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Can you help this person? They have a problem with
Workplace Bullying and need some advice.


See the next submission
This is the original problem from an employee...
I have been a nurse since 2001...since then I have only worked obstetrics. I have about 4 years of experience because I took a year and a half off when our 7 year old passed away, and then in 2005 I injured my back and was off for 2.5 years following surgery and rehab. I am now back at work and since then I have moved from my original position on post pardum to a position on Labor and Delivery.

I live in Canada and work in a small hospital where we deliver about 150 babies a month. With only 5 labor, 2 antenatal, and 16 post pardum beds, we are SUPER busy.

So when I was working on the PP side of the unit, I would always hear about how L&D nurses are cliquey and have very strong personalities. There was this fear created among us newer nurses that the two units were at a rivalry or something. Nobody wanted to work L&D because of that gossip and the fear of being run off. So when I came back to work after being off for nearly 3 years, my original position was a full time one and I only wanted part time. So it was suggested by my employer that I work on L&D since there was a part time position there.

So I took the position...the surgeon restricted me to only working 8 hour shifts instead of the regular 12's that everyone else works. It was in no way my choice. The union's (thus my employer's)duty to accommodate was such that my shifts be only 8 hrs. The only person so far to give me any flack about it has been my unit supervisor. She's given me comments such as "why don't you go and work on surgery where they work 8 hour shifts? You could go there right now this morning!" and "we don't work 8's here, we work 12's", and "I worry for you because of how your peers are going to treat you in regards to your 8 hour shifts".

I understand that a lot of nurses have families, etc and want to work 8 hour shifts, but why should I be treat any different or worse because the circumstances arose that my doctor restricted me to this. Our Alberta nursing union is very strong and there wasn't any question regarding my return to the was going to happen because reducing my hours wasn't going to put the unit in any "undue hardship or circumstance" as the union states.

So far, I haven't personally met any Resistance from co-workers, however, the nurse senior (28 yrs on the unit) that is orientating me has said that there is an "undertow" there and that some of the other nurses are upset about it. So I'm being talked about behind my back and I really do not know how to handle all of this. I feel like I am going to high school with a bunch of kids....I am 32 and too old for all of this!

There is one nurse that used to work post pardum with me and she is VERY condescending towards me. She won't say "hi" to me, she wont smile at me or say anything more than she has to with me (I've tried....and I haven't been able to get a response from her yet). Years ago when we were working PP together, she did something VERY unprofessional towards me and she was verbally reprimanded for it.

I had made two med wastages in one shift and she was working charge that day. She came up to me towards the end of our day shift and right in front of the unit clerk, a doctor, and two other nurses, she stuck her chest out like she was coming down on top of me and said, "so what's with the two med wastages today?" I was so taken aback and embarrassed. Everyone stopped talking and looked at me and waited for me to answer. I turned beet red and fumbled for the answer. The reasons were legit and both the wastages were signed for by myself and another nurse. So then she went to my supervisor about it and told her that I had made the two supervisor confronted me about it and I told her the manner in which this other nurse had approached and bullied me in front of everyone and all. Ever since then, she's been viewed by myself as a bully and very condescending. In fact one other co-worker made the same comment about her in an unrelated conversation.

I don't talk about anything like this at work. I don't gossip or tell others about my concerns with home life or problems that arise at work. I've learned in the past that people can stab you in the back and things can blow up in your face so quickly that you don't know what hits you. So I keep my mouth shut and look for support elsewhere.

All I want to do is work and learn and help deliver babies. I love my job and I've been told by my patients on numerous occasions that I am an excellent nurse. I've had patients leave cards and stuff for me and mention my name in thank you cards. I know I am a caring and compassionate nurse. It just seems like I cannot gain some of my co-workers' respect. I haven't done anything in the past to give anyone the idea that I am not trustworthy or a person that doesn't deserve the same respect and dignity as any other co-worker. I just find that some of the staff that know me from before I went off with my back injury, do not treat me well or very welcoming. They ignore me.

You know, when I went off with my back injury and I had surgery, not one person came to visit me two floors up. I was in the hospital for three weeks. In fact, I would come down to the unit on nights when I needed to go for a walk and I used my hospital employee card to access the unit to visit with the girls. Can you believe it that someone actually reported me for using my pass card to enter the unit. There isn't any rules against it I found out later, but I just couldn't believe that someone would do such a scumbag thing to me. Here I am in the hospital, back injury and all, and they did that to me. I was sooooooo hurt and felt betrayed by my own family. And I never did find out who did it but I have narrowed it down to four staff members (the ones who were working that night).

So now that I'm back at work, any new staff that have come since I've been off have all been really great and I've found them very welcoming. Some of the other staff........well lets just say that I've been back at work for almost a month and a half and there are some that still haven't said Hi to me or "welcome back"....the bully nurse included in that one!

I just don't get it....and I'm not trying to make myself look like an angel or anything, but it just seems like I don't fit into cliques and stuff (I really dont' want to anyways) and when there is something to pick on someone about, there are those few that rise to the occasion very nicely. So when I came back with these 8 hour shift restrictions....well lets just say that I probably won't get off that easy with my co-workers whether it's right or not. I don't think I've heard the end of it.

My unit manager made it seem like it was my fault that I would be leaving four hours earlier than everyone else and there wouldn't be anyone to fill in for me. Well that's HER job to find someone for those 4 hours when I leave after 8 ,not MINE!! But of course, I'm the one leaving and so I will be the one to pay for it....not her.

Why does work have to be this way??? I just want to do my job and stay clear of workplace politics. I just feel so vulnerable and I find myself shutting down at work and keeping to myself too much...I also find myself coming and going to and from work feeling very angry. I know that if it becomes too much then I can go to my union about it (workplace bullying and unprofessionalism) but when you do that, it can bite you in the butt later as well because then you are labeled a "tattletale". I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. Any suggestions before it gets worse?  
Employee: anonymous
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A visitor of this site offers this as a possible solution...
You have had a lot to deal with in a few short years. That being said, your first priority is good self care. What does that bring to mind for you? Respond to those promptings above everything else. If you find that you need right now support from others because of your situation, look for it outside of your work environment. Get the nurturing that you need, first and foremost to charge your batteries. When you are taking care of yourself, these other people will lose power in their effect on you. Be with those who build you up; or get involved with something with people who share your interests. You have a life, and you need to protect your health so you can enjoy it.
Contributor: visitor
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