Why are nurse managers jerks?

  1. Is nursing a field much like law enforcement, that attracts people who are rude, harsh and likely have personality disorders? Just wondering because, I'm not joking... the majority of my nurse managers and supervisors were long time nurses who seemed to be on some power-wielding trip. Like they had something to prove and that they were a nurse, an experienced nurse and because of that alone were somehow better than people who didn't fall into that category. As if being a 'charge nurse' or a 'nurse manager' made them great, even if they were insufferable to be around, even if they couldn't care less about patients or subordinates.

    I have seen it go on many, many times. Nurse managers who ask of their staff what they wouldn't be willing to do a small fraction of. Charge nurses who gossip and make up stories about other nurses, simply because they don't fit into their 'clique'. Or mock patients if they know them in real life --- like had one who taunted a former classmate saying she had letters behind her name while he didn't.

    Is the nursing 'profession' filled with jerks? Or arrogant fools? I have a few good, down to earth and likeable coworkers that I can count. But the ones in and kissing up to management always seem like arrogant jerks.

    Why is this?
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  2. 52 Comments

  3. by   Rose_Queen
    If you perceive one person as a jerk, that person probably is a jerk. If you perceive everyone (or in your case, all managers) as a jerk, you might want to indulge in some self-reflection. Nurses are human, so some are jerks.
  4. by   Cola89
    Quote from Rose_Queen
    If you perceive one person as a jerk, that person probably is a jerk. If you perceive everyone (or in your case, all managers) as a jerk, you might want to indulge in some self-reflection. Nurses are human, so some are jerks.
    I have, and it's not me. I'm nice, and polite. Coming from another career, I am seriously noticing this rude jerk trend amongst long-time nurses my own age. So, they have several years behind and ahead in their careers if they so choose to keep on being nurses. It's like they don't like other nurses, or being a nurse, etc, etc. Just wondering why they don't make a career change, rather than ruin things for newbies?
  5. by   kcochrane
    Believe me I wasn't always a jerk. Let me tell you its a thankless job, but I keep at it and come in each day trying to make a difference. But you are stuck between a rock and hard place. Trying to advocate for staff, trying to please the higher ups. I was a CNA, LPN, RN, Supervisor and now nurse manger. No one wants to work and those that do are getting burnt out. I tried to protect my staff from angry family members and angry administration. They on the other hand are trying to please the owners and state and keep the facility open so people still have jobs. I do not ask anyone to do what I wouldn't do myself. But there is sometimes not enough time in the day to do it all. I am on the cart at times. One time I was on two carts and doing care. I didn't get my care plans done. Guess what I was told I better find a way to get it done. So tell me, what would you do? Some people get in power because they like the power and they are jerks. Some get in power because they hope they can make a difference and get burnt out. If you look around I bet you will see many many openings for nurse managers, supervisors, ADONs and DONS. There is a reason. I won't quit, but some days I just want to go home and cry. So please don't generalize. I don't get paid enough to do this. Its in my heart.
  6. by   not.done.yet
    Sorry you are having a bad day. Or week. Or month. Or aren't a good fit for your floor or institution.

    Your generalization is flawed because it is, in fact, a generalization. Try to see them as human, nothing more, nothing less. Pray for them, smile at them, ignore them, whatever makes YOU feel better in your current situation. And then look for another job if you can't get past it. Not all nurse managers are jerks.

    The only control you have in this situation is where you work.
  7. by   Cola89
    Quote from not.done.yet
    Sorry you are having a bad day. Or week. Or month. Or aren't a good fit for your floor or institution.

    Your generalization is flawed because it is, in fact, a generalization. Try to see them as human, nothing more, nothing less. Pray for them, smile at them, ignore them, whatever makes YOU feel better in your current situation. And then look for another job if you can't get past it. Not all nurse managers are jerks.

    The only control you have in this situation is where you work.

    Thank you. Yes, I have (another) bad nurse manager. It has happened over and over, which is my point. Others I have worked with would agree. This particular one is abusive and gave me my first and only performance evaluation 10 months into my position. It was quite a bad review, and I was blind-sided, because I had no idea there was any issue at all. Much, if not all of the review was based on gossip. I had been looking around at other positions, and it seems like once word got out, this was an attempt at retaliation. Absolutely unprofessional. Yet, I am not the 'manager', so it will probably be assessed as my fault by the next employer. I hate nursing, because I get as little respect as if I worked at taco he11. Only with student loans, liability, and CEUs to keep up with. It's crap.
  8. by   HeySis
    I have worked for some real jerks... both in nursing and outside of nursing.

    I have worked with some wonderful managers, ones that listened, improved working conditions, and supported my own career goals... both in nursing and outside of nursing.

    People are people. And middle management is the worst place to be no matter what your profession is.

    My own experience has shown me that when I don't know someone, or what their job requires, I am more likely to judge their abilities. When I find out more about them and their role, I mostly see people doing the best they can with what they have.
  9. by   elkpark
    I've had a few nurse managers who were jerks. I've had more who were caring, competent, productive professionals. Not necessarily the ideal, but more than "good enough." There are jerks in any field; I haven't observed over the decades that nursing has more than its fair share.
  10. by   klone
    Is this the same manager you were complaining about last month? And the month before? I thought you were getting a new job?

    And yes, if every manager you have had is a jerk, and every charge nurse or long time nurse you've worked with is backbiting and a gossip, I would say that you are the common denominator.
    Last edit by klone on Feb 24
  11. by   Oh'Ello
    Are they all in the same health system? Maybe it's just bad culture. I've worked in places (not in nursing) where all of the management were jerks. And then when I transitioned into a management position, I realized why.
  12. by   AceOfHearts<3
    My current manager is awesome. She'll answer call bells, help toilet patients, help with bed baths, etc. She wears scrubs to work everyday so she can pitch in when needed. She has a candy jar with chocolate we can help ourselves to . She truly wants us to call her on weekends and the middle of the night if we need help and the higher ups are ignoring us.

    My last manager was the exact opposite. It took us time to get used to the fact that our current manager really wants us to call her. Our old one would have been ticked at us bothering her and would have told us to deal with it. My old one was also petty and vindictive at times.

    As for charge nurses- I certainly have ones I prefer and others that I tolerate because I have to.

    So it's been a pretty even split of good and not so good managers/charges. I also had a career before nursing and I really didn't like my manager with that career. I definitely was thrown under the bus a couple of times with them. So bad/unpleasant managers aren't restricted to nursing- you'll get all types.
  13. by   Orion81
    I see it ALL the time and wonder if they were so used to being the low man on the totem pole that when they get into a managerial position, they think, FINALLY. I can be the boss. And proceed to act like jerks. I know respectful managers exist, I just have yet to meet one who isn't condescending and a bully.
  14. by   Cola89
    Quote from klone
    Is this the same manager you were complaining about last month? And the month before? I thought you were getting a new job?

    And yes, if every manager you have had is a jerk, and every charge nurse or long time nurse you've worked with is backbiting and a gossip, I would say that you are the common denominator.
    Why are you following what I'm doing so closely? Are you a crappy nm too? It doesn't matter if a nurse has a gazillion years of carefully strategized experience, s/he might not necessarily be a good manager. I'm surprised hospitals are still filling managerial positions with these nurses who couldn't care less about their subordinates, the patients, or nursing in general. They should hire MBAs, real business professionals and be done with it.
    Last edit by Cola89 on Feb 24 : Reason: .

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