Unprofessional Behavior


Unprofessional Behavior

Hi, I have started a new position and am feeling bullied and targeted by the charge nurse. It is a high volume environment, so I understand there is pressure. But this nurse has yelled at me in front of patients, and staff - totally unacceptable and unprofessional. I was doing a procedure and needed support to make sure  to be sure that no mistakes would be made and she kept taunting me in front of the patient for not knowing. I do things extra careful to make sure there is no mistakes and this CN didn't really care.  I also hear her making comments about me to other nurses that she is friends with. There have been other instances as well. The doctors are more professional that she is, and don't even get upset when I ask a question.

This charge nurse has worked for the organization for years, and from what I read about it, they don't have a good reputation reading from allnurses. I feel that she is friends with the department supervisor, I feel their is a lack of supervision in this regard, no one is paying attention whether new hires are being bullied or what their experience is,  it is low priority so to speak with patients being critical. 

I don't want to quit because this was my first choice to work and now I have encountered unprofessionalism and  bullying which to me is unacceptable and this was unexpected. I did sign a contract, but to my surprise I have then encountered this behavior. 

Any thoughts on this? I feel if I report this I will be targeted. 

klone, MSN, RN

14,575 Posts

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership. Has 17 years experience.

Can you give us examples of the "taunting" you have endured?

Davey Do

1 Article; 10,290 Posts

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years). Has 44 years experience.

"Praise in public, criticize in private" is a good rule of thumb to follow in professional situations.

I have been criticized in public by superiors, felt the belittlement and anger that comes with it. On most occasions, I waited until we were together alone and voiced my displeasure at being skewered in front of my peers.

Most times, I received an apology, and some went as far as to make it a public apology.

However, on one occasion, the director openly criticized me after three 12-hour MN shifts and I unloaded on her, not raising my voice or saying anything inappropriate, but cut her to the quick.

Most people of substance will see the error of their ways and apologize when gently confronted. Others will become defensive and turn the situation into a power play.

All else I can say is, "Good luck and the best to you, delirionurse!"


6,592 Posts

Since this is intolerable, my own personal approach options/preferences include 1) ignore til she gets bored/sees it isn't going to get a rise out of you 2) kindly and professionally address in private. "I have noticed you often seem frustrated with me and verbalize criticisms about my work. I want to do my best  for patients and also want to get along well with my coworkers. Is there something in particular that I could improve upon with regard to either of these two?"*

*I do not mess around with dumb verbiage about how things make me feel, as is the often suggested approach so that the other party does not feel accused. People who bully others and display clearly inappropriate and unprofessional behavior such as yelling and or frankly criticizing in front of a patient know what they are doing. I don't walk on eggshells with them. Sometimes I do give them an "easy out" (such as, "is it just that the general stress is high in our environment?") because in the end it still accomplishes my purposes of calling them out. And often if you give an easy out, they can stop the behavior without feeling the need to get defensive and escalate.

Good luck, and in the meantime do everything you can to not let this rattle you.


Edited to say 'walk on eggshells' instead of xxx-foot, since bad word apparently. 🤣

Specializes in Prior military RN/current ICU RN.. Has 16 years experience.

"I feel" means absolutely nothing. Your post says that multiple times. If you have factual evidence of being treated in a manner that is not allowed by your facility you may bring that evidence to the CN boss.  If they do not provide you an outcome that is rectifies the situation then you may continue up the chain of command.  What is important is you need specific facts of things that actually happened.  When I was in leadership if someone came to me and said "I feel" what am I supposed do with that?  Everyone feels certain ways.  I need specific incidents.  Dates, time, and what happened objectively.  

Davey Do

1 Article; 10,290 Posts

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years). Has 44 years experience.

With all due respect, windsurfer, I must disagree with the first sentence, although I applaud the majority of the post.

However, making statements like, "I feel" are very appropriate because the individual is taking responsibility for their feelings, instead of putting the responsibility on someone else with a line like, "You made me feel".

There's a Code of Conduct publication which states something along the lines of, "If you feel harassed, then you have been harassed". Now, as you aptly pointed out in your post, objective evidence needs to be sought and stated, however, one's feelings are triggered by statements and behavior of others. Those feelings are a point of reference in delving into investigating and dealing with the problem.

I am reminded of something which goes something along the lines of, "If you think you're in a room of a-holes, it is good to look at yourself in order to find out if it's not you who is the a-hole".

Such situations have been shown to me that I was the a-hole, and reevaluation of my perspective needed to humbly be done. It was a difficult, yet illuminating, experience.

Has 33 years experience.

You got stuck with a power tripping CN. "This charge nurse has worked for the organization for years." Nothing will change if you complain.

Stay under the radar.. until you can move on.


99 Posts

Thanks everyone for responding. I was doing an I.V. medication and I fumbled through setting up the pump, because I was nervous about being watched and she had made snide comments before so that made me more consciousness. I don't want to give too many details but I didn't expect this in this environment, ie. bullying, talking badly about others, not respecting the patient when they are in a crisis (medical or otherwise), etc.  I have been pushed, but I am the type of person when pushed too far, I wouldn't speak lightly to her, and address her face to face and never come back. 

Davey Do

1 Article; 10,290 Posts

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years). Has 44 years experience.

SOMETIMES when we confront people on their inappropriate behavior, they come around and the whole world changes.

Case in point: Years ago, I was pulled to work with a nurse with whom I didn't care much for, personality-wise, on the adult psych unit. She was getting slammed with admissions, and in the days before computer charting, I did not mind doing admissions, especially when the patients had little or no health problems.

We switched off doing admissions, and while I was completing two of them, this nurse drops one of her admission charts on my work area and says, "Put this chart together!"

I silently exploded and confronted her with all the restraint that I could muster, although I spoke emphatically. I said something along the lines of, "I come over here to HELP you and you dump YOUR paperwork on MY work area, DEMANDING that I put YOUR chart together. If you WANT to GET ALONG WITH ME, this isn't going to fly!"

This nurse had a strong personality and a reputation for getting things done her way. I was taken aback when she actually listened to me. I do not recall exactly what happened immediately thereafter, but from then on, this nurse and I got along swimmingly.

We worked well together, now and again until she eventually retired and died a few years later.

So- you never know.

Specializes in ER; HBOT- lots others. Has 27 years experience.

I could make a super long reply, but it would all boil down to me trying to explain you need to speak up! if you don't now, you will continue to take and be treated as such. My advice is to ensure that you have an unbiased witness present for such conversation if you are able to do this in person. I wish you the best of luck, feel free to DM me if you ever need! we need to be in this place to support all of us, all around! 

Emergent, RN

2 Articles; 4,111 Posts

Specializes in ER. Has 30 years experience.

I've known types that do this. They only do it for up to 6 months until a new victim comes along. It's kind of like a hazing period of time. It takes them a long time to trust somebody. They don't take too kindly to newbies, but they get used to them in the end...

EduCom RN

2 Posts

Specializes in Cardiology, Gastroenterology, Mental Health. Has 15 years experience.

Nurses who bully other nurses should not be excused for their behavior because of the "that's just how it is" mentality.  Nor should your newly developed practice of nursing be hindered or thwarted by charge nurse bullies who belittle you or shatter your confidence.  Instead, as a professional nurse who is in charge of a unit, part of the charge nurse's responsibility is to professionally guide you and build you up in your practice of nursing so that the unit runs smoothly and is operating at its highest potential.  As a leader, they should understand that you may need reassurance, consultative advice, and positive reinforcement in order for you to excel as a nurse who is part of the organization. 

I suggest that you review the ANA position statement on incivility, bullying, and workplace violence.  As nurses, this is our best source for information on how to manage incivility in the workplace.   Then, make yourself familiar with your organization's workplace civility policies.  Both of these should give you information from which you can find support and advocacy.  One of the statements in the ANA position statement is "nurses are required to create an ethical environment and culture of civility and kindness, treating colleagues, coworkers, employees, students, and others with dignity and respect".

It's OK to say that you feel a certain way, but you should also be specific with the facts of exactly what the nurse bully is saying to you.  You may want to write down word for word what she said, or you may want to confront her in the moment.  If a patient is present at the time of the comment, then wait until later before saying anything.  If you are writing down the facts of what the nurse bully said, it is okay to include how it made you feel. When it comes to workplace bullying, your perception is key, but the facts are crucial.  

I find that journaling about my problems helps me find good verbal responses for them.  I have also found that rehearsing my responses to certain behaviors helps me avoid responding emotionally in the moment.  When you are ready, take the information directly to her for an honest and professional discussion.  You may want to involve a third party as a monitor.  If that conversation doesn't go well and you feel it's necessary to escalate, then write down her responses to the conversation and take the whole issue to the next level. 

You can say something.  You can make changes.  But you may have to muster up some courage.  It can be hard, believe me, I've been there.  But, speaking up for yourself demonstrates a lot of things like self-confidence and effective communication within a stressful situation.  It also often helps those bullying charge nurses gain respect for you.  Staying under the radar until you get another opportunity will do you no good because you will not learn how to correct these situations when they present.  And, unfortunately, they will likely present again in other nursing jobs you have in the future.  Stay strong and be willing to resolve workplace incivility.


Source:  American Nurses Association Position Statement on Incivility, Bullying, and Workplace Violence. Silver Spring, MD: American Nurses Association; 2015.  Viewed on 5/5/23 at incivility-bullying-and-workplace-violence--ana-position-statement.pdf (nursingworld.org)