10 Tips for Working in a Hostile Nurse Work Environment

nurse work environment tipsBy Kathy Marshall, Contributor

As a travel nurse, you will be working in different types of nurse work environments.

You will be coming into a nurse environment as an outsider and will need to adapt to new processes and procedures.  

The good news is that most facilities are dealing with a shortage of nursing staff; therefore permanent employees will quickly appreciate your additional help and input.

But what if you encounter a nurse work environment that is hostile? As a travel nurse, how do you approach what can be a very difficult situation?

10 Tips for Working in a Hostile Nurse Work Environment

1. Understanding What Makes a Nurse Environment Hostile

This first tip appears simple, but it is necessary to truly understand what defines a hostile work environment. According to the Department of Labor, some examples of a hostile work environment include:

  • Discussing sexual activities.
  • Telling off-color jokes concerning race, sex, disability, or other protected bases.
  • Displaying sexually suggestive or racially insensitive pictures.
  • Using demeaning or inappropriate terms or epithets.
  • Sabotaging the victim's work.
  • Engaging in hostile physical conduct.

By informing yourself of your rights as an employee, you can be better prepared to handle conflicts that may arise if you find yourself in a hostile nurse work environment.

2. Stay Safe 

Working as a nurse comes with a multitude of challenges. Unfortunately, providing patient care while being in a hostile nurse environment only compounds those challenges.

Staying safe in a hostile nurse work environment is not always easy. As a travel nurse, you may have few connections that you can trust and may feel isolated. 

Maintain your professionalism and it will provide a clear picture that you are not the one in the wrong.

3. Don’t Take Sides 

As a travel nurse, you will learn how to quickly assimilate into a new assignment. This involves learning how to operate with fellow staff members in a nurse work environment. 

Make sure to not get caught up in workplace drama. Even though you may make friends quickly, you don’t know the history between coworkers.

[RELATED: Can’t Nurses Just Get Along?]

4. Proactive Vs. Reactive 

If you find yourself on the receiving end of a hostile nurse environment, make sure you don’t react. 

Obviously, if you are in physical danger, this does not apply. You should immediately remove yourself from the situation and notify the proper authorities.

By staying proactive vs. reactive, you will more likely remain calm and in control of your behavior and actions.

5. Report a Hostile Nurse Environment to the Next Level

Once assigned to your travel position, you will be required to fulfill a contracted amount of time in your nurse work environment. 

But if you are suffering in a hostile nurse environment, even a week can seem like an eternity.

If you have brought the conflict or issue to your supervisor’s position and nothing seems to be changing, consider taking it to the next level. 

6. Consider Leaving 

In the role of a travel nurse, your assignments in a nurse work environment will range in length of time.

If you find yourself in a hostile nurse environment and nothing is resolved, consider the terms of your contract. It may be possible that you are able to terminate the assignment. 

Speak with your travel nursing recruiter about your options—remember they are on your side.

7. Avoid a Hostile Nurse Environment

While not always the easiest to do, sometimes avoiding the problem can alleviate your conflict. 

Perhaps you are working with a nurse who is behaving in a hostile manner. See if you can be scheduled on a different shift or in a separate area.

Avoiding the person or problem does not mean you ignore the issue or don’t report the behavior. But sometimes removing yourself from the situation will be the quickest way to give you relief.

8. Document 

If you find yourself in a hostile nurse work environment, it is going to take more than your word to convince others there is an issue. 

Most companies have specific policies relating to harassment and workplace behavior.

Each instance or issue that arises needs to be documented and then brought to the appropriate supervisor’s attention.

9. Stay Professional

Though it may be difficult to remain calm in a hostile nurse environment, it is your duty to continue providing quality patient care. 

If you find yourself being limited or unable to function in your normal duties, it may be time to make a serious change.

Being a part of a team that offers 24/7 support can make a huge difference in your travel assignments, especially if you encounter a hostile nurse work environment.

10. Remain Aware 

If you find yourself working in a hostile nurse environment, make sure to keep yourself safe, alert superiors, and document any conflicts or encounters.

As a travel nurse, you will have the opportunity to work in many different environments and will be faced with challenges. Having the support of an understanding team can make all the difference.

Looking for a better nurse work environment? Browse hundreds of travel nursing jobs at top-ranked facilities across the U.S.

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