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Should a new nurse who was not given any feedback on her performance and then terminated consult an attorney?


Dear Nancy,

I was recently terminated from my position as an RN at an outpatient department. I was in orientation and had two weeks left to my probationary period. The two nurses who were supervising and orienting me must have told my supervisor negative things about me.

I thought I was progressing although I did feel overwhelmed at first. I was never given a 30-day evaluation, although the handbook said to expect it. I feel as though if I had been given specific areas to improve upon and was supported, I would have progressed more quickly.

I was asked to work solo so summer vacations could be taken by the other two nurses and I was not ready. During that time, I had trouble getting a patient back to the screening area because an electronic order was not completed by the nurse at the ordering physician’s office, and it resulted in the patient being 30 minutes late.

My supervisor was notified by scheduling and she sounded angry on the phone and brought the patient back herself. She never confronted me and left work without talking to me. I returned to work and was upset when my preceptor asked me how the previous workday had gone. She then told me to go home. I was not aware I had to tell my supervisor.

I was called in to be terminated but was given an additional five days to prove myself after I told my supervisor I thought I was improving and almost ready to act independently.

The nurses began bullying me by saying negative things about me to other employees and disrespecting me in front of patients and coworkers. Although I performed well four out of five days, I was terminated anyway. Should I consult a lawyer?


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Kay,

It is unclear why you did not receive the 30–day evaluation the handbook stated you were to receive, so this might be a help to you if you decide to contact a nurse attorney or other attorney to explore whether or not you might have some legal recourse for your termination. If you decide to consult with an attorney, it would be best to do so as soon as possible and to take any documents you have that governed your probationary status at this outpatient department.

Unfortunately, personality problems with staff or one’s supervisor usually are not legally actionable. Bullying is another issue, however. You will need to tell the attorney you select all that happened to you so the attorney can carefully evaluate whether there is a legal option for you.

One thing that should be pointed out is you indicated you frequently agreed to do things during this probationary period that you were uncomfortable with/were not ready to do, but agreed to carry out the responsibilities. Obviously, this approach did not work. As a professional, you should never undertake something you are not comfortable with and/or not competent to do. Speaking up when overwhelmed with any patient care situation also is essential.

As an accountable and responsible professional, knowing when to ask for help and when to share your concerns with those to whom you report is an important characteristic you need to develop for any future position you undertake.


By | 2014-10-27T00:00:00-04:00 October 27th, 2014|Categories: Blogs, Nursing careers and jobs|0 Comments

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