Published Dec 30, 2003
My wife has been a nurse for over 20 years and is a well-qualified, experienced and competent nurse/manager who is respected and liked in her workplace.... but not by all.
Another nurse recently lodged a false claim of harassment against her. This nurse appears to have a few problems dealing with people and left nursing for a few years after her own harassment of others was addressed. She appears to have now used the same process against my wife that was used successfully by other nurses against her.
Nothing came of the harassment claim. The nurse who lodged the false claim against my wife flatly refused mediation and her claims were proven to be either very trivial or false. She has, however, poisoned the mind of her personal friend in management against my wife. This friend started to bully my wife and exclude her from group activities. My wife was systematically striped of her responsibilities, given bad shifts without any reason, refused leave, and so on. The friend also tries to find fault where none exists. Several other nurses are also being treated the same way for the same reason.
My wife is very strong and can stand up to bullies but when enough was enough she and others reluctantly complained to someone very high in management who was both aware personally of my wife's good qualities and the shortcomings of the other two nurses causing her such grief.
My wife also went to the union and a solicitor and the issues appear to be being addressed. It is, however, only a facade and the exclusion, backstabbing lies, bickering, self-promotion and preferential treatment continue. The good news is that my wife has the support of other nurses and now knows whom to trust.
My wife has been offered better positions at other hospitals but she doesn't want to be bullied out of a job she once loved and leave her friends. She was encouraged that she was offered all of the positions for which she applied and it is likely that she will eventually leave.
Being an outsider and working in another industry, I can't understand why nurses put up with such crap from hospitals and why they treat each other so badly. Perhaps having to constantly complete incident reports and justify your actions make some nurses too autocratic and self-focused. In my organisation, it is a given that we actively promote the people we work with when speaking to people from within and outside the organisation. In other words, we try to support each other.
Other husbands of nurses see the same problems in nursing as I have but some of them perceive that the problems arise because most nurses are women. Please don't jump down my throat as I don't believe that this is the case. I currently work in an area with more women than men and have been the only man in a group of women who all worked well as a team. My current boss is a woman that I have great respect for and I have also managed women in the past without any problems - I'd say with less problems than I had with men.
Also, it seems to me that hospitals are more likely to employ a nurse from outside than promote a nurse already at the hospital. With such a shortage of nurses, why don't hospitals take better care of the ones that they have and try to keep them? Is this the case?
I've been vague about the positions of the people involved and the events, as my wife would kill me if she knew I posted this but I'd like your views, as I'm concerned about her.
I'm also thinking of creating a new forum - allpartnersofnurseswholiketodiscusstheirworkproblemsaftertheycomehomefromaneveningshift.com
gwenith, BSN, RN
Rather than a new forum we need to restart nurseadvocate.org - it was such a wonderful resource for bullied nurses unfortunately it has now closed - there is a nurseadvocacy group but they are only concerned with media representation.
1) Document, document, document - it is the only way IF you want to stay but in many ways that feeds into them - they are forcing you into playing a game and the name of the game is control.
excuse me I have an intermittant glitch and will post the rest in a minute
It really comes down to Put up with it, change it or leave. Since this is "cohort bullying" putting up with it is just not at option - too draining. Changing it - is difficult and you often have to accept the behaviour may accelerate before it gets better. Leaving then is the only option
Hellllllo Nurse, BSN, RN
I think my husband would like to join your group, lol.
I don't know why these things go in in nursing- more so than in other careers I've had.
All the best to you and your wife.
I used to have a sig line that read "Remember your enemy is never an enemy in their own eyes - remember that it may give you a way to make them your friend." But again it is very very difficult.
I know too that as a man you would probably like to be the white knight on the charger but with bullying no-one can rescue the victim except themselves. To have someone else "rescue" them re-enforces the victim mentality in the eyes of the bully in in some ways in their own eyes. That does not mean that you should not support her - you should but the resolution should and must be hers.
What you say is too true gwenith and Hellllllo Nurse's husband is welcome in my forum. It's a bit sad that there are actually forums for bullied nurses. There are no forums for victims in my occupation, which would have more people in it than yours.
My wife is now playing the game by documenting "everything" but she does find that keeping a dossier on someone is very draining. She doesn't think that she should have to resort to the same tactics as the "cohort bullies" (another harassment related phrase to add to my ever-expanding list).
My wife always talks to me about problems that she is having at work forgetting that males (myself), being "problem solvers", tend to offer advice (unwanted but valuable when taken) rather than just support like her girlfriends (eg. I know, I know, how awful luv...).
Some of her girlfriends were reluctant to get involved until they themselves eventually were harassed. Interestingly, support came from an unexpected source. Some younger nurses who were once befriended by the bully when they were graduates (younger, naive) approached my wife and expressed their disgust with how she was being treated and explained how the bully had constantly talked about my wife behind her back. Being a bully, the nurse eventually also bullied these young nurses and they became aware of her tactics. My wife's sig line could be "An enemy of my enemy is my friend".
Remember too that bullies often target the good or competant people because underlying this is low self-esteem. I cannot emphasis this enough though - never rely on anyone else backing you against a bully. Often even sympathetic colleages will not back you as it will shift the bullies focus onto them. Self preservation rules and it is every man for himself.
I know that the documenting is draining but on the up side reassure her that she does not have to write it or couch it in legal terms - all she has to do is write like a diary including how she felt at the time of the incidences. It sounds like she will leave and sadly that is often the only option.
The bully is disliked by peers will probably never have a life outside nursing, whereas my wife is popular and has a wonderful adoring perfect handsome husband (joke), kids, family, home, etc. My wife was quiet and let some things go on for a while as she realised that this partially explained the bully's behaviour.
My wife gets another milder form of harassment as well. She is very attractive and looks much younger than she says she is (and she lies!). Some male doctors comment on her appearance, even noticing small changes to hairstyles, which I don't notice. These compliments make some of the younger less attractive and unattached nurses jealous and they make jibs about her being too skinny and her age (if they only knew her real age!). They love to point out the odd grey hair that creeps in between rinses.
One doctor was stupid enough to ask her out in the cafeteria, knowing that she was married but obviously not knowing how scary I am. My wife tactfully pretended to think he was just joking but a nurse on the next table overheard and it went through the hospital like staph.
Tips for other Husbands:
When she asks, "What do you think?" just say "Looks great". If she then asks, "What looks great?" you're stuffed. Try "Hair" or "Clothing".
When she asks you to look at a beauty contest on TV and then forces you to pick the best girl, first show disinterest and then chose the girl that looks the most like her. Care - Do NOT as I did choose Miss Italian Community as this girl is only there because or the money she raised.
Bottom line, all nurses have to cover their butts. Theres also a fight or flight here that when her so called confidents were faced with a challange to stand up with her then they backed out. I understand where your wife is coming from, it happened to me that I was harassed so badly that it forced me to quit. Why stay in a job that will make me feel like this day in and day out. My friends are my friends at my old place of work, but excuse me, life goes on and some move on to better opportunities, better pay, and better treatment. She deserves to be treated with the up most respect, that my friend in the key word!!!!!!!!!!
I feel for your wife, I've worked in places where the bullying has become institutionalised and is definately part of the culture. Especially when one of the main bullies is "in" with management.
Eventually you can only take so much and leave and find out how nice life can be and wonder why it took you so long, but always with regret it turned out that way.
I agree that most bullies in nursing tend to be the worst offenders for not doing their job. I also tend to think that these people either were never right for nursing or have lost whatever they enjoyed about it, and you know how much misery loves company! About time they thought of a career change, and I also feel very sorry for the people they "care" for!
At my wife's hospital, the problems appear to be only on the three units due to the one person. It was unfortunate that the bully in my wife's unit was a close friend of that person.
I recognize that whistleblowers/victims of harassment need to be protected, however, there appears to be a culture at her hospital of nurses submitting harassment claims against each other at the drop of a hat. The bully was forced to leave her previous hospital due to claims made against her yet had no hesitation in lodging a false claim against my wife to try to get rid of her, another nurse is on stress leave because of the same bully, and now my wife and others may submit claims against both of the cohort bullies.
The cohorts are now trying to keep my wife quiet after she and others reported them to someone higher up. They were told to change their behavior, change some procedures and patch things up with my wife. Someone from the union is also coming to the hospital to speak to a few of the nurses.
I suggested to my wife to just leave but she is very stubborn/strong and doesn't wish to be seen giving in. I'd say stuff you and take one of the jobs at a higher level with better pay closer to home. She has already worked at a few hospitals in her career, moving to get promotions or better conditions. My wife is making excuses for not taking one of the positions, such as lack of parking, loss of sick leave (she is never ever sick anyway).
My wife is always working back, doing extra shifts, changing shifts at the last minute, and not taking leave, all out of guilt and concern for patients, sometimes made to feel guilty by the person phoning, sometime she is the person phoning. One thing about nursing is that any of you can always find another job and work when and where you want.
Things change slowly in this system. Only if your ladies co workers also put complaints in writing to SENIOR management will any thing be done. Then it will only be to stop all the extra work the written complaints generate not out of any desire to see fair and equal treatment for all.
Or wish for a time-warp ...
Crikey, is this what I have to look forward to. I'm going to have a complaint about me to answer shortly.
I've a nurse I work with who is complaining to human resources about me, not nursing management because she reckons we are all in a little gang She is a graduate nurse.
You know why she is complaining? Because I refused to let her carry out a procedure that she has not been deemed competent to do. I was in charge that day, I cover my butt. She said the other coordinators let her do it. I said no again. In fact, I think I said no about 6 times.
She had a pink hissy fit and carried on like a child. Apparently, according to her, she can do this particular procedure better than the other nurses in the hospital - a major city hospital mind, and so I am retarding her professional development.
I'm not in a position to sign people off for procedures.
Apparently, she is going to list a heap of incidents that I have no idea what they are or even if they are true. Not just about me, but about many things.
This mature girl bought a present at christmas for the SDN but was spoken to about a few things, so decided not to give it to her, even though they had got on well during the year and also been out together on social functions..
Lord help me. What is wrong with people these days. I'm leaving soon anyway as I am going overseas.
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