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What can nursing staff do if their unit manager overlooks concerns about bullying by a clinical nurse manager?


Hi Donna,

I work in a hospital and have two bosses, a clinical manager and a nurse manager. My clinical manager is a bully. She will insult and embarrass staff in front of people. She harasses staff, constantly changes rules and allows some staff, such as our nursing assistants to sit and mess around and not do their jobs. There was a recent incident where the PCA was sitting watching TV on her phone and nothing was said to her about the situation. Meanwhile, an RN wrote on the assignment board with a red marker and she was reamed out in front of everyone at the nurses’ station.

Numerous staff members have spoken to our nurse manager about the bullying and how we all are walking on eggshells, but the nurse manger just makes excuses. She tells us the clinical manager knows people in high places so she has to be careful when handling the situation. Nothing ever gets done about the clinical manager’s behavior, and the situation just gets worse each day. What can I and my co-workers do to make our situation better? We love the floor we work on but most of us are looking for new jobs all because of our clinical manager.

Highly Anxious

Dear Highly Anxious,

Most organizations have strict policies against harassment, abusive behavior and hostile work environments. Familiarize yourself with your employer’s policy and the reporting mechanism. If the situation is not satisfactorily resolved through your supervisor, report it to your human resources department. Keep good personal records. Document any incident, isolated or ongoing, that occurs, including the date, witnesses, who said what and what action you took.

Read my column, “End workplace abuse” ( for additional information and advice. This column also includes actual abuse questions I have received on this topic.

You might consider consulting a nurse attorney first to help you and your coworkers navigate your way through the process of filing a formal complaint with human resources. You don’t need to consult an attorney to file a complaint but the attorney may be able to advise you how to give your complaint the most credibility and protect yourselves from employer retribution.

Best wishes,


About Author

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is’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 and, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://www.

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