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I have been bullied by a charge nurse. Can I report her to the board of nursing?

Tuesday December 18, 2012
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Dear Donna,

My department has gone through a lot of changes with a new manager and charge nurse. The charge nurse has been ordering us around, saying she is there to run things as she sees fit. She has been rude, raising her voice and using intimidation. I informed human resources, but when they talked to her, she denied everything. I will be leaving my job, which I love, to avoid getting verbally abused and harassed. Can I report this nurse to the board? How can I help my colleagues deal with this bully?

Feeling Bullied

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Feeling Bullied,

It's always challenging to comment on this type of situation without knowing all the details and the players. That being said, every workplace should have policies in place on hostile work environments. Although you already informed human resources, presumably on an informal verbal basis, your next step would be to check the organization's problem-solving policy and initiate a written complaint in accordance with the established protocol. If all else fails, you and your co-workers can seek legal counsel, if you feel you have been the victims of harassment. You also should mention the situation in your exit interview.

Because this is a problem for the entire nursing staff, you should talk as a group to your department manager. You said human resources approached the charge nurse, but she denied everything. If the entire department makes a complaint, it has much more weight. In the interim, you should at least keep detailed records of what is being said and done by the charge nurse and your own actions to bring this to the attention of your supervisors, the response you get and when.

I'm not sure that this is something reportable to the board of nursing. But you might want to discuss this with a nurse attorney before proceeding further.

You may find this article helpful: “End workplace abuse” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/End-Workplace-Abuse).

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.