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Trib Total Media: Nurse-to-nurse bullying more than just a sore point

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

By Deborah Weisberg

Registered nurse Renee Thompson of South Park will never forget the moment that almost ended her career, but ultimately inspired her to tackle what she calls an unspoken epidemic: nurse-to-nurse bullying.

“When I was just starting out, a supervisor who was always yelling at me called me an idiot in front of a physician I really respected because I could not get a copy machine to work,” Thompson says. “I was on the verge of tears when the doctor took me aside, and said, ‘My dear, why would you ever let anyone less capable and intelligent talk to you in this way?’

“If he hadn’t said that, I might have quit, but he changed my whole attitude.”

Thompson confronted the supervisor about the demeaning behavior, and began to pay more attention to similar incidents among colleagues.

As she moved from bedside to administrative nursing, she realized how prevalent bullying is, Thompson says. “When I’d meet with new nurses, all they wanted to talk about was how poorly they were being treated by other nurses. It reminded me of my own experience and put me on a path of wanting to impact the problem.”

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