Nurses, Do Your Coworkers Have Your Backs?

Do your coworkers have your back or do they talk about you behind your back?

You probably have an answer to that question. Now, lets reverse the quiz.

Do you have your coworkers back or do you talk about them behind their back?

I recently spoke to a colleague about the challenges of working in a toxic Nursing unit. When we started on the unit, we both had experiences of hostility, bullying, cliques and the all too familiar situation of silence when a Nurse walks into the nursing station.

To be completely honest (and I encourage all of you to be as well), I’ve been on both sides of this question. I’ve been the Nurse that stood up for another Nurse when staff was trash talking about her. I’ve also been the Nurse that contributed to unhealthy gossip, perpetuating this insidious endemic in our profession.

It’s remarkable that my colleague and I survived the turmoil. There were a lot of casualties, at least emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically. We’ve taken very active personal steps to create a healthy relationship with the workplace. We both work per-diem, a choice that recently challenged us with uncertainty but ultimately provides tremendous flexibility and freedom.

With our personal lifestyle choices, the exodus of notorious nurse bullies and dramatic staff turnover, nothing stays the same. Change is hard but it can shake us out of autopilot mode. With new staff and new management, we have the opportunity to influence our surroundings. We can choose to be supportive or we can choose to continue the cycle of a toxic workplace.

It’s a choice and when you count the number of hours in your life that you spend at work, you might want to make a choice to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.