Bullying in the Workplace: Tensions Run High for Travel Nurses

Written by Rose Torrento on Thursday, March 17, 2022 Posted in Industry News

travel nurse bullying

Let’s face it, travel nurses aren’t always welcome in their assigned facilities. Tenured staff members are likely stressed, overworked, and overwhelmed. The last thing they want to deal with is someone new coming in — someone who doesn’t know the ropes and isn’t familiar with the culture or processes of their facility. As a result, travel nurses often experience bullying, and whether it’s active or passive, bullying is unacceptable, and travel nurses do have recourse for handling it.

A less-than-warm welcome for travel nurses

Tenured staff don’t always take kindly to temporary nurses and can resent the fresh energy they bring with them. Staff also tend to distance themselves from travel nurses because they see them as passing through. After 13 weeks, travel nurses head off to a new assignment. Adding to the resentment is the idea that travel nurses get breaks from burnout, but staff nurses don’t.

Tenured staff may resort to bullying travel nurses as an unhealthy outlet for their stress. The nurse will leave in a few weeks anyway, so they assume there will be no repercussions for their actions. And since a travel nurse’s stay isn’t permanent, what’s the point in making them feel welcome?

Pay discrepancies may also lead to marginalization of travel nurses. Because of high demand, agencies incentivize travel nurses by offering lucrative contracts with high salaries. While it’s an effective strategy for filling hospital vacancies, differences in pay also cause tension between temporary and permanent staff.

How to address bullying in the workplace

Bullying in healthcare facilities comes in several forms. Offenses can range from refusing to engage with travel nurses to direct verbal abuse. Whether the mistreatment is subtle or extreme, how it makes you feel is important. Travel nurses have the right to report bullies and do their work in a safe, supportive environment.

There are several ways to deal with negative interactions, and every hospital should have policies in place to address bullying among nurses. Travel nurses can report bullying to a nurse manager and request intervention. If your manager is the one creating problems, take the incident to the hospital’s human resources department. And don’t forget, your recruiter always has your back. They can advise you on how to handle bullying effectively without escalating the situation.

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Learn to empathize with bullies

No travel nurse should have to put up with bullying, but the facility chain of command may take a while to resolve the issue. Adopting the right mindset can minimize the bully’s damage to your mental health.

Some bullies try to provoke a reaction. In these situations, the best way to respond is by not responding at all. Yes, their behavior is frustrating, but you can’t let their behavior dictate yours. Tenured staff are less likely to continue bullying if travel nurses seem unbothered by their actions.

Remember that most staff nurses are stressed and burned out, and their bullying comes from a place of pain. Meet their harshness with compassion, and you may see a change for the better.

Bullying is never acceptable. If you find yourself the target of animosity while on assignment, reach out to your Health Providers Choice recruiter for support. We’re here to advocate for you, especially when you’re the target of unfair treatment. Our goal is to help you succeed, so you can focus on doing what you do best: delivering exceptional patient care. Contact us online or call us today at 888-299-9800.

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About the Author

Rose Torrento

Rosemarie Torrento has worked in health care for more than 26 years, beginning as a registered nurse in 1988. Early in her nursing career, Torrento worked as a freelance contract nurse before accepting a position in nursing administration. During her 17-year tenure in that role, she oversaw nursing employment and travel nurse contracting at a Level 1 Trauma Hospital in Michigan. Understanding the challenges travel nurses faced, Torrento founded Health Providers Choice Inc. (HPC) in 2003. Through Torrento’s extensive experience and her role as President and CEO, HPC provides travel placement of registered nurses and allied health professionals to hospital systems nationally.