Nursing Hostility and Other Nonsense

by RegisteredNuisance

13,946 Views | 53 Comments

In my short career as a nurse I've seen some terrible behavior among nurses, and I'd like to share my take on things. I've only been a year for two years, and working as a nurse for 13 but in that short amount of time, I've seen an astounding amount of hostility between my coworkers and directed at me in the two facilities I worked at. It made me sad, it burned me out and it made me feel like I was working in a mine field.

  1. 11

    Nursing Hostility and Other Nonsense

    In my short career as a nurse I've seen some terrible behavior among nurses, and I'd like to share my take on things.

    I've only been a year for two years, and working as a nurse for 13 but in that short amount of time, I've seen an astounding amount of hostility between my coworkers and directed at me in the two facilities I worked at. It made me sad, it burned me out and it made me feel like I was working in a mine field.

    As a fellow nurse, I respect you. We ALL had to work our tails off to get through the hell that was nursing school, study feverishly for the NCLEX exams, then scramble desperately for a job - hopefully in our chosen specialty or facility - after graduation. We have ALL earned our licenses and are all worthy of respect.

    As a fellow human, I respect you. We all have feelings, different psychological and familial backgrounds and different emotional and interpersonal needs. We all share the same basic few reactions to negative situations. We all liked feeling liked, respected and valued by those around us.

    In the face of conflict, it's easier to turn your back on someone, come up with reasons why you don't like them and find reasons justifying your ill treatment of them. It's easy to cling on to that anger. For some of us (myself included), that anger mobilizes us and is how we're most used to expressing ourselves. It's hard to resolve conflict in a mature, diplomatic fashion. But it's worth it. Our interactions with other people are more meaningful if we can move past anger, communicate our feelings without hurling insults and get back to working together.

    So the night nurse gave you a poor report which you took the fall for later that day. She was probably tired from a long night and the missed information slipped her mind. One should always give the most complete report possible, but mistakes happen. Forgive her and make the best of it. So the day nurse left you with meds to finish and missed orders in the chart. She probably had a hectic day with never-ending distractions and demands made of her. FORGIVE her and make the best of it. So your coworker spoke to you sharply when you asked her a question. She was probably in the middle of thinking about something and you inadvertently interrupted that thought. FORGIVE HER and move on. Sensing a pattern here?

    We get so wrapped up in little issues and small infractions with our coworkers that it completely clouds our ability to look at the bigger picture: your coworkers are your team members and you owe it to them to be respectful. You owe it to yourself to have them at your back when you need them.

    So the next time another nurse is giving you the stink eye or says something rude or snaps at you... Forgive her, and try to resolve the issue after tempers have cooled. We owe it each other to respect each other. Nursing is hard enough.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 13, '13
    MauraRN, ms.greyrn, Care2Heal, and 8 others like this.
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  4. About RegisteredNuisance

    I am a relatively new RN returning to the field after taking a self-imposed furlough to rest and restore. Currently living in Flagstaff for more schooling.

    RegisteredNuisance joined Jun '13 - from 'Flagstaff, AZ, US'. RegisteredNuisance has '1' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Med-Surg'. Posts: 6 Likes: 15; Learn more about RegisteredNuisance by visiting their allnursesPage Website

    53 Comments so far...

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    I'm not a nurse (yet), however I work in a hospital and I can see the awful manner at which some nurses treat others! Even at my orientation for the hospital (it was with everyone, doctors, nurses, etc) there were "cliques" of nurses that sat together and made some pretty awful comments towards another group they "knew" in school. It made me shiver since this is a profession I'm going into and I respect it with all my being.

    I'm not saying all groups are like that, there certainly are some departments at our hospital though that have this problem more than others. I hope more people adopt this attitude though.. we all have to work, it'd be great to work with coworkers that respect you and want to lift you up rather than break you!


    Thanks for the article!
    RegisteredNuisance likes this.
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    In this world where "nurses eat their young" is thrown around almost without a second thought, I think a lot of people don't realize that this occurs in all professions, in all ages. It's not just nursing. I also think some people are overly sensitive- there was recently a post on here by someone who was upset with how someone looked at her. There are extremes on both ends, but for the most part I have found very little outright hostility. If someone is finding that the majority of people they work with is hostile, either they need to run and not look back, or look within themselves.
    Kipahni, OCNRN63, Nalon1 RN/EMT-P, and 9 others like this.
  7. 1
    Oops! A few typos in here.

    The statement in the first paragraph should read: I've only been a licensed RN for two years, and working as a nurse for 13 months.


    Quote from Sweet_Wild_Rose
    In this world where "nurses eat their young" is thrown around almost without a second thought, I think a lot of people don't realize that this occurs in all professions, in all ages. It's not just nursing. I also think some people are overly sensitive- there was recently a post on here by someone who was upset with how someone looked at her. There are extremes on both ends, but for the most part I have found very little outright hostility. If someone is finding that the majority of people they work with is hostile, either they need to run and not look back, or look within themselves.
    Ma'am (or sir), I agree with you here. Some people do need to develop a thicker skin - and I include MYSELF in that generalization. I am definitely guilty of letting things hit me too hard in the past. Very good point.
    Last edit by RegisteredNuisance on Jun 13, '13 : Reason: (added "or sir")
    OCNRN63 likes this.
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    I deal with this issue on an almost daily basis. I feel that hospitals in general make people feel that their job TITLES instead of NAMES are who they are. This is a common misconception among people who have to work in "team nursing" which is what my hospital does. We have RNs to report to, techs, and then doctors. We all do purposeful rounding together, team huddle at every shift change, and report anything suspicious to our TL. When I first started, I thought that nurses, techs, and even doctors would be extremely professional given the effort and dedication it took to even be able to work in this profession. It is most common the COMPLETE opposite. Nurses chase after single and under 30 doctors on my unit like they are pieces of meat; gossip is just the tip of the iceberg, unless you have the skin of an alligator you will probably be due for a 5 minute tear filled session in the supply closet when you have a moment to yourself. This issue has often made me reconsider working in a major hospitals, but my benefits outweigh what people think of me, and that's really all that matters. I came into this profession to help PATIENTS, not become a counselor for nurses who have complexes. I think hospitals feel that we are competent professionals who should be able to overcome our differences and the fact that issues like these are still so prevalent in the realm of healthcare today just appalls me because we should be focused on our patients and our thorough evaluations of ethical policies, procedures, and patient-hospital documentation. While most of these nurses spend 30+ to 2 hours extra at the end of their shifts charting things they should have done WHILE in the presence of their patient INSTEAD of causing problems in a unit and gossiping, they could be going home. I know my perspective seems somewhat negative, but it is truthful given what I have seen thus far in my career in the healthcare field.
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    You know when I was a patient recovering from my surgery(in the very hospital I work at on the VERY unit I work at) one of my co-workers came to refill my PCA bag and change the line(the line I had was for an epidural, not a regular IV line..though it really made no difference to me and how I received my pain meds, they came and switched it out). Obviously this was a job that was going to take a couple of minutes. Just so happen my roommate needed something(we had different nurses) and her nurse(my co-worker as well) came in and the two of them just started ranting and raving immediately to each other about a new nurse to our unit(she wasn't new as a nurse, she was just new to our hospital)..they were saying things like how slow she was, how unfriendly she was, didn't know where anything was...just a whole laundry list of things. Of course she didn't know where anything was/was going to be slow..she was brand new to our hospital..she needed time to get acquainted with everyone as well as acquainted with the floor plan, where things are stored, policy...etc..but man they were really slamming her. I think they forgot for a second that I not only worked at the hospital but I worked WITH THEM. I first of all thought it was very inappropriate slamming a fellow nurse in front of patients and second of all it made me think of what they say about me behind my back.

    I really don't give a darn what people think about me...but working with some sharks isn't exactly pleasant either. Good thing I didn't go into this profession to make friends. In addition to the gossiping and backstabing, we have a few nurse Ratched types who are very passive-aggressive, like to play games and enjoy manipulating other staff members to do their dirty work for them. I can't stand that! Most of all I try not to stir the pot and I don't like getting involved in other people's spats. I come to work..do my job and go home. That being said, I am nice to everyone..just because I didn't go into this profession to make friends, doesn't mean I go out of my way to make enemies either. I find that the female nurses are more dramatic and girls can fight over the smallest things. I know I have gotten my fair share of being ripped a new one..I just let it go. On the other hand, I have no problem standing up for myself either. I have seen too many doormats burn out and quit just because they get offended and ticked off at every little thing like the way someone said something or they gave them a crooked look...taking things too personally can really lead to ones downfall...that being said..most of the people I work with are wonderful people..we just have a few bad apples..as every profession does.
    Last edit by Munch on Jun 13, '13
    GrnTea, OCNRN63, MegRob33, and 4 others like this.
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    I guess how you answer this poll depends on how you define "hostile" behavior.

    I don't consider a curt response, a funny look or a failure to smile as hostile. In any fast paced job environment, people are going to be somewhat impatient and preoccupied in their communication. This isn't hostile. Real hostility is rare. Passive-aggressive remarks and gossip on the other hand....
    GrnTea, Kipahni, psullivan95, and 11 others like this.
  11. 2
    I wouldn't say I encounter hostility, but absolutely passive aggressive behavior, cliques, and some plain, mean nurses. I have seen my fellow nurses be particularly mean and rude to our newest HUCs as they were trying to learn the job. Then they turn around and complain when a physician rips them for something stupid. One of the reasons I am leaving hospital nursing. I'm sure you can find this behavior in any profession though.
    Technicolourhobo and anotherone like this.
  12. 9
    I went into nursing as a 2nd career and I was immediately shocked at how nurses treated each other. The trash talking, the gossip - the THIRST for gossip that some people have, the tattling...There is definitely a reason why so many TV dramas are set in hospitals!
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    Quote from BrandonLPN
    I guess how you answer this poll depends on how you define "hostile" behavior.

    I don't consider a curt response, a funny look or a failure to smile as hostile. In any fast paced job environment, people are going to be somewhat impatient and preoccupied in their communication. This isn't hostile. Real hostility is rare. Passive-aggressive remarks and gossip on the other hand....
    I really can't stand the whole doesn't smile enough, chit chat, say hello, care about my baby shower garbage. A lot of nurses are like crabs in a barrell. Some also seem to enjoy the victim role and everything is a big offense. Like if you were assigned 2/6 empty rooms it means the charge nurse isincompetent
    or a bully. I try not to thi k everyone is out to get me.


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