What to do about a bad boss?

Maybe this has happened to someone out there…

First some background. I am 25 and a guy (this is important to the question at hand, I believe). I work in a long-term care facility, taking care of 75-odd tennants who cannot otherwise take care of themselvs. My job isto recieve all manner of medication-related “stuff”: Dr. orders, communications from the pharmacy, meds themselvs, etc. I pass meds, chart on all manner of sickness and other out of the ordinary occurances that may happen. I also supervise all staff when my supervisors are not on duty. I have two bosses, an adimistrator (boss #1) and the facility R.N. (boss #2). I have been working this job for just shy of 5 years.

Boss #1 couldn’t care less about the day-to-day goings on of her facility and would rather sit in her plush office and gossip with her little click of other administrative personell than actually work.

Boss #2 is the classic drill-sergeant type, who has a firm belief that all employees must abide by her rules, even if her rules happen to violate Corporate rules. Being a long-term care facility, Corporate rules tend also to be state law.

Since boss #1 couldn’t care less about her facility, going to her to report boss #2’s hairbrained (and occasionally illegal) orders is futile.

“She’s the nurse and knows what she is tlaking about,” boss #1 replies.

“But boss, this (whatever) is against corporate policy and could very result in a fine if State finds out”

“State probably won’t find out. Go do it.”

Refusing to do (whatever) = insubordinatin = pink slip.

To top it off, boss #2 sometimes really acts like a drill sergeant, yelling at us poor peons like we were misbehaving five-year-old rather than state-trained professionls. We are treated like dirt, yelled at in public and called worthless, lazy, stupid, immature, etc (no joke).

There are three people in my position and all three are ready to throw in the towel and walk.

Now to my dillema. This a small town and there are few jobs to be had. If I were to quit, I might be able to get a part-time job flipping burgers or pumping gas. Also, said small town is no closer than 70 miles from a big town, with real jobs. I have a wife and two kids to support, quitting is not the alternative. Besides, this is my job, dammit, one I enjoy, and walking away because my boss is some Hitler-wannabe is not something that I can easily do. Both bosses tend to a) not like men, and b) not like young people. This puts me at a disadvantage right from the get-go.


Subjective: I feel that I am being harrased and belittled at work, and asked to do stupid things that break the rules, and feel that basically my bosses are man-haters. I go home stressed out and can’t sleep, which worries my 6-month-pregnant wife to no end.

Objective: Life sucks, most people have bad jobs that are less than ideal, get used to it and quit being a whine-ass. Turning them in to corporate would most likely result in termanation. Turning then in to state would definately result in termanation. So grow some balls and get back to work

I am at my wits end, does anybody have any ideas on how to handle this ongoing, escalating problem?

You could become a whistle-blower. Your life will probably suck more for the short term, however.

Document, document, document. Then, when you’ve got a nice fat sheaf, forward it to someone at corporate HQ. Deposit the originals with a lawyer first.

If you can’t move and change jobs, then document as much as you can to protect yourself.

How do you approach Boss #1 about something illegal that Boss #2 is doing? Is it a few words when you meet in a hallway, or do you write up a memo, send an e-mail, ask for a sit-down?

Maybe Boss #1 would respond better if you approach her in a way that tells her “I’m Making This Official So You Might Want to Listen Because Somebody Might Die Here.”

Cover your ass. Take care of your residents, but cover your ass too.

(I’m assuming you’re talking about Boss #2 breaking rules that put people’s health in jeopardy, rather than minor bureaucratic stuff that state agencies have been known to insist on for no good reason.)

All that stuff about lawsuits and things is fine on paper but it tends to be harder for the little guy to get a victory with these things than popular wisdom would tell you.

Personally, I would just do what they tell you and start looking for another job at the same time. I am not sure what the rule violations are. If they are truly putting other people in danger, you do have a duty to report it. However, it is common for industry practice not to match up perfectly with state law and all parties involved are already aware of it. That type of things happen in lots of places and there isn’t much you can do without hurting yourself trying to get the situation changed.

Can you anonymously turn in the wrongdoings of the bad boss? After doing what others have suggested, and docmenting EVERYTHING of course.

Nursing homes and nurses are highly regulated by the state… if that RN is breaking the law, you should report it to the state nursing board. There should also be some sort of state agency who oversees nursing facilities and elder rights and patient safety. You should contact them too.

Who is the boss of boss 1 and 2? Who owns the nursing home, a big company? - you mentioned corporate rules. Well why can’t you contact the corporate people? They may be a target for a lawsuit if their staff is breaking the law, so it’s in their best interest to know about lawbreakers.

Also many states have “whistleblower” laws specifically designed for situations like this.

You really should do something - don’t let these people get away with this! You probably can do most of this anonymously, or have your job protected through whistleblower laws. What state do you live in?

First, you have my admiration for doing a very demanding job, taking care of people who desperately need it. And, you’ve been doing this since you were 20, and you enjoy the work. Kudos, man, you are an exceptional, caring person.

As others have said, I’d keep a journal to document infractions you see; with what you say of the administrator, an accident is waiting to happen, and you should have your own involvement covered.

Since it sounds like it would be hard to find another job, especially with a baby on the way, here are some coping strategies:

Perhaps you can try to understand your bosses a bit more. Yeah, maybe hard to do, but, often, when people get stuck in a hard job for a long time, some of their decency gets ossified and jaded. If they are older women, they’ve probably been put through the wringer. You’re young, so they see you as not able to understand. Ask them for advice, let them know you appreciate their knowledge, that you really care for your patients, and want to make a difference and give best care possible. That could remind them of why they went into the field, and melt their hearts. Or, might be rebuffed, their hearts are cold, but at least you tried.

Seek outside support from others in your field. Best would be someone local you could talk to, and release the tension. But, I’m sure there must be online support forums for Health Care Professionals. Bound to be plenty, as stress inducing as those jobs are. Some release and understanding will go a long way to make your job tolerable.

A physical exercise program or meditation practice can also help with stress. I’ve had many a stressful job, often because of supervisor issues. Learning meditation, and deep-breathing exercises has helped me get some balance. There are basic meditation lessons that are purely a phys-ed type, not aligned with any religious practice.

Good Luck, Hon. You are doing a most honorable job under some bad circumstances.

Reading my last post, I hope it doesn’t look like I’m saying that meditation is a way of just sucking it up and letting all the shit of the job slide by. It’s not. It is a way of being able to physically release tension ( good exercise can do the same), while looking for whatever better way of life/job one needs.

You may already know what whistleblower laws are, but if not I’ll clarify a little. They are laws that prohibit retaliation against someone who makes a qualifying complaint about something, such as medical safety. The good news is some such law probably applies to your situation. The bad news is the way they often play out is the employee does get retaliated against (for example, fired, put on undesirable shift, transferred, denied time off, etc.) and the law then gives them a right to sue for damages and perhaps reinstatement. So it is a long drawn out process, not a guarantee that nothing bad will happen.

If patients’ health is being put at risk by violating state laws, that is probably worth reporting. Short of that, probably not.

I would predict that if you stay and the other two walk, the bosses will appreciate your loyalty somewhat and will respect you a bit more for sticking with them through the bad times when they have to fill two vacant positions. Not that this is necessary right, but it is typical of what I’ve seen in the workplace.

Documenting and looking for another job while still employed are also good ideas.

How are you passing meds? Just curious-I thought an RN or LPN (LVN) had to do so.

You are in a very bad position. I also recommend documenting and stating your concerns to boss’ boss–and go beyond her, if needed. SBON is a drastic, but perhaps neccessary step.

Jeez guys, I though I was alone in my toils. Thanks.

Some Clarifications:

I have reported to boss #1 the infractions of boss #2, with no results. Looking at it from the big picture, said infractions aren’t exactly up there with rape and murder, but there still bad. Example: a resident is c/o upset stomach and nausea. R.N. orders yours truly to give them some Pepto Bismol. I humbly request contacting the M.D. first to make sure that is ok. R.N. cuts me off, informs my to go do or else. Said resident is on Coumadin, Pepto contains aspirin. Aspirin + Coumadin = massive internal bleeding. In that particular instance I did refuse.

Now, If I would have documented that, it would have my signature on the prgress report. That’s a legal document. I could document on PN that the R.N. ordered pepto to be given, but it doesn’t matter, it’s my signature, the responsability for making sure that med was legal to give falls on me.

Incedentaly, I live in Oregon, and here, any med, no matter what it is, needs to have a signed M.D. order to be given. I think this is pretty universal, it protects both resident and facility, and puts the medication decisions where they belong – in the hands of doctors. It is not required than an R.N. or an LPN gives out meds, we med-aids are state-trained but not actually licensed.

My feeling is that the R.N. has been doing this for a trillion years and thinks she knows what will be best for the resident. Sometimes she’s wrong, often she is not, but that’s not really the point. We are required, by law, to have signed M.D. orders for all meds and treatments. She thinks this a stupid rule and ignores when it suits her idealogical bent.

The other two who are ready to walk are recent additions to our little team, many before them have been run off. I have reported this to boss #1’s boss, to no avail. this is a big faceless corporation here, and as long as the building is full they don’t much care if someone’s breaking the rules, as long as it’s not too obvious.

Well, it’s 4:30 am, I’m off to work. Wish me luck.

Maybe I’ll just start smoking and drinking.

Change employers. Don’t waste any further energy in your conflict with two bosses.

Become a nurse. Shit flows downhill, so the sooner you get up from the bottom of the pile, the better.

Outside of whistleblowing, one suggestion would be to drag Boss #1 into it. Anytime #2 asks you to do something illegal, type it out, and take it to Boss #1 to sign. Don’t write on the paper that the order is illegal, but do tell #1 that you need her to authorize it since it is illegal for you to do so and (sob story) you can’t afford to go to jail since your wife is pregnant and you need the job, and all that. If you can cry, all the better.

I think you need to look at this from the point of view of the attorney representing the patients when they sue for violation of legal health-care standards. The hell with ethical behavior here, are YOU going to be the person they can prove was cutting corners because it’s YOUR signature on the forms? Will your bosses (either one) be able to pretend in court that they’re shocked, shocked, that you took it upon yourself (“My word, Your Honor, No! If I’d had any idea at all…”) to commit such blatent violations of policy?

The system counts on people like you realizing their self-interest here, and so refusing to perform illegal acts, however small. It sucks that you’re in this position, but you’re in it, and it doesn’t do you any good to make believe you’re not. You may get lucky, and nothing bad will happpen during your tenure on this job, but I don’t see why you’d count on it. At the very least, you should be writing official memoes to both bosses stating your objection to following orders you think are illegal. Then it’s up to them to prove that they responded, with appropriate shock and horror, to your misinterpretation of what they were telling you to do.

IANAL, but you might want to talk with one.

It sounds like the OP has great skills and a great attitude, so a longer-run solution is: get another job! Surely your skills and dedication are in demand. Okay, maybe you’ll have to move, but hey – it is a big, wonderful world out there, and you might have your pick of tempting locations once you started to explore your options seriously. Take your time, think it through, make a wise choice.

But that’s long run advice. Let’s talk about short run. It doesn’t sound like there are any straightforward solutions here. Sometimes the obvious answers just don’t work.

So, how do you cope? Welllll…a long time ago I read a marvelous magazine article about clever employees getting satisfying, untraceable revenge on demon bosses. I wish I’d kept the article, but basically it recommended guerilla tactics just to keep yourself sane and smiling. For example: one group of employees with a psychotic boss left…one peanut in the seat of his chair.

The next day, there was a peanut in his pencil holder.

The day after that, a few peanuts artfully scattered on the rug.

And then next, maybe a week of no peanuts, followed by a small handful of peanuts in his desk drawer.

You see how it works?

The thing was, there was no way the boss could figure out what was going on, blame someone, or even talk to anyone about it. (“Y’know, it’s the strangest thing…I found a peanut in the men’s room today.”) So bossfreak had to suffer in silence, while the persecuted employees were in a state of glee, knowing that they were driving their supervisor crazy.

I wish I could remember more examples, but a spirit of originality and consideration of the circumstances in your individual workplace is going to be the best approach anyway. The big rule, obviously, is don’t do anything that could get anyone hurt, the corrollary of which is don’t do anything that you could get caught at. Next, a confederate or two that you could trust might be very helpful in trying to pull of any particular stunts.

Anybody got any suggestions along these lines?

Honestly? Sounds juvenile.

When I had a bad boss situation years ago (and I was about your age) I invoked the serenity prayer on a daily basis…

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

In my case I knew the boss wasn’t going to change so I applied for a lateral transfer to a different department.

Doesn’t sound like that’s possible for you but I’d like to echo what someone said earlier about documenting things to CYA and to blow the whistle if they’re putting people in danger.

Good luck with your bad situation.

I realize this was just an example for illustrative purposes, Thylacinidae, but we are here to fight ignorance - there is no aspirin in Pepto Bismol. It contains bismuth subsalicylate, not acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin). Taking bismuth subsalicylate while on Coumadin treatment is also not recommended, but if you need to challenge your RN on this, you can challenge her accurately now.

And like just about everyone else has said, document your ass off, for two reasons - covering your own ass, because I can just about guarantee you that YOU will be the one hung out to dry if there is ever an investigation into your nursing home, and also because it is the right thing to do to help the patients you are working with. An RN who gives Coumadin patients something that is not recommended for them is not someone who should be allowed to continue working there.

In the past when I have been at a job where I have felt the need to document the crap that was going on, I felt much better when I started documenting, because part of the stress you’re feeling is a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness, like there’s nothing you can do and nothing will ever change. Make it your business to document the hell out of everything that goes on there. I think it will help change your outlook at least a little.

Best wishes for a good resolution to this. :slight_smile: