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What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Hard Working Nurse Who Smells

by Anonymus RN

It happened in a hospital in the USA. I'm an RN, educated in the USA, graduated being already 42 years old. I have been working in the profession for almost 5 years on many different contracts in very hostile, chaotic hospital settings. My RN license has never been in trouble and there have never been complaints about my performance. I have "been safe, no harm " - nurse. However, being the only one with an eastern-european accent, each time I'm in a new environment it is never easy in my profession to have an accent. I become a target in nursing groups wherever I go. I'm that one who takes blame and never gets a chance to speak up because of being alone and different. Nurses and managers were frequently very hostile to me, treating me different than others with harsh discipline, making my working day very stressful, with the hope that I will not survive and quit.

It was one day before Thanksgiving and all nurses were planning to have an easy shift with minimum effort with no complicated patients. Someone had to do the hard work. The Nurse in Charge assigned all easy patients to her friends, well known nurses, providing them a lot of extra help. We were short of staff assistance. The Nurse in Charge made decisions so helpers and resources were taken away from me, assigning them to other nurses, so they will have easy shifts and will go home on time and not tired. I got an irrational assignment — 5 patients with some admits and discharges. I was sending patients to procedures, admitting them back, monitoring. One, a stroke patient, needed a sitter to stay by them. My charge nurse took the sitter away from him and assigned them to another patient who was in much better condition and didn't need a sitter — but his nurse didn't want any effort and monitoring. One of my patients was taken from their room with a bed and placed in the hallway! Because another nurse wanted her two patients in the same room — so it would be easier for her.

No one even notified me. Why? My patient was not able to speak for himself and needed a decreased stimuli environment because he was a stroke patient, but my Charge Nurse placed him in the hallway, waiting for the empty bed. I needed power for an IV infusion and to elevate the head of the bed. It was "temporarily impossible." The House Supervisor was notified and showed up… but it only caused more hostile behavior toward me form the other nurses in the future.

Any possible problem was created for my patients, which affected my performance and of course made it look like I was providing poor quality care. The orders were not entered by the Unit Clerk and patient's charts were held under her desk - so they hoped I will fail to follow up with care. (I found out later.)

I had a patient who was a very needy, young male without developed extremities… so I had to assist with feeding, grooming, toileting, cleaning, personal care and multiple tasks, responding to call lights… since there were no CNAs for me. I had to transfer this male on my own by Hoyer Lift in front his family and had to prepare him for discharge. I had to make multiple phone calls to clarify the orders for discharge. I had to find the Hoyer Lift in an unknown unit. I have been running via hallways in a hurry, tired, almost short of breath — while the others were chatting and having breaks and eating well. I had been responding to call lights frequently and nurses had been calling my name, knowing well I was busy.

By then it was dinner time. I had been working from 0700 am without any breaks, with cruel nurses all around. It reminded me of a work camp, a kind of slavery. I haven't eaten anything, I had no fluid, I was not able to go to the washroom. I never got free time for lunch or dinner or any break because my patients always had some extra work or transfer to be done.

Before the end of the shift I was asked on the side by one male nurse. He was also new in this area, just like me. He was the only one who tried to help me with transferring and heavy work. Nurses didn't like when he was helping me, so he was communicating with me very discreetly. He provided me with hospital's deodorant and spoke in a quiet and shy voice… "Take this, the Nurse In Charge, the Unit Clerk and nurses keep saying you smell."

Wow, I was grateful for this feedback. Thank you — yes! Thank you, I will use this… Yes, all day I'm running around, no food, no fluid, no chance to use the washroom for almost 12 hours… performing all kinds of tasks (many of them unsanitary), of course I will stink!

Soon the Charge Nurse is calling my name.

"RN you have a new admit from ICU." How many more today, I was thinking… Yes, I said, let me say something now, another new admit?! Yes, how about if I take a break like you took and refresh myself? How about if I go to BR? How about if I eat something? (I was 116 lb) I smell? Don't I??? Let me refresh myself.

The Charge Nurse spoke "Are you refusing a new admit?" Okay. I left, to another room (but in reality I still didn't leave yet. While waiting behind the door, I heard the conversation: The Charge Nurse and Unit Clerk are now giving a bad time to the male nurse who provided me with the deodorant and the reason for it "Why did you tell her — why??" Now you will take her admit!

It was almost the end of the shift and he got my admit. I was in trouble for speaking up. The next day was my Thanksgiving!! Thank you God?? Why such cruel behavior from nurse to nurse? Why so much hostility directed toward me? What have I done?… except I'm an immigrant, the RN who got educated in the USA, paying loans, trying to live within my means, trying to start a retirement plan after 40 years old!

Soon more false accusations were made, more false stories were told to my managers I had no chance to clarify and I got terminated. No reason was listed. I was forced to sign some "blank paper".

I never defended myself, like I never do in similar situations. I got used to this type of harassment. It is expected no matter where I go.

Always something will be done, hostile behavior, shouting at me, false accusations — and sooner or later I will be terminated. There is a law, in reality "no law at all for the poor and immigrants like me." "The employer can do anything" I was told by a local lawyer. There are no unions for nurses, no organizations to protect some good nurses who are disappearing in silence. There is no one to speak up to. This type of health management reminds me of times of tyranny.

Comments for Hard Working Nurse Who Smells

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why can't we just all get along?
by: Anonymous

There are some mean and ugly people out there, but just know this, every morning when you look in the mirrow, YOU can hold your head up high and feel good about yourself. Why? because you care and your thoughtful and you don't spend your time being mean and trying to make others sad. You shouldn't have to leave that work place,but I do know why we do. I hope you find another job where people will appreticate you because it would be a great loss on our society when we loss good caring people to ugly mean cruel co-workers. I'm glad that the doctor showed you some compassion, it gives all of us in these situations a little bit of hope.
My parents are from a Eurpeon background. They too had their struggles. I grew up in Canada and is very much blonde blued eyed and 'chicken white' I have had times where I was picked on for not having dark skin/hair, but nothing distrubing. I like to think that my generation witnessed it growing up, hated that others where hated because of differences, and have learnt much from it and is now passing on this lesson to our children so that the world will be a better place. It has to start from somewhere.
Hold your head high! Good people will see you for who you are, and for those ugly co-workers, well they have to get up and look into that mirror too. Ever wonder who they see? Ever wonder what their children are learning from them? Frightening isn't it.
Let us hold our heads high and make this a good,safe,kind caring world for all our children. Don't allow those co-workers to take away who you are, don't let them get to you, move on, keep smiling, don't quit now, we need good kind caring people in this world. :)

from RN who smells
by: Anonymous

Thank you for your comment. It was needed and very supportive.
I have a job at this time in a local Nursing Agency but I don't get enough shifts.
I have no health insurance ( RN !). I have been saving money, eating very little. I have been renting a small apartment. The rent is very high. I even don't make enough for rent in Ca.
Suddenly when I have more RN experience & my English got much better, I have been getting less chances for Travel RN contracts & more false comments in eval. at the end of contracts so I will not be extended. I'm aware, I will never be recommended by previous places for high skills units, even if I meet all possible requirements (only good intentions & orientation ) recommendations are always required. So, even if I have BSN degree in nursing & all possible licenses up to date and current, I will be that one who will have less chance to climb up in my career. One step ahead, one step back & this is how I have been going in this profession during my last 7 years o( usually during Travel Nurse Contracts). I never had my own house, since I have not been extended or kept in area for perm. after my Travel RN assignments. No stability, isolated, lonely like sailing boat on ocean. However stronger than the others. I don't know how many more challenges I have to go through in my journey. I pray to the Lord, please save me from more trouble.
I'm 55 y.o., just paid students loan & have no retirement plan & I never took vacations to exotic places. I have been only offered night shifts ( like I don't need good sleep at my age). I have been told to retire & judged I can afford but I have no retirement built in USA, I haven't even built SS. If I would not have been treated different during my contracts, my life would look very different today.

Not All Nurses are Kind and Caring
by: Anonymous

I have been a RN for 25 years. I am a quiet person and don't defend myself. I have been working at the same hospital for 10 years. Many of the bullies in this organization are attracted to management positions. Most of them will give bad assignments to their targets, fully knowing this is setting them up for patient and physician complaints and mistakes that threaten their nursing license. I have been the target of my current supervisor for the last five years. Other bullying RN's seem to easily recognize me a an easy target and a month ago, as I was concluding bedside report with her at the end of my 12 hour shift, made a comment that nothing had been done for my entire shift. This was in front of my patient. I was standing there by the patient's bed when she said this in shock and then she rudely added, "you can go, now." I walked to the nurses station and when she came back to the nurses station I confronted her telling her not to speak to me like that in front of a patient and I added that she did not know what I did that day. She notified the supervisor
and I was written up for acting unprofessional at the nurses station and told that I should have blown it off or let a supervisor know about her behavior and I had to sign a write up. I also had to endure a evaluation with this bullying manager with her telling me I was uncaring. I have spent my day off crying. I am 57 years old and I still need to work because I need medical benefits. My self worth is so low right now that I don't believe I can get another job but I don't know if I can go back for more of this. This same manager has caused some other good RN's to quit and go to other places because she has written them up and said they did things that they did not do. I have read articles on this bullying in the workplace and it seems that nursing is one of the worse areas to work for bullying. I had not really experienced it so much until I began working at this hospital. I am a Christian and I believe that people who do this are influenced by evil spirits. And I do believe that I get attacked more because I have integrity.

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