Nurses Must Protect Themselves from Ebola

Nurses Must Protect Themselves from Ebola

Any nurse concerned about being ill-prepared to care for Ebola patients should be able to refuse the assignment. So says the leader of the American Nurses Association [ANA].

“We strongly encourage nurses to speak up if they believe there is inadequate planning, education or treatment related to providing care to these or any patients, and seek to resolve any conflicts of responsibility swiftly,” said ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN.

“Nurses should have the right to refuse an assignment if they do not feel adequately prepared or do not have the necessary equipment to care for Ebola patients,” Cipriano said in a news release.

At Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital where Thomas Eric Duncan — the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. — died last week, nurses publicly stated that nurses treating him lacked protective gear and that protocols constantly changed. Two of those nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Joy Vinson, were diagnosed with Ebola. Texas Health Presbyterian officials defended its Ebola procedures, saying it followed CDC protocols, USA Today reported. 

Emory’s special isolation unit – one of five on the nation – has successfully treated three cases of Ebola without any medical professionals becoming infected. But even there, to allay fears, volunteers were sought and staff were allowed to decline the assignments, according to Forbes.

Around the world, about 400 health care staff have Ebola, and more than 230 have died, according to CNN.

Stopping Ebola in its tracks will require a global response to the crisis in West Arica and a collaborative approach involving interprofessional, state and federal organizations in this nation, said Cipriano.

Robin Farmer is a freelance content specialist with a focus on health, business and education. Visit her at


How to Tackle Nurse-on-Nurse Bullying

How to Tackle Nurse-on-Nurse Bullying

It’s common knowledge that bullies are mean, manipulative and moody. But do you know what to do when the bully is your boss?

Bullies exist in every workplace, but when nurses harass other nurses their harmful behavior can also affect patient care and safety.  

Bullying is described as acts perpetrated by one in a higher level of authority, according to the Center for American Nurses. Workplace bullying includes verbal abuse and offensive conduct such as work sabotage. Abusive behavior from your supervisor or colleagues can make you feel like you are walking around with a bull’s-eye on your back. Being berated repeatedly by a co-worker erodes confidence, leads to mistakes, breeds burnout and affects your health.

So how do you fight back without mimicking the bullying behavior? Here are steps to take to deal with abusive behavior on the job:

Speak up. Don’t suffer in silence. Ask for help. Go up the chain of command. Report the harassment to human resources if you have exhausted all recourses.

Learn your organization’s policies about bullying.

Keep your emotions in check. Bullies enjoy making you lose your cool. Remain rational.

Protect your health. Take care of yourself to deal with on-the-job stress. Make time to engage in a hobby or an activity that relaxes you. Eat well, exercise regularly and get a good night’s sleep. Doing so will help you better cope with the negativity at work.

Write down everything. Document incidents and problems. Save emails and other correspondence. Do not leave this information at work.

Keep interactions professional. Limit your encounters, if possible.

Create a supportive network at work. Having colleagues to talk to can minimize stress. They may also serve as witnesses.

Confront the bully.  Doing so may send a message that you are not an easy target. When standing up for yourself, try not to act like a bully with your response.

Nurses need a supportive work environment. Do your part to make sure bullies have no place on the job.