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How Nurses Can Detect an Unhealthy Work Environment

How Nurses Can Detect an Unhealthy Work Environment

Cindy Mehallow | Monster Contributing Writer

You can even ask to read the minutes of the last few staff meetings, where the manager should have documented any major problems on the unit, Bartholomew notes.

Observe: Take a Tour

In addition to asking questions, you can learn a lot through careful observation.

Look at the unit manager’s office, McLaughlin suggests. Is her door open? Is the office located in a place where staff can easily access her?

Tour the unit. Is it clean? How does it smell? If it’s not clean the day you’re there, chances are it won’t be clean when you’re working there either.

Beyond taking a tour, ask to spend at least an hour on the floor, Bartholomew says. The ideal time is morning, when physicians are making their rounds and the shift is changing, she advises. Note the relationships and how conflicts are handled. Do the people seem relaxed? Is there humor? How do the staff nurses interact with each other, especially with the incoming shift? Do they feel free to approach each other with updates? How do staff interact with the manager? Are the physicians approachable?

Meet and Greet

Ask to speak with key people, including:

• Your future manager, if you haven’t done so already. • A veteran nurse on the unit. • The most recently hired nurse or a nurse who has just finished orientation.

You can also ask to speak with a nurse preceptor or mentor in person or over the phone.

After doing all this, you should have a pretty clear idea whether the atmosphere is friendly or fierce, cooperative or cutthroat before you accept a job offer.

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