Nurse bullying can be subtle, such as eye rolling, staring, the tone of voice, ignoring, and giving short answers. It becomes bullying behavior when a trend develops and the nurse consistently relies on this behavior to deal with their frustrations. This is an old issue in nursing, and largely not well defined or addressed by management. Transgressions need to be dealt with quickly and clearly, however, fears of retribution and lack of confidence in finding a resolution prevent consistent reporting.
“Just don’t let them see you cry.” This was the advice a colleague of mine received from her peer after the oncoming charge nurse berated her for what was perceived as a poor patient assignment plan. This colleague of mine has over 20 years of nursing experience and deserves the respect of her teammates. This particular incident was brought to the nurse manager who simply stated that she could see the rationale for the patient assignment from both sides. The condescending, intimidating approach by the oncoming nurse was not addressed. This was an empty victory for the victim since the patient assignment she designed was only weakly validated by the nurse manager.
Is this the best we can do? Peer-to-peer counseling is reduced to not letting the bully see them get the upper hand and management is sidestepping the behavior. Is this even a safe patient care environment to work in when one or more nurses in the unit rely on fear to affect change?