working Friday. There are rules – you work your scheduled weekend, you work a certain number of Mondays and Fridays, you trade or ask for PTO if you want a day off. Seems simple.

Sike! As a manager, apparently other people’s schedules and lives become my problem to fix.

“I need every Wednesday night off for my yoga class” “I can’t work Monday’s for the next 6 weeks because of my church group” “I really need this Saturday off, can I just move to Monday?” “My family is going out of town for Christmas, and I know it’s my holiday but I really can’t work” “I have worked here for 10 years and I just think it’s not fair that I still have to work weekends”

If I can help and be flexible – I do. For the most part, I encourage the RN to work with their peers to find trades and figure it out. Its a big team with a lot of nurses. Despite being consistent with this – the questions and complaints do not end.

And my favorite…the schedule police. “So I just wanted to let you know that I heard some people complaining that Sarah only works two Fridays this entire scheduling period” “I saw that Janet was moved off of Saturday and I noticed that she wasn’t placed on another Saturday that I could see and you know, that could seem like favoritism” “I saw that Tiffany called in sick on the holiday and I was wondering what the rule is on that”

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so you’re not a real nurse?

Yes I am a nurse. No I do not directly care for patients. This is something that has been hard to explain to the average person who is not in healthcare. And honestly, many times other people IN healthcare don’t understand the role. My own grandma is still confused.

I am proud to be a nurse. I think most nurses feel this way. It’s a difficult yet rewarding job, and in general nursing is viewed as a meaningful, noble profession. Usually when the random person asks me what I do – I say I’m a nurse. People understand what that means. Once specifics start to get asked – I know I’m in for the confused look and questions that make me feel like a fraud.

Nurse = care for patients. When a person finds this isn’t the case, the next question is typically: so what do you actually do? This is a tough one to answer! What I DON’T do would be a shorter reply.

I would bet that the responsibilities of a nurse manager span farther than managers in many other industries. The shear amount of direct reports is much greater. I am responsible for 80+ staff members.

Officially I have to keep up with competing priorities such as budgets, patient satisfaction, scheduling, staff satisfaction, performance management, hiring and firing, process improvement, patient outcomes, and ensuring compliance with multiple regulatory bodies – CMS, Joint Commission.

Unofficially I am a chaos coordinator, therapist, fire fighter, life coach, and what sometimes feels like a mom to toddlers. I have no children of my own but I think I will be well prepared for it.

Someone needed to say it

I am starting this blog because I truly cannot find another one out there with the words of a nurse manager. There are so many blogs and platforms for nurses, but when I go to find someone who understands the daily grind of the nurse manager – I can’t find anyone out there who relates!

I am going to fill what I feel is a void and be the person who says what needs to be said. Being a nurse manager is no joke. I hope that my blog will draw in others who live the life of a nursing leader and maybe, just maybe, we can help keep each other sane. I can say from experience that being a nurse is hard – but being a nurse manager is like being a ringleader. My circus my monkeys.

#who can relate? WOOO

I also plan to make my own memes because every nurse manager meme out there makes us look like the bad guys.