Not bullying!! But need help to grow a backbone around a certain co-worker.

  1. Warning: This is a very long post. Avoid if you cannot handle this time of the morning haha) :-)

    So I am NOT being "bullied". But I need help in concrete ways of "growing a backbone" when it comes to a certain co-worker. I started a new job recently 12-13 hour shifts, where there is only one RN in the facility on each shift, so you end up giving/receiving report to/from the same nurse almost every day, so I need to deal with this.

    First of all, our shifts start at 6:45. She is rarely there before 7:05. I know that's management's thing and not mine, but it's still very irritating that I can't even start giving report before the last ten minutes of my shift.

    Then one thing in particular that yesterday irritated me was this: she had told me when I got report from her Wed night "not to set up X's AM meds because he's NPO for labs." So, I didn't set them up. The next morning Thurs when she got report from me, she asked why the meds weren't set up. I said it was because, she had asked/told me not to do so. She acted like I was lazy or had done something wrong, like there was no way she had said that. So I offered to stay and set the meds up for her, which I know I should probably not have done, and she said "whatEVER, it doesn't matter, I mean, but..." so I did stay and set them up bc I "felt bad" about it. I do realize that a lot of this situation is on me for being spineless here and not knowing how to stand up for myself.

    Then there was another patient's medication that I hadn't been responsible for giving, my preceptor had; and the patient had asked to wait to take one of his medications after eating breakfast, so he wouldn't get sick to his stomach. I had NO interaction with this patient regarding his medications. But when he came back, my preceptor had gone home, letting the day shift nurse know about this situation. But then when he came back to the med pass window, this nurse was looking to me "where was the medication, what happened to it, it was right here, what happened," when I had no idea what she was talking about. When I understood what she was talking about, I went to get another one of the pills from the patient's drawer so he could get his dose in a timely manner, and she was like, "no, no, it's here somewhere, we have to find it!!!" Of course the patient is standing at the med window at this time waiting for his medication. So I go ahead and give him another tablet of the medication, leaving one dose for that evening, and I put in the re-order form for the pharmacy so that it will be refilled that day in preparation for the next morning's early AM med pass.. which is nothing she is responsible for anyway and nothing that she needs to worry about. About ten minutes later, as I am finishing up to leave, the nurse is like, "Look!!! Here it is on the floor!!! It fell on the floor, LOOK!!!" as if it is my fault, that this medication I did not prepare and had no responsibility for administering, somehow ended up on the floor, and this was a horrible negligence on my part.

    In addition, there is a huge med pass at the end of my shift that goes very quickly. Afterwards, I usually have a few patients whose meds I did not get the chance to sign off on the MAR and that I need to sign off before I leave. She immediately takes over the MAR book as soon as she gets report, and if I mention that I need the book to finish signing things off, she ignores me. I understand that she has meds to get ready... but her first med pass is not until 4 hours after my shift ends. It would take me ten minutes AT MOST to double-check and sign the MAR, but she takes it as an imposition. I know I need to be able to stand up to her and say things like, "I need that MAR book to finish signing off and as soon as I am done I will give it to you right away."

    Or tell her that, on occasion (maybe once every couple of weeks) I am not able to stay to do first aid/medical treatments that a very few of the residents need first thing in the morning but haven't gotten yet, because they wanted to take a shower first so that the cream/bandage does not immediately get washed off; to me, that is not something I need to stay overtime to complete. I almost always do get these treatments/topical medications done on my shift if at all possible; it's not that I'm routinely leaving these things for her, at all. But she wants me to wait every day until they come down so that I can do those treatments. I need to figure out how to tell her that I need to leave as it is the end of my shift. I mean, these are not complicated things at all; they are small bandages/antibacterial cream, and assessment of healing wounds. I want to say to her "nursing is a 24-hour job and I understand that sometimes there are things left over at the end of your shift that I need to take care of, and that's fine, and I wish you would extend me the same courtesy."

    I don't know. I have been a nurse for over twelve years, but am new to this specialty and this facility, so I accept that I have things to learn and to become faster at completing. Am I wrong in feeling that she is being kind of unfair? Or is this my issue that I need to work on?

    For example, I don't feel comfortable, say, signing the MAR before I give the meds, like some of the nurses do. I just can't do that; it grates against everything I've ever done and been taught as a nurse. Even if it would be "quicker" to do that it's just not safe/ethical practice to me.

    Thanks for any advice, any new perspective, etc. I welcome any and all type of comments, advice, criticism, eye-rolling, etc. I really want to get out on time but still be fair to the oncoming nurse as well. I know this is a long post and it may not make a lot of sense, feel free to ask clarifying questions. Thank you for reading this far!!!
    Last edit by perfectbluebuildings on Oct 20
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  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   NurseCard
    Well, you took the time to type all of that, and I see no one has responded yet,
    so I'll try.

    The MAR, I'll start with that... you HAVE to sign your meds off. You know that.
    So, if you haven't signed them off, the oncoming nurse is going to HAVE to let
    you do so before she takes the MAR. This needs to be a priority. Is there
    some way that, as the time for her to arrive is approaching, you can be
    off "hidden" somewhere signing the MAR, so that she can't just snatch
    it from you? Either that, or, like you say... you gotta be firm. Say, "I
    have to get these meds signed and then you can have the MAR".

    I sympathize with you, I hate when someone is being difficult, and
    I feel like I HAVE to be confrontational with them. The best you
    can do really, is have everything done that is possible before the
    next shift gets here.. then give your report, and get gone.
    Get it well established, what your responsibilities for your shift
    are, and then make sure those things get done. Do you
    have a supervisor that can help you get this established?

    Then when it is time to go, give report and then say "I HAVE
    to go, I'm sorry", and get gone.
    Last edit by NurseCard on Oct 20
  4. by   Davey Do
    No, you don't need to grow a backbone, PPB. May I call you PBB? Thanks!

    And it's not you who has the issue. Some People are just chronic malcontents who will never be satisfied and, "With these oxen we must plow".

    I sense you are a "nice" Person, who does her job and doesn't like to make waves. I, on the other hand, don't mind confrontation and challenges too much. For example, one Nurse, after confronting her on inappropriate behavior while on "her" unit said to me: "I'll let that slide" as if she were giving me leeway. "Oh no", I replied, "Let's not let what I said 'slide'. Let's discuss what we each said with Administration and allow them to decide who was inappropriate!"

    She behaved herself for the remainder of the shift. And that's all I wanted.

    I just try to ignore behaviors if they don't jeopardize someone's welfare. But if the behavior is inappropriate and jeopardizes someone's comfortability, I confront the behavior.

    Confrontation is not fun and it's not the most comfortable thing to do. But for me it's the lesser of the two evils.

    Good luck to you PPB!
    Last edit by Davey Do on Oct 21
  5. by   ponymom
    Ok so the pig is routinely coming on duty at 7:05 when shift starts at 6:45? Then the pig expects you to wait for her? And you are questioning wether she is being unfair to you?
  6. by   JKL33
    Quote from Davey Do
    I sense you are a "nice" Person, who does her job and doesn't like to make waves.
    My first thought, too.

    "Nice" is different than "kind." People tend to call us "nice" when we don't upset their sense of comfort - when we don't contradict them, when we work to ease their situation, and when we generally defer to them. Walking on eggshells comes to mind.

    Here is an article that is really worth pondering! And a more recent version

    OP, another theme I notice in the examples you gave is that of worrying too much about what people might think of you, or what you think they might think of you. This leads to trying to defend oneself when really there is nothing to defend/nothing that "needs defending."

    I speak from experience when I say that all these things kind of go together and can be part of a larger problem of taking "responsibility" for others' feelings.

    In reality, others must take responsibility for their own feelings - well, even if they don't, that doesn't mean that someone else can or should.

    Start making a conscious effort to leave the responsibility for others' feelings with them. Start with the easy cases - - situations where you know without a doubt that they have nothing to do with you and the other person has ZERO reason to be upset with (or rude to) you. Then stay calm, minimize words, leave the area when you can, but DO NOT start falling over yourself with desperate attempts to put them at ease/stop the onslaught.

    I'll bet you're a kind person, as well as someone who gets called "nice." Start to think about those as two different things. Kindness means acts of sincerity. "Nice" is what people may call you when you defer to them and don't upset them.

    Aim for "kind."

    Let other people take responsibility for their own feelings.

    Best wishes ~
  7. by   Katillac
    I'll take a flyer here.

    Not sure you need to grow a backbone as much as change your perspective on this person. I think you'd like her to be the kind of person who treats others with civility, and is fair and respectful and professional. Apparently, that's not who she is. The first step is accepting that. If you come to see her as different from you, and stop having unrealistic expectations, you'll feel less annoyed and hurt and defensive.

    I agree with the comment about you caring too much about what she thinks. Her values are obviously very different than yours; why do you respect her judgment of you so much? You're acting as if you are both bound by the rules of the same social compact, but she never signed off on it. So don't give her the privilege of sitting in judgment of you. With a different perspective, you can choose to respond differently. It's entirely possible to change the way you think about this and that will change the way you feel about it.

    If you stop defending, you can smile cheerfully and say, "Good on you for finding that wily pill!" and go on your way. Her scowls don't need to inform your opinion of yourself. Feeling bad about not setting up meds she told you not to? If you start seeing her as a simply your work colleague – a disagreeable one at that - and not someone whose feelings you are responsible for, the words, "Wow, we sure remember this one differently," come easier. Then you can choose whether to stay and set them up or not but it's about YOU, not the relationship with her. See the difference?

    As to the staying over to do treatments, you are letting her steal your time. Few of us enjoy saying no, but it gets easier with time. "Unfortunately, (NOT "sorry"! Sorry is for when you have done something wrong!) I've got plans." (probably not a good idea to say more, or she'll get the impression she has a voice in whether they are important enough) gets easier with use. And the MAR? I don't know the layout of your unit, but if you are actively signing off meds at 0705 when she rolls up, and say, "I'll need just a few more minutes with this," will she really snatch it out of your hands?

    Not sure I would involve a supervisor at this point. If you go for clarification it might not come back beneficial to you. And you don't know what their relationship or history is. Better to see if you can set some boundaries first.

    And yes, by all means, first and forever, be kind. I've delivered absolutely devastating news to people in the kindest way I could muster. They didn't like hearing it, and they didn't like me for bearing the bad news, but in the end being kind feels better to you and to the world. But being nice is sometimes an invitation to exploitation.

    That's all I got. Tired.
  8. by   perfectbluebuildings
    Quote from JKL33
    My first thought, too.

    "Nice" is different than "kind." People tend to call us "nice" when we don't upset their sense of comfort - when we don't contradict them, when we work to ease their situation, and when we generally defer to them. Walking on eggshells comes to mind.

    Here is an article that is really worth pondering! And a more recent version

    OP, another theme I notice in the examples you gave is that of worrying too much about what people might think of you, or what you think they might think of you. This leads to trying to defend oneself when really there is nothing to defend/nothing that "needs defending."

    I speak from experience when I say that all these things kind of go together and can be part of a larger problem of taking "responsibility" for others' feelings.

    In reality, others must take responsibility for their own feelings - well, even if they don't, that doesn't mean that someone else can or should.

    Start making a conscious effort to leave the responsibility for others' feelings with them. Start with the easy cases - - situations where you know without a doubt that they have nothing to do with you and the other person has ZERO reason to be upset with (or rude to) you. Then stay calm, minimize words, leave the area when you can, but DO NOT start falling over yourself with desperate attempts to put them at ease/stop the onslaught.

    I'll bet you're a kind person, as well as someone who gets called "nice." Start to think about those as two different things. Kindness means acts of sincerity. "Nice" is what people may call you when you defer to them and don't upset them.

    Aim for "kind."

    Let other people take responsibility for their own feelings.

    Best wishes ~
    Wow, you totally nailed me... this is me!!!!

    and yes DaveyDo and NurseCard... I do hate confrontation. But I'm going to have to stand up for myself, and maybe think about it first of all as standing up for my patients so they get the best care they deserve... like being sure meds are charted so it is noted they got the correct medication. Different things like that. I can confront someone more easily when it's thinking about advocating for my patients than thinking about advocating for myself. I know that's not ideal way to think, but it is a perspective that will help me!!! And not taking things personally so easily!
  9. by   perfectbluebuildings
    Quote from ponymom
    Ok so the pig is routinely coming on duty at 7:05 when shift starts at 6:45? Then the pig expects you to wait for her? And you are questioning wether she is being unfair to you?
    Thank you; you make me feel much better :-) I felt a little silly complaining about it bc she's been there longer than me, but it's just not ok and I deserve more consideration/respect. Thank you <3

    (Also, a couple of times my DON has actually been there before this nurse gets to work, and seen how late she is, and is filing it away I think... I can definitely tell she's not happy about it.)
  10. by   perfectbluebuildings
    Quote from Katillac
    I'll take a flyer here.

    Not sure you need to grow a backbone as much as change your perspective on this person. I think you'd like her to be the kind of person who treats others with civility, and is fair and respectful and professional. Apparently, that's not who she is. The first step is accepting that. If you come to see her as different from you, and stop having unrealistic expectations, you'll feel less annoyed and hurt and defensive.

    I agree with the comment about you caring too much about what she thinks. Her values are obviously very different than yours; why do you respect her judgment of you so much? You're acting as if you are both bound by the rules of the same social compact, but she never signed off on it. So don't give her the privilege of sitting in judgment of you. With a different perspective, you can choose to respond differently. It's entirely possible to change the way you think about this and that will change the way you feel about it.

    If you stop defending, you can smile cheerfully and say, "Good on you for finding that wily pill!" and go on your way. Her scowls don't need to inform your opinion of yourself. Feeling bad about not setting up meds she told you not to? If you start seeing her as a simply your work colleague – a disagreeable one at that - and not someone whose feelings you are responsible for, the words, "Wow, we sure remember this one differently," come easier. Then you can choose whether to stay and set them up or not but it's about YOU, not the relationship with her. See the difference?

    As to the staying over to do treatments, you are letting her steal your time. Few of us enjoy saying no, but it gets easier with time. "Unfortunately, (NOT "sorry"! Sorry is for when you have done something wrong!) I've got plans." (probably not a good idea to say more, or she'll get the impression she has a voice in whether they are important enough) gets easier with use. And the MAR? I don't know the layout of your unit, but if you are actively signing off meds at 0705 when she rolls up, and say, "I'll need just a few more minutes with this," will she really snatch it out of your hands?

    Not sure I would involve a supervisor at this point. If you go for clarification it might not come back beneficial to you. And you don't know what their relationship or history is. Better to see if you can set some boundaries first.

    And yes, by all means, first and forever, be kind. I've delivered absolutely devastating news to people in the kindest way I could muster. They didn't like hearing it, and they didn't like me for bearing the bad news, but in the end being kind feels better to you and to the world. But being nice is sometimes an invitation to exploitation.

    That's all I got. Tired.
    Wow. If that's how you can write when you're tired, you need to get a side job in writing outside of nursing!!!

    I really appreciate your perspective. Look at her as a co-worker, not someone who has the same values as me, and just keep things professional and not take personally. Just do what needs to be done and go.

    As far as the MAR... she won't pull it out of my hands, but if I have it set down on a counter and walk away for just a second she takes the opportunity and grabs it. I will say I need to check that; I need to make sure I signed off everything; and she ignores me... so I just try to catch moments when SHE'S away from the MAR book to be sure everything is signed but she just doesn't respect that. So I need to hang on to that MAR book until I am completely done with it... it's my responsibility to the patients and I need to finish it before she gets started with it.

    Thank you very much.
  11. by   perfectbluebuildings
    Quote from NurseCard
    Well, you took the time to type all of that, and I see no one has responded yet,
    so I'll try...
    Quote from Davey Do
    No, you don't need to grow a backbone, PPB. May I call you PBB? Thanks!

    And it's not you who has the issue. Some People are just chronic malcontents who will never be satisfied and, "With these oxen we must plow"....
    Quote from ponymom
    Ok so the pig is routinely coming on duty at 7:05 when shift starts at 6:45? Then the pig expects you to wait for her? And you are questioning wether she is being unfair to you?
    Quote from JKL33
    My first thought, too.

    "Nice" is different than "kind." People tend to call us "nice" when we don't upset their sense of comfort - when we don't contradict them, when we work to ease their situation, and when we generally defer to them. Walking on eggshells comes to mind.

    Here is an article that is really worth pondering! And a more recent version

    OP, another theme I notice in the examples you gave is that of worrying too much about what people might think of you, or what you think they might think of you. This leads to trying to defend oneself when really there is nothing to defend/nothing that "needs defending."

    I speak from experience when I say that all these things kind of go together and can be part of a larger problem of taking "responsibility" for others' feelings...

    Let other people take responsibility for their own feelings.

    Best wishes ~
    Quote from Katillac
    I'll take a flyer here.

    Not sure you need to grow a backbone as much as change your perspective on this person. I think you'd like her to be the kind of person who treats others with civility, and is fair and respectful and professional. Apparently, that's not who she is. The first step is accepting that. If you come to see her as different from you, and stop having unrealistic expectations, you'll feel less annoyed and hurt and defensive...

    I agree with the comment about you caring too much about what she thinks. Her values are obviously very different than yours; why do you respect her judgment of you so much? You're acting as if you are both bound by the rules of the same social compact, but she never signed off on it. So don't give her the privilege of sitting in judgment of you. With a different perspective, you can choose to respond differently. It's entirely possible to change the way you think about this and that will change the way you feel about it....
    I know I quoted/replied to several of you already, but I really, just wanted to thank you all for the new perspectives and the support; you have given me reason for introspection and ideas about how to handle the situation, that I would likely NOT have come up with on my own. And, it feels nice to be validated that I am not just "silly" in seeing her as an unpleasant coworker. I will try to be professional and not try to please her because that is NOT MY JOB, as you all say.

    Just, thank you a lot. I don't start threads often, and I know my OP was extremely long, so I really appreciate your awesome and well-thought-out responses VERY MUCH.
  12. by   Amethya
    I'm not in the same environment as you, but I get what you're talking about.

    I'm a quiet person, I don't like to make waves, because then things go down and there's conflict. I go with the flow, mostly and pretty laid back person. Because of this, I sometimes feel people think I'm an easy target for teasing. My case in point was my last job, where I was trying my best, but it seemed not to be enough for these co-workers, they would tease me but I didn't want to cause issues, so I kept my mouth shut until it got worse and I couldn't take it anymore.

    In this job I have now, I don't have much of this, but there's this one teacher who likes to push my buttons, and I'm not sure to take it as him joking around (which he does sometimes) or take it as him being aggressive towards me (He's gay btw.)

    I'm not sure if it's my demeanor or what, but I'm always seem to be picked on by someone at any work place and seems no one wants to associate with me outside of work. It kinda bothers me because I'm not doing anything to that person but show kindness. But then again, it makes me happy because they never suspect me if I accidentally show some passive-aggressiveness toward them and are completely taken by surprise.

    I'm not sure what I can say for you and me but I do wish you the best of luck.
  13. by   canoehead
    Don't give her report until you are finished with the MAR and the charts. Since she's coming in late, you should have lots of time to finish. Hassling over who does what task is nitpicky. You do a little extra, she does a little extra, and it all comes out in the wash. If several nurses have the same problem with the same person, it's time to talk about the issue. If someone routinely is scheduled for a shower after a dressing change, then change the schedule.
  14. by   JBudd
    It sometimes takes a bit of practice to stand up for yourself; role play it in your head so you know what to say: "Excuse me, I'm not done with the MAR. I'll give it to you in a few minutes." Firmly, and if needed, loudly enough the other staff can hear you. Call attention to it, and put the embarrassment on her for being, selfish, tacky, controlling, snarky...... however it is she comes across. By waiting for her to put it down, you are just playing her game.

    The creams need to be done after showers, you are totally correct in not doing them before the shower. Reschedule the times (as mentioned above). It is ridiculous 1) to have them scheduled that early 2) to be expected to stay over to do them. As you already told yourself, nursing is a 24 hour job, and what is best for the patient does not need to be changed for the convenience of the staff.

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