Many traveling healthcare professionals end up on the road in part to avoid workplace drama, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Enter the workplace bully.
Identify a workplace bully by these behaviors:
- Putting you down in front of patients or other healthcare professionals
- Frequent and unnecessary aggressive responses, excessive rudeness and verbal abuse
- Repeatedly dismissing requests for assistance because “you should know how to do the job” (i.e., they aren’t busy and go out of their way to deny help), or other acts of workplace “sabotage”
- Threats and intimidation behaviors
You should always let your recruiter know if you are experiencing bullying, but here are some other tips to consider.
Practice kindness and patience
Focus on what you can control, which is your response to what is happening around you. Practice the behaviors you wish were happening to you and spread some “sugar” during your 13 weeks. If you don’t change the situation by modeling better behavior, then try ignoring it altogether. It’s not very likely the behavior will continue for the entire assignment if you’re not providing the bully with what they desire—a reaction.
Calmly confront your co-worker
If you’re comfortable doing so, stand up for yourself! Calmly describe what you noticed happening and how it affects your work, and firmly state how you expect to be treated as a professional going forward. Best-case, they may not have realized they were acting in a hurtful way. It’s very important not to return any of their negative behavior during a confrontation. Pay attention to your posturing in addition to how you are verbally communicating.
Report to management
If the bullying behavior continues to happen, document each event’s date and time, what occurred, and the names of any co-workers who witnessed the behavior. As a last resort, let your concerns be known to onsite management and provide your documentation. This puts responsibility on the manager and human resource department to respond per facility policies and guidelines. Share the documentation with your recruiter, and let them know who you met with, when, and what was discussed.
Bullying can be tough to handle, especially when as a traveler you’re (literally) going out of your way, across the country sometimes, to help a facility in need. Just remember that your recruiter will always have your back. An informed recruiter is better able to “go to bat” for you, whether that means reaching out proactively to onsite management on your behalf, or providing damage control in worst-case scenarios.