How should I handle a stressful work environment created by my rude, controlling charge nurse?

By | 2022-02-14T17:45:05-05:00 February 2nd, 2011|0 Comments


Dear Nancy,

My charge nurse is a controlling micromanager who is rude and will follow nurses around until they accomplish her goals. She uses sarcastic remarks to degrade others. I took two weeks of stress leave because of her harassment.

Three complaints were made against her through an anonymous complaint line. She has decided I called in the complaints, which is not the case. She has treated me unfairly and rudely, even restricting me from getting shifts that were needed. She also has encouraged her friends in our facility to treat me poorly.

My work environment is much worse than it was when I took the stress leave. I tried to clear the air with my charge nurse. She blew up, telling me that if I didn’t tell her the truth that she wouldn’t let me do my job. Even after explaining that I did not file the complaints, she continued to try to intimidate me with mean looks. I am concerned for my safety and that of my patients. What should I do? I didn’t make any complaints before but I think I should now.


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Ann,

The work environment you describe and the relationship with your charge nurse are not acceptable. It also sounds as though the charge nurse is not popular with other nursing staff, and it is surprising this situation has not been addressed by nursing administration.

You might want to file a grievance over any of the charge nurse’s behavior that would serve as a basis for a complaint under the employer’s grievance policy. Most often, the policies are broad and allow the filing of a grievance for an unfair discipline, harassment and the inability to be treated fairly (as defined by the employee), as examples. Your concern about your safety and that of the patients must be addressed. You might want to ask a nurse attorney or attorney to coach you as you file the initial grievance and go through the grievance process.

It might also be important to confidentially discuss this issue with the CNO to whom the charge nurse reports. Have any of the complaints gone to him or her? Has human resources been made aware of the problems with the charge nurse? It might well be that it is the charge nurse who needs some time off from work or other interventions to help her with her conduct.

Clearly, keeping all of these happenings at the unit level will result in little, if any, change.



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