Nurses and bullies...

  1. So, this might seem controversial, but it's something I noticed while working at a hospital for almost 3 years.

    I was lucky enough to work with Physical and Occupational Therapists (so we did therapy in every department of the hospital -- sans NICU).

    In saying that, I think part of the reason an NP is more appealing to me than a BSN / RN program is because I saw A LOT of bullying in the nursing field on the BSN / RN or CNA level. As an NP, I'm sure it could happen, but I feel like it would happen less at that level.

    I mean some of them were just downright B-words. And, I don't chalk it up to a bad day (because this behavior was tied to them on a frequent basis when I saw them).

    And while it was pretty prevalent in all levels, it seemed that the ones in charge were the worst.

    It's almost like Dante's levels of H*ll in terms of moving up the ranks of mean (not including NP, CRNA, Midwife or other higher level nursing positions).

    Crappy attitude, didn't want to be bothered by patients (or other healthcare workers), nasty disposition, thought highly of themselves and looked down on others etc.

    I have friends and family who are nurses in hospitals, nursing homes, home health, school systems and it doesn't seem like it stops there (in terms of environment and bullying).

    I've worked in a few fields and while bullying can happen anywhere, it seems like nursing has a high ratio of this type of catty, mean behavior.

    It's one of the reasons I'm not sure I could handle this field.

    It's not because I can't handle myself around bullies, but I know that I'd put one of these bullies in their place and probably get fired over it (because they either tend to be in charge or "in" with the people who are in charge or just lie or are manipulative).

    My tolerance for that sort of behavior is really low and I'd definitely knock them off of their bully peg which wouldn't bode well for anyone involved.

    So, what has your experience been with bullying in the nursing field? And, how did you handle it?

    Is it as prevalent as it seems?

    And, do you feel like it contributes to the issues with burn out in the nursing field?

    What advice would you give to a new grad who encountered this type of behavior?
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  2. 52 Comments

  3. by   oceangirl1234
    First off, you may get better discussion if the name of your thread did not generalize every single nurse as being a bully. I can 100% say I am not a bully. And the two different units I work on....never seen an issue.

    Advice to a new grad: ignore it. Go to work and learn how to be a nurse. Find someone who can be your mentor. If there are actual issues, look into conflict resolution. Most organizations have resources available to those who need support.

    Just curious, but why are you so against nurses? Have you felt personally victimized as an occupational therapist? When I have 5-6 patients who are calling me every 5 minutes from 7 am-7 pm, I just don't have time to be standing around having conversations. Some shifts are just crazy. BUT, that doesn't mean I won't talk to other health care workers with respect and assist when I can.

    And have you been around a lot of NP's? Just curious why you feel higher education exempts them from "bullying" behaviours?
  4. by   meanmaryjean
    I'm curious about what oceangirl asks as well. I have encountered a true bully exactly twice in my 40 year career. If you perceive every single RN as a 'bully' in your interactions with them, perhaps you need to examine the part YOU play in these interactions.
  5. by   SICUmurseCCRN
    there are always a few bullies on every unit but for the most part i have worked with a lot of really nice people. the few that we have tend to be older nurses and i have seen them berate an orientee and its quite disgusting (especially when they are the ones providing wrong information to an orientee). i would say there are a lot of know-it-all nurses who for the most part are harmless. advice for a new grad would be to ignore it like the first post said and focus on your job. also, when you need help go to someone experienced that is approachable and you will be fine.
  6. by   KatieMI
    While I am a convinced supporter of the point of view about prevalence of bullying and lateral violence in modern American nursing being so high that it should be considered a cultural norm, I might side with previous posters this time. Nurses are supposed to wear so many hats and be responsible for so many functions nowadays that they, plain and simple, have no time to be super-polite with everyone and attend immediately to everything. Occupational therapy is hardly ever the highest priority in patient's care, and PT/OT people do not fill those Press-Ganey surveys. So, yeah, anything that PT/OT people think as being "very important" for what they are doing at that moment is likely to be at the lowest bottom of priority list for every nurse they address. Furthermore, your 5th request to unhook that lady's IV so that you can work with her automatically goes below that call light going off 4th time in 3 min (and every one of them being for downright silly reasons) because call light comes from "paying customer" who will fill that survey.

    Is it pleasant? Definitely, not. Is it bullying? Even I would say "no". Nurses are "justdojngtheirjobs", like you do. They just have WAY more things they are responsible for, and they are no more able to be in more than one place at once than you do. Please make an effort to understand this.

    And, BTW, while bullying is less common among peers in SOME Advanced Practice nursing specialties, it is a more than a well-known problem among CRNAs and CNMs.
  7. by   WestCoastSunRN
    There are culture issues at some places. It's true anywhere not just in nursing. Most of what is involved in that I would not define as "bullying". There's a lot that goes into the feel of a particular work place. I don't think you can break it all down to just one profession. I, also, will not tolerate bullying. One the best ways I know to prevent it and/or be able to nip it in the bud (should you actually experience it), is to work on becoming a very competent nurse. A team player that everyone knows they can depend on. I think some of what new nurses perceive as bullying is more of initiation rites of sorts. We've got literal lives in our hands. We have to know we can count on each other not to crumble and cry when the worst stuff happens (and it does happen).
    I second the idea of finding a nurse mentor that can help guide you through not only the clinical aspects of nursing but the social ones as well. And I want to add that the best teamwork I've ever witnessed in my life has come from nurses.
  8. by   Wuzzie
    I'm not sure what the point of this post is. All the inflammatory language does nothing to encourage discussion and everything to just stir the pot. I think we should just let it die it's well-deserved death.
  9. by   ItsThatJenGirl
    It would help further the discussion if you posted what you consider bullying and give some examples.
  10. by   jennylee321
    You think becoming an NP will allow you to not deal with bullies ? 1. NPs are not exempt from being bullied, no one is 2. You need to be an RN to me a proper NP
  11. by   cleback
    Hmmm... You seem very set against nursing in the first part of your post, and then you are considering being a nurse in the last section. Hmmmm... That doesn't follow.

    I have never seen bullying by nurses, but I have from providers. NPs are not exempt from being bullied. You may just need to see a different workplace culture.
  12. by   Horseshoe
    What a terrible thread title. You could easily have posted a thread about bullying in nursing without painting the entire profession as a monolith.
  13. by   brownbook
    Uh oh, you have identified me.

    I am nick named the Terminator, most nurses who work on my unit a few days or weeks run screaming from the unit. Then they lose their license due to patient abandonment. Which falls right into my evil plan to uhmmmm,, well......let me think some more about my evil plan. I have so many evil plans, oh I remember, rid hospitals of nurses and have robots take over. Then I program the robots to kill all the patients. Then uhmmmm......let me think. No yeah....no more sick people, ...hospitals close saving the government billions of dollars and I get elected president. Bwah bwah bwah

    Of course now that I have told you I will have to kill you. I DO know who you are.
  14. by   pixierose
    Quote from brownbook
    Uh oh, you have identified me.

    I am nick named the Terminator, most nurses who work on my unit a few days or weeks run screaming from the unit. Then they lose their license due to patient abandonment. Which falls right into my evil plan to uhmmmm,, well......let me think some more about my evil plan. I have so many evil plans, oh I remember, rid hospitals of nurses and have robots take over. Then I program the robots to kill all the patients. Then uhmmmm......let me think. No yeah....no more sick people, ...hospitals close saving the government billions of dollars and I get elected president. Bwah bwah bwah

    Of course now that I have told you I will have to kill you. I DO know who you are.
    I KNEW IT .

    (the evil oozes out from your posts ... a black aura permeates around your user name... brown book? Should be called black book!)

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