Ask the nursing expert: handling time off requests and disruptive nurse managers

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Ask the nursing expert
Ask the nursing expert
Staff sometimes request time off that they want after they have bought their plane tickets, making staffing a nightmare. Any suggestions on how to handle this?

Make it very clear when you are interviewing for a job in your department what the policy is about requesting time off. I have also seen staff wait until September or October to begin to use their leave time because they are in a use or lose situation.

Meet with all of your staff at the beginning of summer and review the time off policy and be sure that all members sign in for the review. It is not your job to keep track of who is and who is not using their time off.

Please make sure that you are consistent with following the request for time off policy. Discourage staff from buying plane tickets before their leave request is approved. Stress that a request does not guarantee approval.

How do you handle a nurse manager who does not seem to be able to do anything without asking you about it first? I find this very disruptive.

When your nurse manager asks you a question, ask him or her how he or she has already tried to resolve the issue. Example: “Do you have any idea where Mr. Doe's chart is?” I would respond with, “Where have you already looked? Where do you think it could be?”
This nurse manager has previous experience as a manager, so encourage her to use her previous experience to think it through.
The more you solve the issue, or give him or her the answers, the more you are encouraging someone to become increasingly dependent on you. Part of the role of the nurse manager is to provide leadership for his or her staff—you should not hand-hold those who are able to handle matters themselves.