By: Debbie Moore-Black, RN
I have dedicated 35 years of my life as a nurse: in the ICU for 33 years and behavioral health/intensive management for the last two.
I thought it would be time to take a break from ICU nursing. Surely behavioral health would be a lot easier — kind of a slide into my near-future retirement.
I entered into the land of psychotics and schizophrenics, bipolar, homeless, dangerous patients from prison, like those serving time for killing people or assaulting them. Then there were the non-compliants that looked away from treatment, therapy and medications — the revolving door.
It wasn’t the Land of Oz. We weren’t in Kansas anymore.
I’ve enjoyed these quite interesting last two years. What an intriguing nursing profession. And I’ve learned a lot.
First: to be kind and gentle and listen and care. Your compassion for that person may be all that patient has received in a very long time.
Second: I also learned that I absolutely can’t tolerate nursing bullies. There always seems to be one cruel nurse in the bunch. I don’t do well with them. I avoid them. I definitely can’t confront them. They scare me, but they also make me angry. Because I know the fault is not in me but in them. I try to analyze this kind of nurse. Did she grow up with such anger, maybe neglect, and she’s acting out? And when management turns a blind eye to this behavior, the environment becomes toxic.
I valued my safety and the safety of the staff and the patients. And when management chose the budget over safety — even though they professed to be “the best” after seeing and hearing of dangerous incidents one after the other — I knew I’d have to look for a job yet again.
Maybe I’d go back to ICU at a smaller hospital with lower acuities. Maybe I’d find myself as an ER behavioral health professional who provided 24/7 public safety officers.
I applied to three different positions.
I’m 65 years old. And I have 10 months left before retirement.
I would think with my 33 years of ICU experience, my last few years in behavioral health/intensive management, that I’d be an easy “yes.”
But all three turned me down.
Was it because I only had 10 months left to retire?
Or was it because I lost my “filter”?
I lost the “right” things to say during an interview.
Question: “What are your long-term goals?”
My answer: To take a long, much-needed vacation to the Bahamas. I deserve it (chuckle).
Question: “What would you bring to the table here in the ER with all of your expertise?”
My answer: First, I’d buy you a brand new coffee pot! I have to have my coffee. And you all definitely need a better brand!
I thought they’d catch my humor?
Obviously, they did not.
I was honest, though. Sometimes they don’t want you to be honest.
But during this Zoom interview, I also added my years of experience, my current, and active certifications, that I was a killer at starting IVs and that the most important lesson to ever learn or carry out with patients is kindness and sincerity.
Both of these go a long way. And whether a patient is in the ICU, ER or behavioral health, they’ve all been injured, mentally, physically or both.
In my long years of being a nurse, kindness has to be at the top.
I was turned down, one after the other. I felt my self-worth had hit rock bottom. I use to be this “famous” ICU nurse, and now I’m this fading 65 year old.
So here I stand. 10 months to go. Maybe these other jobs just weren’t meant to be.
Maybe I can no longer filter out what they want to hear.
I’ve had 35 years of incredible memories, incredible nurses and physicians and respiratory therapists, all of us connecting the dots in life through work, through our “grits therapy breakfast,” and through our trauma and triumphs in nursing and our own lives.
I guess I’m just supposed to “stay put” until the winds blow me into my next journey in life.
Originally published at KevinMD.com
10 thoughts on “The Zoom Nursing Interview”
Very insightful article on ageism. Managers intentionally and unintentionally do the ‘isolation’ technique in hiring practices that many are unaware or insensitive to this practice. Sadly especially during a world-wide pandemic!
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After 30 years in solo family medicine I closed my practice but wasn’t ready to leave clinical medicine. Looking at several opportunities I found more often than I would have hoped for the exact kind of treatment you received. This is unfortunate because with each passing year practitioners and nurses such as yourself with a wealth of experience in the human and non tangible aspects of clinical care leave the profession. One hopes that it won’t fade from the landscape but I’m not so sure. While not essential from the business/tech model of medicine it is essential from my perspective as to what care and caring is all about.
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I understand the feeling. I’ve been in healthcare as an RN/nurse practitioner for 36 years. I’ve worked essentially every Dept except L&D. I’ve been a manager, director etc. I be worked ED, level 1 to a rural community ED. I’m a former USAF flight nurse and officer. I continue to only be relevant because I choose to work in underserved areas in Alaska where my experience is valued. I work as a locum tenens which suits me for now. I will soon have to stop as I have elderly parents who require my care. I would still like to work part time at home, but jobs are limited . Of course, I’m over 55. I understand your “pain”.
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Thank you for your comments. It becomes a sad reality. Despite my ICU years, credentials, committees, being in management and staffing… they didn’t want me! I am almost every day asked to join an agency throughout the USA.. but Charlotte, NC doesn’t want me!! Beyond ageism, it comes down to the fact that 2 young RN’s are cheaper than one of me!!
Thanks for sharing. Take care and stay safe!!
Thank you!! I appreciate your insight. I faced ageism with these interviews but I also faced burn out but I also lost my professional filter…. thinking that a little humor my be appreciated , but obviously not!! Take care!!
As a result of my sobriety in AA, I chose to leave a lucrative career in systems development in oil and gas at age 44. I chose to work with SPMI on a 32 bed Psychiatric ICU in Houston, which I ended up directing for over 10 years. You said “I entered into the land of psychotics and schizophrenics, bipolar, homeless, dangerous patients from prison, like those serving time for killing people or assaulting them. Then there were the non-compliants that looked away from treatment, therapy, and medications — the revolving door.” This cruel characterization and objectification of PEOPLE WITH schizophrenia or bipolar or homelessness or released prison inmates who are often n/c with meds PRIMARILY due to their lack of awareness of their illness (anosognosia). You said “First: to be kind and gentle and listen and care. Your compassion for that person may be all that patient has received in a very long time.” IMHO I have to respect my pts, who did not ask to be born with a form of mental illness, and treat them with compassion WITHOUT judging them as “Less Than.” BTW one of my pts with Bipolar mre Manic Severe with psychotic features is now a model patient. At age 20 and again at 45 he was convicted of 2nd-degree murder after being shamed during a manic episode. Now my age (I am 72) Johnny leads a daily two-hour Bible study and mentors newly diagnosed younger patients when he comes in for periodic “medication tuneups.” When his medication runs low he calls me on the PICU saying “I’ve got to get a refill. You know what happens when I am off my meds !! !! !! Grayson Miller
Thank you for your input. My theme of this boils down to discrimination and ageism to us older folks. I had no intention of “objectifying” anyone, or degrading them, I was describing our Behavioral Heath population that is called “Intensive Management” and we do get a high percentage of psychotics and schizophrenics that are aggressive and violent. I describe them as I also describe ICU patients in other articles I have written. But by no means did I have any intentions to degrade or dishonor mentally ill patients. Unfortunately, when I write stories, anyone can assume their own perception of my stories.
My story was approved and published by KevinMD and also approved by our lead psychiatrist. Thank you!!
Welcome to the intersection of sexism and ageism!
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Wonderful post. What an inspiration.
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