Have you ever worked with a nurse who is clinically excellent but mean and nasty? I once worked with a nurse who everyone (including the physicians) wanted at the bedside when a patient was coding but was meaner than a junkyard dog! If you were on fire she wouldn’t have the decency to spit on you! The unit manager was approached many times about her behavior but her response was always the same, “How can I terminate her when clinically she is a brilliant nurse? She’s my best nurse!”

Is it acceptable to keep a nasty nurse employed because she is clinically brilliant?

I once worked with a unit manager who said this when interviewing:

“I can teach you how to be a good neuro nurse. But if God and your mother didn’t teach you how to be a nice person – I don’t want you here. I can forgive errors in clinical practice but I will never forgive errors in behavior.”

Imagine if managers gave equal weight to behavior as they did to clinical performance.

Don’t succumb to the disguise: To be a good nurse, you need to be clinically excellent AND treat everyone with respect. We all need to stop accepting bad behavior just because the person has great skills. It’s not okay to treat others poorly – period.

What is YOUR opinion about working with “brilliant” nurses? Keep them or lose them?

I would LOVE to read your comments!!

ReneeThompson_013_HRThanks so much for reading. Take care and stay connected!


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Dr. Renee Thompson works with healthcare organizations who want to overcome the leadership and clinical challenges their people face every day. If you’d like to find out more about her programs, please visit her website www.reneethompsonspeaks.com.

Contact Renee today at renee@rtconnections.com to bring her to your organization to talk about ending the cycle of nurse bullying.