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Mean coworker

Posted

Hi all! Need your input. I have been an RN for 9 yrs. been in my new job for 6months. The shift charge nurse been an RN for 2 yrs. she's charge because I stepped down as charge after I found out I am pregnant.

Now, last week, out of nowhere, she harassed me all day. Disrespected and insulted me four times in a 12hr shift. I reported her to my boss, boss did nothing. At the end of our shift, she tried to actually reassign her patients to me because I discharged mine and wanted me to take over. I told her I needed to catch up on my charting. She went to the house supervisor and lied saying that I refused assignment. I didn't. She's a lazy charge nurse. Takes long lunch breaks, always on her cellphone updating her status on FB!

Next day, boss called me. And instead of me getting an apology of some sort, I got reprimanded for contributing to breakdown in communication. How did I? She dissed me all day. Boss excused her behavior as it's a cultural thing! She didn't mean to insult and disrespect you!! I am tempted to go higher up the chain of command. I am very upset and feel this is bullying in the workplace. Am I over-reacting?

Edited by tnbutterfly

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

Hello, and welcome to Allnurses!

I think a little more information on how this charge nurse disrespected and insulted you would be helpful in order for us to give you the best advice. Many types of trouble can fall under the umbrella of "harassment" and/or "bullying". If you search this forum, you'll find some other lively threads that deal with this; please feel free to peruse them and see what others have said. In the meantime, some more details on your particular situation would be great. Thank you, and congratulations on your pregnancy! :)

That morning the night charge said she didn't make the assignment therefore she asked both of us to work it out and make the assignment. However my charge RN made the assignment picking out the patients she wanted and giving me more patients. I tried to give her my input, but didn't want to hear it. Instead she told me to just stop pouting in front of everyone.

i tried to speak with her later that morning about telling me to stop pouting like a kid but she again dismissed me by saying you were complaining! Shhh... Just take what I give you. Don't talk to me.

To make a long story short, later that day she wanted me to take over her patients. I didn't say no. I simply told her I needed to finish up my charting and pass my meds. Her reply "so what!! I have more patients than you". Then she lied to the house supervisor saying that I refused patient assignment. It's a 12 bed ortho unit. Charge nurse has no extra responsibilities except to assign beds to post op pts.

roser13, ASN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho, ASC. Has 17 years experience.

How is that bullying?

How did the charge nurse "dissing" you (your word) turn into bullying?

I am simply trying to get your input. May be it wasn't bullying, but the entire encounter has left me very unhappy. May be i am overreacting! that's why i posted my feelings and asked for input.

LadyFree28, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatrics, Rehab, Trauma. Has 10 years experience.

There was certainly a breakdown in communication on both sides.

Your boss may have had the same conversation with her, btw.

If you have to work with her again, remain tactful and make sure you are clear in your communication; if she thinks you are "complaining", stick to the facts; no nonsense, even if you have to stick to P&P; if she continues to have issues with communicating with you, then do the chain of command.

Edited by LadyFree28

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

I think sometimes we forget that we are not at work to make friends; we are there to do a job and make sure the patients are cared for. It's certainly nicer if we all get along well and there is good teamwork, but it's not required in order to do what needs to be accomplished in a given shift. That means having to put up with people we don't necessarily like and would never hang out with outside of work, and yes, sometimes it means taking direction from someone who's not very diplomatic about the way s/he handles things.

That being said, the fact that you didn't see anything done about your complaint to the nurse manager doesn't mean nothing was done. Managers won't come back to you and tell you what they've done; they can't discuss disciplinary matters. Perhaps yours had a chat with the charge nurse, you never know. In the meantime, take the high road, and make sure YOUR line of communication is open. If you think she's unfair with assignments, take it up with her privately; don't do it in front of other staff.....she may still get upset with you but it won't be where your co-workers and patients can hear it.

Finally---and this is the hard part---you may want to ask yourself if this charge nurse really has it in for you, or if you might be overreacting a bit. Health care environments are stressful and egos clash often; charge nursing is a lot of responsibility and this nurse may have simply been having a bad day. Charge nurses and managers are human and they have screaming kids, a late mortgage payment, and a sewer that's backed up into their shower.....sometimes it really isn't about you.

Obviously I'm trying to play devil's advocate here; I wasn't there when all this happened so I can't honestly say what I would have done in the situation. I just know that everyone who's been a nurse longer than a week has had experience with bad nursing management, and either we can live with it or we move on. It's up to you. :)

Caffeine_IV

Specializes in LTC, med/surg, hospice. Has 7 years experience.

I would ask for a meeting with the manager and both of you present if you continue to have issues. I don't see this as a bullying incident. It sounded like she was rude or maybe has an abrasive personality. You may be a tad more sensitive since you stated you are pregnant. I know I was during that time. Not trying to discount your feelings though either way.

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

She may be rude, brusque and abrasive, but when you call her "mean", it makes it look as though you ARE pouting. And to bring up "bullying" without any specifics is similar. Communication is a two way street -- have you sat down and talked to her in private?

There are sometimes that people in charge will in fact make assignments based on things that we wouldn't.

Sometimes, if someone is younger in age, as well as dependent on culture norms, it CAN seem like someone being "fresh" when perhaps that is not the intent.

Viva is correct, we are not making friends, and to personalize this makes you feel awful. Doesn't seem as if it is affecting the feelings of the charge nurse at all.

Should a comment regarding "pouting" happen again, I would immediately say "I find that comment inappropriate and rude. However, my thought process is that giving me 3 total cares and a patient on a drip and 3 discharges is not an assignment I can do alone. Could you assign CNA Whomever to me for the morning to be able to get the total cares ready for the day?"

In other words, counting patients is petty, and getting new patients is all in a days work. However, to look at acuity and if you can reasonably do the assignment is what you can focus on.

It is not a good thing that a charge nurse is playing on their phone. But that is on them, not you.

Bottom line is do NOT let anyone ruin your reputation and/or character as a nurse. Your conversations with manager should reflect unsafe practice as opposed to charge being disrespectful and fresh going forward. Do not interalize/personalize. Just stick to the facts. And seemingly, if you needed to chart and give meds still, you got behind due to the nature of the original assignment.

It is sometimes difficult to give up a charge role, only to have someone else "mess it up". Everyone has their own style. Just do what you can to stay out of the fray and name calling. If you can't reasonably do the assignment, SAY so. Then you can state to the manager exactly why. It may not change the assignment, however, it is proof that you discussed your reservations with the charge.

I didn't tell her she's mean. Yes, I tried to talk to her about the pouting statement and she dismissed by saying I was complaining, I should take whatever she gives me and shshhed me and walked away. Later that day she lied to supervisor saying that I refused an assignment.

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

I didn't tell her she's mean. Yes, I tried to talk to her about the pouting statement and she dismissed by saying I was complaining, I should take whatever she gives me and shshhed me and walked away. Later that day she lied to supervisor saying that I refused an assignment.

I guess maybe I wasn't clear. If you're walking around thinking about what a mean co-worker you have, it's easy to dismiss her valid concerns (assuming of course that she has some) by saying to yourself "She's just being mean." Operating from an assumption that she really means well and intends to do a good job, you're in a position to discuss the assignments with her and try to understand why she did it the way that she did. Maybe she's just not as comfortable with charge as you were. Maybe she's giving you the toughest assignments because she trusts you can handle them. Maybe she's getting "payback" because she felt you were unfair to HER when YOU were making the assignments. Most people have valid reasons (even if you disagree with them) for the decisions they make, and if you can understand what that reason is, you have a better chance of being able to communicate effectively with her and work things out.

From what you said, you talked to her about "the pouting statement," but didn't address your concerns about the way the assignments were handled. That's immature and unprofessional. The concern should be about safe patient care, not your hurt feelings.

I'm also taking issue with your insistence that the other nurse is "lying to the supervisor." Perhaps she misinterpreted what you said and thought you were refusing? Perhaps you only overheard part of the conversation and you thought she was misrepresenting your conversation because you took it out of context?

If you continue to carry around these assumptions that the other nurse is a mean liar, it's going to be impossible to work things out with her. Your tone and body language will tell her exactly what you think of her. Chances are, she's neither mean nor a liar but just someone who is doing things different than you would -- perhaps not as well, but then you were new at charge once, too, weren't you?

I didn't tell her she's mean. Yes, I tried to talk to her about the pouting statement and she dismissed by saying I was complaining, I should take whatever she gives me and shshhed me and walked away. Later that day she lied to supervisor saying that I refused an assignment.

What a *****.

psu_213, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency, Telemetry, Transplant. Has 6 years experience.

I'm also taking issue with your insistence that the other nurse is "lying to the supervisor." Perhaps she misinterpreted what you said and thought you were refusing? Perhaps you only overheard part of the conversation and you thought she was misrepresenting your conversation because you took it out of context?

I must admit that I was having issues with this one too. She tried to give you patients, you said no. It sounds like this was for good reason that you said no, but she could have been discussing this and the word "refused" came up. Perhaps, the supervisor came up with "refused" on his/her own.

As for giving you a greater number of patients…on the floors where I have worked, if the charge nurse needed to take an assignment, the charge takes fewer patients and they are usually easier patients. For example, when I worked step-down, the charge might only have 2 patients while the other nurses have 4 each.

Even though you may have been pouting, I do agree OP, the charge had no business to talk to you that way.