A call to stand up to NURSE BULLYING.

The following is a guest post from a nurse that for obvious reasons wishes to remain anonymous. Let us call her Nurse X.

I am a mature age newgraduate just coming to the end of my newgrad year.

When I entered the nursing profession, I knew I had found my fit, I may have waited until my children were nearly grown to do it but here I was, an RN and loving it.
That was until my last rotation where there are a couple of bullies.
I shouldn’t complain because I was pre warned. Warned by the wards men, the security men, the cleaners and other RN’s.

Being mature and having a strong personality I was pretty sure I could cope. I can give as good as good as I get, I can hold my own and am not afraid of conflict. I was ready for these two ladies with the bad reputations. At least that is what I thought.

After only a few months I realised that the bullies are not like those at school.
They are superior.
Superior RN’s who are there to teach me and to show me, and they sure did show me.

After months of belittling comments, humiliating teaching methods and being treated like a naughty school girl in front of patients I nearly cracked.
I didn’t (and still don’t) feel able to fight back in front of patients, they deserve more respect than to have RN’s arguing while attending to their treatment.
I didn’t realise that I would feel ashamed of my own inability to tackle these women or that I would try and hide the situation from my own family due to the embarrassment I felt around being a victim.
I didn’t realise that I could come to hate my job so quickly and feel powerless and without escape from the torment of these women.

I always thought of the victims of bullying to be weak and shy individuals who could not or would not stand up for themselves. But that’s not me, I am not weak, I am not shy, so why did I allow this situation to continue?

When I turned to others for help the overwhelming response to my plight was “oh well that’s just her, she is like that with everyone”.
No one said “that’s terrible, let me help you”.
No one said “let’s take some time to listen to the problem and see if we can be supportive”, no one said “I will speak with her for you or with you and try to improve things”.

That’s just her is the cheap excuse for allowing others to continue with their bad behaviour, an excuse that allows us to look away from a situation that is uncomfortable and do nothing.
That’s just her says to the victim, “we can all take it, why can’t you?”.

The statement adds to the sense of shame that I was struggling with under the effects of these women, that I was so weak I would cry on my way home because of how they had spoken to me again and again.

At the very end of my year I have found the courage to request a facilitated conversation with one of these ladies where the NUM [Nurse Unit Manager] will be present as well as a member from EAP [Employee Assistance Program] so I can express how she has made me feel.

My hope is that her behaviour might change for the next person who takes my spot.
But I wanted to share my story to make a cry for help to all the experienced Nurses out there.

Please don’t tell a newgrad, a student or anyone that the way they feel is irrelevant with this statement “oh that’s just her/him”.

Please don’t look away when a colleague is in distress.
Please don’t excuse the bad behaviour of others.

I know confrontation is hard but surely listening isn’t.
Can we replace the statement with something like “I am sorry this is happening to you” could we be braver still and stand up against the bullies?

Too much to ask?
Don’t we tell our children to do something when they are bullied?
Let’s lead by example, let’s create a sisterhood of nurses who stand together against bullying.

It doesn’t have to mean an ugly confrontation, it can be a kind word alerting the bully to their behaviour allowing them the opportunity to change.

If change is not possible the conversations can be noted and reported and the appropriate escalation initiated.
Come on sisters, we can stand together can’t we? As a whole load of fresh faced newgrads are about to enter the workplace, can we listen to them, guide them and protect them from these terrible feelings?

Please be brave enough to take a stand, to work together to have the conversations that will create a change.


TAKE ACTION: Change the bullying culture. Become a HUG endorsed NURSE today!

92 thoughts on “A call to stand up to NURSE BULLYING.

  1. Nurse bullying, has been going on for long time. I was a nurse in Brisbane (now retired) .My wife who is Registered Nurse ,was bullied and suffered quite a lot. I was a Q.N.U representative and did my best to support her, but those in power, manage to survive. I represented a number of nurses while working in Brisbane, as bullying seems to be a culture there.it used to be said when I was working nurses eat their own. Yes I was also bullied ,but it was difficult for the bully being a nurse unionist


    1. It’s amazing that in a ‘caring’ profession there can be such lack of care for workers – whether nurses, ward staff, etc. I’ve been subject to this in my career. It’s a nuisance, when you are trying to get through a workload but positively dangerous if the extent of the bullying is eroding your confidence and leading you to make errors or avoid work all together. If you are doing a decent job you have every right to not be bullied. You didn’t sign up for that! Tonight I watched a documentary on what Harvey Weinstein was doing to women employed by him at Miramax and later at Weinstein Co. That abuse – sexual, verbal, psychological – was allowed to continue because no one called him out, because his workers had to sign confidentiality agreements, because he was seen as such as great big guy in the industry. Most of the bullies I have encountered are pretty smart but have no moral compass at all and they tend to round up their own coterie to do their bidding and garner popularity for themselves. Just watch them a while and notice how lazy, ineffective and dishonest they are. In my experience probably racist, sexist or ageist as well! There will always be something which is sub-standard about them and eminently reportable. Enough reports or complaints from co-workers, or exit interviews because of their behaviour – insist on one if you decide to leave, which is actually a very intelligent thing to do – or collections of evidence of their incompetence will add up to you being able to hold them accountable for their behaviour. Maintain your integrity and if it feels like bullying it probably is. If you don’t have the confidence to tackle them find an ally, preferably off the ward, preferably a little older or more senior to you who will listen to what you have to say and help you take action you can follow through on. As Bette Davis said – in ‘All about Eve’, which is a fantastic analysis of a complete vixen, ‘fasten your seatbelts – we’re in for a bumpy ride!’.


  2. I’m a 55 year old woman that’s been an RN in the US since 1981, an LPN through a high school program before that. 38 years total this June. I have lost track of how many times I have survived severe bullying in this field, always, in severe cases, creating a devastating financial void and requiring extraordinary expenditures of time, stress, and money to find another job. It has led me to lose, over all those years, enjoyment, family time, health, and worst of all, the VOICE of HEALTHCARE LEADERSHIP. And in every case, those indicated to assist in fair resolution made it clear through their actions that they were motivated by the need to silence the advocate, regardless of their statements or procedures. On 3/12/2017, I was closed in a room by a threatening co-worker, (another Nurse,) and physically held against my will, until a third Nurse assisted me from the other side of the door, pushing, while I pulled (against the Nurse’s body holding the door shut.) I had to attempt to exit pushing past her, knowing she might start hitting me, which fortunately, did not occur. Their were 20+ witnesses, none of which reported anything, despite their shocked appearances. The one that assisted me and literally led me safely to the time clock and car, was suspended 48 hours later (after she was named as a witness) related to her decision of where to leave a sensitive document in the DON’s Office … (she slid it in a drawer and told the DON as it was an employee discipline, rather than leave it under the door where others would see it.) It would appear, by absences, that while the perpetrating Nurse was suspended, I was also written up for unprofessional behavior, and told that my patients overheard my profane remarks, which never occurred. More bullying, as it wasn’t ACTUALLY written and didn’t occur. But it was another way to bully someone into submission to ‘prevent’ legal action, by demeaning me into believing that I had upset my patients. Fortunately, I’ve come to know that this is a lie, undetectable even in the Courts, as no one is going to breach HIPPA to obtain that patient information. Job well – done, Human Resources. Of course its easier to bully the bullied into submission! So the question that comes to my mind is, what is the cost to the patients’ well – being when you allow verbal and physical abuse to continue, AND REMOVE THE VOICE of those who must conquer huge odds daily to advocate for them? Certainly NOT better healthcare. smh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unbelievable! This bully and establishment really take the cake! And I’ve seen and experienced many! Unfortunately Ive come to realise that many others do not speak up because they, themselves, are afraid of the bully, and don’t want to put themselves in the firing line, as unfair as this is. This would be especially true if they know the haelth care facility is not going to support them. 😢


  3. I live in a residential care facility and there is a nurse that works here, and every day I pray she will be eaten by a Bear. She is Russian and I tell evryone that she was trained at the Moscow Zoo. She embarasses CA’s in front of patients all the time. She is a complete bitch. I have been here for over 3 years and when I came here I was walking. She was an RN but had taken over a manager’s position who was on MAT leave. Prior to coming here I spent 3 moonths at a rehab facility learning to walk again and I worked really hard. I have a wheel chair for when I went out, but in the faciclity I was walking and using my walker. One day she came to my room and screamed at me and told me I was going to fall down and break my hips and that would kill me and I was going to die and she repeated herself several times screamingf the whole time. She really scared me andI listened to her and I stopped walking. Other than making the worst choice possible for a husband, I listened to this woman and I stopped walking which was actually the worst decision of my life. It is just after midnight so I can say today’s prayer. Recently I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. This woman came too my room for some reason and I told her I was having a problem with my thyroid, and she said, no you don’t. I repeated myself at least 3 or 4 times and she disagreed with me everytime. Finally I said, if I don’t why am I taking medication for it. She then said, I am going to check your chart and I will be right back. It was atleast 2 or 3 weeks before I saw her agsain. I will continue to hate her. If I knew then what I know now, I would have reported her to her boss and made a real big scene about it.


  4. I experienced this first hand while in my placements for a BN degree. One of the first wave of BN students, which I think was part of the problem. Was made to feel stupid and ignorant by other nurses who mistrusted the degree programmes. Self confidence completely eroded. Had a meltdown on day one after a Christmas break and was ‘persuaded’ to go back where I spiralled into full blown (but undiagnosed at the time) depression. Told uni ‘mentor’ that a good shift for me was one where I didn’t spend my breaks in the toilet crying. Nothing was done, no help offered. Well over 20 years ago now and I would certainly not put up with it these days. Terrible mentality of ‘we were trained that way so why shouldn’t you be?’, or ‘I had to put up with it, so should you’. And what’s worse, (mostly) women destroying other women.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Bullies in the Workplace……………. Of course, it’s ubiquitous. You can count on it. It is to be expected when working with fragile, weak, insecure people who only go to work to obsessionally fill up on power fuel by covertly or overtly harming others, scoring status points and investing in only behaviours that maintain their sense of specialness and superiority. The Bullies that are the most dangerous to your health are of course your superiors, the power people as you can soon find yourself professionally ruined and out on the street. They only know themselves in the reflections of their abuse of others. Like many, many, many before me, I finally after 36 years as a FT nurse took my turn at being the required ‘extraordinaire scapegoat’ for their shame and self-hatred. Diagnostic of these individuals is that they are always on the relentless hunt for the next innocent scapegoat. Once you become the manager’s prime target and you will when dealing with a Character Disordered Manager, aka “Garden-Variety Corporate Psychopath”, don’t count on any genuine professionalism within the organization or support from anyone, colleagues or Union. What you can count on is being targeted for any action, real or imagined, that threatens the manager’s fragile, malignant ego, their twisted psychotic delusional False Self. You with face their rage and violence for being the expert professional you are. Sadly your professional competence doesn’t fly in a toxic, abusive, dysfunctional and sick worksite. How could it? True Professionalism is meaningless and incomprehensible to them. Any Ethical Competent and Compassionate Nurse will eventfully becomes the hated target of a Power Bully, in fact it’s a liability as there is professional Envy and Greed all around you and they will target and destroy you in their blind obsession to fill their own void with what you have and are. Advice….. Find other work, find other friends and take care of yourself. There is a beautiful life beyond their poison. My heart goes out to all victims of workplace violence and injustice.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I work as a HCA, only I’m agency and have come across people like this, albeit not too many tg, as I’m agency I’m moved around quite a bit which is brilliant, but this lady reminds me of myself, like her I have a mouth and I’m not backwards in coming forwards, am in middle age bracket so don’t feel I have to take any crap from washed up auld has beings, I just refuse to go back to places where these people exist, so good for you my dear give them sox.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I entered nursing full of enthusiasm many years ago. From day one the bullies were there. They turned up late, shifted patients to others load and then left early with the equivalent of NUM. No action by union or EAP helped. The only relief is that it must occur in other industries.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. WELL NOTHING HAS CHANGED. I was a “Wollongong Hospital” trained RN.
    Now back in the 1970s we were bullied not just during a twelve months new grad rotation but, bullied for the full three years while General Training progressed. I now look back with tears and ask myself, “was it worth it?” NO Given my time again I would avoid nursing. And do something greedy and enjoy my life. Say become a politician.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m also a TWH grad – general from 1979 to 1982 – and mid from 1983-84. Totally agree but sadly, I’ve experienced the same culture in almost every job I’ve been in. I’m in tears reading this because I so relate!


  9. I’m not a nurse, and feel really bad for this poor woman, but at least she has managed to get something done or at the least, made some progress. I hope she wins in the end!

    I can tell you, I sure have witnessed – or been a victim of – bullying happening in the workplace, over and over again. I remember chastising a workmate years ago because he was flatly refusing to do what I had – nicely – asked him to do; it was his job and I wasn’t asking anything over and above his job description, plus his behaviour was upsetting others in my department. Unfortunately I was young and had a mouth on me, and dressed him down in front of the whole office.

    Guess who was called in and chastised? Me of course! I was told “That’s just him. He’s studying psychology and his assignments often focus on the responses of others when he behaves a certain way towards them. You can’t raise your voice to other employees like that”. Really? Yes, really. Yet HE could refuse to do his job, or do it poorly, with nothing being done about him, but I had to shut my mouth if I didn’t want to be transferred somewhere else.

    My most recent experience of bullying or unacceptable behaviour was when I worked in aged care as a domestic, meted out by someone who wanted to dress me down in front of residents who were quietly enjoying their midday meal. I refused to do this, and took my colleague out into the hallway. He refused to listen to reason, kept talking over the top of me, and in the end I threw my hands up and walked off. He reported me about this, just before I was about to report HIM.

    Again, guess what I was told? “Oh, that’s just him. We all know what he’s like”, etc. Luckily, he came and apologised later on for his behaviour. We settled on “peace out” and that was that, so that incident had a reasonably good outcome.

    Still, how can behaviour like this be acceptable, excusable and simply the way of things? I cannot believe that the majority of staff are being asked to accommodate the bad behaviours of one or two people, simply because it’s “the way they are”. What rubbish! It’s about time this sort of situation changed, because what we’re seeing within the workplace, is what is causing the breakdown of the fabric of society in recent years.

    Well, those are my thoughts anyway, and this is very much the way I am.


  10. Lack of structure and lack of discipline in nursing and other areas is part of the reasons for these behaviours within the profession. Unfortunately, it is in all areas of life now. Additionally, lack of self-respect and self-control adds to the problem. People casts stones at hierarchical management structures – however, they laid down guide lines and structures and you ignored them at your peril. If these behaviours were nipped early there would not be the same problems; ignoring them or excusing them enables and embeds them making them the norm. The victim is then often accused of harassment. The diversity of behaviours is wonderful as long as they remain within accepted norms. The oh she’s /he’s just like that! This is a copout for spoilt and ignorant behaviour. There is usually a lack of self-control on the bully’s part and that would be mirrored throughout all of their activities. There is talk upon talk about bullying and unacceptable behaviours but no one actually does anything because whistle blowers are not protected and there is more concern about the well-informed perpetrator’s possible reaction than protecting the victims. Very few people are willing to stand up and say this is not right and when they do there is no support because managers are ill-equipped and not trained to handle these problems firmly and too frightened of the unions and the publicity generated. It is easier to promote the bully or transfer the problem and the problem is usually seen to be the victim. There is much discussion about people’s rights – how about the right of all employees o work in a safe and harmonious workplace? Not everyone needs to like everyone else or be friends – simple professional behaviour will be sufficient.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This type of conduct and a work environment where this type of unacceptable and unprofessional behaviour is enabled is a direct result of mis management. The NUM of those departments with these types of personalities is responsible for guiding, shaping and nurturing the culture of the department. They should be performce managing these personalities to either confirm or manage them out but it must be done with procedural fairness to mitigate risk of unfair dismissal as these types of personalities are often well aware of their rights. Having said that, it is my opinion that most NUM are not adequately trained, advised or supported in this HR function so it is nearly always mismanaged and ends up costing hospitals more than they realise. When bullies are enabled and embedded, the problem stays in the department and people come and go because of it..good people.. the hospital losses lots of money in recruitment and training costs…many good nurses have left the profession for this very reason.. in the end it is the Patient who suffers… the solution? Specialised performance disciplinary training for hospital execs and anyone in a Management rolls, zero tolerance on the floor, awareness campaigns sending the message that that all staff are entilted to come to work in a safe and healthy work environment both physically and mentally and that they have to right to call someone on their bullying behaviour and will be supported not ostracized. Make sure all employees understand the disciplinary pathway and consequences of their behavioural choices.


  12. I work in the largest hospital in our area. Our nurses treat students with respect and nurture them. That is for the most part. That is the good news.
    Here’s the truth. There are some young nurses that are the WORSE bullies. They are mean spirited, make fun of co workers and cry when called on their bad behaviour. We have senior nurses who overload other nurses with almost impossible assignments while they sit back. I have seen doctors, coordinators show bad behaviour to nurses. We have a strict code of conduct….at times I believe it is BS.
    It hurts my heart to see how others treat each other so poorly.
    I have a very high standard for work ethic. I used to try and teach that to my co workers. Not anymore. Feedback and guidance is not welcome and can be misinterpreted as criticism and harassment. It is muddy waters senior nurses find themselves in. I wish that we could all learn to play in the same sand box and get along. The common good is our patients. Did we not chose nursing because we love and care for people??? How about some of that for our selves❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I know how this feels – my first lost graduate year in 1985 I work with a bully. The other nurses told me that “her husband had left her and she was in a bad place so just ignore her” Ha ! she was ignorant and rude time after time I left at the end of my 12 month contract but always wish I had said something to her.


  14. I have just begun my training as an RN to get away from a pathology department where I work, where there is a bully who took a dislike to me from day 1. I’ve stuck up for myself, by myself on many many occasions when I’ve been bullied by this nasty witch who likes to think she own the Laboratory (she’s only a PT employee) and tells even the boss what to do. Yes and I’ve been told, “oh that’s just her” or “just ignore her” or ” people just have different personalities”, all by the boss and others in the Lab. Funny thing is, when I started working there, I was warned about her so she is obviously known. I spoke to the managers manager who said I should put in a written complaint with documentation. She got told this by ‘someone’ and made my life a living hell for 12 months. I was determined not to let her push me out the door and I’ve had some yelling matches with her at work, in front of the boss, who does absolutely Jack Shit and one of the last things she said to me was “don’t ever go there because you will never win!”. I dearly love my job in pathology, it’s my calling, but I can’t take the pressure anymore after 3 years of being treated like a doormat. Then I go and read something like this, what are we supposed to do?


    1. Like most people who read this post I am appalled , not only because you were bullied BUT you complained to your manager was not taken seriously. and then your so called confidential conversation was “leaked” legislation now days is when someone reports bullying to a supervisor and nothing is done, the supervisor can then be held accountable .
      I have been in that exact position were I was being bullied by a co-worker , who was yelling at me . Our NUM walked into adjacent room heard what was going on and walked out..up the corridor. What a joke. I then made up my mind to make an official complaint and accused .the co-worker re bullying and then went to arbitration . Her 1st warning.
      I also thought my communication with NUM would be confidential BUT different things were discussed in arbitration I had told no -one else but my manager.. I didn’t stay in that position for much longer. Now I hear from other past co-workers the bully is still employed and very proud of the fact she is a bully. (friend of the NUM) Friendship between co-workers should be left at front door , and picked up again as you leave the building Are we not professional????


  15. It’s a simple problem that goes through every industry. When I worked in fast food I was known by every manager in Perth and I worked at over thirty stores as they all had my phone number and would give me work to cover the holidays and sick days of their staff. Then my base store got a new manager – he was a huge bully. I got the last laugh though because I simply quit and he got in to a heap of trouble! I was lucky. I was able to do that but if I hadn’t had options I would’ve had to put up with it not knowing what to do. People need to learn to respect one another and work as a team. People have different strengths and different qualities and it is that that can make a team such as a nursing team excel. People need to learn to work as part of the team and not as the boss of everyone else.


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