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During a meeting, my nurse manager personally attacked my character. Is this a breach of the code of professional conduct?

Monday October 8, 2012
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Dear Nancy,

During a private meeting, my nurse manager called me dictatorial, autocratic and lacking insight — with no evidence to back up these accusations. Is this a breach of the code of professional conduct for nurses? I have never had such a personal attack on my character before. This situation is causing me great distress.


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Helen,

It sounds as though the relationship between you and your nurse manager is not the best it could be. Personality conflicts in professional relationships happen on a regular basis. It would be difficult to call this conversation a "violation of the code of professional conduct for nurses" without more information. Although getting along with nurse colleagues is an important aspect of a nurse's obligations when working with others, your nurse manager does need to be able to evaluate nursing staff and provide feedback to help rectify problems and develop a staff nurse's full potential.

You did not say whether your nurse manager provided you with ways to improve your alleged shortcomings. It would be great if that did occur, so you can begin to try and change your conduct. Then during the next meeting with your nurse manager, he or she might be able to acknowledge changes and growth in these areas.

If you believe the allegations about your conduct are without merit, you might ask for another meeting with your nurse manager to clarify what was observed or what complaints were received about you, so that you can counter any false information or undocumented concerns.


Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.