How should I deal with a nurse who's bullying me?

  1. Definition of a bully-a strong person who acts harshly towards someone weaker. A bully is blantant and habitual. Bulling includes browbeating, threatening, verbal abuse and yelling. Others recognize this person as a bully.

    Help me! I am dealing with the most ridiculous person I've ever encountered in my whole life and she's my supervisor. I have been a c.n.a for 4 years and I am currently on my second job in a small facility that is 1/4 the size of my previous place of employment. My new place is lovely. It's a dream it's clean, everything is brand new, the staffing is incredible there have been nights that I've only had 6 people in my set. The patients for the most part are easy going and easy to care for. And 98% of my coworkers are wonderful people who have good attitudes and are always willing to help.

    Except for one nurse who I refer to as "evil nurse" and one fellow aide as her accomplice and best friend who I refer to as "evil aide." Evil aide I can deal with by ignoring and avoidance because we are equals but evil nurse has my nerves shot with her constant harrassment of me and my fellow coworkers. This person has terrorized me for the better part of a year. She has constantly made me feel anxious, frustrated and angry and I have actually called of several times just to avoid working with her.

    Her behavior is very erratic and inconsistent and you never know what your going to get from her. She's very clever and when she's in front of other nurses or her supervisors she's sweet as pie which can be more disturbing at times than when she's raging. She likes to accuse people of not doing their work, lying to her about doing work and even calls us names like "liar" and "stupid." When she's afraid she did something wrong she likes to blame it on the C.N.A's.(but never her best friend evil aide) She complains consantly about one aide in particular and blames her for every single thing that goes wrong in the facility. Despite the fact that no other supervisors have an issue with this particular aide. She constantly threatens our c.n.a status saying things like if she reports us we could lose our job and c.n.a certificates. She encourages other nurses on different shifts to not like us and often portrays herself as the victim. Even though we are all terrified of her. She has everyone afraid to go to the DON because she claims that they are best friends and she also claims that she has gotten several people fired who tried to complain about her. She is the worse and her best friend evil aide acts as her spy and feeds into her negativity. An interesting fact about this nurse is while she constantly threatens to write people up she only has once in a whole year and the C.N.A. in question disputed the write up and the DON threw it out. The aide didn't even have to get the union involved. This has lead us all to believe that upper management in aware of her behavior.

    Now me being the proactive and positive person that I am decided to research the matter. I identified her as a classic work place bully and came up with a few tatics for dealing with this person and I shared the info with my coworkers so they could be better equipped with handling her and her abuse. We ignore/avoid her when we can. We use gentle assertiveness for example when she's raging we calmly point out that we we can clearly see that she is very angry and we don't know what we did to offend her so. If she goes too far we try to immediately remove ourselves from the situation. We also try to use humor to calm ourselves. I suggested that my coworkers focus on how ridiculous she looks when she's yelling or accusing us of doing or not doing things. We also vent to eachother often.

    These tactics seem to be working for everyone very well and sometimes it even feels like she has no power over our emotions anymore. Except for the past two weeks she has been particularly nasty to me. I am a very hard worker, I'm polite and I try to be professional. Patients love me, and I always try to treat everyone with dignity and kindness. I tell people I try to think of all the patients as my grandma or granpa and that helps me have lots of patience. This is my calling in life and I am still very young. I'm finally attending nursing school in January and I'm afraid that this nurse is mean spirited enough to try to jeopradize my future by making false allegations against me. I'm thinking about writing a letter to the administrator but I'm having reservations. What should I do? Thanks
  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   CoffeemateCNA
    Sounds like a total b****. She is obviously insecure about herself and asserts her authority upon everyone else to make herself feel better. I have worked with several of them over the past few years. All of the crap they say are really just empty words/threats. I guess your personality type makes a big difference with how you deal with the situation. I am the type of person that really doesn't care what other people think and have no problem walking away from and ignoring people like that. It sounds like she really bothers you, though. The tactics you listed sound good. Keep supporting your coworkers, and it will make it so much easier.

    As verbally abusive as she is to you, it doesn't sound as if you are in any danger of being disciplined or terminated. Management usually has a pretty good idea exactly which staff members are crazy like that. In your case, even though your DON is friends with this nurse, I'm sure the DON knows that they really can't do much with the empty accusations of one person. If you were truly a bad employee, other staff members would be complaining about you as well, which isn't the case.

    How long has this been going on, and how long has this nurse worked there? If she has worked there for a long time, and you are new-ish, then you may not have much ground to stand on with the administrator. A letter from one person isn't likely to do much good, either. In fact, it usually just makes people sound like complainers with no backbones. However, encourage your coworkers to keep DETAILED statements of these occurrences (dates, times, what was said by both parties, maybe some background information from each situation) and then visit the administrator as a GROUP to present your findings. You are more likely to have better results this way.
  4. by   northernguy
    I think you are giving this one person too much power. They may or may not have the power to get you fired, but the fact you have been an aide for 4 years pretty well insulates you from serious long term consequences if that were too occur. If you were such a horrible aide its unlikely you would have lasted 1 year, much less 4, and any potential employer or school admissions person would take that into account I would think. Your anxiety might make more sense if you were a brand new aide with no work history.

    I dont understand why some aides seem to be afraid of RNs. I just see them as coworkers, they have their job, I have mine. Ive never had the impression they have the power to get an aides certification revoked solely on their opinion of you as an aide. Obviously if theres a situation where abuse or neglect were occuring, they could report that, which in turn could result in an aide losing their cert if a state investigation found it to be true, but in reality anyone could cause an investigation, including another aide or even a housekeeper, and for that matter an aide could report an RN if they witnessed the same thing, possibly resulting in the RN losing their license.

    Maybe Im wrong, but thats how I thought it worked.
  5. by   Hygiene Queen
    I have never met a bully that doesn't back off when you speak up and show backbone.
  6. by   nettiebaby05
    Coffeemate, I've already done everything your suggesting. We had a meeting all set up with the DON and she didn't even show up instead she sent her inservice director to "deal" with us. And Northernguy I am very sensitive and I take pride in my work so yes it really bothers me to work with somebody like her. Maybe I do care about what other people think too much and I do try to stay positive but it really is a toxic environment.
  7. by   nettiebaby05
    I've tried standing up to her she doesn't like that at all, in fact it makes her bully harder.
  8. by   canigraduate
    This is how I have dealt with bullies in the past:

    1) Don't take their crap. You really don't have to. This nurse doesn't have any power over you that you aren't giving her.

    2) Speak calmly and in a matter-of-fact manner. Address the current issue only. For example, I have told a nurse who was trying to dominate me "I feel like you are being completely inappropriate with me. If you continue to act this way, I will document exactly what you are saying and give it to (our boss). I expect to be treated with respect at all times, and I will do the same for you." It worked out pretty well. Another example is what I said to a patient who was being a complete jerk: "Don't talk to me like that. If you want to speak with me, you need to use a civil tone and civil words. Otherwise I will not listen to you and your needs will not be met." The guy actually apologized. He had encephalopathy, so I had to tell him that at least three times a day, but he settled down each time.

    3) Be consistent. I never let the bully win. When I was younger and unable to deal with bullies, I would let them walk all over me one day and be all brave the next. This doesn't work, and it can actually make them nastier. Make sure that once you start standing up for yourself, you do it consistently.

    4) And finally, I never let their attacks hurt my feelings. Bullies are nasty people who target good people. So, each time a bully takes a potshot at you, feel the unintended compliment.
  9. by   Artemis2.0
    First of all, never take a bully personally. Secondly, she is a bully but legally she is harassing you and creating a hostile work environment. So if you have done everything you possibly can do this. Sit down and write down how long this is been going on. Write out in detail everything you remember including when it started. Begin taking notes of dates, times, and any incidents. Yes, I know this part sounds petty but it sounds neccessary. Yes, management and others may know about but are they actively doing anything to resolve this possible. Make an appointment with them and take your notes with you so that you don't come across as whiney. Practice your opening statement to them and stay calm while they question you. The greatest weapon a bully has is your secrecy and goodness. Don't let her get away with disempowering you. You do have policies and law on your side. Do not rely simply on age old tactics of standing up to her. Her ego is greater than yours and power( in her opinion) is a massive trip. Look at as a type of drup for her and ,and let's face it, addicts do not give up their drugs. Best of luck.
  10. by   Artemis2.0
    Oh, by the way, find another job in the meantime.
  11. by   nettiebaby05
    I think finding another job is gonna best bet because I seriously feel sick everytime i have to go to work :-(
  12. by   Ytellu
    Chrislynn and Coffeemate gave you excellent advice. Document, document, document. Times/dates/places/what was said and who was there to hear it. Then take your documentation to your union representative and use these words: I want this complaint recorded, this nurse is creating a hostile work enviroment and I feel harassed!!

    Set another meeting with DON specifically and if she/he doesn't show or tries to pawn if off again go to her/his boss. Ask your union rep to go with you. Keep using the term HOSTILE WORK ENVIROMENT

    Someone has to take her down a peg. No one should have to be harassed. It's a job not High School.

    A good friend of mine once told me.....No one can take advantage of you without your permission.

    Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

    < I'm a former HR geek.
  13. by   Artemis2.0
    O.K., This may sound wierd but liston to that sick feeling. Your body is trying to tell you that what is happening isn't all in your head and it is going into stress overload, physically. It just can't handle the intense level of drama anymore and it can no longer decompress effectively even after work hours. I have worked in a place much like the one you have described with supervisors and co workers just as you have described. But still, follow my advice about taking notes. You don't know what may happen or how bad it may get between now and when you start a new job.
  14. by   Artemis2.0
    Read the book "The No A**hole Rule". It is enlightening.