The Case of the Bitter Backbiters
Reduce professional jealousy by creating a culture where accomplishments are celebrated
Rosa is a BSN-prepared nurse who has worked for several years on a med/surg unit. She has always had a dream of becoming a nurse practitioner and recently decided to make that dream a reality by pursuing an online master’s degree program. She continues to juggle her shifts at the hospital with her courses, clinicals and tests.
When Rosa told her colleagues about her exciting plans, she was surprised to get a negative reaction, even from her manager. “You think having a master’s degree will make you better than us?” the manager sneered.
The other nurses are giving Rosa the cold shoulder. Suddenly, they’re unable to switch shifts to help accommodate her classes and study time. Rosa feels they are not only being unkind and unsupportive, but are intentionally sabotaging her efforts.
What’s going on here, and what can Rosa do about it?
As nurses, we pride ourselves on being lifelong learners, continuously seeking opportunities to expand our knowledge, improve our skills and explore new career directions. That’s such an important shared value within our profession that you’d naturally expect nurses to want to support each other’s endeavors.
Unfortunately, as Rosa discovered, some nurses are anything but supportive when it comes to their colleagues’ professional development and achievements.
Triggers: Awards, Degrees and Certification
A nurse who goes back to school to get a BSN or MSN may find that the other nurses exclude her from social events, gossip about and mock her, and spend a distressing amount of energy finding ways to pull her down. If the nurse’s intended degree is more advanced than the majority of their colleagues’, the others may say things like, “Oh, she’s too good for us now.”