Bad Job Reference

Question:

For the last year I have been the target of bullying by one nurse and have gotten no support from my manager or HR. This has caused me undue stress and time off from work. I can no longer work in this hostile environment and wish to leave for my mental health sake. My last performance appraisal was fair. I was given high marks for customer service and patient satisfaction, but low marks for employee relations. All because of the problems I had with this one nurse, my manager believed her over me. Because she was a nurse, and I am a nursing assistant (lower in credentials and education), I felt that I was treated unfairly and not objectively. Now my concern is: how do I job hunt knowing that my manager will not give me a favorable recommendation? I cannot even transfer to another department with out my records being read by the hiring manager in that department. I feel very stuck.

In addition, this makes it more of a challenge to job hunt in this economy. I feel almost hopeless. I have never had a hard time finding a job and I always had excellent references. What do I do? I have read many of your postings and I am very impressed with the responses. I would appreciate it if I could get your advice.

Signed,

Nursing Assistant


Answer:

Dear Nursing Assistant:

Before you quit again meet with your manager and HR. Talk with them about your commitment to patients and request a transfer. Acknowledge that you have missed work because you found it increasingly difficult to work with the nurse you feel bullied you. Since you have already conferred with your manager and HR about bullying, there probably is no reason to further pursue who is at fault; however many workplaces have employee-counseling programs and yours should have something along this line. You have reason to ask for counseling. You can do so because you suffer stress within your work environment that is affecting your

health and ability to come to work. Nursing assistants are much wanted and your employer doesn’t want to hunt for a new employee or to have you out and have to pay unemployment or for health claims. Employee assistance can include a transfer. Ask for their support in making a transfer. Don’t worry about having to defend yourself to get a transfer. I predict they will help with that. What have you got to lose? Give it a couple of weeks, and if they don’t keep you informed about what they are planning, check with them to learn if what is in the works. Meanwhile, quietly begin a job hunt.

Hunt knowing that you have special skills and experience in a much-needed field. Hunt with confidence. Make copies of your performance appraisals, and if needed, secure letters of recommendation from those who know you other than your manager. Prepare a one-page resume that includes your training and job experience. Feature your evaluation’s high marks for customer service and patient satisfaction.

Once you are interviewed, if asked about employee relations, be prepared to say briefly that there was a nurse who bullied you and found that stressful. Take time to learn about the working conditions, job description, benefits, and personnel with whom you will work should you be offered a job. Get the offer in writing if that is the way it is done in your field. Don’t take the new job impulsively. Say you want a couple of days to think it over and to speak with HR where you work so that you can give a proper notice you are leaving. Until that time, be as responsible and cheerful as possible. Don’t gossip with coworkers about what has or is going on.

Does this make sense? Assisting patients is noble and much needed. Your work is essential, especially when performed with skill and loving care. Look in the mirror and talk to yourself. Your work is hard, and you should stretch your arm around and pat yourself on the back each morning and night. That’s a little bit of yoga you can treat yourself to. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and that includes all those you care for as a nursing assistant.

William Gorden