Much as nursing is a helping career and nurses are supposed to be the most caring human beings on the planet, unfortunately, some nurses experience bullying by their coworkers.
All nurses face the potential of being bullied; however, nurses who are in the minority are usually at a higher risk because the bully sees them as an easy target.
Bullies target people they perceive to be weaker than they are.
When you are in the minority, particularly if you are a new nurse or new employee, the bully will realize that you already have more challenges to deal with than the regular nurse, and will take advantage of that.
Bullying can be defined as repetitive harassment from which the bully gets gratification.
It is important to differentiate this from getting yelled at by someone who was just having a bad day.
The bully will do stuff like making fun of the nurse, yelling and calling them names, withholding information from the nurse so that he or she fails; gossip about them, embarrass them in front of the doctor and other staff -among other unfair acts.
This causes the victim to feel defenseless, demoralized and traumatized.
If you realize that you are a victim of the bully, here are some things you can do.
Avoid unnecessary communication with the bully, Avoid asking them for help because they will help you happily and then turn around and use that against you or use it to intimidate you.
If they try to talk to you when you are unaware, don’t trust them and always be on your guard.
Do not allow yourself to get all emotional and cry in front of the bully because that is what they want to see. Be confident and let them know from the get go that you will not tolerate this kind of behavior. If you have to confront them, make sure you have a witness who is neutral and not on the bully’s side.
Work on improving your skills so that you are competent in your work.
Leave no room for the bully to find mistakes in your work and use them to intimidate you.
Make friends with other staff who will be on your side and support you against the bully. When you are popular and have many friends, the bully will leave you alone because you have an army of people on your side.
Don’t keep it to yourself
Imagining that if you ignore the bully they will leave you alone is far from the truth.
They get gratification from the act of bullying, and the more you do nothing about it, the more they will harass you -making it worse every other time.
Keeping the bully’s actions to yourself will only hurt you. The bully needs to be exposed and the authorities need to know what’s going on. Hopefully they will take action and support you.
Inform the manager and put it in writing. Keep a copy for yourself so that if nothing is done, you have evidence should you want to take the matter further.
Inform the human resource department first, before involving an outsider like your lawyer. Usually they will investigate to see if what you claim is true.
Support the minority nurse
Pay attention and look out for nurses who may be getting bullied, particularly those in the minority.
Support and stand up for them.
Avoid providing an audience for the bully. They love getting the attention while they hurt others.
Even though it is easier to ignore the bully when you notice others being hurt, ignoring this behavior is as bad as participating in it.
The great Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil -is that good men do nothing.”
For nurses to take good care of their patients, they need to work in a safe and caring environment.
Nurses need to come together and come up with a law against nurse bullying so that bullies can have their licenses revoked.