Saturday, August 14, 2010

Leftover scraps for a dog

Imagine this scenario.


Prologue: 4 months ago

See 2nd comment in an earlier blog entry.


Part 1: 3 months ago

Your ward has been facing high patient census. Your ward staffing is so stretched that staff has been asked to do double-shifts and agency nurses called-in on an almost daily basis.

One colleague has been transferred to another department in a last-ditch attempt to retain her with the hospital. Another has announced her plans to leave after her marriage, which coincided with the completion of her bond with the hospital. Others have verbalised (amongst fellow colleagues) plans to leave at various time in the second half of the year.

You inform the ward manager that you plan to leave in 3 to 12 months' time due to plans for migration. You explain to the ward manager that although you're only required to give 1 month's notice, you're informing her in advance because you understand the difficulty and time-lag in recruiting staff replacement. You explain that given the high patient census and the 2 planned staff departures, you do not wish to further aggravate the situation by leaving suddenly. You will submit the resignation letter when the required notice period is due.


Part 2: 2 months ago

Mid-year review. Your ward manager explained that she is pleased with your performance. Your training shall be in-place as planned.


Part 3: 1 month ago

You found out that you have been scheduled to be on-duty on the 1st of 2 days for which you had previously been scheduled for the training. It is the only* nursing skill course that has been approved for you for this year. You question your ward manager about the course. She tells you that the DON instructed** her to cancel your training because there is NO NEED** for it.

The course in question? IV venepuncture and cannulation. You secretly attended the final hours of Day 1 and the whole Day 2 of the 2-day course with the instructor's permission on your own afterwork hours and day-off. However, because you've missed 1/3 of the course and are not an official participant, you will not get the certification.

* Note: I do not consider the in-house nursing communication training as a nursing skill course, because it lacks the professionalism/depth of a proper communications training/workshop.


Part 4: 2 weeks ago

It was an afternoon workday with only 4 staff. One "new" SSN as overall in-charge, you and another less than 1-year old SN and 1 SEN as runner. Total patient count: 24. At handover, there were several new admissions with IV cannulations to be done and treatments/investigations to be started. The SSN refused to request for more staffing, insisting that 4 is enough.

You got fed-up. You told the ward manager (who happened to stay around after her morning shift) that she is overworking her staff. You told her that if this continues, you can and will resign with immediate effect. She was surprised by the outburst and wanted to know more about what else makes you want to resign with immediate effect.

You told the ward manager that you are not happy that your training was being cancelled unlike previously agreed in the 2009 year-end performance review and approved by HR, without even informing you. Ward manager then claimed that the DON gave a GENERAL** standing instruction to cancel all training for staff who has resigned. At that point you have yet to submit your resignation notice, since it was not due. Thus you asked pointedly, "Have you received my resignation letter yet?".

The ward manager then "clarified" that the DON was referring to all staff who has reported INTENTIONS TO LEAVE**. Thus, she was only following instructions when she instructed the administrator to cancel your training. To make amends and prove that she is a good and caring boss, she will fight on your behalf for your training to be re-scheduled for the 1st day of training missed. [Note: There were other issues raised too, but let us keep this scenario simple.]

** Note: See the change of rationale?


Part 5: Today

Your ward manager spoke to her manager. You are given the choice to use your own day-off or annual leave to attend the 1st day of training that was missed out. Your ward manager recommend that you take up the opportunity given to you. You agreed. The administrator then happily informed you of her efforts to convince another colleague to do a double-shift in order to cover you.

You checked with the training department who informed you that you will need to repeat both days of training to get certified. You do not wish to waste your annual leave and another day-off just to get a certificate that you may never use. Afterall, you have already caught up on the missed 1/3 of the contents from fellow course-mates at the previous training.

You tell the administrator that you have changed your mind because attending the missed 1st day would not make any difference to you. You remark, "What's the point?"

Your ward manager and administrator did not look happy with your decision.

**Addendum 16-Aug-2010: You also noticed that despite the ward manager's earlier claim that there was "NO NEED" for you to be trained in this nursing skill, she has sent another colleague (who was also new-to-nursing and joined a few months after you) for the same course this month. This other colleague was previously not registered for this training course. You know, because you had previously advised that colleague to try to get this certification and LSCN done for her long-term career prospects, despite your ward manager's view that these training are not necessary for your daily work.


The above is a real scenario. It happened to me in the last 3 months.

Why is it that today, at part 5, I feel like a dog that is given leftover scraps from my master's table and is expected to be thankful to my master for the "generosity" of her scraps?


  1. oh dear winking doll..sorry to hear what had happened...
    what i would do pay back for all the 'favours' your manage had done for you is to....go immediately...

    no point working the guts out for an organisation whom wouldn't gave a damm about their staff..for us, even if were to leave but book your place in a course, we will be accommodating you because ultimately, that staff member will still benefit patients some other place, in some other setting, in some other countries...

    Small sightness is what blinds alot of nurses in singapore...l cannot vouch for such a system and practice..anyway, enjoy your time...because (if you trust me and embrace your new adventures), you will ultimately find happiness and joy in a place where they will treasure you for your work.

    good luck!!

  2. Hi Bone Collector,

    At the peak of my disgust with my ward manager's pettiness, I had seriously thought about resigning with immediate effect yesterday. IMHO, she lacks what is known in Chinese as “大將之風” [translated to English as "the general's air"].

    Anyway, I thought further about it and read the "signs" today. I decided to exit gracefully since I only have 8 more days with her. It is her loss that she sold-off our potential for long-term friendship in exchange for saving her company the cost of a 2 day training.


    One example of such a loss happened at the end of this morning's shift. My ward manager's manager has insisted that each staff submit one staff suggestion by the end of the day. My ward colleagues knew of my record of earning rewards from the staff suggestion scheme. Thus, they asked me to give them each an idea, and my ward manager hoped that her ward would have a good number of suggestions.

    To put it simply, I did not even bother to submit my assigned suggestion form.

  3. Just to clarify, "earning rewards from the staff suggestion scheme" refers to the $3 encouragement reward for each UNIQUE suggestion reviewed. For this year, I have submitted 20 unique reviewed suggestions, equivalent to 1 for each of ward staff.

    I have many more ideas, but I am too fed-up with management's pettiness to share them.