Bullying remains a rampant problem in the nursing field. The saying, “nurses eat their young,” has been around for decades, but some providers use that as an excuse to tease, taunt, and degrade their colleagues in different ways.
Nurses experience harassment from other providers for all sorts of reasons. They may have less experience or stand out because of their gender, disability, sexual orientation, the color of their skin, or how they choose to identify. The extreme stress that comes with being a nurse often adds to the tension. Workers may try to blame each other when things go wrong to avoid getting penalized by management. This all leads to a toxic work environment that can be detrimental to your physical and mental health.
We asked millions of nurses if they have been bullied by a colleague and the overwhelming majority of them said yes. Here are their stories:
I had a nurse float to our floor. She was getting a report from me and had the nerve to call me at home and accuse me of not finishing my work from the nightshift. Saying that I did not sign orders that the rounding physicians wrote after I had clocked out and was gone for the day. I did all my work and more.
I just had a nurse group recommended to me on Facebook, something about “dark humor” in nursing. There were a few postings that met that category, but in reality, it is another anti-gay, anti-“others” hate group and they started harassing me. Their “dark humor” is actually hate speech. The sad part? I know there are nurses among us who harbor those attitudes. Absolutely NO compassion and empathy for those suffering.
I am autistic, so when I’m under stress, I walk like I’m marching, which helps me calm down and I had colleagues mimic my walk and laugh behind my back. 🙄
When you are up against a manager who is a compulsive liar and a general manager who has no concept of her job or how to treat people, the only thing to do is get out. Their loss.
I got blamed for stuff I didn’t do several times early in my career. A patient went AWOL on the previous shift and the parties responsible forgot to notify the doctor. I was told that, as a charge RN, I should have made sure that everyone who was discharged on previous shifts received discharge instructions…. even though it’s never been any charge nurses’ responsibility to do that, and still isn’t. And really, who has time to audit everything the previous shift did?
I argued my point, but manager said, “The matter is closed. You can leave now.” The problem was the manager was close friends with the responsible party. They socialized after work and on weekends. They ate lunch together in the manager’s office. Politics. And the manager decides if I deserved a raise or could take a vacation or holiday off. So glad those people left.
I was talked down to at work today and goaded for choosing to leave the conversation… Criticized for every little bit of mistake made… I’m at a crossroads. Stay or leave, I don’t know. 😞
My entire first year spent countless hours crying.
I’m being bullied right now. I’m the new person in my workplace and I guess I’m just the easy target. I’ve honestly never dealt with anything like this before and it’s heartbreaking.
I had a nurse tell everyone behind my back that I got my degree on the back of a cereal packet.
When I first became a nurse, a nurse preyed on me because I was new and inexperienced. But God, 5 years later guess who interviewed her for a job?
I had to take time off for a complete ACL tear 16 months ago and the nurse I work with now retaliates by not talking to me and not doing her job.
I gave up being a nurse 6 years ago through being bullied, which led me to becoming a shadow of myself. I lost my confidence, had low self-esteem, and ended up taking anti-anxiety tablets.
I still love caring for people, but when I was a nurse, I was told, in a negative way, that I was too kind and too thorough. I was also criticized for taking too long during my drug round and management didn’t like me talking to the patients. I only talked to them about how they were feeling and if they had any worries.
I’m truly happy being a caretaker now and wouldn’t change my job for the world. I also don’t want to belong to an organization that doesn’t care about its nurses.
Management and a handful of selfish nurses teaming up with them can make a hell of your life.
There is a definite hierarchy. Help someone by passing on your knowledge and experiences. This raises you up as well.
Interrupting, eye rolling, personal comments about my children’s academics, laughing when I would ask a question, general rudeness – none of which were taken out of context. I have a sense of humor and when other nurses in the facility noticed the behavior aimed at me, I knew I wasn’t crazy.
It was bad but no disciplinary action even when I took it up the management chain.
I was bullied recently and as a young grad. I don’t understand when we are all here to do the same thing – help people. Why? Why make others feel like we are doing something wrong?
Both times I’ve addressed this with my supervisors and was blown off both times.
There was a nurse who would curse at the CNA’s. I asked her to talk to them with respect since their job was the most useful of all. Omg! She nearly beat me to death. I was nicely threatened to never say a word. I gladly resigned from that job 2 hours later. I just felt bad leaving the CNAs to deal with that abuse because there was never a resolve.
Never. I don’t allow it. I speak to that individual before it gets out of hand.
In the 30+ years that I have practiced nursing I have been on the receiving end of more than my share of bullying from fellow nurses.
The worst is when it’s done in secret so to speak, the terrible gossiping about you when it’s so untrue.
I’d rather have someone say things to my face so I can shut it down.
These comments have been edited for length and clarity.