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My Life As A Male Nurse. Turning down a Promotion.

Updated on January 7, 2014

Life is good


Are males more suitable to nursing

Do males really have a better chance for advancement in the nursing fields?

Men are generally more assertive, more self confident, and will never require pregnency leaves.

Back in my beginning days of nursing, male nurses were not liked very much; especially by their female counterparts.

As a Nursing Supervisor, with much less years of experience than most of the nurses i supervised, i was met with much resistance by most of them.

They may have been in nursing longer, and felt that their 'experience' as a nurse and being married - (being single was sort of a social stigma and looked down on, in those days) should have qualified them for this job over myself.

Truth be known, they did have "more years' in working as a nurse, but i had more "experience" in practical matters, more common sense, and broader background, and a history of management (in my pre-nursing life), more will power, more self confidence, and way more job dedication.

It took some time to win them over.

When they discovered i was actually 'on their side' and always fair with assignments, overtime distribution, holiday approvals, time off, dedicated to good patient care, and would under no circumstances ever tolerate patient abuse of neglect, they became allies instead of enemies.

Life was good.

Promotion to Supervisor

Prior to my promotion to Nursing Supervision i was never afraid of a challenge; or passed up an opportunity to learn/experience something new. I was also vice president of the nurses union and learned many things about union activity and management negotiations. Unions were indispensable in those years. Through the union i was able to improve patient care, staff/patient ratios and competitive wages for nurses.

I learned the state nursing laws that regulated nursing duties, responsibilities and legal rights. On many occasions management put out mandates for nurses to do things that were actually against the law, per statutes specifically prohibiting those activities.

Management did not like my "interference", but i certainly saved potential lawsuits against nurses (and management) should they have done those 'misdeeds' and anything went wrong. It would have been the nurse who was hung out to dry for not knowing what their legal responsibilities and limitations were, not management.

It is true that ignorance of the law is never an excuse. These kinds of things could cost a nurse their license, their career and livelihoods. Some employer mandates were still unlawful in spite of their attempt to "give a direct order" with the threat of charging nurses with insubordination if they did not comply. This was a common practice for employers to frighten the nurses into compliance.

Nurses are notorious for non-confrontational situations and usually just complied, because they were not adept at learning (knowing) the laws and regulations. Management was certainly not used to any nurse standing up for their rights. They were at a loss as just how to deal with me. This practice of their illegal mandates came to an abrupt halt, and with my help, elevated nurses to another level, in the eyes of management.

Turning down a promotion

I was soon offered a position as Assistant Director of Nursing.

Being no idiot, i certainly understood why.

Assistant Director of Nurses were paid a salary.

A mere 10% more than i was currently making.

They were mandated to do over time, and no time and a half for over 40 hours, and no more working on holidays or weekends for additional incentive pay.

I stood to lose thousands of dollars a year, from all the overtime i put in.

Lets see: more work, more responsibility, for less pay? A no brain-er.

I turned it down.

But more importantly those assistant director of nurses were NOT in the nurses union. (As if i did not know that angle). Anyone not in a union could be fired at will, without any valid reason, and without recourse.

Battling the boss from hell

So, they hired a female from the outside, for that position.

Not that there were no working supervisors available, and qualified for the position, but the woman they hired was a known cantankerous bully who had a reputation for 'controlling' subordinates with an iron fist.

Since this was a non-union position, they would have canned my butt the first chance they had.

She soon discovered that this was one of the main reasons i had for turning down the job she now has.

The first day she arrived on duty she made her rounds to meet all the supervisors and to "lay down the law". I was the only male supervisor out of the 30, or so, working supervisors in this facility.

When she came to my office, i stood, put out my hand and said:

"Welcome to the complex, if you ever need anything, feel free to ask".

She did NOT shake my hand. Instead she said:

"Can it! I have heard all about you and i really hate male nurses".

Wow. I could not believe my ears. Although the frankness was refreshing, and quite revealing, it was also stunning. It sort of set me back a bit.

I said calmly:

"I am sorry you feel that way, hopefully you will change your mind once you get to know me". (Probably not one of the smartest things that ever came out of my mouth).

She said:

"I doubt that". Handing me a piece of paper, she added:

"Here's the first thing you will implement, without exceptions".

After a quick read, i laughed and said:

"this is not a problem in my building".

She said sternly:

"Just do it".

The memo was "To All Supervisors" and read: As of today, you will start drawing a red line on daily sign in sheets, the second the shift starts. Anyone signing below the red line will be docked in 15 minute blocks of time. No exceptions.

In my head my response was: "like hell, lady". But i graciously said "Like i said, this is not a problem in my area". She replied: "we'll just see about that", turned and left.

The next day, and every day for the next week, she came to my office, sat in the corner and watched to make sure i drew that red line across the sign in sheet.

She would watch the clock, and exactly at the start of the shift she would state:

"Put that red line on NOW!".

What a bitch. I knew i was in for some future trouble.

After that first week of intimidation, she would sporadically show up to make sure i was drawing a red line at the precise minute the shift started. [Oddly enough, the only time some of my staff came in a second or two late was the day she showed up to monitor]. (?). Now she really had it in for me.

My staff offered to "get her' in the parking lot. I was amused at this, as i knew they were only joking, (at least this is what i prefer to believe) and it was just their way of telling me they supported me 100%.

After a couple of months, she wrote me up for investigation for not doing my job adequately.

She asserted that, when comparing my record to all other supervisors, I was the only one that had no complaints against me by my staff. (Say what? is this woman for real)?

So it begins.

I was called in to the superintendents office to explain just what i was doing wrong. They asserted that i was way "too lenient" on my staff and must be doing something wrong, if they were not complaining about me.

I just shook my head in disbelief.

I was sitting at this conference table with several members of management, the union president and this dingbat supervisor. A total bevy of boobs.

I looked around the table, directly in the eye of each of them, one at a time, and said:

"I cannot believe we are sitting around this table having this conversation. Did it ever occur to any one of you that instead of doing something 'wrong', that i just might be doing something 'right'?''

''I have a staff that actually enjoys coming to work in a hassle free environment. I have little or no 'call ins' for months at a time. Lateness is rare, and when it occurs, it is usually due to unusual circumstances. If anyone ever comes in late, they are marked in the time they arrive and i allow them to make it up at the end of their shifts if they so desire.''

''As far as the complaints about me as a supervisor, or lack of them, I deal with problems as they arise and solutions are based on logic. I have a "sunshine committee", as we call it, for any staff infighting, arguments or complaints. We meet off shift (at the end of their shifts). Each one is allowed to bring one witness. Each employee speaks their mind and voices their complains. Then i ask them each what resolution they desire. I have never had a "sunshine committee" meeting that did not end amicably. So, if this woman files another unfounded complaint against me, we will be meeting in a more formal setting outside of this complex. Are there any more questions for me?".

The superintendent looked around the room, no-one commented. They just shook their heads side to side, so he said "this meeting is concluded without any further action warranted. Keep up the good work". 'I got up and left without another word.

After that fiasco, that assistant director of nursing no longer made unannounced visits to my office and i was assigned another assistant director of nursing to oversee my work areas.

About a month later, my staff informed me, one after another, that she no longer worked here.

Apparently she "fell" off a chair and hurt her back and is out indefinitely on workers' comp.

It was un-witnessed of course, but i knew this was 'code' for - she will not be back.

Unfounded worker compensation claims are highly frowned upon.

Later i found out from a friend at the last place she worked, she pulled the same scam there, and managed to collect unemployment until her benefits ran out.

She certainly will not be missed by me or my staff, by any other supervisor and their respective staffs, or management for that matter.

Needless to say, i no longer drew that red line on my sign in sheets. My staff was grateful. So was I.

Life was good once again.

by: d.william 02/05/11

Nurses know more than politicians about the benefits of this bill


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    • d.william profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. A positive affirmation from a fellow nurse is always one of the highest forms of praise.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      I could say a lot but suffice to say this was an awesome read, but a sad commentary on the mentality of too many administrators and also an accurate assessment of how too many nurses are bullied into compliance and don't stand up for their rights and the rights of their patients. It's an unsafe situation for all concerned and definitely puts the hospital and staff at risk for future law suits.

      I will have to read the other parts of this series as this part was really well written.

    • d.william profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Unfortunately nothing has changed over the years. It is still all about 'the bottom line'.

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 

      8 years ago

      d.william, another great hub. It sounds to me like you did everything right. I know nothing about the internal workings of hospitals or nursing work, but can only imagine the frustrations these dedicated people must go through. I would have to believe it is mostly about the "bottom line" to upper management, and this always causes problems. I admire you for sticking with it and doing what you felt was right. I wish you worked for me.

    • d.william profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      Thank you for taking time to read and comment. I appreciate it. dw

    • okmom23 profile image

      Donna Oliver 

      8 years ago from Midwest, U.S.A.

      Awesome insight into the real world of nursing! Your "Sunshine Committee" was an excellent idea.

      Voted up & awesome!


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