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The Making and Life of a Registered Nurse in the Era of COVID-19: Chapter Eight–My Life as a Clinical Supervisor

When I left my previous hospital and came to my new one I had no aspirations for management. However, it became soon apparent that I could not escape that role because during the interview process, I was offered the role of clinical supervisor or charge nurse. After discussing what my salary options were, I realized that I would take a major pay cut if I were to go back to the floor. So, economics decided for me.

As a clinical supervisor, I was responsible for making the schedule for my night staff while my counterpart was responsible for the yearly evaluations of the night staff. I am not sure who made out better on that one. We oversaw the care of the patients and made sure that they had the support they needed to do their jobs safely. We also ran the codes until the ER doctor arrived on the scene. As a result, we were required to be ACSL certified. We also helped out the nursing supervisor in doling out discipline and acted as watch dogs to make sure that our staff followed the rules. As our employees were licensed professionals this part was fairly simple.

I continued this role for a period of ten months when administration decided to stir the pot up some. They basically fired all the clinical supervisors and replaced them with part-time charge nurses. We all were given the option to stay there but that meant that we would work the floors as regular nurses with maybe picking up a day or two as a relief charge nurse. Well, half the clinical supervisors out and out quit. The rest of us tried other options at the hospital. Within a few months, administration realized what kind of mistake they had made. Not only did they lose a very large number of experienced nurses, they now had a shortage of people willing to even to fill the roles of relief charge nurses. The charge nurses routinely had to cover two and even three medical/ telemetry floors. Even though it has been years since they reinstated the position of Clinical Supervisor, they still have not fully recovered from that policy change. If an RN had did something comparable to this on the floor they would have been immediately fired. Fair or not, the administrators responsible received no reprimands whatsoever. Like I said before, if something broke in the hospital it became the job of the nursing staff to fix it, or even better we were blamed for it.

I believe this trend to protect the administration is in part due to the “Peter Principle” which states that members of a hierarchy are promoted until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent. Apparently, there is a growing acceptance of failures in the corporate world. It is changing the way companies approach innovation. While companies are beginning to accept the value of failure in the abstract—at the level of corporate policies, processes, and practices—it’s an entirely different matter at the personal level. Everyone hates to fail. We assume, rationally or not, that we’ll suffer embarrassment and a loss of esteem and stature. And nowhere is the fear of failure more intense and debilitating than in the competitive world of business, where a mistake can mean losing a bonus, a promotion, or even a job. Is this trend fair, I say no, but I don’t run things. I guess another term for this trend is the “gold old boy club.” I have worked in the corporate field for over 35 years now. I have seen CEOs come and go, however, they never truly disappear they just get shuffled off to other corporations where they just repeat their mistakes all over again. I will include one real life example here. Since the information is in the public domain I will actually use his real name. The CEO at my first corporation that I worked at was Ronald J. Floto. The company was Kash-n-Karry (KnK). It was owned by the parent company Lucky Foods. This was the era of Reaganomics and hostile corporate takeovers. KnK was a highly profitable branch of the company so it was sold off to prevent the whole company from being taken over. We became self-owned with Ronald J. Floto still retaining his position as CEO. Unfortunately, we were highly leveraged and could barely stay solvent. It did not help that one poor decision was made after another, eventually Food Lion bought us out, and Floto lost his job. We even hired a company to help us with our customer service issues, which cost three million dollars for their services and close to three more million for our labor costs. It was just wasted money, because the program was crap and useless, besides there was no way that we could afford to implement their practices. Our only problem was that we kept cutting our customer service staff back, so our customers had to wait increasingly long periods at the registers to check out. Who wants melted ice cream?

A little side note when I went back to Florida on a road trip, Kash-n-Karry and Food Lion no longer existed in that state. KnK went bankrupt, thanks to Super Walmart’s and Food Lion just moved out of the state. You just never know what I am going to include in my books, do you?

Super Kmart soon offered him the same position in their Super Kmart which he ran for three years. Does anybody remember Super Kmarts? He was more successful in his next job in Dairy Farm International where he worked there for 10 years. During this time he was involved in a startup called FLT International, LLC where he has been the president for 24 years and is currently still holding that position. I think you should now see the point that I am trying to make, these top level administrators have nine lives. I think this is because they find ways to spread the blame to lower level employees. I believe the term used is “scapegoat.” The Scapegoat theory refers to the tendency to blame someone else for one’s own problems, a process that often results in feelings of prejudice toward the person or group that one is blaming. Scapegoating serves as an opportunity to explain failure or misdeeds, while maintaining one’s positive self-image.

While my stint as a clinical supervisor was just a mere ten months, it afforded me many opportunities. I became familiar and friends with a lot of wonderful people, many of whom I would work with for many years to come. It also gave me the opportunity to become cognizant with the workings of the hospital, which would become all too valuable when I did relief float charge nurse and relief house supervisor work, both of which I did for over five years.

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