How to turn a bully into a mentor

Stories - Sign Theme Nurse Bullying NoI had been an RN for about two months enduring the 3-11 shift on a surgery floor. The first night post-op for most patients seemed either full of nausea and vomiting or pain. A patient was admitted from the ER with a possible bowel obstruction at about the mid-point of my shift.

We were prepping the patient for surgery – NPO, enemas, and an NG Tube. A nurse told me that it was protocol to give the patient a can of Ensure for nutrition prior to making them NPO.  I didn’t know all the policies and procedures yet, but I knew what NPO and bowel obstruction meant (never doubt good common sense).

This nurse was one of the worst for giving me a hard time, so I was fairly certain I was being set up. I turned the tables on her as she was intent to follow me to see if I would do it.

I had her stand there and assist as I gave the enema, then handed the patient the can of Ensure and said, “I need you to hold onto this while I pass your NG tube. This nurse wants to know if you want to drink it for nutrition, but you don’t have to since the NG tube will just pull it back out.”

She was horrified that I called her bluff.  We left the patient’s room and she said, “I can’t believe you did that. I wouldn’t have let you go through with it, it was meant to be a joke.”

I told her it was meant to make a fool out of me and that it backfired on her. I had never confronted the nurse before but I told her that I wasn’t sure why she was intent on giving me a hard time instead of sharing her years of experience to help make me a better nurse.

S0mething about the way I handled this situation clicked with her. She never gave me a hard time again and, in fact, started inviting me to watch her perform various procedures that she thought might be new skill sets for me.

If you are a new nurse and a more seasoned nurse is bullying you, try serving them up a snack of their own cooking right back at them. It may lead them to have an appetite for mentorship rather than “eating their young” for dinner.

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