Preceptor is a bully....

Updated | Posted
by Hardhands Hardhands (New) New

OK so here is the background:

I'm a new grad starting in the ER were I worked as a CNA for the last year of school. I am 40 years old and a guy.

I was assigned a preceptor who I knew would be tough but I have discovered that she is an abusive ***** (she actually said " my little sister who is not a nurse could get this!"). also she is not teaching me anything, just telling me how incompetent I am.

Now I know how to stand up for myself and all that, but I have a feeling that she is vindictive as hell and she is also one of the charge nurses.

I am not sure that complaining will help me because she will just say that I can't handle the job and that I am blaming her.

She has won awards and is a big deal in the eyes of the higher-ups....

She has also accumulated a lot of enemies in the ER with her abusive behavior but they all seem to be to scared to say anything...

So should I risk it?

I can probably survive, but have this annoying need to not let her get away with her bullying and abuse.

By the way I can totally handle the job ....

What I can't Handle is keeping quiet about all that I am witnessing and experiences.

Tell me what you think.

MunoRN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 10 years experience.

This won't be the first nurse with a toxic personality you'll have to work with, so I'd look at this as a valuable learning experience.

The ED is a challenging environment, it's certainly possible to work as a nurse in the ED and cope effectively enough to remain a decent being human being, those who can't meet that challenge surrender to just being a horrible person.  

Recognizing their own weakness, these nurses tend to be really aggressive self-promoters, so I wouldn't go starting a war between the two of you.  

You'll need to learn to deal with challenging personalities in the ED population, staff included.  

AbstracRN, BSN, CNA, RN

Specializes in New nurse, nursing assistant 5 years. Has 2 years experience.

Honestly if she's been there some time people already know how she is. I think as a new nurse it's  better to not make waves unless her behavior  is seriously egregious. 

Jedrnurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in school nurse. Has 29 years experience.

Maybe her "little sister who is not a nurse" could give you some advice...?


Specializes in Travel, Home Health, Med-Surg. Has 20 years experience.

You will run across these types in any setting. If you really want to work there I would just try to go with the flow for now as management will most likely side with the preceptor. If it becomes necessary to say something to management be very careful what and how you say it. The only reason I would say anything is if the vindictiveness is harming patients or your career (vs just obnoxious comments like the example you gave); but it you do (take it to management) make the reason something like differing teaching style etc., (don't make it personal) so maybe you can change preceptors. Some people just either enjoy being difficult and/or like to feel self important. You will be done with orientation soon (hopefully) so just (for your own sake) try to live with it (it is a temporary situation).

Tweety, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac. Has 29 years experience.

I totally disagree with the idea that you should just put up with it.  It's one thing to have to put up with all kinds of personalities and I get that.  I work with one nurse that is a drama queen and gets on my very last quarter of a nerve and she's witchy when she's stressed.  These are all kinds of people out there and we just have to learn to cope.

You say she has enemies there but they are afraid to speak up.  Those before you that didn't speak up contributed to her ongoing behavior and gives her permission to bully you. 

If she truly is bullying you and you're not getting what you need and it's not just a "difficult personality", then don't put up with it.

Edited by Tweety

I vote for playing it cool but not because I wouldn't "risk" confronting her. I simply think that s/he who controls her/himself is the one who ultimately wins.

3 hours ago, Hardhands said:

annoying need to not let her get away with her bullying  and abuse. 

Who wins when you worry more about an alleged bully than about learning patient care? They do. They have you over a barrel the minute you willfully agree to engage.

If she made a comment to me about her sister I woulda said, "Well, damn, that sucks! Show me how to not suck."

Throw her off her game and keep moving forward. She's likely waiting for you to throw some kind of fit or cry uncle in some way; then she can put you in a box with all the other terrible nurses who don't like her.

JKL, we get tons of these bully posts, but that's the best approach I've heard in a long time.

LibraNurse27, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community Health, Med/Surg, ICU Stepdown. Has 8 years experience.

I like JkL's suggestion too! Don't give her the power she usually gets. But if you're truly not learning anything, ask for a different preceptor. If you're worried about appearing difficult or something you can just say your learning style doesn't work with her teaching style, but if you don't think the manager will look down on you or side with her you could mention the issues in a matter of fact way and say you would like to make the most of your orientation and make sure you're prepared to give good patient care. If you just get bullied the whole time and don't learn anything, it's not fair to you or your future patients.

Chickenlady, ADN

Specializes in ER, GI, Occ Health. Has 7 years experience.

I think I worked with her.......or someone really like her.  I made a formal complaint every time she made an unprofessional, demeaning comment.  Even though we joked that she must have had blackmail material on the higher ups, eventually they couldn't ignore it anymore and they held her accountable.  She eventually also kept her mouth shut when I could hear her too because she knew I wasn't going to let it go

CharleeFoxtrot, BSN, RN

Has 10 years experience.

On 10/30/2020 at 8:39 PM, JKL33 said:

I vote for playing it cool but not because I wouldn't "risk" confronting her. I simply think that s/he who controls her/himself is the one who ultimately wins.

Who wins when you worry more about an alleged bully than about learning patient care? They do. They have you over a barrel the minute you willfully agree to engage.

Spot on, it's only a game if you play it.  Sometimes the best retort is silence with a neutral but quelling look on your face.  When you don't engage or get flustered it forces the bully to change gears to fill that silence and oftentimes they will rephrase and retreat.  Bullies like to keep people off balance but usually can't handle it when that strategy is used against them.  Passive aggressive? Sure but it does work.

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 15years medical. Has 42 years experience.

Your situation reminds me of one which my wife Belinda had to deal, Hardhands. 

Belinda worked in med/surg at Wrongway Regional for well over a decade and was generally revered by all. A few years ago, she took a position at Anomaly Memorial in IMU.  The midnight charge nurse, Joy, a three decade employee, had a rep for being an Industrial Sized *****. The Unit Manager Sammie was well aware of this and did nothing, despite numerous complaints about Joy.

Belinda took Joy's behavior with stoic stride and did her job, often venting to me about Joy's behavior. Time passed, Sammie was let go, and Hansel took her place.

On one occasion, a relatively new male nurse was pulled from med/surg to work IMU and Joy rode him hard. He made a formal complaint to Hansel and HR. Joy was confronted and was told to curb herself or the next complaint about her behavior would find her terminated.

Belinda notes a radical change in Joy's behavior.

Edgar Cayce said, "We can't get anyone into more trouble than they can get themselves into". Sometimes we just need to be a Keeping Still Mountain and let Karma and the Forces That Be have their way.

Good luck and the best to you, Hardhands!