On Losing Jobs, and Moving On

Ever onward.

There's been a bit of radio silence from me, and it's on purpose, but it's not because I've been hiding under the covers with a box of tissues binge watching TV shows on Netflix and lamenting my life and all the bad shit I've had to deal with.

Or, maybe it is.

I also went to Vegas.

So I suppose you've all figured out that I got fired from that wonderful new job I had. Once again, MoJo is jobless. Sort of.

I had an offer from another hospital and I start in May. But the next few weeks are going to be hard. And now I have huge trust issues and insecurity issues and a shit ton of other issues that I could list but I'm sure you all can figure them out. And I don't even really want to be a nurse anymore. I suppose that's the depression talking, but over the past couple of weeks since the shit hit the fan, I have lost interest in ever doing this job anymore and instead I've been thinking of becoming a long-distance truck driver or something that doesn't involve interacting with other people.

So let's talk about being your own worst enemy.

Before I transferred to this new place, I had a wonderful job in a unit that was staffed with amazing people that I loved working with. I should never have left. But I wanted more. I am perpetually seeking more. More hours, sicker patients, more responsibility... blah blah blah. I am never quite satisfied with what I have. So I took this new job because it was exactly what I was looking for: more.

The culture shock with the new ICUs was ... well, it was something I had never planned on having to contend with.

The ER was amazing. I loved it. The ICU? Not so much. The patients were sick, yes. I had VADs and EVDs and transvenous pacers and all the crazy high acuity shit I had always dreamed of. But something seemed a little ... off ... about the nurses.

Suffice it to say, my outgoing congenial and inappropriately funny personality did not mesh well with staff. And a staff member lied to my boss and said I made a racist statement and she fired me.

Racist. Yes.

I'm a lot of things, I told my boss, but not racist. But she fired me anyway. I found out in the course of this that people thought I was aggressive and intimidating which served as a foundation for her decision. Well, yes to both of those things, but it's not intentional. Both of those descriptions of me are based solely on other people's perception of me and are not intentional on my part. Aggressive vs. Assertive or Intimidating vs. Having a Strong Personality is related to how people see you. If they LIKE you, you're Assertive with a Strong Personality. If they DON'T like you, you're Aggressive and Intimidating.

My clinical skills and patient care were never in question. But silly me, I always thought that being a rockstar nurse would save you.

Not true.

Remember how I said that nursing was a high-school popularity contest and I felt like I was perpetually exiled to the Freaks and Geeks table in the lunchroom? It's so true. And yet, even in knowing this I continued to be real and true to my personality and it got me fired. I am my own worst enemy.

This other nurse, I guess, didn't like my personality. Many other nurses don't like my personality... except I am unilaterally accepted in every ER I work in, so I guess my personality and presentation is welcomed among the ultimate freaks and geeks of this world: ER Nurses. And I'm ok with that, because my new job is in the ER.

I just want to go to this guy and be like "I helped you give a lactulose retention enema on your 400lb patient, you ungrateful shitbag! Fuck you and four people who look like you!" But, why waste my time? Will it change him? No. Will it get my job back? No.

To say that I'm embarrassed is an understatement. I feel like I can't show my face to the world ever again. I want to hide in my house and write manifestos and order food off Amazon because I can't even go to the grocery store without feeling like people are silently judging me. I want to hide in my den and lick my wounds and just try to survive for the time being. And I'm giving myself that.

But the time will come that I have to pull up my big girl panties and get the fuck on with it. Right?

My manager was cool about it all, and she gave me some advice. She said that I shouldn't focus on trying to get people to like me and basically I should let my nursing skills speak for themselves so that people respect me first and then like me. Okay, noted. I don't know if that was my goal from the beginning: to be funny and crack jokes so people would like me. That sounds shallow and pathetic. But maybe it's true. Maybe I missed the people and the environment of my old job so much I tried really hard to recreate it at this new place and it blew up in my face.

At my old job we would all sit and laugh and tell funny stories when we had downtime. There was rarely a night when we didn't high five each other or giggle like insane people over some joke someone told. We were like a family, save for a few people that I wanted to kick in the balls, and I felt like I belonged. I wanted that again and I was impatient to get it, I guess.

So now I'm moving on to this new job. And frankly, Big Bad MoJo is scared. I'm scared that I'll get comfortable with the people I work with and crack a joke or laugh at something inappropriate and someone will take offense and they'll send me packing. I can't have that happen again, you know? So how do I do this? How do I trust people again? How do I do my job and rely on my teammates-- which, in an ER could be the difference of life and death for a patient-- while trying so hard to be this different person?

Why are nurses so goddamn intolerant of other people? Didn't we have cultural diversity and acceptance shoved down our throats in nursing school and force-fed to us in every PolicyStat or Healthstream module or fucking inservice?? How about respecting MY diversity?

And, there it is, the anger. I'm so angry. I'm angry that I was fired over hearsay. I'm angry that I have to go interview at places and try to skirt the issue that I was fired. I'm angry that now I have to hide my true personality (which is pretty goddamn awesome if you ask me. I'm fucking awesome.) for fear of causing someone else I work with to have a critical panty-bunching crisis and run to my manager and complain. No, I have to just shut up and do work and fear social interaction because god forbid I laugh at the wrong thing.

I am thankful, though, that I was able to find a job this fast. You all pray or shake sticks or cut up a chicken or eat spaghetti and think about pirates or whatever it is you do that I am able to make this one work. Because after this I think I'm out of options and will actually have to be a long-distance truck driver or something.

Is your hospital hiring?



  1. Best thing to do at a new job is not oversell yourself too much of talk about old jobs too much. "I have 3 years of ER and ICU experience" is about all you need to say if someone asks. Also help out a lot and that includes cleaning rooms, drawing blood, figuring out where all the crap is located and stock it. Sense of humor and crass jokes can come later-in the beginning you're married with a kid and a dog and that's about it. Ask about your preceptors' experience and say thanks for helping, thanks for showing me that, thanks thanks thanks. It would be very hard to hate a hard worker who was relatively grateful. ERs just don't want people sitting on their asses and complaining. Also consider therapy if depressed!!

    We're hiring!

  2. Also never ever ever say you were fired-you were working ICU and it turns out you liked/missed the ER too much, saw this job was posted, and it sounded good and the rest is history! Only say if someone brings it up though. The healthcare community is small and people might hear about your termination, though. I would tell your boss, assuming she knows about termination, that you are not going to tell other staff this and will respond generically so it doesn't look like you're lying. If this job is agency/contract, you like to stay out of hospital politics and just take care of patients.

  3. The new boss doesn't know about it and didn't ask, because I interviewed and got the offer while I was still on administrative leave. So, I'm not going to mention it at all. Essentially I told her that I saw this job, wanted full time ER (not floating) and I have a friend in the ICU upstairs that told me about this opening and raves about the hospital. And bam, got the offer. And you're right, K. I'm married with a kid and a dog and I like karaoke and bowhunting. That's it. I honestly doesn't even feel like trying to make friends, I just want to go to work and come home. I have plenty of friends outside work so whatevs.
    I always did see myself as a Montana kind of a girl... ;)

  4. I am not a nurse, but I did get fired from a job in a pretty toxic work environment, and then spent the next 3 years at my next job jumpy as hell about getting fired over hearsay again. What I've learned since then is that it pays to spend the first few weeks/months feeling out the work environment and withholding your personality *a little bit* until you know the culture. I am also a joke cracker and I've had my jokes fall flat and make me look like too much of a class clown when I busted out the humor too soon. Whereas where I work now, I presented as serious for the first few months so that by the time I started with the jokes, my bosses respected my work ethic and knew I was serious, and it went over much better.

  5. My hospital is definitely hiring. When you're ready to live in the Deep South let me know and I'll put in a wonderful word for you. Ditto to everything Nurse K said. Her advise is spot on. Ultimately I think this is good for you b/c you got a full-time gig in the ER. And I think you will do amazing and eventually realize that is where you were meant to be all along.

  6. ERs are definitely much more tolerate of people. I know there are people in my ER who would never keep a job somewhere else. They are a pain in the ass...here's the thing: They are good nurses. They do their job. They help. They know their shit. We put up with them because of that and we excuse the personality quirks, realizing everybody is different and they have their good side. Prove yourself with the nursing skills and the rest will fall into place. Shut up at first.

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  10. Don’t get depressed and disheartened because you cannot change the mentality and narrow thinking of people. Keep on doing what you think best, but never pull back from your duties. Your manager was right when she said – let people respect you for your skills, and let your skill speak for you. Your perfection in nursing skills will gradually shut up these people who try to find faults in you.

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