Bullying by the DON

Nurses Professionalism


Hello, I am an infection prevention and control nurse within a LTC facility. I'm getting bullied by the DON and her clique (literal clique, she has hired all her high school friends and family). I am being bullied because I have stood up for what is morally right, while the DON wants to do what's easiest. For example, we had a scabies outbreak when I first started. We had an outside derm dx for it and one of the rounding providers dx. The DON on more than one occasion announced at meetings that it's not real, she doesn't know where it came from, etc. this has publicly humiliated me on more than one occasion. She has done the same thing with RSV and Covid outbreaks. I am doing what is clinically correct. It may not be the easiest choice or most popular, but it is the right thing to do. Now- I am bullied regularly by her clique. It's not always overt. There is a lot of eye rolling, glaring, withholding information, excluding, and other non-verbal messages. 
I had my fill the other day and told the administrator that I don't think I'm a good fit for the culture. He has begged me to stay and assured me he's going to try to fix the culture. I fear retaliation now. I have all of the floor staffs support and some management support. The DON is a manipulator and has gotten away with bullying so many people that I am very worried about my job. My peers and floor staff have given me support by telling me I'm not alone and that they are treated the same way. Floor staff and other management has stated they have reported incidents too and nothing happens. I'm constantly stressed at work, can't sleep the night before, can't focus, etc. at this point, it seems like I need to find another job. It's discouraging to know that many people have reported her and she still persists. What should I do? Start looking at other options? I'm bummed because I love the floor staff and what I do. The administration and corporate tells me I'm doing an amazing job. I just can't grow thicker skin and tolerate the bullying. Please help! 

Specializes in Geriatrics, Dialysis.

If the ownership hasn't fired the DON yet after multiple complaints from multiple staff they are not going to.  That limits your choices to either looking for another job or figuring out some way to deal with the bullying.

Of course there's always the nuclear option, you could talk to an attorney about a hostile workplace lawsuit. If nothing else that would certainly make that facility ownership pay attention. If you decide that's an option worth exploring be prepared to leave that job regardless of the outcome. Once it's established you are willing to sue them I can't see any good path toward keeping that job

DON is endangering the residents by ignoring  hazards to the resident's health. They are doing this to make the facility look good. You need to report all of these instances. You also need to move on.

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Re: the administrator- talk is cheap. Keep your head down and start looking for another job.

Specializes in Mental Health, Gerontology, Palliative.

Run, don't walk. This woman sounds like a demented lunatic

As someone said the administrators talk is cheap. 

kbrn2002 said:

If the ownership hasn't fired the DON yet after multiple complaints from multiple staff they are not going to.  That limits your choices to either looking for another job or figuring out some way to deal with the bullying.


Agreed!  Unfortunately it may take losing several good staff members for them to finally be willing to address it.  You can stay and try to deal with it - not ignore it, which will harm your physical and mental health, but actually confront it.  However this is challenging since I assume the DON is your immediate supervisor and could likely try to call it insubordination.  I probably would just start looking.  I hate for you to have to do that tho, especially if you otherwise like the job.  

Specializes in ICU/ER/Med-Surg/Case Management/Manageme.

Agree with others.  This likely will not change so you need to move on.  The other thing I would also say is if she is putting patients in harms way, she needs to be reported to your state board.  You mentioned Covid and RSV and those are 2 things you don't want to mess around with and especially in a LTC facility.

PS:  I just went through a bout of RSV.  Sick as a dog for about 2 weeks.  Knocked me to my knees.  I'm old but healthy.  Can't imagine what it would be for someone old and NOT healthy!

Specializes in Rehab.

Had the same problem. Don having staff harass me. I filed a formal complaint with HR. It's called harassment.  Mine almost went physical with the Don 's minion in my face.  The compliment was on file. When I left she did it to someone else... they fired her. It took 6 mths.  


Thank you all for your responses, I have a lot to consider. ?

Specializes in Psych, Substance Abuse.

Nothing is going to change. I don't understand why organizations allow bullying. Resign and report them to your state's LTC ombudsman program.

Specializes in NICU, PICU, Transport, L&D, Hospice.

You can't change that culture but many are tempted to sacrifice themselves trying.  Disengage with management, start looking for another job and get out ASAP. 

It's definitely time to get out. Another nurse completed fit testing and it was reported by majority of floor staff that she didn't actually complete fit testing and just instructed everyone to sign the sheet. This is a violation of OSHA. I reported it, and the administration and DON are allowing her to stay and justifying her behavior. They have announced that "fit testing was performed", directly undermining myself and majority of floor staff who have reported it. She also had everyone sign the incorrect form. This is concerning to me as her and I are both certified in the facility to perform fit testing. I asked the administrator to transfer to another facility and was told to please give him time to fix it. This is a loss cause as I believe the problem is bigger than just the DON but maybe the entire company. 

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