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How Do I Deal with Nurse Bullies?

How Do I Deal with Nurse Bullies?

Any nurse who has been rejected by a nurse clique or has been the victim of another nurse’s malicious gossip wonders, “Weren’t we all supposed to grow out of this?”

Unfortunately, no.

According to one study, 38 percent of working adults have experienced bullying at work and 42 percent have witnessed bullying behavior. And while most workplace bullies are men, women can be bullies, too: 40 percent of all workplace bullies are female, according to the “Workplace Bullying Institute.”

What exactly is workplace bullying? For the most part, you can rely on the old adage “I know it when I see it.” If you prefer something more concrete, try this definition: “any vexatious behavior in the form of repeated and hostile or unwanted conduct, verbal comments, actions or gestures that affect an employee’s dignity or psychological or physical integrity and that result in a harmful work environment for the employee” (Canada Safety Council, 2005).

If a fellow nurse is bullying you, refuse to stoop to her level. Don’t answer her rude or unfounded allegations; she’s just trying to get a rise out of you, and if you respond, she wins. Instead, hold your head high and continue to do your job as competently and professionally as ever. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should simply ignore the bully. If you can, confront the bully in a professional manner. Don’t scream, yell or cry; simply call her on her behavior and tell her you will not tolerate it anymore.

Start a file and document your interactions with the nurse bully. You may need this material later to provide evidence of hostility over time. Keep your statements as objective as possible: who, what, where and when. Include quotes whenever possible.

Report the bullying behavior to your nurse manager as well. She needs to know what’s going on, and ideally will take steps to stop the behavior. If not, you may need to progress up the chain of command.

It’s also important to seek support. Talk to a trusted coworker, friend or spouse, and find a way to release some of the stress you may feel as a result of the bullying. Whatever you do, don’t let the bully get the best of you. You’re better than that.

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  • Picture0041_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I agree with you 100%


  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    As my career progressed and I aged, I began to see more of this behavior being pressed against older nurses. At first, I dismissed this behavior as it didn't directly effect me and I didn't want to become involved in this kind of ugly behavior or be accused of being a "trouble maker" for intervening. Now I wish I had been more interactive. After 32 years of unblemished years of working as a critical care RN, I have spent 2 years fighting for my professional life. All due to "bullies" where I work. I am now unemployed and considered disabled due my mental health status. This is what bullies at work could do that 32 years of critically ill patients couldn't do. I looked for advocates where I worked for help with my bullies, but couldn't find any because my bullies where in management and were doing charge. There were quality of care vs length of stay issues and I work in PACU. I fell on the quality of care side. There would be no negotiation or qualification. I was to be taken care of and I was expensive because of my years of experience and advanced certification. Case closed....two years later and I'm on SSI disability. Coincidence? You tell me. I have friends who are in the same boat now as me and who have nearly the same number of years as an RN as me. Anyone wonder why the RN's of my age (55) are saying they can't wait to retire? Why they are saying in record numbers how much they hate nursing? Do they really hate nursing or is it the atmosphere they can't stand anymore?

  • Imgp1362_max50


    over 4 years ago


    This happened to me, but the bully was my supervisor. She kept telling me that I had a explosive personality and she tried 4 times to get me to react. I did not and she fired me and now my license is on the line because the hospital believed her and sent her alligations to the state board of Nursing. I have documented all of her abuse and talked with co-workers about what she did. The night I was called to her office another nurse told me that she does this all the time. Well a month after I was fired she lost her job as floor manager by the hospital. I have not been able to fine a job as a nurse since this happened, doe anyone know what I can do to fine a job.....

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    That happened to me, but the supervisor supported the bully because she was an "apple polisher" to the supervisor!

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