Brittney Wilson, RN, BSN, also known as “The Nerdy Nurse,” blogs at thenerdynurse.com and authored The Nerdy Nurse's Guide to Technology. But a love of technology wasn't the genesis of her blogging journey.
“What led me to starting my blog was a negative experience as a floor nurse. I was bullied by most everyone in the department. I complained to everybody I could, but nothing happened,” she remembers. “Then I went online to see if anyone had experienced some of the same things and could maybe help me. I started compiling information on lateral violence in nursing, and sharing it on my blog.”
Wilson worked on that floor for three years, and finally did see improvement in the bullying situation. But it came after she’d decided to train in clinical informatics as a way of combining her interest in both nursing and technology.
What turned things around? Plenty of difficult conversations with her manager and HR. “My boss got disgruntled with me when I brought up the term harassment. But then she backed off. Basically, when I let her know that I felt she was allowing the situation to occur, and that legally it was an issue, then her tune changed,” she explains.
"Also, I was ultimately moved to night shift. Getting away from the toxic nurses really made a big improvement, and I think being on night shift and being 'out of sight/out of mind' of the manager made things much easier for me.”
Wilson encourages nurses who are being bullied to speak up. Ask co-workers and even patients who witnessed the harassment to speak to management, but don’t count on it. Ask your manager to conduct an investigation into your claims by interviewing other staff members.
What if that doesn't improve the situation? Wilson suggests a bullied nurse first start with “their manager, then director, then DON, and possible even the CEO. A nurse must make sure he/she has attempted to follow the chain of command before involving someone from outside the organization.”
After that, consider then involving your nursing organization (if a member), state board of nursing, accrediting agencies, and news organizations.
Wilson believes that blogging about her personal experience of being bullied helped make her stronger as a person and as a nurse. (Sometimes growth is painful.)
Though the treatment she experienced from the bullies on her floor could never be excused, it ultimately led to her new career in informatics and a blog that’s helped other tormented nurses to survive – and thrive.
Jebra Turner is a health writer in Portland, Oregon. You can visit her online at www.jebra.com.