I wish this was not a common theme amongst most hospitals…but unfortunately it remains ever-present. Some places less than others, some more than most. Nurse bullying is real and it happens more often than not.
How does one handle such situations? I’ll share with you the best ways I have gotten through sticky situations the right and wrong ways.
TAKE A BREATH
When an incident occurs, take a deep breath. You don’t want to be a short fuse and do or say something you will regret. Taking the time to gather yourself will allow you to see if you are truly upset or maybe more sensitive that day. In the moment, emotions are so strong. Perhaps it is something that can blow over without a big fuss! Take the higher road and walk away if you can.
KILL THEM WITH KINDNESS
This happens to be my specialty and I got particularly good at it in nursing school. I had many cases in nursing school where nobody wanted to take nursing students for the day. So I began preparing homemade treats and bringing them for the nurses. They appreciated this more than I can convey. In no time, I was paired with a nurse for all my shifts…and also all my classmates!
Another example is when I left work one shift, I received a not so pleasant phone call about something I forgot to do. I took a deep breath and was very sincere and apologetic: “I can see how frustrating this must have been for you. I am so sorry. I was unaware of the importance of this paper. I will work harder next time to meet the standards of practice.” The use of “I” statements in times like this is imperative. Keep the attention on how you will change. Sometimes being the bigger and sweeter person can help mellow out a situation and in turn, make the nurse bully appreciate you more as a colleague.
This is where I have failed. I unfortunately vented to my fellow new grad nurses about the incident during our debriefings. I immediately developed a pit in my stomach. I felt worse speaking about it than not speaking about it. I felt as though I had stooped to the bully’s level. If I felt the need to talk about it, I should speak to someone outside of the workplace. And if it is necessary, escalate the incident to the charge nurse.
COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR SUPERIORS
Should the situation be so bad that it impacts your work day-to-day, you must bring it to your charge nurse’s attention. Anxiety will only build and patient safety could be compromised. Remember that they are there to help you. You may not be the only one bringing forward your concerns! Perhaps other nurses have expressed concern about a certain nurse bully. All in all, listen and trust your gut. We are there to serve our patients and their families. If you are unable to do so safely and to your best ability because of a nurse bully, you must escalate your concerns!