Colleague Abuse

  1. Hi again! I appreciate all the helpful responses to my request for advice about sedentary jobs. Now I'm thinking of writing a paper on a subject which has influenced me deeply: COLLEAGUE ABUSE, sometimes called NURSE ABUSE or STAFF ABUSE or . . .
    Several years ago, I saw some articles on the subject in popular nursing magazines. There was a consensus that nurses have "often" treated each other with less respect, empathy, etc. than we treat our patients. It makes sense, sadly, that when we are under tremendous pressure not only to get the job done, but to present the image of being always kind, patient, wise, highly informed . . . when "something has to give", it gives in our behavior to the person with least clout, our fellow nurse.
    Is this truly improving? Is there an overall trend, or does it just depend on where you are? I have quite a few horror stories, and I would like to understand some of the variables involved. Such as, treatment of colleagues as a function of one's inner self-confidence, sense of job security, degree of autonomy, support from management.
    I'm not looking so much for more horror stories, but for your perception of trends, variables, constructive approaches. Thanks, GB, Marie RN:Singing:
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  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   Morning-glory
    I have found that the abuse is less in less stressful situations. I have gone from working Med/Surg to Ortho (with a more cohesive team) to psych nursing which can be stressful, but it is a much less physically demanding job. There is a bigger divide in psych because there is a bigger separation that is felt between patients and staff. This is a forced separation because the staff do not want to be mistaken for patients. Therefore, nurses stick closer to each other even if they don't like each other much. Psych nurses need to put up a common front to deter pts from playing one nurse against another. So nurses keep each other informed. This goes a long way towards keeping abuses down, be they Nurse VS Nurse, or Pt VS Nurse.

    I am begining to appreciate psych nursing. In acute care, one had her job to do and there was no necessity to have a common front. One did what needed to be done and a "get out of my way, I'm busy" attidude was commonplace. In psych, I find that nurses in general are more forgiving of "odd behaviour" in fellow staff.

    JMO, but psych nurses are the nicest nurses to work with that I have had experience with so far.
  4. by   Haunted
    I worked at a hospital as registry and there was a nurse who would show up on the med/surg unit about an hour before her shift started, get her assignment and then start going thru charts looking for things the current shift hadn't completed yet, or had not charted, including dressing changes or brand spanken new orders that had just rolled off the gurney, then write up that nurse for each and everything!

    The regular staff would get up in her grill when they saw what she was doing but registry just had to smile, suck up some unpaid OT to chart (since she had the charts and we needed them but OH NO she is busy doing chart review!!!!). It was so frustrating to see her getting off the elavator and it really put a crimp on your end of the day wrap up duties. I often wondered if she got some bonus for writing up stuff that eventually got charted on anyway.

    Just don't get that mentality.
  5. by   Keysnurse2008
    What ...has made you ponder on this topic?
    I wish...I could say....I havent seen it...but I have .Do you remember in nsg scholl when you were taught about " displacement"...be it displacement of anger ( mad at your husband...you go home and kick the dog")...unfortunately sometimes we are each others "dogs"...
    I think displacement of ones own anger , stress and emotions may play a huge role in the things you may have seen.
  6. by   Keysnurse2008
    Quote from TNNURSE
    What ...has made you ponder on this topic?
    I wish...I could say....I havent seen it...but I have .Do you remember in nsg scholl when you were taught about " displacement"...be it displacement of anger ( mad at your husband...you go home and kick the dog")...unfortunately sometimes we are each others "dogs"...
    I think displacement of ones own anger , stress and emotions may play a huge role in the things you may have seen.
    sorry for the typos ..I need spellcheck!!!!!
  7. by   MamaTheNurse
    Quote from TNNURSE
    What ...has made you ponder on this topic?
    I wish...I could say....I havent seen it...but I have .Do you remember in nsg scholl when you were taught about " displacement"...be it displacement of anger ( mad at your husband...you go home and kick the dog")...unfortunately sometimes we are each others "dogs"...
    I think displacement of ones own anger , stress and emotions may play a huge role in the things you may have seen.
    way too true - I've worked with not only nurses but other staff in a hospital setting who were not very pleasant to work with for a myriad of reasons - I'm not saying that it's all the fault of men, but in many cases, after a bit of time, I would find out that their husbands were controlling or mentally/emotionally abusive and these women had no control over their home environments so they attempted to control what environment they could and that was work - in their quest for something that they could control, they became over-controlling, crabby, weren't "team players", complained about others alot, etc. - although I never let anyone, home problems or not, get away with treating me poorly, I do try to understand when those people lash out that they are, for the most part, good people who feel they are powerless and it's not usually a personal thing.......
    however, there are also those people that are just plain mean and if they weren't mean nurses, they would be mean accountants, engineers, police officers, etc. - those, I just avoid like the plague!!!!!!
  8. by   Keysnurse2008
    Quote from MamaTheNurse
    way too true - I've worked with not only nurses but other staff in a hospital setting who were not very pleasant to work with for a myriad of reasons - I'm not saying that it's all the fault of men, but in many cases, after a bit of time, I would find out that their husbands were controlling or mentally/emotionally abusive and these women had no control over their home environments so they attempted to control what environment they could and that was work - in their quest for something that they could control, they became over-controlling, crabby, weren't "team players", complained about others alot, etc. - although I never let anyone, home problems or not, get away with treating me poorly, I do try to understand when those people lash out that they are, for the most part, good people who feel they are powerless and it's not usually a personal thing.......
    however, there are also those people that are just plain mean and if they weren't mean nurses, they would be mean accountants, engineers, police officers, etc. - those, I just avoid like the plague!!!!!!
    I agree ...alot of times...people will "get away" with whatever you "give them permission" to do.So....I dont give permission to anyone.I try...to be professional at all times ...and expect like wise..I am not perfect....but I try to tx people like I want to be treated.
  9. by   carribeanbound
    Hi,

    I believe the abuse is worse when the patient load is heavy, and if management doesn't do anything about it. I have seen the worst and I have seen the best. It is amazing how one place can be so different from another. It doesn't take much time at a job for the dysfunction to become the norm.
  10. by   MTBanRN
    You know as people a lot of times it is necessary to see abuse in more ways than one. If you are an RN who can not lift a patient but try and the patient falls this is abuse, also when you speak unkindly to fellow employees, this would be the origins of abuse, there are all types of abuse and it is necessary to figure out what type you are a part of so that you can get away from it as soon as possible. The reason is because abuse becomes like a chronic plague and it spreads. You are correct that the worst cases would be a company were the dysfunction is the norm. In my travels I found it absolutely terrible that a home health care facility (will not reveal the state) reported and arrested several nurses who had committed battery against several patients had to be employees as well. It was absolutely embarrassing (if you can imagine seeing ) the police hauling out a company full of nurses for assault and battery charges. So when you take a look at displacement of anger how many are truly concerned with where they displace their anger truly. This is one of those be true to yourself topics. Who would truly admit that they had a problem with their anger to a point where they would go and get help for kicking the dog because that is abuse.
  11. by   MTBanRN
    You know this entire topic becomes so tricky because for the most part I really believe like you said that a lot of these individuals are good people they just have problems at home. As with the women of Wisteria Lane there are those whose home lives have such secrets that will make some quiver. Truthfully, women want it all, the nice home and the white picket fence, the excellent understanding submissive husband, the job making good money, along with two + children. This would be a load to heavy for even the most organized person. I agree that no one should allow anyone to walk all over them but the fact is no one can stop a murderer, or killer, or manipulator. You do not know who you are going up against now a days so the talk about I would not put up with is pure fluff as far as I am concerned. Here from experience I ahve had to care for murderers and killers in the hospital who were shot and they were conscious I would have fought if it were necessary but for the most part all I could do is get my job doneeven while being (dogged out) so to speak by the individual. Please that is not even real. I will not be bothered!!! In ER you will be bothered and like it, you will.
  12. by   Psybird
    Quote from MCF
    I'm thinking of writing a paper on a subject which has influenced me deeply: COLLEAGUE ABUSE, sometimes called NURSE ABUSE or STAFF ABUSE or . . .
    Several years ago, I saw some articles on the subject in popular nursing magazines. There was a consensus that nurses have "often" treated each other with less respect, empathy, etc. than we treat our patients.
    I'm not looking so much for more horror stories, but for your perception of trends, variables, constructive approaches. Thanks, GB, Marie RN:Singing:
    Unfortunately colleague abuse is not confined to the nursing profession. Here is a site devoted to colleague abuse among mental health professionals. There are links to "hot cases" - unfolding horror stories which allow the possibility of intervention in some way, and to "cold cases" - where the abuse stands merely as a cautionary tale and a reminder of the need for the professions to push for legislative changes which minimizes its existence.

    Bear in mind that the application of legislation can be abusive on its own. See Hot Case Number One on this site. http://psybird.wordpress.com/2008/05...thical-ethics/

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