Work Politics... oh boy...


I recently switched jobs and became a wound care nurse. It was something I wanted and I am really digging the work itself.

I am in a department of about a dozen people. Many of them I like a lot, most of them are pretty cool, I even like my boss.

But... and there's always a but...

There is a CNA who is rude, disrespectful and has a chip on her shoulder that's visible from space. She is very aggressive towards the nurses in our department and states that she is "from the old school, where they taught ACCOUNTABILITY" and refers to me and two other nurses as "babies". She's around 60. Myself and the two other "baby" nurses are all in our 30s. This CNA has been at this job for 16 years, and feels that she has earned the right to this behavior. She also said, "I can't help it, I'm half French so it just comes out." I can't believe that everyone just takes her nonsense. I'm new, so I would be the one making waves.

At my last job, I would have had a quiet talk with her about professionally appropriate conduct, and if that had no impact, just written her up for insubordination. But this is a tiny department and I am *not* the boss. How do I handle this? Part of me wants to transfer out to the floor and call it a learning experience.

Anyone have any words of wisdom for me?

dishes, BSN, RN

3,950 Posts

The only thing you have control over is how you react and respond to her, her comments aren't worth space in your head, ignore them.


1,381 Posts

What you describe is obnoxious behavior but not insubordination.


2 Posts

Yes, you are right, I have not described her insubordination. Asking her to do something and having her say, "I know what I have to do, don't tell me what I know GIRLFRIEND," or talking over the nurses during report (after being asked... and asked... and asked) would be what I put down regarding an insubordination disciplinary action.

Specializes in Geriatrics, Home Health. Has 10 years experience.

Would it be possible for you to write her up? You're not her boss, but as an RN you outrank her.

Next time she calls you a baby, correct her. She may interpret that as a declaration of war, so be prepared. Address her in a professional manner or not at all, and insist on the same from her.

Polish your resume and scout out other jobs. A CNA who has gotten away with that kind of behavior for that long likely has friends higher up. If she or her friends escalate things, quitting may be your best option. You probably won't be the first nurse she has run off. Toxic workplaces aren't worth it.

Davey Do

1 Article; 10,249 Posts

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

Once you've attempted to resolve the situation directly and that doesn't work, objectively document the situation and the behavior. This tact will allow you to gain an objective perspective and inform those in command of the situation.

In my career, I've never had anyone terminated from their positions, yet I have allowed the culprits enough rope to hang themselves and/or placed a nail in their coffins.

As Edgar Cayce said, "you can't get someone into more trouble than they can get themselves into".

Good luck to you, Leta.

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

4,475 Posts

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health. Has 25 years experience.

You need to get her on board. Ask her to help you do your job better and if she does thank her.


1 Article; 104 Posts

Keep it no-nonsense and professional. Let her finish her rants. Ask her if she's done. Then repeat what you've asked. If you never react, a month of this will likely break her histrionics.

You need to get her on board. Ask her to help you do your job better and if she does thank her.

She is starved for respect. She has likely spent a lifetime being frustrated and feeling envious of those who she believes, probably correctly, to have had better opportunities than she has for achieving what she sees as valuable goals.

She'd love to have a title, to be what she considers important. She might have had serious heartaches in marriage or with her kids or in other areas of life. She might have had to go to work early and could never find the right time to continue her education. She isn't likely too well off financially and probably has had to work for everything she's ever achieved or gotten (like a house, car, kids' educations, etc.).

She is old enough to have endured negative and humiliating racial stuff.

I think CrunchRN's advice is perfect. It has worked for me when I've had to deal with a couple of aides who were older and I was suddenly their younger boss. I NEVER let them know I considered myself their boss, even though legally I was. I was afraid of them at first, as fear of them had been put into me and my fellow orientee by other staff. But I didn't want to live like that and realized I had to figure out a way to get along with these folks so I could have some peace and some fun at work. Yes, I like to have fun and others do, too. So I learned to laugh, chuckle, offer them a piece of gum or whatever, and just learned to endear myself to them and learned to appreciate them, too.

I looked upon them as essential to my success. I would ask their opinions on the best way to get a urine specimen from someone with severe contractures or the best time to pass meds to inpatients so I wouldn't interrupt them when they were bathing folks. Ooh, they LOVED it when this young kid would ask them for help. It tickled us all pink! So what if they chided me for getting paid a lot more than they got and need their advice? I honestly didn't need it, but where was the harm in making them feel good?

I called one of them "Mama". LOL. For real. I actually had great appreciation for them and felt a certain kinship toward them. And they really did know more about certain things than I did about how to get along with certain staff and where things were kept.

One of them wound up being a friend outside of work for years, we met each other's families. We spoke every now and then, long after our working lives no longer were intertwined.

This woman of yours will likely not retire any time soon, so do learn to appreciate her and learn how to get along with her and please do not do a write-up because it will hurt you far more than it will hurt her.

Find her strong points - confident, lets her opinion be known (no having to guess), likely knows and does her job well - and use them to your advantage. Primarily, be courteous to her, smile, ask for help, and be sure to thank her. Get her something for Christmas, too. Nothing elaborate - just enough to let her know you know she's alive and recognize her contribution to making work a good place to be.


916 Posts

Specializes in Critical care.
She is old enough to have endured negative and humiliating racial stuff.

Race was never mentioned.