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"Help for nurses who 'eat their young'" (Article from today's Chicago Tribune)

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tewdles, RN

Specializes in PICU, NICU, L&D, Public Health, Hospice. Has 31 years experience.

We ignore the bullies and treat the victims of bullying throughout the American society...from public schools to the workplace...until that culture of tolerance for bad behavior changes - nothing changes, not in nursing, not in schools, not in any environment...

Just my :twocents:

Lillian2515

Specializes in Med/Surg.

I am a nursing student in a BSN program at a very large well known university. I experienced severe bullying during one of my clinical semesters. I have not fully recovered emotionally and the experience has stayed with me. The affects of the abuse are still lasting and, very near graduation, I am exploring my options in life without a BSN. The bullying was so extreme that I still cannot discuss it without tearing up. It has made me question the entire profession and whether or not I want to be part of it. I believe I am a kind and sensitive person who would make an outstanding nurse, but bullying is a way of life for most units. I have only been assigned to one unit (out of seven so far) that created a positive learning experience....not enough to keep me going. I am jumpy and on edge always because the behavior is so unpredictable and unexpected. The people who bully keep their victims off balance. It's a terrible feeling and very disappointing to me that the situation affected me to the point of no longer wanting to become a nurse....but....that is the way it is.......:crying2:

gettingbsn2msn, MSN, RN

Specializes in medical surgical. Has 5 years experience.

Lillian,

I wanted to send you a note not to give up your dreams of the BSN. I also have had horrible experiences with other nurses but the patients will appreciate you very much. Trust me you are needed for the patients. I give report to a women in the morning and I have an anxiety attack just thinking about her coming to work. When I give her report she does not even face me. I really do not care that she does not say "hello" or "good morning" but come on, really someone that turns their back to the nurse giving report. What is funny is that I thought she had a pretty face when I met her and now I think she is the ugliest woman on the planet! I realize she is getting a divorce. However, does she really have to be so nasty faced. Sometimes she will turn around and roll her eyes at me. Truly I have never seen such behavior and this is a second career for me. But I try to be nice and friendly to all the nurses. Really it is the only way for me to go threw life. Please do not leave the field!

opensesame

Specializes in acute/critical care. Has 11 years experience.

This is validating. It seems like there is no consensus among nurses on this issue -- some of us think this happens frequently, and others deny it does, or call bullying something other than it is (to justify their own behavior?) The studies cited and the links were very helpful.

I knew I wasn't out of my mind!

I'm worried about this issue as a new nursing student about to start clincals next week. I hope that if we newbies survive... we remember these feelings when we get high up on the food chain so that the bullying stops with us!

Lillian2515

Specializes in Med/Surg.

It's very difficult to stand up and fight back to a bully. Just look at all the recent media attention with the teen suicides directly related to bullying. It's not an easy situation. You are a student and your "teacher" holds the power to your future. You can either be a "chosen" one and be taught clinical skills....or not. How do you know as you go one-on-one following a nurse in clinical if you are being taught what the others are being taught. I personally was not "chosen." I don't know why. I've accidentally run across different situations where I observed other students being given clinical opportunities to practice skills (blood draws, Foleys, chest tubes) and later on being asked why I don't know how to do a skill....when I was never #1 given the opportunity to learn and #2 didn't even know the opportunity was available to me. For instance, in my clinic site, students are not allowed to drw blood, yet I saw a student practicing on someone....***!? Anyhow, you have to go up against someone that can ruin your future. The instructor that bullied me even falsified information and lied to try to get me flunked out of the program. It didn't work because I was lucky enough to have documentation about certain things....I was lucky enough that my bully was not really very smart about most of it....most of it was done in private and it was my word against the bully but then some things were documented and he couldn't lie about them. Very difficult situation. After I managed to stay in the program, I'm still "marked." He went around to the other instructors to "warn" them about me. At any rate I've been emotionally traumatized by the incident and don't think I can get over it.....am thinking about counseling and voluntarily leaving the program. My only advice is to try to stay under the radar....keep your mouth shut and just keep smiling and kissing a--. The less you say to a clinical instructor the better off you are....I've seen it over and over....and try to "do as you're told" Unless it's against policy...which also happened. The instructor told me to do something that was against policy...I just happened to know that particular policy and refused to go ahead with the instructions....had I done what I was told I would have been ousted immediately....no questions asked and it would have been my word against the instructor since the instructions were given without a witness. I don't know if it will change unless the system itself changes. I've heard so many students from other programs as well who talk about not getting clinical opportunities and then being told to do a skill that they've never practiced outside of a lab manequin. I hear so many really good students wondering how they are going to get a nursing job without clinical skills when they graduate.....I'd like to believe there are some good programs out there somewhere, I just don't know where.....There doesn't seem to be any "standardized" program. There are lots of "objectives" listed on all the class descriptions, but after taking the classes I'm not sure how anyone can consider the objectives as being met. My experience is that nursing programs are a farce run by 50% saints and 50% evil aliens.:idea:

anonymous1919, LPN

Specializes in Geriatrics.

When I was a CNA I was bullied by certain CNA's. I was 17 when I was a CNA and this one woman would come in and get in my face and say "Have you been working hard or hardly working?".. My mom would pick me up from work and sometimes need to use the restroom and I'd bring her in and this woman would say "Oh I need to talk to your mom about YOU" (but never did, just walked away afterwards?) and I had even heard her once say to another CNA "Oh she KNOWS to have my residents clean" (as if I leave messes for other people??). I never actually worked the same shift as her, so I have no idea where she got that attitude with me..

I've seen nurses do it to each other, too. When I was in LPN school for clinicals my 2nd quarter teacher picked on me a lot. We had 10 in a group and everyone in my group but me was known as the "Front row kids" (made all straight A's, studied together, went to bars together, did lunch together, we're only friends with each other- but nice to me).. so I was sort of the loner in the group (everyone was totally nice though, I just wasn't apart of their "group"). Anyway- I felt like my teacher could sense this and picked on me for some reason (she was really buddy buddy with everyone but me, like she wanted to be a part of their group). Everyday I would come into clinicals she would threaten to send me home for wrinkled scrubs in front of the group. My scrubs we're not wrinkled and a couple of people in the "Front row" group had semi-wrinkled scrubs and she never said anything to them. I literally would iron, use the wrinkle spray out stuff, hang them instead of fold them, fluff them up in the drier, cry my eyes out... I had to of had the damn STRAIGHTEST scrubs on out of the entire group.. but every week she would still threaten me. I had great anxiety that she would send me home and I would fail so I just put up with it, apologized, and went home and spent two hours ironing, spraying, fluffing, and crying. It sucked.

Lillian2515

Specializes in Med/Surg.

My bullying situation was similiar in that the instructor had five students (out of our eight) that were in the "chosen" ones who got all the training, etc....they could do no wrong. The other three of us were totally discriminated against and ostracized. They shut us out of the entire learning experience. The three of us that were shut out were adults and had families and couldn't form our own cliche. We all survived, but it was hell on earth every clinic. The teacher made sure we didn't have a suppport network and we had to tough it out. The other two did much better than me, they were tougher and handled the ridicule and demeaning comments and threats from the instructor. I took it to heart and was traumatized by the whole thing. The instructor got what they wanted. I might graduate, but I will NOT be a nurse in a hospital.

desert_MP, BSN, RN

Specializes in Operating Room, PACU, ICU. Has 10 years experience.

I had some issues with bullying when I first started clinical. Instead of sitting there and putting up with it day after day I had an opportunity where me and that nurse were together in the break room. I said something along the lines of, "I'm sorry if you are having a bad day or if you don't like having a student following you around all day, but I'm new to this and I WANT to learn from you. Please give me that opportunity." From that point on she became a chatter box and was QUIZZING me throughout the rest of the day and it was awesome. During my lecture for that clinical class I received a complimentary appreciation card from that nurse and she explained how she was letting her personal life interfere with her professional life. She said she was embarrassed but humbled that it took a first semester nursing student to wake her up. To this day we converse through email!

I know that not everyone can confront someone bullying them, but you have to. I'm sure that my military experience brought me a long way in standing up for myself but these same people bullying you may have been bullied as well! Try to find out what's going on! If they are a nurse then most likely they have a good heart and just need to be shaken up a bit. You owe it to yourself and to that bully nurse to say something. :up:

Lillian2515

Specializes in Med/Surg.

Actually I did say something ....as well as asking (in a professiona manner) to stop yelling at me....and then trying to not be caught in a room alone with no witnesses....and keeping documented e-mails. Then I went up the ladder one step at a time to deal with the situation. It was a long a difficult process. I survived and was not removed because I had gone up the ladder and had documentation to the point of being in a position to be able sue the organization.....which I didn't do because I wanted to finish my education and be a nurse. Going through the process and surviving did not make it any less of an emotional trauma for me. I stay clear of that person and have been put in a position where I have to continually prove myself....my word against theirs to this day......they have more credibility than I do because I am a student and they have been working here for a long time....getting away with their behavior for quite a while...and continuing the behavior even after my situation....power is a dangerous thing...I'm not up to fighting the fight for others....

AtlantaRN, RN

Specializes in Med Surg, Hospice, Home Health. Has 13 years experience.

In my experience, the bullies are the ones who question their own skills. They spend so much time blaming others and finding fault, that they can't see the plank in their own eye.

You know i have to tell you all this and maybe you have gone through this. I use to be called in to the break room where Nurses would plot to get rid of new Nurses and even new Aids. And for dumb and i mean dumb reasons. Like they are to pretty. Or they said something wrong or they feel they are not friendly it even got raciest at times. It sucks being the victim of someone else when your out there trying to make money to support yourself or your family. I would never take part of that crap and i think it's sad Nurses have to eat their young When it wasn't to long ago You yourself were being trained as a Aid, LPN, RN,. I gone through something like that and i have to tell you i seeked revenge. I was at this one nursing home and i will never forget this girl for as long as i live. She was a cute thing single mom all but 18 or so. Her son was born with health problems. The other Nurses thought she would never fit in and even had the other Aids plotting to get rid of her. I took it upon myself to befriend her and we got along great. if she had problem with a task i would help her if someone was picking on her i would be there so on. Until i was called in to the DONs office. The DONS told how this girl came up to her crying and said i had betrayed her trust. And she told our DON what i had said. I never said those things and i would of never but the other Nurses thought and so did some of the Aids the only way that girl would go is if she thought i betrayed her trust and it worked,. Even when i tried to speak with the girl she wouldn't listen not even give me the time of day. And that was the last day i seen her she never came back to work. I was heartbroken and pisst and i seeked revenge on everyone involved. So when it was time for the state survey you know the state comes in see's how your doing grades you. I jacked everyone Yes its true i was savataging everything. And when some nurses were on the chopping block and so were some of the aids they asked me why i did what i did even the DON asked me why. I said the girls name that's why and i quit. So wanna eat your young? You bully new nurses and aids think its fun? Just think I'm a LPN and there might be many more like me out there who really care for co workers who can see a diamond in the ruff. And really care about people and our jobs and don't have time for spys and spiders Lets play haha These are my thoughts use them as you wish..

Obviously you are not alone. I hope you read this message. Bullying is wrong. I have been a nurse for 17 years and I had similar experiences. As a new graduate, I felt betrayed by promises of "Training" programs but they really turned out to be tests. However, I want you to know there is hope. First, it is important that ALL nurses recognize this problem and stick together on solutions. Mentoring means teaching and accepting that there are learning curves. I think your choosing BSN program is the right way towards a correct solution. Nursing is just too important and nurses should receive the respect they deserve in the work place. Nurses have to remember to respect their own profession. A health team is just that: TEAM. We work with physicians, Allied health, etc. We are all using the knowledge we have to take care of our patients. Do not get discouraged. I have worked in nursing nearly 18 years now, believe it or not. As I chose my employers, I remembered the advice from a nurse instructor who was a military nurse also. She said make sure, first, you choose the right employer. The magnet program is an exciting promise for all those institutions who participate. Nursing has to have recognition and respect from the administration. Earn your credentials. Focus of management courses in addition to your BSN course or Psychology or Sociology courses. The reason is a large part of your job is customer service. You are focusing your attention on what is good for the patient. On a nursing unit there are always negative personalities to deal with. Read your policies. Seek out knowledge and additional credentials. Ask questions from your managers, clin specs, doctors, PA, or NP. Ask open ended questions from those who choose to abuse. "Say I'm only trying to learn here. Can you speak to me in a different tone of voice." Or "I respect you I would really like that if you could show me that in return." Ask them how they might accomplish one task or another better. Then if that does not work, follow the chain of command. It is important to realize nurses come into the profession from all different levels with so many different cultural backgrounds. Even different schools emphasize different functions of nursing. For instance, the nursing schools I attended focused especially on the psychosocial aspects of nursing and the teaching. However, working in ICU's or ER who have focused primarily on skill, ACLS and critical care. Those talents are their job function. Oftentimes, their personalities are aggressive because by nature they live on Adrenaline. I suggest you find a real mentor on a med/surg unit and refine your interests from there. Remember, RIGHT ORGANIZATION, RIGHT MANAGEMENT, RIGHT MANAGER, RIGHT MENTOR and you'll learn to be a great nurse.

I am a nursing student in a BSN program at a very large well known university. I experienced severe bullying during one of my clinical semesters. I have not fully recovered emotionally and the experience has stayed with me. The affects of the abuse are still lasting and, very near graduation, I am exploring my options in life without a BSN. The bullying was so extreme that I still cannot discuss it without tearing up. It has made me question the entire profession and whether or not I want to be part of it. I believe I am a kind and sensitive person who would make an outstanding nurse, but bullying is a way of life for most units. I have only been assigned to one unit (out of seven so far) that created a positive learning experience....not enough to keep me going. I am jumpy and on edge always because the behavior is so unpredictable and unexpected. The people who bully keep their victims off balance. It's a terrible feeling and very disappointing to me that the situation affected me to the point of no longer wanting to become a nurse....but....that is the way it is.......:crying2:

Get a lawyer. And get a psychological/spiritual counselor to help you move past this severe reaction and firm up your resolve to reach your goal of becoming a nurse.

Never let other people keep you from your goals. Do NOT let anyone drive you off if you don't want to go. Toughen up now. No line of work is problem-free.

Knowledge is power, the more you know, the less they tend to bully you. Remain strong and don't appear weak. If all of the above fails, get some help from a higher power to control it.

Edited by magicnurse

linearthinker, DNP, RN

Specializes in FNP. Has 25 years experience.

How is it that in all my years in Nursing I have never seen nor experienced, not heard anyone say they have seen or experienced bullying from a colleague? From Nursing Admin, absolutely, but never co workers.

Fiona59

Has 18 years experience.

How is it that in all my years in Nursing I have never seen nor experienced, not heard anyone say they have seen or experienced bullying from a colleague? From Nursing Admin, absolutely, but never co workers.

I think a lot of it is unit specific. My hospital's OR has a terrible reputation for bullying and HR is brushing through them with union co-operation. One specific surgical unit is notorious for it's treatment of float nurses but the nurses there are all from the same country and anyone not of their ethnic group is pretty much run off. The unions involved are having a hard time dealing with them because of the threat of "racism" charges.

Every unit has an unpleasant nurse or three but a good manager keeps them under close watch.