My License Is At Risk: Who can I report to?

Dear Nurse Beth Advice Column - The following letter submitted anonymously in search for answers. Join the conversation! Nurses Nurse Beth Nursing Q/A

Updated:   Published  

My License Is At Risk: Who can I report to?

Dear Nurse Beth,

I confronted a bully after over a year of being bullied by her. She drove another nurse off the floor with her bullying before. Now her friends on the floor are retaliating with unfair and unsafe assignments and negative gossip, that almost caused me to lose my job.

I went to management. And was told there was never anything like this that happened before and it is me doing the gossiping. This is just not true, it has happened before to the other nurse.

There was a rumor that could have caused me to lose my licenses and job. I went to management to say that it was not true and defend myself, before it was told to them like the other gossip. I was told, because I reported it to them, I am the one spreading the gossip and the problem on the floor. And should have never spoke to my mentor about it.

Who else am I to tell? I needed help and advice, I was told that doing that was spreading gossip. This bully drove one nurse off the floor, I was strong that I wouldn't let it happen to me. I love my job. The mental stress is too much. It might be best for me to leave, but I love what I do.

Now I wish I never confronted my bully and just stayed quiet. Was I wrong to speak up for myself and ask for help from management.
What do I do? My heart is crushed that my coworkers could be so mean to the point of putting my job at risk.

I feel defeated.

Share this post

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Dear Bullied and Defeated,

This sounds like bullying that is being tolerated (denied?) by your manager mixed with a lot of drama. Let's look at the drama piece.


It sounds like drama because you mention rumors and gossiping. It's hard to see how gossip without any basis could cause you to lose your nursing license. State Boards of Nursing (while not your friends) do not revoke nursing licenses based on unfounded gossip and rumors.

Not to say gossip doesn't hurt-it does. Often the best response to rumors and gossip is to ignore them. Responding is exactly what the gossiper intended, to get a rise from you. Better instead to rise above it.

Involving Management

Occasionally in a situation like yours, going to management helps. Sometimes it does not. And often it makes things worse.

In your case, going to management to defend yourself from gossip clearly backfired. You became a problem in your manager's eyes. Fairly or unfairly, you got the splashback, and now you are now seen as the problem or part of the problem.

Being on the defense against rumored allegations is not a strong position.


If the bully is a protected person (a unit Queen Bee), then the manager needs her and is not going to take action. The manager would rather see other nurses run off the unit than challenge a status quo that may have been in place for a very long time.

There is definitely a time and place to go to management and it's important to be well-prepared.

How to Report

Be clear on what you're reporting, exactly. Can you state the problem in a few short sentences? If not, you are not ready. Be calm, concise and articulate. Avoid any emotionally-laid words. If you are emotional, it weakens your position.

Always present problems from a patient safety point of view when you are able, rather than from a conflict-with-a-coworker-point-of-view. It is harder for a manager to ignore a reported patient safety problem than it is to ignore a complaint that your coworkers are being mean.

What outcome are you expecting? For example, an unsafe patient assignment should be addressed. "This put my patients at risk." You could ask your manager how the assignments should be made, acuity-wise, or numbers-wise. There should be some kind of guidelines for the charge nurses who make assignments, and if they are disregarding the guidelines, that's a concern.

Best wishes, and whatever you decide, it's not worth your health.

Nurse Beth

I have a related problem. I've been a Nurse Manager in a SNF, at this facility for 6 months, but a nurse for 33 years. From the beginning the Director of Nursing wouldn't talk to me and provided zero training for me. I went above her and was able to recevie 2 days training at a sister facility which was nice but not adequate. The DNS is THE bully. She goes out on smoke breaks with our subordinates and backstabs and gossips about the Nurse Managers. She has surrounded herself with nurses who don't follow the rules and work outside their scope, and others that have been wholly negligent, the later being her pet make nurse. He would leave the floor without notifying anyone for extended periods of time. He did other things, but 2 I had dates, times, witnesses which I reported to the DNS and she lied, defended and excused the inexcusable. I called the company complaint line and received a call back within the hour from one of the co-owners. He told me this was not the first time this male nurse's name had come up in a complaint. I did end up reporting him to the State Board of Nursing and he was soon fired. There is another nurse, the "wound care nurse", that is an LPN. I am distinguishing that to note that she is not allowed to write her own orders. She was writing orders she did not get from a Provider. Provided treatments/dressing orders she didn't even bother to write orders for. One of my patients had a BKA and required 3 surgeries (washouts) because, as I came to find out she was changing the orders (without actually getting orders), even after I told her that the Vascular Surgeon did not want any other provider writing orders or managing that incision. The incision ended up getting infected 3x's before I realized what was happening because she wasn't communicationg with me. When I realized what was happening I took over providing all wound care for the incision. The BKA incision is healing now without infection. I had reported all of this to the DNS and Administrator yet nothing was done and in all my 33 years of nursing I have NEVER reported a nurse once but twice at the same facility...No never! Yet I was left with no choice and ever since I reported the 1st nurse to the DNS she has been retaliating against me. She has never shown or told me details of the job but she waits until our daily management meetings to berate and belittle me in front of everyone. She has also docked my pay when I have flexed my time as I was salaried and work a lot of hours. It came to a head last Thursday and I wrote my resignation giving 2 weeks notice (hoping that would give my BKA patient time to heal up completely and discharge) however, the Administrator told me she would pay me for the rest of my time and Friday would be my last day. I told my BKA patient and his family of my last day. They have appreciated my care and I feel awful and frightened for his incision. I want to tell the family everything but ethically and professionally standards have prevented me from doing so. I have filed a retaliation case with the state labor and industries. I guess I just want to know if there is anything else to be done at this point. I am so discouraged and disappointed that this is going on. Patients deserve so much better. Thanks

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life).

I have never heard of Gossip endangering one's career or license. If you are being slangered and can prove it. File a cease and desist letters and if they don't comply take them to court.


I've just been a nurse for a loonnngggg time so the DNS' behavior is completely out of line and unprofessional imho, so I guess I wondered if this is the norm for supervisors now?  Again no response please don't bother. Thanks

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life).

Op I did a quick bit of research and discovered that DNS as you are using it is not officially listed as a title equal to DON (Director of Nursing). DNS as you are using seems to be colloquial usage and may not be recognized by people in different states/countries. Also I found this list of the many things DNS stands for in medicine and nursing: 

Dextrose Normal Saline, Doctor of Nursing Science, Dystrophic neurites, Dinitrosalicylic Acid, Deviated Nasal Septum, dysplastic nevus syndrome, Doctor of Nursing Services, diaphragmatic nerve stimulation, dinitrobenzene sulfonic acid, Drowning Non-Swimmer, direct vagal nerve stimulation

That being said it sounds as if you are in an untenable situation. I caution you about going hell bent for leather on the war path since you have already led directly or indirectly to a nurse being fired remember you initial post was about you being bullied and feeling your license was at stake. I have worked in nursing homes where the LVNS had titles like charge nurse while I was just the person who starts IVs. The many laxities in practice and level of incompetence that was acceptable actually led me to quit and seek employment in a more team centered work environment for better hours and much better pay.  This is something that you should consider especially if you are in an "At will employment state" because sooner or later the squeekly wheel gets replace. There are planty of high paying Nursing Jobs open right now so make the change!



Specializes in LTC LTAC MED SURG Psych.

Get out of there, I reported to HR, it was so bad went to the board of nursing with all the issues of what was happening there and they said they would investigate, next thing I know my license was revoked in Alabama, then two years later California jumps on the wagon and put it on probation, and Nevada didn't even care they outright revoked my license.  I need help find me an attorney that will stand up to the board of nursing without being paid off

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life).

Try the American Association of Nurse Attornies


Specializes in LTC LTAC MED SURG Psych.

OK thanks