You’re sitting in your living room, watching your 60-inch television, your feet propped on an ottoman, and you’re eating bon bons. Suddenly, the phone rings, and you feel a pang of dread as you realize your work is calling on your day off.
Well, most nurses don’t live like this.
Most of the time we are running from one appointment to another on our precious days off, getting to know family again before diving back in.
The person on the other end of the line, though, wants you to fill in and give yet more of your time in the pursuit of staffing the nursing floor.
For most nurses, this leaves a bad, bad taste in their mouths.
Step One: Try Not to Laugh
Yes, you may feel like laughing in the face of the poor, beleaguered person who called you, but that wouldn’t be especially professional. I do know of one nurse who laughed because she was on vacation thousands of miles away when she was called to come in.
You may feel entitled to your laughter, but the charge nurse is just doing their job. There is no reason to add insult to injury.
Much more often, your feelings may lead you to a different type of emotion, and it is important to keep that one in check, too. Remember, they are just calling down a list and have no idea what your plans for the day are.
Step Two: Resist the Urge to Fling the Phone Across the Room
Rage may be the next emotion you feel after sarcastic humor. Again, rage will not get you anywhere, and it may make the situation worse.
You’ve worked all week, put in your time, done what you had to do, and now they are calling you for more? The well needs to be replenished, and they don’t seem to understand that.
Don’t get angry because they are just trying to fill a hole. Unfortunately, the person calling usually doesn’t realize how much or how long you worked, and it isn’t really fair or professional to take you anger out on them.
Step Three: Realize They are Calling Because they are Desperate
When the floor is short staffed, charge nurses get desperate. They start at the top of their roster and keep calling under someone says yes.
Really, they are just trying to help the nurses on the floor who will be short, and maybe you should appreciate that because they will do the same for you. Even though they are desperate, that doesn’t mean you have to go in, but it gives you perspective on where they are coming from.
Step Four: Explain that You are Unable to Come in Due to Extreme Fatigue
Very calmly, explain that you are just too tired to come in. Even if you need the overtime, the specter of burnout is just too great to put yourself back on the floor when you don’t have enough time to regenerate your strength.
You should stay steadfast in your refusal to go in because the charge nurse will try their hardest to convince you. Don’t hold it against them because they are under a tremendous amount of stress, trying to solve a sometimes unsolvable problem.
Step Five: Try not to Hold it Against them When they Hang Up on You
Be prepared for their anger, no matter how professionally you handle the call. They may hang up on you and move onto the next name on the list.
Some will berate you for not being a team player, but you only need put in your time you are scheduled for. Don’t be bullied into doing more, even if the person on the other end of the line reacts with exasperation, belligerence, and anger.