Help me with this situation

  1. I am still upset and so frustrated at this point tonight---so bear with me while I vent. This is long, so if you read until the end - thank you so much!

    The situation:
    I am working in my first nursing job on a very, very busy med-surg floor at an inter-city teaching hospital. We have 7 patients each and I am in 4/6 week of orientation (3rd week on unit). My preceptor is okay. She's a bit distracted by personal issues and is often unavailable to me. But, we get along well and I making it work.

    The problem: another nurse on the unit (with her own preceptee) pulls me aside several times a week (but in front of others) and tells me that I am offending her in some way. It's all personal = I "look" stressed and need to stop it. I "sound" defensive when trying to give an explanation for why I did something. Last week she yelled at me about something, then later apologized (sort of) and said she was stressed, sick and on steroids. Today was the worst- she jumped all over me and said I had to put up with her --and any nurse on my unit -- criticizing me. Not for my nursing skills or anything related to patient care. This is all about my facial expressions when she's criticizing me or how I stand or what words I use. She also said that she talks differently to me than the more experienced nurses because I am a still on orientation. They have earned the right to be spoken to with respect but I have not. I've tried apologizing for offending her and said that I am just really focusing on my job and trying to keep on track. I am usually just barely keeping my head above water and often behind on things. It does not help when she gives me these talks.

    I feel that this is BS and that I'm being bullied. I have heard about the "nurses eating their young" phenomenon. Am I overreacting or is this just wrong?

    Also -
    I stupidly shared my feelings with my preceptor today. I told her her that I was worried about my relationship with this other nurse. I told her that I sensed this other nurse was constantly angry with me and felt somewhat bullied. I asked her for advice about how to work with this nurse. She turned around and told this other nurse what I'd said. This led to a huge chewing out by the other nurse. I thought that my preceptor was supposed to have my back and help me navigate. I feel really let down and very alone. I don't want to let this other nurse break me down, but I am so frustrated now that I don't know what to do.

    It's just so disappointing. i am trying so hard to get along and do my best here. I try to treat everyone with respect and kindness. What can I do to repair this situation?

    Thanks for any advice kind nurses!!
  2. Visit littlerayofsunshine profile page

    About littlerayofsunshine, BSN, RN

    Joined: Aug '11; Posts: 66; Likes: 29


  3. by   roperlogantierney
    She must have a reason why she's treating you that way. Confront her privately in a nice way, ask her why and tell her how you feel. After that, just do your best in your job. In the end that's the only thing that will matter. Pray for her. Maybe she's going thru a difficult situation. Some people can't handle their problems well and end up displacing their stress to other people. Continue to treat her with respect and employ modesty in your actions.
  4. by   morte
    when you asked your preceptor why she shared your confidence with the other nurse, what was the explanation.? I would decline to participate in any further conversations with the problem nurse, as respectfully as you can; and schedule a meet with your NM.
  5. by   CrazyCatNurse
    Having experienced an incredible similar situation--my words were twisted, I was written up for everything and nothing, I was given positive feedback from all my preceptors then 5 weeks into work on floor they had a 4 nurses plus me meeting and gave me a half-inch stack of write ups--read them to me. Then while I was weeping from shock and shame (I believed their opinion of me must be right.), the Director of Nursing told me "This is nothing personal, but your hair looks greasy unkempt and unprofessional."

    I was told I "had attitude", but never what exactly made them think I had attitude. A preceptor insisted "I will not work with you on this." My questions were never answered. I was given vague advice like "be careful what you sound like" and "you don't see the big picture". Anything I told anyone came back to bite me later. I became physically ill--throwing up, weeping. I believed I was an incapable nurse.

    It was an understaffed floor, and allegedly self scheduled. They scheduled me on days I had other plans. My vacation days. My church worship days. Things I had asked off. I wasn't allowed to get off on these days, and when I reported the situation to a higher up nurse, I was confronted by the scheduler herself. "You're trying to make me look bad!" she said. Seriously, all the higher nurses had it in for me and it went all the way to the top.

    I was always being escorted to the DON office, and scolded. For having attitude, charting too accurately, not charting enough, and of course having attitude and then for crying in the office.

    I stuck it out for a year on that floor. It still messes with my head nine years later. I fight fear and tears whenever a supervisor talks to me in their office.

    My advice for you would be to get out of that situation as soon as possible. Confide to no one. Document every single incident in your own notebook. Keep your head down, your mouth shut, get your paycheck and experience and leave that floor as soon as possible. Of course, it's possible that the head nurse isn't part of the corruption. I'd be quiet and watch for before talking to her/him. See if you can figure it out.

    I'm glad that you can recognize that you are being bullied. It won't mess with your head so much if you're aware of what's going on. Oh. And don't apologize to her for her alleged perception of you. Unless its along the lines of "I am sorry that you feel/think/believe this way..." That way you're being assertive.
  6. by   CrazyCatNurse
    "Employ modesty in your actions"... It seems plain to me from the original post that she does employ modesty in her actions. She's trying to carefully figure out what's happening, and how to handle it, and she's being bullied. I feel your vague advice places blame on the original poster for the bullies' actions.

    I think "trying to understand" them and "perhaps they are displacing their stress" gives the bullies power to bully more and excuses their inexcusable actions.

    It is possible I misunderstand you, but having personally followed all of this advice--including the "pray for them" bit... And it seriously did not help. It wound up placing blame on myself. "Watch your tone of voice. Be careful what you say. Oh, she's having a hard time in life, that's why she refused to give you report." In trying to understand them, I excused their actions. I felt I deserved to be treated like dirt.
  7. by   HouTx
    Oh my goodness. The OP seems to be trying to deal with an unstable and inappropriate senior nurse, while the rest of her colleagues (including her preceptor) are enabling/excusing that person's bad behavior. OP relied on her preceptor for guidance and support but the preceptor's actions only made it worse. YIKES. This is typical eating-our-young behavior. It needs to be recognized and stopped.

    Handling conflict is a valuable and unavoidable nursing skill. First step should always be to try to identify the real issue and respond accordingly. In OP's case, it seems that the comments are personal rather than corrective feedback intended to improve her clinical performance. This would indicate that the 'attacker' has some sort of personal ax to grind that is causing her to act out by targeting the OP. The OP shouldn't try to uncover the motivation.... that would probably require psychoanalysis..... just establish some boundaries that will stop the behavior.

    In normal circumstances, the first step is to calmly confront the perpetrator one-on-one; identify the specific events and let her know that they won't be tolerated in the future. However, if one there is a significant power imbalance (newbie versus senior staff) this probably won't work... she needs to involve a 3rd party to level the playing field. If the educator or manager are unable/unwilling to help, go up the ladder. Refer to the employer's policy for workplace grievances. Talk to HR. They should be able to assist.

    Let's stop enabling bad behavior.
  8. by   littlerayofsunshine
    Thatlad: I tried talking to her. I've apologized for anything I've done unintentionally to offend her. She just keeps shutting me down and saying it's all my fault. She says I am the only person who has problems with how she "teaches." And when I asked her if she remembers being new and struggling to fit in - she said no. She never had any problems. It's just me. So - I see no point in starting conversations with her.

    Morte: No explanation except to say that she has issues w/this nurse too and is leaving the unit soon partially to get away from her. Makes me even more baffled as to her motivation for sharing my feelings w/the other nurse.

    Catcrazy: I am trying to do what you advise. I have been focusing on my work, the patients, learning and trying to stay out of this other nurse's way. She just keeps coming to me w/her observations about my demeanor. Other nurses have been kind and helpful. Ditto the rest of the team and other hospital staff. The feedback I get from others is positive - I'm helpful, kind, good attitude,etc. It's really just this one person. But I get the sense that she intimidates other newer nurses on the unit. My preceptor has been there longer, but clearly does not want to stand up for me. As for the NM - I want to believe that she would like to see this situation resolve. I have heard that I am doing fine and see no reason why they'd want to let me go. But if the situation does not resolve, I will not be able to stay. I can't work with this person constantly on my case. The thing is that she's got her own preceptee to worry about. It would seem that my preceptor would be the one to correct me if I was out of line, not this other nurse.

    The thought of going back to work tomorrow makes me unhappy. But, I will try again and hope she's not there.
  9. by   morte
    do not interact with her! You don't share patients, turn away and leave.
  10. by   littlerayofsunshine
    Thanks for your comments and kind words. FWIW- I am not a youngster - I am a second-career BSN nurse with many years of previous work experience. I have worked on many teams and with many types of personalities. I felt like my background would help me integrate into a large organization. And in some ways, it has. I have worked well others at the hospital. I have heard positive feedback from others on my team.

    Also, despite my background I have made it a point to keep an open mind and be a sponge all through nursing school and at this job. I have really tried to learn from anyone and everyone. I never use my age as an excuse or reason for anything I do. I think that I am more energetic and enthusiastic than many experienced nurses my age, because I am new. This other nurse is younger than me. She does not seem super happy at work. She has not attempted to get to know me at all. She just jumped on me from the start and continues to do so. So- I guess I will have to speak to the NM as she's the next one up the chain. I will let you know how it goes. I'd hate to lose this first job. I was so excited to get it and ready to really have a challenge. So far the biggest challenge has not been the nursing stuff, but this personality conflict.
  11. by   littlerayofsunshine
    Cat- Geez. You had it rough! I am sorry to hear what you went through and that you are still sort of traumatized. I don't think I would have stuck it out as long as you did. I just can't tolerate being treated with such blatant unprofessionalism and disrespect. Hugs to you and thanks for the advice!
  12. by   CrazyCatNurse
    Ok then. I was assuming a new young nurse like I was, not a life experienced confident and capable lady like yourself. That makes it better for you. Talk to NM, if that doesn't work, try and get out of there ASAP.

    Similar thing happened to my mom, second career nurse like yourself, on my mom's first job. NM didn't help. Mom got out of that floor/hospital as soon as she could--and she's enjoying nursing very much now.
  13. by   malamud69
    Interesting advice people are giving...let us just realize(Not forget)a few things: Most people cannot and will not deal with change, most people are "job scared" and afraid of everything/anybody new (many reasons for that-most notably that they have been divided and conquered by bosses/corporate bullies there is no more "helping" any more its every person for themselves-they may also watch lots and lots of fox news and are blinded to the fact that actually banding together can help us all!), most people are ignorant and afraid of anything different etc...,so giving all of this advice that sums up as "giving people the benefit of the doubt" is a bunch of you know what! You must do your job as best you can and as best as you can avoid the BS! That is all you can do-stop giving these wretches any "benefit" or any time will not matter anyway-when people are that miserable, scared and stupid it is our job to rise above-as far as I am concerned there is no place for any of them in the work place especially with so many new and eager and worthy people out there ready to go-unfortunately they know how to put on a good show for the bosses when they are they keep their positions and tend to make life pretty much miserable for all else(Boy I miss construction work sometimes-people like you described are usually gone in an instant!)...misery loves company so best practice-do not give them any! Good Luck
  14. by   Karmatism
    Have you considered that she might be intimated by you? Ive had run-ins with a few girls/women like this and I drove myself crazy trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. I started sharing with people close to me and the feedback I got was that I come across very confident (which is funny to me because at times I feel anything but) and it makes certain personality types feel threatened. My advice is to put her in her place - firmly. I'd simply walk up to her and say, "I've done my best to be professional with you despite your behavior toward me, but I wont stand for this any longer. I'm here to do my job and I'd appreciate if you focused on yours. I answer to management, not you. If this continues, I'll be forced to follow the chain of command to make sure it's resolved." I'd then document what you said as well as her response and any more incidents moving forward until you're ready to make your case. I hate to say it, but there seems to be one of her everywhere you go. Don't give her that kind of control over you.

    Good luck!!