The way nurses treat each other

  1. Hi everyone. I need some advice from you all, but first let me give you some background. I am 46 and have worked either as mid-level manager or owned my own business my whole adult life. I have decided to become a nurse for many reasons which I will not go into right now, but one of those reasons was to be able to give a little back and know at the end of the day I can look back and say - "hey, I did something today that really helped someone"! I am in my first year of nursing school and I love it. I like clinicals the most because I really do feel like I am helping my patients. This is very rewarding. Here is my problem - The way nurses treat each other. I have never seen such back biting and overall down right meanness expressed towards members of the same team as I see amongst fellow nurses. I sense little or no professional camaraderie between nurses who work on the floor. Here are my questions - 1. WHY does this happen? 2. Is this just the hospital I am at or is it a general problem? (if it is a general nursing problem - no wonder there is such burn out in nursing - who wants to go to work every day and be treated by your coworkers and managers in this manner?) 3. Is this something I am going to run into for the remainder of my career? 4. How can I avoid or minimize it? Is it more common in med-surg and less common in advanced nursing areas, (nicu, cicu, etc..)? Please give me some advice on this - There must be an area or speciality in nursing that I can go into where I will be treated as a valued member of a professional team and not like dirt by some or even half the coworkers I am working with. By the way as a student I have been treated well, (no complaints) - my conclusions are from observing the nurses and how they treat each other. Your input is appreciated.
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    About Mantibob

    Joined: Mar '04; Posts: 107
    Specialty: 6 year(s) of experience in Telemetry


  3. by   chartleypj
    It happens because nurses work in an 'oppressed culture' It is a general problem which is bound to recur until nurses in healthcare figure out 'it' doesn't work. 'It' refers to Horizontal Violence. I am sure if you do a web search you will find some wonderful information; The December issue of AORN magazine (for OR nurses) has a great article on it.
    Good luck,
  4. by   Katnip
    Hi there. I can't answer all you questions, but I'm 47 and have been a nurse for almost a year.

    No, it will not always be that way. Not all nurses are nasty to each other. I work on a unit, while not everyone may like each other a lot, most behave professionally toward each other. There are and will always be a few people who gossip behind others' backs. You deal with them like you deal with anyone in a professional setting-keep it to business, and don't fall into the gossip trap.
  5. by   mattsmom81
    I agree with the responses above. Oppressed frustrated people can behave badly and we see this in action in the nursing profession. It is a challenge to stay above it some days. I am very choosy and cautious about the nurses and managers I work with for this reason...the people make or break the job for me.
  6. by   altomga
    hey Mantibob...excellent observations!!! I don't mean that sarcastically either...I have been nursing for 6yrs now and when I first got into nursing it did not seem as bad as it is now. The "team" that I first worked with was just that A TEAM!...We were all there for the expressed fact of helping the not to say that there weren't times...(we are human )
    This problem is everywhere...
    Why? I really am not sure...I know that nurses are stressed to their limits with being short staffed, acutely ill pt's, long shifts,
    Of course there are those that simply get their kicks stirring the s**t pot and gossiping about others.
    I have noticed that in the ICU's there is better teamwork; although they still have their problems...(I work on a step-down ICU)...PLEASE don't get me wrong...I do work with some wonderful people who are there to help pt's and their co-workers...but it is those individuals that are "back-biters" that are driving me away...I've had enough. People have forgotten what they've went into nursing surely isn't the money..they could NEVER pay us what we are worth (IMO )...
    I have seen that some of the issue is that individuals WON'T confront the person they have a problem with...if someone has something to say "about me" they should say it "TO ME"!
    Will you run into this type of problem...more than likely anywhere...(sorry )...we do work in a stressful field and I will give some the benefit of the doubt that it is there way of dealing with stress...others....WELL they are just having fun doing it!
    Advice...don't stoop to that level...confront the ones that are acting in such a manner...bring their behaivor to their attention...pray that you have a manager that will back you up if the behaivor affects patient care. You can kill with kindness!
    Good luck and I welcome you into your nursing journey!
  7. by   llg
    I think the WHY question is too complicated to answer here ... because it is a combination of many psychological/sociological factors. You can choose almost any psychological or sociological perspective or theory you want to and apply it to the situation. The psychology of women ... the psychology and behavior of oppressed groups ... the fact that the "divide and conquer" strategy has been used so much on us ... etc.

    But, while such negative behavior is common in nursing and there is no specialty immune to it, there are individual places where it it less prevalent. This is the type of thing you need to assess as you are choosing a job after graduation. Some people (particularly new grads) choose to work where the pay is the highest or where there is the highest level of acuity, or the best technology, or the nicest schedule, etc. You may want to place the "collegial climate" as one of the highest criteria on your list -- even if that means accepting a lower rate of pay or a less attractive schedule.

    Management can have a big effect (good or bad) on a unit's climate -- but eventually, the decision on how to behave comes down to the individuals who work there. Find a place that has a staff you can respect and enjoy.

  8. by   casper1
    As a general rule I do not feel nurses are nasty to each other. I do feel management
    can set the enviorment for this type of behavior. If nurses are working on a floor where their every move is scutinized and being critical of your co-workers is a rewarded behavior you create a very poor atmosphere.

    No where is teamwork more important than on a hospital floor. Co-workers work long
    hours under stressful conditions. Tempers can get short. It takes a very stong individual to stay focused on what has to be done and not to blame others
    when things go wrong.
  9. by   Tweety
    I agree that management can play a part in tempering the nasty environment.

    Fortunately I work in an environment that isn't nasty. Nor is there a lot of back biting. So to answer your #2 question, I don't think it's as bad everywhere you go.

    There's a lot of gossip going on. But I've noticed in no matter what job I've ever had, both in and out of nursing, people are going to talk about their coworkers.

    The only advice I have is to not allow others to control your feelings. No one can make you feel like dirt unless you give them the power over your feelings. Sometimes, we have to do a lot of self-affirmations, particularly if another shift or person is chastising you or gossiping about something you did or didn't do, but your own feelings are your own. Be assertive.

    Also, be the example. Be the team player. Be the one who doesn't gossip or backbite.

    Mind you, I talk a good talk, but don't always walk a good walk. We're only human.
  10. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Remember this simple rule:

    "if it's to be, it begins with me"i

    Hey, don't laugh, it really does teach others how to treat you first. The other part of that is, you treat them with a measure of respect. I have to say I have had relatively few problems in my 7 years of nursing because of my simple rule. It's a basic tenet and rarely fails me.

    With those who are determined to screw with me, oh well what can I say? I tell them they are NOT getting to me and to find another way to vent; I will listen IF they choose. The less emotional I am toward them, the more effective I seem to be. I am no Pollyanna, just a gal trying to get along in the world.

    I will note it's not much different in the military, (a primarily male-dominated world), lest anyone begin the old tired argument about us being female and therefore "witchy". I think that is a cop-out.

    It begins with me. And with YOU.
  11. by   Energizer Bunny
    Quote from SmilingBluEyes
    I will note it's not much different in the military, (a primarily male-dominated world), lest anyone begin the old tired argument about us being female and therefore "witchy". I think that is a cop-out.

    It begins with me. And with YOU.
    heck, it's not that much different here on these boards, either....and there are plenty of men here!
  12. by   flowerchild
    4. How can I avoid or minimize it?
    Use the golden rule and ignore anyone who doesn't do the same. Don't worry about it. Just do your job and be yourself. Don't let anyone get away with bullying, always shut them down as quick as possible via management if needed.
  13. by   Lasoniamacaroni
    Here's my two cents:
    I have experienced this situation in every job I've ever had. It's not that it's "nurses." Their humans. The back stabbing, the b****ing, complaining etc... exists everywhere. It was the same in every single doctors office I've worked at, store, and now at the restaurant where I wait tables. It is unfortunate and very hard to ignore when it's in your face and ears for hours on end. I personally just try my best to ignore them and occasionally make a comment about "If you hate it this bad, why don't you quit." At least they leave me alone.
  14. by   Alnamvet
    IMHO the problem starts in nursing school, perpetuated by all health care providers, ignored by management...the bottom line it's a control thing; frustrated, culturally and academically inept folks with major baggage seem to migrate to this profession...most, thankfully, will leave, lose their licenses...BUT, a small percentage somehow make it into nursing administration, where these basket cases continue to perpetuate the insanity.