Changing harmful nursing culture

  1. I would like to share with you my difficulties with dealing with gossip in the workplace. I live and work in a rural hospital. The hospital has about 100 beds or so. Most of the nursing staff know each other or are can identify each other easily.
    I work in the OT. My roles include scrubbing, anaesthetics and recovery room. I also work casual shifts on the surgical ward, medical ward, ICU and ED. So I am fairly well known and have been with this hospital for about 8 years.
    I have some very close nursing friends and also have a wide network of friends outside the hospital, as my wonderful husband and I are involved with the arts. We have an artshop in the main street, curate and open visual art shows, and promote music concerts at the conservatorium of music.
    I am currently doing postgraduate studies in anaesthesia. I am the only nurse to do a certificate in this field for about 10 years. The anaesthesiologist of the hospital has been very excited that a nurse is interested in anaesthetics and therefore has been giving me a lot of journal articles to read, has helped organise clinical placements for me to get experience in city hospitals and always been generally encouraging and helpful.
    A gossipy, lonely person that I work with has been harassing me with comments that this doctor and I have an inappropriate relationship...implying that we are having an affair. For example, silly comments like "Oh, I know what you two are doing in the anaesthetic bay together!" (while we are putting in an epidural), This started about a year ago. Because the comments were half said jokingly and totally ludicris (this doctor is 30 years older than me, also married, has 5 grown up kids and grandchildren). So, I decided to just ignore the comments and think she would let up But she hasn't..
    So now it has come to light that these comments have resulted in full scale gossip across the facility and even to some people in the community. No joke, the situation is way out of hand!! I am upset that the nursing culture of this hospital is attacking the integrity of my marriage, my professional studies, and potentially ruining a great friendship I have with this doctor.
    I have organised a meeting with the Director of Nursing on Monday to discuss the situation of poor nursing behaviour and attitudes in this hospital. I have a plan, and am on a mission to implement positive changes to improve the nursing culture of this hospital. I am trying to channel my anger wisely.
    Will keep you posted if you are interested.
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  2. 26 Comments

  3. by   Mulan
    Sounds good.

    Can you sue the person that started it for slander? That should shut them up.
  4. by   gwenith
    I hope you have documented what has been happening - as for the iniating nurse - threaten her with inappropriate workplace behaviour. I know I have been there with the "just ignore them and they will stop" and unfortunately they rarely do - the next thing you know the rumour mill has you married to a Martian with some cross species kids.
  5. by   Sonn
    Thanks for your time to respond.
    This week ...I am hoping to do a presentation for my work colleagues in OT. I will be speaking on team building and what hurts a team and what makes a team strong. I will share just a small part of the middle of my presentation:
    "In health care; we have a firm belief that prevention is always the best way to avoiding a potential problem:
    For example while working in the operating theatre and if we notice the sterile field has been broken, we have a duty to say something to prevent further contamination. In this case, failure to say nothing is negligent as it can result in a potential patient infection.
    In regards to building a strong team we also have a duty of care to our fellow employees to speak out and prevent criticism or gossip that could be harmful to a member of our team. Failure to speak up at these times results in fostering a culture of infectious harassment and disrespect. Conflicts and harassment do not usually just occur suddenly. Prolonged hurtful gossip poisons the work atmosphere to the detriment of not only to the person or persons directly involved but also, indirectly, to many other people, as well as our team".
    I am also going to putting workplace charges of harassment towards the collaegue I know who has been horrible to me.
    Additionally, I have thought about addressing some of the root causes os the problem. And history has shown that I am definately not the first person to have problems with the staff of the OT. I am putting a proposal forward to change the dynamics of the OT. The environment could be altered to get rid of an area predominantly used by 2 collauges ( 1 of who I have the complaint against) for clerical duties, This area is one of the root causes of gossip as it has a view of where all OT people are at anyone time.
    I am also planning to start a project next year that will help nurses to have fun, build self-esteem, and be positive. Happy people do not cause other people grief and misery. I am really looking forward to this project.
    Anyway, I am talking far too much, I am probably just talking to myself so I can remain clear headed and not be bitter and twisted to the gossip mongers who have hurt me.
    Cheers.
  6. by   Justhere
    Good luck to you SONN
  7. by   talaxandra
    How singularly unpleasant! People with small minds and smaller lives... Good luck.
  8. by   Sonn
    The whole stress of this situation is now getting on top of me. I am keeping my head up high, but hate going out and haven't been to work for a week. Haven't eaten properly, have lost weight, and continually feel ill. Hopefully this week will be better and I will make some positive changes for myself. I just don't deserve this crap.
  9. by   gwenith
    Just remember THEY are the ones with the real problems not you!!
  10. by   ceridwyn
    I think your wonderful trying to channel your anger this way into an education program...but don't let this as well make you ill.

    If your friends are not stopping this gossip, ask them why?

    How about confronting her with your husband in tow...or solicitor or the Doctor, or his wife. That would make real good gossip for a few days, and hopefully put an end to it.
  11. by   Grace Oz
    Malicious gossip and innuendo is toxic to the soul. It sounds as though you are channelling your hurt and anger in the right direction. As you say, 'happy people do not cause other people grief and misery.' This individual is obviously both unhappy AND jealous. Jealousy is also a toxin. She is clearly a very unhappy person and probably needs sympathy as much as anything. That said however, she also needs to learn that she cannot perpetrate this kind of behaviour towards others and that it WILL be challenged and steps taken to make her accountable for it.
    I'm sorry you're experiencing this and send you best wishes and, albeit cyber, support. Take care of yourself, do the things which bring you comfort and pleasaure. Continue to hold your head high and remain dignified. Post here anytime, it helps to share and obtain feedback.
    Cheers............
  12. by   Sonn
    Thanks for supportive responses.
    Thursday I have a meeting to confront the person who gives me grief. Won't be easy because she will be difficult, mad and unremorseful.
    Friday a meeting has been called for me to talk to my colleagues.
    Next week a meeting will take place for me to confront 2 nurses from another department.
    Nervous.
  13. by   gwenith
    Don't be nervous - keep thinking - her problem not mine - now deep breaths and CALM. Be unemotive as possible. Tell her that you are taking this step to prevent it having to go up the chain of command i.e. formal complaint procedures. Remember - no skin off your nose - it is HER problem - if this meeting does not work out then the "you-know-what" is deeper for HER not for you - simple as that.

    You state what your understanding of the situation is i.e. she has been talking to others about a possible inappropriate relationship and that this has to stop. Don't use terms such as "spreading rumours" or gossip. Keep to the facts and be absolutely unemotional - think Meryl Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada" and you will have the psychological upper hand,
    Last edit by gwenith on Nov 13, '06
  14. by   joannep
    I am thinking of you, I hope your meeting is productive. Why such scum exist is beyond belief. Petty, petty little people who have jealous personalities.

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