He hadn’t answered his phone the last 5 times I’d tried to call; he probably wouldn’t answer again.
My classmates were being called one by one and offered positions. What about me? My interview went well.
He had told me so. It had been a month since graduation and I still hadn’t heard from him.
This time he answered the phone.
“Yes, your interview went well. Your academics are acceptable. But, we received an unfavorable reference. The manager from your last clinical placement gave us feedback stating that you were not working up to the expected standard. You were described as not being independent enough on the floor. You required too much prompting. We cannot hire you. You need to get experience elsewhere for 6 months to a year before we will reconsider hiring you.”
I was devastated. Shocked. Confused.
I had received feedback similar to this at the beginning of my placement, but I had worked hard to rise to the standards expected of me.
I had passed the course. I had received written documentation from my preceptor stating that I had improved and I was ready to work as an RN.
This news was utterly unexpected
I gave a copy of this documentation to the hiring manager. He added it to my file, but it could not counter the feedback he had been given.
I had to move away from my boyfriend. I had to leave the apartment I had rented, thinking that I would be hired in the city where all my classmates were staying.
I had to rent a new place, in another province, sell all my furniture, and buy more.
I had to start a new job with the knowledge that last time I had done my best, it had not been good enough.
I had to start my new career knowing that nurses with whom I had worked side by side, who had helped me learn and whom I had assisted, had given feedback so negative that it had prevented me from being hired.
I had to look at my new coworkers and learn to trust that they would not do the same thing.
Now, I have to convince myself that the nurse who is kind to me really does mean it.
I have to ignore the snide comments and remind myself that people have bad days and it isn’t automatically my fault. I have to remind myself that I am good enough, and that I am a good nurse.
Everything I do, I question.
- “Did they misunderstand me? Am I doing okay?”
- “Did I make the right decision?”
When someone has to pick up the slack because I am dealing with a new situation and learning new things, I cringe and hope they understand. I hope they won’t think I can’t do my job.
Some of the nurses have noticed my apprehension. They tell me I am too hard on myself. They tell me that I don’t need to worry so much. My coworkers are wonderful. I enjoy my job, and yet…
I am soon due for a performance appraisal at the end of my first three months of being an RN. I am required to submit names to my manager of coworkers who will anonymously rate my work.
I chose people with whom I get along well– people who are kind to me and who I respect as nurses. I am about to be evaluated by my peers, and it is all coming back to me.
What if they’re not genuine when we work together on the floor, like last time? What if they’ll give feedback that could compromise my position, like last time? What if…
The culture of nursing has improved a lot over the last several decades. Nurses don’t eat their young anymore. Nurses are becoming more caring and supportive of one another, or so they say. This whole experience has left me with so many questions, so many scars.
- Does the nurse who provided the feedback to the hiring manager know the devastation she caused me?
- Did she think twice before she gave feedback that will change my career forever?
- Did the hiring manager care that he hadn’t rechecked the feedback he was given after he discovered new information?
- Will I be able to return to that environment and work alongside these nurses, should life take me back?
I have wonderful friends, family, and faith that have supported me through this whole process. They have kept me grounded and have not allowed me to become embittered by it. But, this support should have come from the nursing community as well. No student should ever graduate and be told that they are not good enough to be hired.
If a nursing student has passed her courses and clinicals, then she is ready to join the workforce. If a student is unsuccessful in her course, she needs the support of the nursing team she worked under so that she can continue to learn and grow.
Nurses should be looking out for each other
The culture of nursing needs to continue to change. We need to learn to think about the consequences of the words we use; we need to be kind to one another. Basic respect is all it takes. Just follow the golden rule. It shouldn’t be hard, but we fail so many times.
I tell myself that I am good enough. I am a good nurse. Most of the time I believe myself.