Never thought I would make a post like this, but I have to vent...


How do you deal with the rude nurses you encounter at the work place? Usually I am fine and I just shrug off the occasional snide comment or eye roll. Most of the time I take it as an opportunity to learn because I understand that not all feedback is "constructive." But, it is only one particular person on my unit who engages in this unprofessional behavior. And, what really gets me is no one says anything to her. She was very disrespectful to me in front of a few other nurses at the nurse's station today. If I too engaged in unprofessional behavior like hers I would have stuck up for myself. However, I just can't get myself to engage in that kind of drama at work because I would feel unprofessional and usually don't have time. Other nurses give me a sympathetic smile, but no one says anything. I am really beginning to resent her. Not only resent her, but I fear giving shift report to her because I know she is going to have some rude comment about some aspect of my care (the IV fluids are less than ½ full, the chart is not in the pull down, I didn't choose her first to give report to so now she is waiting for me while I give report to someone else etc.) For example, today my patient died 5 minutes before change of shift. I got orders to release the body, called the family, fixed the pt up in bed and started the post-mortum paperwork. I am new and another nurse was helping me fill out the paper work. I did not call the donor line as change of shift was starting as I was doing the other tasks that needed to get done. I asked the nurse (who was helping me with the paperwork) if this was appropriate and let the charge know how far I had gotten on the paper work so she could alter assignments accordingly. I passed this pt off to the nurse as it was going to be one of her patients. It was not an extra pt for her. She had the same number as all others on the floor. She flipped when I told her I had not called the donor line. Rolled her eyes, stomped her feet, grunted and flew over to the desk. I followed and asked if she would like me to stay after to fill out the paper work for her and she shouted, "Just leave." I keep replaying the incident wondering what I could have done differently. I want to be on good terms with all who I work with, but I don't want to stick around after my shift has ended because I am scared of one nurse's temper. I know she had one task to do on this pt, but that was ALL she had to do. No VS, no assessment, no medications, no procedures, no orders etc. The family planned on staying for at least 3-4 hours (so no new admit coming). And, the caregivers take the body down to the morgue. Would you approach her next time and ask how I could have acted differently in the situation? Or would you let it go? I doubt myself in these situations sometimes wondering if I acted appropriately. Do you think I was wrong to pass it off to her? Any feedback is appreciated.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

226 Articles; 27,608 Posts

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 17 years experience.

We sometimes teach people how to treat us, and unfortunately it seems you've taught this woman how to treat you. Have you ever wondered why some people are always victimized by bullies and other people are always left alone? Yes, I said it: your unprofessional coworker sounds like a bully to me.

I have observed that bullies always target certain individuals, and at the same time, leave the other people on the unit alone. Unfortunately, it's all about perception. If you are perceived as a softy who will not stand up to the bully, you'll be targeted for further harassment. If you're perceived as someone who will put up resistance and not allow anyone to run over you, then the bully will quickly know to leave you alone because you're now viewed as too difficult of a target.

In a nutshell, bullies love easy targets. They thrive on people who will not do anything in response to the bullying. Bullies avoid harder targets and tend to steer clear of people who will openly resist being pushed around.

Bullying is a crime of opportunity. Bullies prey on the most opportune targets: people who are less likely to respond in a defensive manner to the bullying. Also, if nothing is done during the first instance of bullying, bullies will continue the rampage, because they now know they can get away with it.

xtxrn, ASN, RN

4,266 Posts

Seems there's always one !! I probably would have finished the paperwork part of the death up to the point of the funeral home signing off- that I'd leave. As far as calling the donor line, I probably would have done that, simply because I'd been the last nurse to see the guy alive. You'd already started so much of it. :)

BUT, the rudeness is not something anyone can tolerate. With people like that, the way I look at it is that I can't think much less of them, I don't care what they think of me, so speaking up isn't exactly going to ruin a BFF situation :D I'd tell her privately that her eye rolling, sighing, telling you to 'just leave', etc aren't acceptable. Then document the crap out of everything. It might not ever be of any use, but it sure can't hurt- plus it gives you a place to vent all of the details when they're fresh, in case you need it later.

If the other nurses are letting her get away with it, she's not going to change for them. They don't require any better behavior from her, so why should she change? She still may not change, but she'll know where you stand :)

ckh23, BSN, RN

1,446 Posts

Specializes in ER/ICU/STICU. Has 6 years experience.

I say let it go unless you are ready for a confrontation. This nurse is not going to give any constructive criticism, but most likely return some type of brow beating verbal garbage. I can't stand people like this. You know sometimes things happen and they always seem to happen at change of shift. This is a team effort. There is no reason for you to stay past your shift. I sometimes have things to pass onto the next shift that need to be done, but I also don't get upset when things are passes along to me. These situations work both ways.

As for giving report to these types of nurses I would explain to them to hold their questions until the end of report. As far as things like a half a bag of iv fluids, simply remind her how wasteful it is to throw it out and direct her to where the fluids are kept and tell her she can get a new bag when they are done.

Sooner or later you are going to need to stand up to this nurse, regardless of how new you are.

Specializes in Delivering Quality Patient Care :).

I know it's childish/unprofessional etc., but I'd ask her what crawled up her butt and died. I'd give her just as much attitude as she gives you. :rolleyes: Once she sees that you can stand up to her, she may find another target to bother. Or... you can simply kill her with kindness.:confused:


84 Posts

Thanks to both of you for your input.

I hadn't really looked at it from a "bullying" perspective. But I see your point. I have had people take advantage of my soft personality in both my personal and professional life before. Your comment has helped me turn my focus toward myself and reflect on how I can change my own actions rather than stirring over some other person's actions of which I have no control.

And thank you for telling me what you would have done in the same scenario. I honestly am really trying to learn what is ok to pass off onto the next shift and what really needs to be done. Sometimes I find myself running around like a mad person trying to get all these things done and my co-workers will stop me and say, "You don't have to finish everything, this is a 24hr operation and the next shift will pick up where you left off." Then I find myself in these situations and I am left wondering if I should have done more.


84 Posts

WorriedAbout2Morrow and ckh23.

Thank you for your replies too!

A confrontation is definitely not something I want to have. Which is mostly why I am hesitant to say anything at all. And probably why I'm asking you all so I can learn from this experience without having to have a full blown confrontation at the workplace.

Killing her with kindness is simply out of the question (it hasn't worked thus far). I like the, "What crawled up your butt and died." Haha.

Davey Do

1 Article; 10,234 Posts

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years). Has 44 years experience.
How do you deal with the rude nurses you encounter at the work place? Would you approach her next time and ask how I could have acted differently in the situation? Or would you let it go? I doubt myself in these situations sometimes wondering if I acted appropriately. Do you think I was wrong to pass it off to her?

Having to deal with Peers and Co-Workers who do not adhere to appropriate social courtesies increase stress in the workplace environment, don't they, sameyjamey? It sounds as though you are dealing with a chronic malcontent bully. Your fear of her temper only gives her more power. Accept this fact: You will never be able to satisfy this individual.

My first suggestion is that you treat this person in terms of a concept called "loving indifference". Acting with loving indifference means you show no emotion to the other person and you do nothing that would elicit an emotional response from them. This is a learned technique that one can turn on as soon as another's behavior becomes inappropriate. I guess you could also call it an "all business attitude". Remain composed and perform your duties.

I also believe in using factual confrontation and making appropriate requests in a expressionless, deadpan monotone voice to those who don't know the limits of their boundaries. Or if I believe another is responsible for a certain duty, the request is made proclaiming the known facts, and direction is given.

My next suggestion is that you act according to factual information. For example, inpatient facilities are 24 facilities, like a relay race where one runner passes a baton to the next. And like in a relay race, we need to continue the momentum until the next runner gets up to speed. That doesn't mean that you have to run that other racer's course; just do your job to the point that you could adequately take over if the tables were turned.

Study your Peer's behavior- they always have a system, a method to their madness. For example, the OP lured you into feeling responsible for the completion of contacting the donor line by an emotional show. You reacted accordingly by attempting to appease her. She controlled the situation and directed you to "just leave". This is a power play technique some people use to elevate their own low self esteem. She gets her fix by controlling the situation and making you out to be the lesser individual.

Learn the rules of the game- who is responsible for what- either from a supervisor or a policy and procedure manual. Get to know all of your responsibilities and the responsibilities of others. Use that infornation to your advantage. Don't be caught short-handed again.

Now about letting it go: Know this- we all do the best we can in any situation at any given moment. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but we didn't pocess that perspective at the time. We need to review our behavior, assimulate it, critique it, and then be done with it.

Emerson said it best: "Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in. Forget then as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it well and serenely."

The best to you in your journey, saneyjaney.



1,051 Posts

Specializes in ER/Ortho.

I am a fairly new nurse (a little over a year now). I was shocked at all the rude behavior when I first started. I started carrying around gum in my pocket in case I ran into nasty behavior. I would hand the rude individual a piece of gum while saying something in joking sort of way, and telling them to cheer up. Usually the person would step back, apologize, and we would go on.

There have been a couple of times where the offense was such that I had to give some attitude back, but only a couple. Usually just calling them out in a joking way in front of others with the gum was enough.

I personally think a lot of it was being new. As the months passed I slowly gained a little trust and respect from some of my fellow nurses. The bullies are less likely to pick on you when you have others in your corner. In addition, they start to realize that you are staying for a while and often times find someone else newer to pick on.

There are also times now when someone says something which I would have considered rude 8 months ago, but now I just shrug it off to xyz is really stressed over that new admit, having a bad day or whatever. Working with the same people day in and day out and getting to know them you learn when to take personally. I know I have been short with people and had to apologize because I was overwhelmed, stressed etc. I guess it happens to all of us.


84 Posts

Dave...THANK YOU. Those words are exactly what I needed.

Coolpeach...Thank you. It is always nice to hear that someone at one time or another was in the same boat.


1,062 Posts

"we sometimes teach people how to treat us"

and sometimes we work with coworkers who are :mad:stinkers :mad: because

1) they have issues of their own and need to take their dysfunction out of the work area to a treatment provider on their own time..

2) they know they can get away with it. the whole team needs to confront this

attitude and in my experience it dissolves. if the bullying is often addressed to you, then you may need to confront this as an individual at some point via

what avenue is in place in your workplace, ie file a complaint.

consider that if the team and nurse manager did not tolerate this acting out, you would not be posting the item because the individual would need to conform her behavior to unit expectations or she would need to move on...

in the meantime, i like daveydo's approach, loving an approach to try first...

ps- if she has time to bother you, she is not attending to her patients.


536 Posts

Has 6 years experience.

I also loved DaveyDo's response... loving indifference...

I also agree that you are being bullied. I had the same problem with one of the nurses when I was new. She singled me out as well because I am not aggressive and do not like conflict/drama. I have to say she really never changed her attitude and behavior towards me, but I did my best to carry on, act appropriately and not let it bother me too much. It does cause a lot of stress, though. I started a new job recently and no one treats me this way anymore, and I can't tell you what a relief that is!

I always felt that I let her treat me this way because I didn't stand up for myself, didn't call her on her own behavior, and never complained about it to management. However, I wouldn't necessarily recommend this approach!

In your specific situation, I probably would have called the donor line, only because I think there is a limited time that it needs to be done. But you are absolutely correct that it is ok to pass off certain things... nursing is a 24 hour job, and when someone dies or a new patient arrives on the unit 5 minutes before shift change, you do what you can and then the next nurse can be expected to take over.