Does nurse bullying affect your autonomy on the job?

iStockphoto | ThinkStock
iStockphoto | ThinkStock

At one point or another, many nurses unfortunately deal with bullying. Brittney from The Nerdy Nurse knows how you feel, as she combatted that very issue early on her own career before finding solace in her speciality (informatics).

She wrote a lot about her issues with bullying at that time, and we wanted to share one of her powerful posts with you today. We know so many of you will relate, whether bullying is something you’re currently dealing with or have dealt with (and hopefully grown from!) in the past.

See what she has to say below:

Nursing is the first job I have ever had where a “boss” was not constantly breathing down my neck. I get to plan my day and do things as I see fit. I have the ability to use clinical judgment skills to decide to give and hold medications. I have the right, ability, and duty to question inaccuracies in care. I also have the right to be able to practice as a nurse without being placed under a microscope by others.

I’ve already talked about the lists they make. I’m sure they have one on me a mile long, quite honestly. In fact my boss, who mostly seems to ignore things people tell her, has actually approached me on a couple of occasions about some really absurd “opportunities” they have no doubt made lists about. You see, they litter comb the charts, the eMARs, the nurses notes, the kardexes, and even probe the patients to find faults in their fellow nurses.

It’s not just me, unfortunately, but I fear I’ve likely given them a greater desire to find my faults. I have seen them gasp in disgust about a minuscule detail being over-looked on an order and proceeding to call said nurse any number of derogatory terms such as stupid, incompetent, lazy, etc. Seriously, we hold people’s lives in our hands every day; not everything is the end of the world. I thought I had left the drama club behind after high school. But alas, we have an independent group of crap-stirrers who are apparently planning a hospital showcase.

These nurses are gonna prove to the world that the walls of this place would surely crumble if they weren’t there to let everyone else know how stupid, incompetent, or unwanted you are. That means you: nurses, doctors, techs, CNAs, secretaries, house supervisors, managers, housekeeping, dietary respiratory, lab, and especially pharmacy, because according to them, you guys are the president of the idiot club…but you may have to fight for that title with dietary, depending on their mood. 

Who does this?

The unfortunate circumstance that spawned this unneeded question of my judgment and competency involved home medication. If a patient is admitted at night, and they have PM medications that they take routinely that they have not had, I do my best to give them to them. If you take a clonazepam every day for sleep, and its 1 AM and you haven’t had it, you’d want it, right? You wouldn’t want me to hold it because the oncoming nurse might be annoyed by it. I mean surely, you want to sleep, and its hard enough to sleep inside hospital walls even with high doses of sedatives.

What annoys me the most is I was there late, off the clock, doing homework with a co-worker, also off the clock and I am interrupted because I happen to be there so she can question my judgment. What does it matter really what answer I give? They result is the same, they got the meds. What satisfaction is gained when I tell you that they needed it to help them rest? None, because you rolled your eyes, flipped your hair, huffed, and abruptly shut the door while I was in mid-sentence.

Seriously if there is a duty to act as a nurse, by all means question my judgment. If a patient could be injured, has the potential, or there is a better way to do something, an easier way, or just a way I’ve never thought of, please tell me. But please, in matters of pure clinical judgment, my ability to act and make decisions, unless it has cause someone harm, is obviously wrong, or has caused you a great inconvenience could you kindly just suck it up and be pissed off on your own accord. I understand you may not agree with me, but that doesn’t mean I am wrong, and I am really getting tired of you telling me what is the appropriate thing to do. You are no better than me. 

Grow up. Show up. Take care of your patients. And leave me alone!

To read the rest of her post, head on over to The Nerdy Nurse. Then, in the comments below, share your own thoughts on and experiences with nurse bullying. What did you do to combat it?

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