“Nerdy Nurse” Offers Lateral Violence Resources

“Nerdy Nurse” Offers Lateral Violence Resources

Ever heard the expression “Nurses Eat Their Young”? Somehow it’s meant to be humorous, though those who’ve experienced that abuse know it’s anything but.

Perhaps you, right now, are a victim of a of bullying from other health care “professionals.” Where can you turn? First, take a look at what Brittney Wilson, RN, BSN, the blogger behind thenerdynurse.com, has compiled on the topic.

She has been researching and sharing her findings about the topic ever since experienced nurse-on-nurse bullying during her three years as a floor nurse, many years ago. Now it is one of her areas of expertise.

It’s important to start in the right place on the Nerdy Nurse’s comprehensive site, so you don’t get lost.  (It also covers technology topics – thus the name – as well as items of interest in the day-to-day life of nurses, such as the most comfortable shoes for men and women).

My pick for where to begin your research is this post, called “Nurses Eat Their Young: Resources for Lateral Violence” because in it Brittney curates from all over the web and beyond. These are resources that she herself found or that readers submitted to her – all are useful.

You can go to the type of resource that appeals to you: books, scholarly articles, posts from around the blogosphere, discussion forums, and CE credit offerings from professional organizations. And the list of options under each category is not skimpy – I counted 12 articles.

For a detailed resource on lateral violence and nurses, you may want to choose from these three books that Brittney recommends:

  • Confident Voices: The Nurses’ Guide to Improving Communication & Creating Positive Workplaces – By Beth Boynton RN MS
  • Ending nurse-to-nurse hostility: why nurses eat their young and each other- By Kathleen Bartholomew
  • From Silence to Voice: What Nurses Know and Must Communicate to the Public – Suzanne Gordon & Bernice Buresh

For my money, the personal experience posts on The Nerdy Nurse site itself are the most instructive (she also lists them under their own category). You get a blow-by-blow (excuse the term) account of a young nurse’s life was made a living hell by a group of hostile co-workers, and how she overcame the abuse.

In one blog post (titled “Respect and Dignity”) Brittney gives this overview of her situation – it’s gripping:

“I was being called a liar, incompetent, and made to look a fool. At the most difficult point in my young life, pregnant, postpartum, the death of my mother, and as a new grad nurse, I had this lovely stressful nugget to add to my plate. Everyday I had to make the best of the situation where the other nurses refused to help my patients and I suffered. Unlike many, I did speak up, and often. Yet for fear for the loss of my job, and the livelihood of my family, I kept continuing to go to an unsafe work environment in the hopes that eventually, somehow, it would stop.”

You’ll find a lot of value in reading Brittney’s other posts about how her story twists and turns, first to another shift (away from her tormentors), and then into a new direction — clinical informatics.

How about you – do you have a favorite resource that helps you deal with a hostile work environment? If so, we’d love to hear about it.

Jebra Turner is a health writer in Portland, Oregon. Visit her online at www.jebra.com.

“The Nerdy Nurse” Blogs on Bullying

“The Nerdy Nurse” Blogs on Bullying

Brittney Wilson, RN, BSN, also known as “The Nerdy Nurse,blogs at thenerdynurse.com and authored The Nerdy Nurse‘s Guide to Technology. But a love of technology wasn’t the genesis of her blogging journey.

“What led me to starting my blog was a negative experience as a floor nurse. I was bullied by most everyone in the department. I complained to everybody I could, but nothing happened,” she remembers. “Then I went online to see if anyone had experienced some of the same things and could maybe help me. I started compiling information on lateral violence in nursing, and sharing it on my blog.”

Wilson worked on that floor for three years, and finally did see improvement in the bullying situation. But it came after she’d decided to train in clinical informatics as a way of combining her interest in both nursing and technology.

What turned things around? Plenty of difficult conversations with her manager and HR. “My boss got disgruntled with me when I brought up the term harassment. But then she backed off. Basically, when I let her know that I felt she was allowing the situation to occur, and that legally it was an issue, then her tune changed,” she explains.

“Also, I was ultimately moved to night shift. Getting away from the toxic nurses really made a big improvement, and I think being on night shift and being ‘out of sight/out of mind’ of the manager made things much easier for me.”

Wilson encourages nurses who are being bullied to speak up. Ask co-workers and even patients who witnessed the harassment to speak to management, but don’t count on it. Ask your manager to conduct an investigation into your claims by interviewing other staff members.

What if that doesn’t improve the situation? Wilson suggests 
a bullied nurse first start with “their manager, then director, then DON, and possible even the CEO. A nurse must make sure he/she has attempted to follow the chain of command before involving someone from outside the organization.” 

After that, consider then involving your nursing organization (if a member), state board of nursing, accrediting agencies, and news organizations.

Wilson believes that blogging about her personal experience of being bullied helped make her stronger as a person and as a nurse. (Sometimes growth is painful.)

Though the treatment she experienced from the bullies on her floor could never be excused, it ultimately led to her new career in informatics and a blog that’s helped other tormented nurses to survive and thrive.

Jebra Turner is a health writer in Portland, Oregon. You can visit her online at www.jebra.com.