Disillusioned and Bullied


  • Specializes in Emergency Dept, Med-Surg. Has 2 years experience.

So, disillusioned nurse here...In a nutshell, I'm a new grad. I've had to struggle with many obstacles, including single motherhood, and finally attained a dream of mine to become an RN in 2010. I've always done everything 200% and managed to get a coveted position in an ER residency right out of school :yeah:. My preceptor was wonderful, and I learned so much and enjoyed everything about my job, except for one co-worker...

Since day 1, she has belittled me, degraded me, and humiliated me in front of my colleagues. She has spread horrible lies about me to everyone, and has ruined what little relationships I have started to build with the physicians.:crying2: Other than this one nurse, I get along with everyone else. I just discovered a few of these colleagues have even complained about witnessing this maltreatment, while others have expressed their fear of retailiation should they challenge the status quo. I can only apologize that they have been subjected to and dragged into such a horrible, immature situation.

I have avoided her as much as possible. I don't respond to her bullying...I'm in my late 30s and too old for this drama and nonsense. However, this issue has come to the attention of our DON, who I've been told is a good friend of this bully nurse. Last week I had to give a formal statement to HR...Now there is an "investigation" taking place and I have been suspended from work while they interview people and audit my charts. I am expecting a phone call tomorrow. I am scared!!!:crying2:

I know I shouldn't even want to work in such a toxic environment, but jobs are so tough right now, especially for new grads, let alone a new grad who got fired!!! Did I even mentioned that I'm a single mom? I know they say that the "real world" is much different than nursing school, and new grads are warned about the reality shock, but I never pictured myself in this situation. I'm a good nurse and a good person. I don't expect to be the best of friends with my coworkers and hit happy hour with them; in fact, I prefer to keep my private and work lives separate. However, by the same token, we need to respect one another enough to communicate effectively for the sake of patient care!!!

I don't understand all of this, and I don't know what my response should be when I get this phone call and they probably fire me. :confused:Do I just graciously back down, or insist on a meeting and fight this?? What looks better for my future employment; resigning or accepting termination? What do I even say? I only have this 6 months of experience and there are only 3 health systems in this area. Do I mention an attorney (I live in a right-to-work state)? Please send any words of wisdom, advice, hugs, or prayers! Thanks to all of you on AN


54 Posts

Specializes in ICU.

It's a right-to-work state, but is there a union involved enough to have had union contracts? Some hospitals in right-to-work states are union shops or however you phrase it and they will represent you if this is the case.

I am very sorry this happened to you. Unfortunately, I went through something almost exactly similar but I had no investigation whatsoever and no chance to demand an appeals process. It isn't an end at all. But reconsider too, if this location is that toxic, is it good for your health and the health of your family to continue in such an environment? Even if your name is cleared, if this behavior is tolerated, will you be safe from them or will they try again later?

Specializes in FNP. Has 25 years experience.

I'm a little confused. Had to give a formal statement about what? The bullying, or something the bully accused you of?

Specializes in Critical Care.

What a horrible situation. I know that I don't have to give you the talk we give to our children about bullying and how to be a better person than such miscreants. This "adult" has probably been a bully all of her life. Anyone who has had to deal with a bully often wonders how they choose us as their victim. And seems that society often overlooks this behavior in the child who will become an even more offensive and dangerous adult. This should not happen in any supposed "profession," or life in general, but unfortunately it does. But...that is another discussion. However, unsure from this post why you had to give a formal statement to HR. Was it because you addressed these issues to management? Did someone else address these issues on your behalf? Or did the bully go to her friend before she could be reported? I can by no means give legal advise, but I would definitely contact an attorney before this goes any further. Many attorneys offer free consultations. I would not make ANY decisions before I talked to one. Maybe the bully needs some legal education in addition to nursing CEs...like the definition of "slander" and "libel." Hang tough, you have attained your dream. Do not let anyone ruin it. I would like to know the outcome.

PS: take as long as you can to reflect and write everything down that has happened to you including comments from co-workers. Important.

Specializes in Med/Surg, DSU, Ortho, Onc, Psych.

What on earth is the investigation over? Sorry, I too got a little lost by your post.

This has all escalated - and forgive me for being blunt - simply because you let it all happen. With ANY bullies anywhere, you need to confront them and take decisive action. She could see you were weak & probably scared of her, so now she has got you in the $h*t. There is no way in the wide world of sports I would let ANYONE - much less another nurse - humiliate me in front of anyone, anywhere at anytime. I would have pulled her up short right there and then and dealt with it. The first time a bully tries this, I make THE biggest fuss ever, cos they will not stop till you put your foot down. I would have pulled her into a private room or outside after work, and gave her the low down - you quit this c**p or I knock you into next week. I have actually said this to a bully I know and I DID end up punching him - but he left me well alone after that! Boy, but did it feel good...

Anyway, I would be complaining re unfair treatment to everyone. If the DON is her mate, well, get everyone else on your side, & also go to the medical director, board of nursing, etc. Pull her aside & say if you want a war, you have got one! Tell her ur hiring a lawyer (or have consulted with one even if you haven't), and let them know you will be vocal and loud from now on. If ur not given a fair hearing, threaten to make it public as in newspapers (but don't count on keeping ur job). Write EVERYTHING down this bully & everyone says. I bet you after saying/doing all of that, that any money things will calm down. Refuse to deal with the DON, & tell her she will give you unfair treatment as she is a friend of this bully.

You sound really nice, but unfortunately nice doesn't get you many places in the REAL world of nursing. You have to be a bit tough and stand up for yourself, or the bullies of this world will just go on the attack, & rip you to pieces.

Let us know what happens anyway. Please get some legal advice from ur board of nursing.

Don't worry too much matey, things will turn out OK but you have to be strong against these bullies, as they get away with too much lately! (my friend's nephew committed suicide after being bullied ++ so I feel strongly about this issue).

Poi Dog

1,134 Posts

I don't have any advice so will you settle for a hug?



57 Posts

Specializes in Emergency Dept, Med-Surg. Has 2 years experience.

Thanks you all for your kind replies! I did, in fact, stand up for myself and spoke with the bully in private on the first 2 occassions and then went up the ladder when it got nowhere. As for the DON, I was "warned" not to go there as she is buddy-buddy with the bully and others have suddenly "left" whenever this happened. I also did not want to pursue it further because I did not want to drag my colleagues into such a stupid, juvenile drama. Unfortunately, that happened anyway.

As for the "formal statement", I was instructed by the DON that this was necessary because there needed to be a formal investigation of any reported harrassment "per policy" (I since have read the statements on ANA and JC websites). I don't know what the bully told her at her meeting (yes, she did go running before I did - I was told NOT to go running cause I would be seen as the whiner and difficult to work with) but the DON mentioned during my meeting that my "charts will be audited" ?!

I know what you mean about NOT wanting to stay in such a toxic environment, but how would I go about finding another job when I'm a new grad AND have been fired??? I can't move out of the area because my ex won't allow it because of child visitation, and there are few health systems in my area. :crying2:

JustBeachyNurse, LPN

1 Article; 13,952 Posts

Specializes in Complex pedi to LTC/SA & now a manager. Has 13 years experience.

Do you have a union? Maybe an employment attorney can assist you as this is a case of "lateral violence" in the workplace? Do you know what the bully has accused you of? If other coworkers have witnessed her verbal abuse, have they issued witness statements of her behavior, statements, and actions?

Karl Farmer

308 Posts

Specializes in LTC, MDS, plasmapheresis. Has 25 years experience.

Nurses historically have attacked their own peers. It's unusual in a professional field. Medicine and law, as examples, all protect those in their fold. Not nurses. This is why you can never trust a nurse coworker, and always have to be on the defensive to protect your license- there are predators everywehere in nursing, possibly because it is female dominated with all of those issues involved- jealousy is number one. Also, name one other line of work with such a large percentange of female workers who support their boyfriend or husband- this is codependency and lack of self esteem at its worst. Your coworker, poster, may want your man (or woman), think you have a better body, be envious that a certain doctor fawns over you, be angry that she has children to support, a million things, and you can't make people happy. Ignore her, and cover yourself at all times.


57 Posts

Specializes in Emergency Dept, Med-Surg. Has 2 years experience.

No union, unfortunately. I don't know what she has accused me of, but I have been told about 10 people have given written statements on my behalf about the long history of her harrassment towards me. Others who have witnessed it are afraid of "retaliation" which, as I've discovered, is a real possibility with this manager. I was on the schedule to work today and was told not to come in.

Since this is my first "professional" job, I'm not quite sure what to say when they call. :confused:

Karl Farmer

308 Posts

Specializes in LTC, MDS, plasmapheresis. Has 25 years experience.

Get a notebook, and record every conversation with the boss. By being taken off the schedule you have been terninated, at least temporarily. You need a concise credible chain of events to obtain unemployment, if you need to. Also, if you haven't yet, start writing down in detail all the events leading up to this situation. If you are in a right to work state (which means you don't have to join a union, and employment is at will, so you can be fired without cause at any time without notice) you can't do anything but collect UC if you are fired without cause, unless your civil righst have been violated.

Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience.

OK - so maybe I am just dense today, but I don't understand what chart audits have to do with harrassment. Is there an assumption that the harrassment was warranted because of poor clinical documentation??? That's just outrageous. OP needs a STAT manager-ectomy.