How do you deal with nurse cliques/"gangs" bullying?

  1. Hello everyone. I've been a CNA for a while and work in a facility. It has a bad reputation for nasty nurses and a low rating for care by patients families, but I personally had no big problems in my facility until recently. It's a long story (over a period of months) but there is a CNA who is friendly to people's face but talks endless trash behind their backs to anyone that will listen. I've ignored it until now, when I became the most recent "target". She's recruited the brand new batch of cna hires and sort of poisoned them against the other shifts and anyone she doesn't like, including me.

    Now shes made a clique of women following her and she trash talks about people they dont even know so that they will dislike them. again I wouldn't normally let this affect me, but she deliberately spreads false rumors about people and tries to get people in trouble. There are two other ladies who got written up (one fired) directly as a result of her lies. i don't know if she knows that, but she still laughs or says something demeaning when they are mentioned. I've reported her bullying, but without proof my don said she can't take action. Her last "target" quit working our shift because of her bullying. She doesn't curse or insult, just does things to make people feel obviously excluded or humiliated.

    They recently started doing small things that made me think i'm the next target. Trivial things, nothing important... like not looking me in the eyes or answering me, sometimes asking weird personal questions, saying good morning to everyone except me, telling me to stop being "extra" when I try to do my job correctly (instead of cutting corners like they do), rolling their eyes when I speak, me being the only one they don't say "bless you" to after sneezing, walking in on them directly saying negative things about me when they don't know i'm in the room. Now I recently got blamed for something I didn't do, and my supervisor trusts me so she came to me and asked me directly if it was true and I said no of course it's not. she said well I have three other people who say it happened this way, and I had to finally explain to her the bullying i've been ignoring for months and how it's gotten worse since these newbies arrived.

    Right now i'm thinking of just quitting but my friends and family keep telling me to stay and fight. I love my job (until now), but I feel like nobody understands the environment I am working in... it's 3 against one and all of her other victims have quit except one. I don't think it's a coincidence! I don't want to fight a losing battle and I feel don't have the energy or willpower for it. what would you do in my situation? or what did you do if you've been there?
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    About Bosmer

    Joined: Mar '15; Posts: 6; Likes: 4

    17 Comments

  3. by   ponymom
    Ask her why she does this
  4. by   Elektra6
    If you love your job you should not quit. The residents in these places really need people who love their jobs! I am sorry you are dealing with this. Some people have nothing better to do than to try to ruin others. Makes them feel better maybe? They like drama? You have a few options. You can switch wings or halls away from this woman, wait her out (maybe she will quit/get fired soon), befriend her "clique" and be nice to them. Maybe they are tired of her stirring up trouble too and they will at least see you are a nice, normal person. I wish you the best. Keep us informed.
  5. by   Ruby Vee
    I wouldn't let someone for whom I have so little respect drive me out of a job that I loved.
  6. by   Emergent
    It sounds very real and toxic. For naysayers who say ignore it and do your job, or talk to the person, that's easier said than done. When a person alone has little social clout and finds themselves surrounded by a sociopathic clique, it's not practical to stay.

    There is evil in the world, and what you are describing sounds like it. It sounds like management can't or won't take action.

    My advice is the get out of the snakepit for a healthier work environment. It's one thing to be excluded and a whole other level when people are trying to get you fired.
  7. by   Workitinurfava
    I doubt it is the clique you think it is. You would more than likely have to be like them in order to fit in so just know that. Start looking around for something else, you will like a job more if you fit in with people. The nurse manager will defend her clique because despite their nastiness, they are reliable in her eyes.
  8. by   Infirmiere797
    There is always "that" one person in any health care field.
  9. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I guess it's up to you whether or not you wish to stay. I faced this in my first job as an OB nurse. I wanted that job desperately, and I loved what I was learning to do. I finally told them they were NOT driving me away and to train me to be a good member of the team was in their best interests.

    OB is known for cliques. Most of these nurses have been in these units, ensconced forever and a day (like 30 plus years) and were used to having their way and had no problems being hard on the newly hired nurses (even experienced ones). I have had 5 jobs in 5 different hospitals as an OB nurse and saw this behavior in every single one of them. Our units had a bad rep when it came to floats and agency nurses. So many were just plan catty and mean. I just rose above it, did my job and did not let the cliques bother me.

    After a few weeks in my first job, the mean girls stopped picking on me when they saw I was earnest, hard working and not afraid to face them. But I saw many others driven away, especially male nurses, which I hated to see.

    But some workplaces ARE toxic and it's not a good idea to stay if you can possibly exit because you are not changing the entire culture of any unit by yourself.
  10. by   parolang
    Hi Bosmer:

    "It has a bad reputation for nasty nurses and a low rating for care by patients families, but I personally had no big problems in my facility until recently."

    I think the key point here is that your facility has a low rating. Why do you think, *really*, that it has a low rating? You can blame this person or that person, but at some level the most likely reason is that administration/management is complacent. You could say that maybe the RN's or the supervisors are complicit with this kind of behavior, but in many cases they are in the same situation as CNA's: Problems are not being taken care of. If these CNA's are going around trash-talking to anyone who will listen, and this has been going on for a long time, then it is not like no one else knows that this is happening.

    Just to be explicit, because it is easy to "normalize" in our own minds what we deal with on a regular basis, but such "trash-talking" behavior is unprofessional, and it should have been dealt with by now. Criticisms about other employees should be given to a supervisor in private, or whatever process your facility has, IN PRIVATE.

    The other thing is that don't assume that everything is the way it appears. Cliques are often superfiscial, and they have a way of seeming to be more influential and more popular than they really are. Usually it is just a lot of people who are afraid of getting involved and don't know what is true, and one or two drama queens who are good at listening in on other people's conversations, and know what other people's biases are so know where to put pressure. But it is the environment that allows this sort of thing to spread, and you are kind of stuck in the middle of it.

    How long have you been at this facility? If you have been there less than a year or two, then it might be best to wait it out, or you can go to the administration/management/DON yourself and alert them that there is a problem. Just make sure you have your facts straight and don't base anything on speculation and hearsay. Like I said, not everything is as it seems, but on the other hand I've learned that it isn't a good idea to ignore your "social instincts" either. When your intution says that something is very wrong, and your job is in jeopardy, then you really should listen.

    I suggest that you really should be prepared to walk away from your job if things get bad, or even if the current situation isn't dealt with. CNA's are fired, or are forced to resign, all the time, and it could be positive turnover or negative turnover, and places with poor leadership don't know the difference, and they end up with poor ratings. I worked as a CNA for three and a half years, lived on my own income, and I budgeted rigorously just so that I could save back enough money for the day I might have to walk away from my job. At the same time, always be looking at what other opportunities there are for CNA's in your areas, and hopefully you'll find one with a better rating.

    Until then, always do your job correctly and understand your role and obligations as a CNA. A place with a lot of negative turnover is likely to target the CNA's who do their jobs correctly, because it is more work to do things right and low performers don't generally know what all their job entails anyway. If you are uncertain at all about your job, and know that there are areas where you are doing things a certain way just because this is the way it has always been done, check your facilities policies and procedures, I wouldn't just ask the RN/Charge Nurse, I'd go right to the DON because your job might be at stake. If this patient is a 2 hour check and change, then make sure they are checked and changed every 2 hours, and document rigorously. Never rely on other CNA's, even your precepter, to explain to you what your duties are. There is a lot of laziness and that laziness gets normalized. Do this just to give the people in charge a chance to make things right eventually, and make it easy for them to tell the difference between the hard-working, dedicated workers and the lazy, selfish and plain ignorant ones. But none of this will save you. You are always one false allegation away from being fired or even have your right to work in health care taken away.

    But I would be looking at other jobs. I'm now a Dialysis PCT and it was my CNA experience that got me the interview. It was even more true now than it was when I was a CNA, but it was certainly true then: You have to be willing to walk away from a job when it is getting bad and no one is listening, because that is often the only time anyone *will* listen. But don't give ultimatums, because it makes you look silly if you change your mind.
  11. by   Bosmer
    Thanks for your replies. I have tried asking her why she acts like this with me and she totally denies it. Once she asked if I was high, trying to imply that i'm crazy or intoxicated. She also likes to loudly announce how annoyed she is that day and how "people" are getting on her nerves, while staring at me.

    This isn't a situation I can just ignore, she is actively trying to get me in trouble. She had one of them 'hide' a patient's chart from me (they put a jacket over it and pretended they hadn't seen it). If you don't chart even one slot on time, it's automatic termination. Charge nurse checks them hourly.

    I will transfer wards, thanks for that advice. I already put in for a hall change. I also applied to new jobs, I am just waiting on the companies I applied to to contact me. It isn't fair, though.

    What I can't comprehend is the viciousness. It's not like I was rude to them, I haven't done anything to these women. They just don't "like" me, I'm not one of "them", but that isn't a reason to attack someone. You don't have to be friends to work together. This isn't middle school, it's a place of business and they are supposed to be adults. I treat even the people I don't like with respect because that is what adults do. I can honestly say I haven't run into this behavior anywhere I've ever been, except middle school! I really am disappointed.
  12. by   parolang
    One thing you could do is to take notes, or even document when these incidents occur. I don't know if your facility has an official means, but hopefully find a way to do it so that you can use it later and there's no way of that someone can accuse you of writing this stuff at a later date. For instance, if your facility has an email system where you can send and recieve emails, you could always send yourself an email, and then it is stored by the company.

    Or ask your HR person, management, or DON what you should do. They might accept and file the documentation themselves, or they have some other process for dealing with...harassment. You are dealing with bullying, and this is a big problem all over nursing and healthcare.

    Think of it this way: Is it ever professional for someone at work to loudly announce that they are annoyed and that people are getting on their nerves? So why is this allowed to happen? She's a CNA right? So why are all the LPNs, RNs, the charge nurse, and administrators allowing this to happen?

    Yes, this woman is a piece of work, but you are also dealing with a staggering tower of complacency. You need to be willing to walk away from your job, and then start going up the chain of command until you can find someone who will listen and do something about it. But if these discussions turn to "he said versus she said" then you know that there is a disease at your facility and you're not going to be able to treat it by yourself.
  13. by   JKL33
    Quote from Bosmer
    my supervisor trusts me so she came to me and asked me directly if it was true
    This is risky, but so are all of your options, in a way.

    What about asking for a meeting with your supervisor and kind of continuing the conversation that took place when you were accused and she came to you? An ultimatum will not work and will not be respected but it might be worth having the conversation to seek her advice about how she would prefer you handle this, and if it happens to come up that you have wondered if your best option is to look for a new position, so be it. Kindly and professionally let her know that you care about the patients and you also care about your reputation and so you can't agree to live every day wondering whether you will again be the subject of accusations that you have to defend. Normal people wouldn't enjoy living this way so she will likely understand your perspective, especially if you keep it patient-focused and avoid petty complaints about this other gal.

    Good luck.
  14. by   caliotter3
    I wouldn't advise you to just quit, however, you should continue to look for another job and then leave when you have secured a new position. Unfortunately, you need to be wary of this in any healthcare facility, particularly long term care, and you can expect a certain level of it in the ranks of the nurses too. It is something that management allows to happen. As long as the lower rung employees are at each other's backs and throats, they pay less attention to what management does or does not do, a fact of working life. Hopefully, your next job will be at one of the places where this kind of atmosphere is not allowed to flourish.

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