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Is this what I should expect in the nursing field...?



I have just completed the clinical portion of my patient care technician course.

Today, I witnessed 2 patient care technicians, the assistant nurse manager and the nurse manager for the floor I was on gossiping about fellow co-workers. They also made fun of my fellow student! It was SO uncomfortable.

I was so disappointed in the nurses and patient care technicians.

Here I am a STUDENT...why would they do this. I tried to walk away so I didn't have to hear these innapporpriate comments but was told "...no need to leave, this isn't a private conversation."

I hate to think this behavior is acceptable or the norm. But, as a career changer, I do know innapporpriate behavior exists across many (if not all) careers/industries.

Just feeling bummed as I am excited to be a pct and eventually a nurse. However, I want NOTHING to do with gossip, favorites, etc. How do you avoid the inappropriate behavior, especially when it comes from the top down?


Specializes in ER, ICU, Education. Has 15 years experience.

When they said there was no need to leave because it wasn't a private conversation, I would have told them it would have to remain private as I don't listen to that type of talk. What encourages these types is when others participate and condone it with their silence. You were put in a very difficult position. Just walk away from people like this. They are not worth your time.

Alternatively, I have also confronted gossips by either saying "Really? That hasn't been my experience with Jane. Let's call her over here so you can discuss it with her directly" or asking the gossip directly "what would prompt you to say that about a coworker?"

Things get pretty quiet after that, and people know not to come to me with gossip.

As you said, this happens in all industires. I witness this everyday as I do my clinical rotations from the DON downward, they discuss employees as well as students. I sometimes think they want to get a reaction out of you by doing it, trying to feel out the type of person you are. "You have to understand that nursing is mostly women and women gossip" is a stetement i heard the DON say to a new male orientee. Just politely walk away and if asked to join in find something to do.

Yeah, that's classic of any work environment. It's especially sad when people in leadership positions do it. It's life. Expect it.

canesdukegirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in Trauma Surgery, Nursing Management. Has 14 years experience.

Some people just want to stir the **** pot. I see it all the time. Just don't join in, don't comment, but keep a distance. Be polite, cordial, add a touch of humor and they will mostly leave you alone.

My hubby and I were having a discussion about this very thing the other day. I was telling him that there seems to be a downward shift in morale at work, and have noticed a lot of backbiting and gossiping. I like to dissect problems down to the root in order to come up with a solution to a problem, and we both came up with this theory: people love drama. That is why so many people love to watch reality shows to see "who gets the axe." If people don't have drama in their lives, they will make it up or seek it out.

I personally made a conscious choice to go into a specialty of nursing that has its own drama: surgical trauma. This is MY way of getting the drama in my life. I love it, and BECAUSE I feed this need through work, I don't need the personal drama, and actually shy away from it. It has proven to be a nice balance.

You were put into an uncomfortable situation, no doubt. You now know not to trust the people you heard gossiping. Just file that mental note away and keep doing what you are doing...taking care of patients.

Edited by Silverdragon102
profanity changed to all ***

cherrybreeze, ADN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg.

You said right in your OP that this was something you've witnessed in other fields. In other words, the scenario you described tells much more about the people DOING it than the nursing field in general.

You'll run in to this anywhere, what makes the difference is how you respond....don't let yourself become a part of it, it's that simple.

nurse2033, MSN, RN

Specializes in ER, ICU.

You'll find this in all fields, it's just people. The culture of that unit is unprofessional. You will find a mix of good and bad out there.


Specializes in Psychiatry. Has 12 years experience.

Nurses/Managers are not immune to gossip and drama. After a while it won't surprise you anymore.


Diane, RN

RosesrReder, ASN, BSN, MSN, RN

Has 19 years experience.

Just keep neutral and don't participate in gossip or drama. It works like a charm. You are not going to change these people and you honestly need to grow thick skin and move on in life.

Sometimes, people are just miserable. Other times, they just want to vent or are testing the waters (you).

As long as you mind your own business, pay them no mind and do your work, you will be just fine.

Trust me, there are many worst things to worry about or much worst than this. Nursing is a catty profession. Learn to be transparent and walk through things and be happy.


I hate to say it but Yes. You can expect to see that. When I first started my new job I was bullied relentlessly by a group of nurses. The new job was tough enough for me but I left almost everyday crying because of the way I was treated. My ANM was/is very standoffish and never once acted to stop it. For the most part, I guess I would say that most nurses are helpful to each other but others will stop at nothing to make you as miserable as they are!

nerdtonurse?, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU, Telemetry.

Saw it all the time in IT and engineering. To quote Sarte, "Hell is other people." A good crew can make your night, a bad crew can make you want to throw yourself off the roof.

And I often wonder, hearing my coworkers verbally gut the nurses that aren't present, "I wonder what they say about me when I'm not here...."

As a brand new nurse, I can tell you it is like torture. I come from a job that was mostly men before, I am shocked that grown women still behave the same way they did in junior high. I was not expecting it. But yes this is what you should expect. Seems to be the norm, cutting each other down then smiling and pretending to be friends. (barf) Not everyone behaves this way you learn quick who you can stick with. There are just as many of us who dont participate, we just are not as a loud.

canesdukegirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in Trauma Surgery, Nursing Management. Has 14 years experience.

And I often wonder, hearing my coworkers verbally gut the nurses that aren't present, "I wonder what they say about me when I'm not here...."

Oh yes! I think that all the time when I am within earshot of a gossiping tirade. I let it bother me for a second, then go on about my business. I am not going home with anyone at work, so really...what do I care? They wanna take cheap shots at me behind my back? Go ahead. Karma has a way of working itself around, and I am a willing and avid believer of the saying, "Give them enough rope...":cool:


Specializes in Professional Development Specialist.

It may be the norm, but I have found it to be not that difficult to overcome. Like others have suggested, walk away. It really doesn't take very many times before they get the picture. I've said "have you told X that this bothers you?" Most of the time the answer is no.

Personally I've grown a thick skin over the years (only the last 8 months have been in nursing, the remaining years were very male dominated.) I just don't care what people say about me behind my back. If they want to say something to my face, I fully consider their opinion. But if and when I get "so and so said....." I counter with "Why wouldn't they just tell me that? I am happy to listen, I want to get better in my career and I am always open to advice!" I may not always take said advice if it is actually given, but most people back down on the gossip if they aren't willing to say it to your face but someone calls them on it. You may need to confront someone in a similar fashion, but I watched one of my nurses do it to a coworker recently and she has stopped the badmouthing since. :D

Unfortunately yes, this does happen a lot in the nursing profession. It is most definitely not professional. This is the very reason why I don't have much respect for my Director of Nursing. She's gossips to a lot of our nurses about other nurses. It's very sad and very unprofessional. I would expect more out of management. We had a great DON before her that would not gossip like this. I held her in high regards.

I do not participate in such gossip. If she starts talking badly about another nurse to me, I have this shocked look on my face and I change the subject. One time she said to me, "I shouldn't have said that". I changed the subject to what was REALLY important, the patient we were talking about. I have no tolerance for gossip, especially if it's management that is doing so. It just creates a toxic environment. The more you fuel the fire by participating, the worse it gets.

I have been on the other side of the fence with this particular DON. I was told about some very hurtful things she had said about me. I went home, cried, and complained to my DH about how much I hated her. Two weeks went by and I still couldn't look her in the eye. Finally, I got brave and confronted her. Yes, me...the shy, quite, little nurse. I just told her what I heard. She, of course, denied it and stated that it had been misconstrued but I knew better based on her history. She couldn't even look me in the eye during that confrontation. I told her that if she had any problems with me that I would rather hear it from her than a co-worker. It didn't help me like her better, but it gave me peace and I could finally look her in eyes again with my held high.

I'm glad you had these feelings and did not want to chime in with this unnecessary gossip. It does nothing more than show how unprofessional they are. Kudos to you.


Specializes in Peds/outpatient FP,derm,allergy/private duty. Has 34 years experience.

There has been gossiping and backbiting to some degree at every job I've had, and nursing is no different, but the only time it caused me to leave a job was when the "supervisor" (of 4 people :uhoh21: ) engaged in it and toxicly picked her "favorite confidant" to team up with who just was a "yes girl" to the garbage she spewed about people. She used to try to humiliate this one quiet nurse who'd been there for 20 years prior to this person arriving on the scene.

It's awful when a manager engages in it. The rest - well I just assume they are talking about me and I honestly don't care anymore.

eriksoln, BSN, RN

Specializes in M/S, Travel Nursing, Pulmonary. Has 15 years experience.

The greater the job dissatisfaction, the greater the gossip.

Nursing is stressful and can be emotionally draining, hence the gossip gets a little out of control. The lesson is: Be selective in where you are willing to work. If a unit is known for poor moral, has a constant turnover (despite people being desperate for work) and has a flux of general discontent, you can expect the gossip to be loud/often enough to drown out all common sense. Don't choose your job based on just pay necessarly. If you can go into a situation you know is good that pays a little less, consider it.

When I was a travel nurse, I had a manager once that, above any other manager I've seen, had a handle on the gossip and personality conflicts. If it got to be too much, she started cutting hours and adding duties to the guilty shifts. Her attitude was "People gossip when there isn't enough to do". You want to talk about a unit that HATED gossipers......that one was it.


Specializes in A myriad of specialties.

"just feeling bummed as i am excited to be a pct and eventually a nurse. however, i want nothing to do with gossip, favorites, etc. how do you avoid the inappropriate behavior, especially when it comes from the top down? "

you don't avoid it; it's everywhere. most every facility i've worked in is riddled with gossipmongers!!!! it's unfortunate that you witnessed a nurse manager participating in it but not totally unexpected. by walking away, you established ypurself as one who won't tolerate it...but also perhaps painted a picture of yourself as one who feels is "better'' than, or "above" others as well as not a "team member" which could cause you problems down the road. i think it's good you walked away, that you had the nerve to do it, but you may have become the target of gossip yourself by doing so...which is very sad.