Do you work w/ a bully?

  1. Hi, guys! I am a middle-aged nurse and have been in nursing for almost 30 yrs. (hospital, community, teaching) and am a certified Women's Health NP. I worked at a family planning clinic as an NP for 6 yrs. and left due to the atrocious management that also included a manager who was verbally/emotionally abusive. So I left that position to return to the hospital I'd previously worked (med-surg) for the float pool.
    Just 2 yrs. ago I decided I should get some OB experience to go w/ my Women's Health NP. Well, I had been forewarned about the "difficult personalities" of staff on the OB unit but I thought that wouldn't be a problem for me as I've never had an issue w/ coworkers in the past. Well...when I first started there I noticed that 1 staff person about my age was constantly being criticized and cut down behind her back. I didn't want to confront the offenders but couldn't stand listening to this "gossip" so I'd leave the room if this would start. So this nurse eventually left and guess what! I am now the scapegoat. It's not the older, experienced nurses who are causing the problems but seems to be this one charge nurse (we have 6 charge nurses on our staff) who is "out to get me" (as several staff have chosen to share w/ me). One time she verbally lambasted me in front of the whole staff during morning report for not removing a gavage tube from an ICN baby who was going out to the room w/ his mother (even though 2 prior shifts of nurses did the same thing and this was only my second shift in ICN). Because of that, I was deternined to confront her but felt like she'd eat me alive alone so I chose to confront her in the company of our unit director, so she could mediate. Well, it helped for about 2 wks. and now I feel like we're just back to square 1 if not -1!
    For example, one day I had 2 L & D induction pts., both of whom received epidurals and delivered on my 8-hr. shift. It's routine that when we are busy w/ a L & D pt., other staff will check on our other pts. Well, during the first delivery, another younger staff nurse (who this charge nurse tends to gravitate toward) called me on the intercom telling me my other pt. needed something. I asked her if she couldn't please check on my other pt. and later thanked her for it. Well, seems she "checked" on my pt. but "have to admit I didn't do any charting on her" (we use computer charting). I must have looked surprised when this charge nurse (who had a pt. assignment of 4 PP moms/babies, 2 of which were discharged) said, "She was helping me".
    So, I am at the point of returning to the hospital float pool but consented to our dept. director to give it "one more month" before making a final decision. I really enjoy OB and my dept. director has placed me on a committee to do annual mandatory urit education and has made me a student preceptor as she believes in my abilities. But this situation has so tarnished my view that I find I can't hardly enjoy my job. Unfortunately, we're a small rural hospital so it's not always possible to avoid working the same shifts as this charge nurse works. Darn!
    Any insight would be much appreciated.
    Vroom
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  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   SuesquatchRN
    Yeah, I have one, and I'm in a small rural hospital.

    Sorry, no suggestions, just sympathy.
  4. by   Vroom
    Thanks, Suesquach. I've also been seeing a therapist to see whether my lack of self esteem (since the abusive clinic manager) is affecting how I'm being/perceiving being treated. It's so hard as I really do love my profession. I've even debated changing occupations but I'm 52 yo and what can I do now and make my same salary?
    Thanks for the empathetic ear!
    Vroom
  5. by   SuesquatchRN
    I hear you loud and clear. I'm a relatively new nurse and am being beaten up daily by a couple of very nasty people who only feel good by making others feel badly.
  6. by   santhony44
    I would say that your level of experience, education, and certification have something to do with it.

    It also sounds as if your director is not doing her job or she'd do something about this- she obviously is aware. I don't think a bully should be charge nurse, no matter how good a nurse she is otherwise.

    I would say, continue to confront her, every time, stand up for yourself, and let her know you won't take it.

    The other choices would be to continue taking it or leave.

    It's a shame that we sometimes have to deal with a high-school mentality in adulthood. I'm sorry you're having to deal with this.
  7. by   Just_Me_2
    Not currently, but I have in the past.

    My suggestion to you would be to not let people affect how you do your job. Wherever you work, there will be difficult people, and they tend to gravitate toward people they think they can bully. Notice they never seem to pick on the confident nurses, right?

    Honestly, so what if she is talking about you in report? Other nurses are smart, and are aware what she is up to. Do your job to the best of your ability, take constructive criticism, and don't let it affect you. If it were me, and I found out she was criticizing me behind my back, I would directly confront her each and every time, and let her know that if she has any issues with you she is to come directly to you. It might not do any good, but it will let her know that you are on to her and won't take crap from her.

    As for the problem of the other nurses not taking care of your patients while you were dealing with 2 active labor patients (a complete handful...), I would go straight to the unit manager and decide how she wants this to be handled as a department. If it were me, I wouldn't just assume that someone was taking care of my patients, I would directly find the nurse who should be responsible, give her a short report and let her know that you are handing over care while you have labor patients. Then, chart "Report given to .....RN", naming the nurse by name. If this nurse doesn't take care of your (now her) patients while you are dealing with labor patients, it is her liability now.

    I know this is difficult, but you shouldn't let one nurse affect your career. If you need OB experience to do your job better, by all means stay and get it. It sounds like your unit manager wants you to stay and is supportive, so why let difficult coworkers drive you off? Don't let them win. Be strong and confident, stand up for yourself, and document any exchanges with them so you can show your manager.
  8. by   ohmeowzer RN
    it's a shame nursing has come to this. i have worked in hospitals where the nurses have clicks and they don't let others in their clicks. they are so insecure that they can't help another nurse out. no compassion . they don't care that you need that job and you have a family and bills. they are just out to be nasty. it makes me angry.. i am sorry this happened to you.. just don't let them bother you. i would keep busy and do my work and never speak to them unless spoken to. don't give them the power to upset you.. what a bunch of loosers
  9. by   cmo421
    Lateral violence, bullies fall under this. Really hard to deal with and makes one feel so frustrated. You tend to start doubting ur own abilities.It looks like u r an advanced practice nurse, could be this person is jealous and intimidated by u,hence she is trying to make u look foolish. Two ways to deal with this on ur own: 1) Go out of ur way to praise her abilities and job performance. Ask her assistance on future education and unit activities. 2) Directly ,privately ask her what's up. Why she is trying to make ur job miserable. I have found that most will back down when taken to task. If neither works, go to HR and file a complaint. Site what u have done to try and resolve it on ur own.She will not get fired but they will hae the unit manager deal with it and they will make sure it is resolved one way or the other. Lateral Violence is unacceptable,do not let this person,or any other ruin ur day. I have been there.It is not easy. Good luck!
  10. by   Vroom
    Thanks for all the supportive words! I am trying to ignore her and just do my job but when it affects the care of my pts. (like when she and her "clique" don't help me when I have 2 or more laboring/delivering pts.) then it really angers me! As far as "talking about me in report", she verbally assaulted me in front of the other staff! I was giving morning report on that 1 ICN baby that was going out to the floor that day and she jumped all over me about not removing the gavage tube first. She was hollering and belittling me in front of all my coworkers. They all were looking away, nobody would look me in the eye, and I felt like I was being beat up in front of a crowd. I realize that she will eventually burn most of her bridges but I don't know if I can take this abuse until then. I don't really care what she says to other people but I feel like when I have to work w/ her, I'm so self-conscious and second guess myself, thus making it seem like I'm inept and not as efficient as I'm used to being. I realize it's a big head game and don't want to let her win but, being a 10-yr. breast cancer survivor, I realize life is too short to put up w/ this crap.
    Thanks again for all the insights and support!
    Vroom
  11. by   gonzo1
    I too was verbally beat up by a bully on a daily basis when I first started in the ER. It was horrible, but I stuck it out. She is now gone, fired. I am still there and it is now a great work environment.
    Educate yourself on "horizontal violence" and workplace violence. There is tons of info out there. Document your encounters with her where she is rude and unprofessional and then go to HR. In the code of ethics now for most jobs there is a quarantee of work in a safe, non harrassment environment. You need to document and you need to tell this charge that her behavior toward you will not be tolerated without professional consequences.
    Read all the posts on allnurses about bullies like her. It is not because you are a bad nurse or a weak person or what ever, it is because she is a problem and you need to take her down a few pegs.
    If you have gone to school to be an advanced practice nurse then you are smart and organized.
    After my bully got fired I found out that a lot of people were afraid of her and glad she was gone. The clicks ended and the people that used to congregate around her and side with her have now learned more appropriate behavior.
  12. by   underpaidrn
    Quote from Vroom
    Thanks for all the supportive words! I am trying to ignore her and just do my job but when it affects the care of my pts. (like when she and her "clique" don't help me when I have 2 or more laboring/delivering pts.) then it really angers me! As far as "talking about me in report", she verbally assaulted me in front of the other staff! I was giving morning report on that 1 ICN baby that was going out to the floor that day and she jumped all over me about not removing the gavage tube first. She was hollering and belittling me in front of all my coworkers. They all were looking away, nobody would look me in the eye, and I felt like I was being beat up in front of a crowd. I realize that she will eventually burn most of her bridges but I don't know if I can take this abuse until then. I don't really care what she says to other people but I feel like when I have to work w/ her, I'm so self-conscious and second guess myself, thus making it seem like I'm inept and not as efficient as I'm used to being. I realize it's a big head game and don't want to let her win but, being a 10-yr. breast cancer survivor, I realize life is too short to put up w/ this crap.
    Thanks again for all the insights and support!
    Vroom
    Vroom, I don't know what her educational background is, but you are an NP and that counts for something. I'm your age and we've all been around the block a few times. Don't let someone who has no self-esteem (her) beat you up. Look at what you have accomplished and being a 10 year cancer survivor makes you a hero in my book. Be strong and hang in there. We're here for you.:icon_hug:
  13. by   RN1989
    Welcome back to the club of hospital nursing! If it were me, I'd look at it this way - "I am an NP. I have a ton of education and knowledge that they do not have. So who cares what they think. If the charge dares to yell at me in public again I will calmly ask her to go elsewhere to speak to me. If she does not I will simply walk away. I am a better person than they are because I treat all people as I wish to be treated. But I will not allow them to make me miserable."
  14. by   HM2VikingRN
    Quote from Vroom
    Thanks for all the supportive words! I am trying to ignore her and just do my job but when it affects the care of my pts. (like when she and her "clique" don't help me when I have 2 or more laboring/delivering pts.) then it really angers me! As far as "talking about me in report", she verbally assaulted me in front of the other staff! I was giving morning report on that 1 ICN baby that was going out to the floor that day and she jumped all over me about not removing the gavage tube first. She was hollering and belittling me in front of all my coworkers. They all were looking away, nobody would look me in the eye, and I felt like I was being beat up in front of a crowd. I realize that she will eventually burn most of her bridges but I don't know if I can take this abuse until then. I don't really care what she says to other people but I feel like when I have to work w/ her, I'm so self-conscious and second guess myself, thus making it seem like I'm inept and not as efficient as I'm used to being. I realize it's a big head game and don't want to let her win but, being a 10-yr. breast cancer survivor, I realize life is too short to put up w/ this crap.
    Thanks again for all the insights and support!
    Vroom
    First rule of leadership is praise in public and reprimand in private. I have a particular hate for bullies after undergoing a serial bullying for 3 years.

    Personally, I would schedule a meeting with HR. Write up a first person account with names of witnesses. Bring a union rep with to the meeting. This may very well be a grievable incident. I would also write a letter detailing how this may be establishing a hostile work environment.

    Best of luck in pushing back.

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