The Case of the Negative Newbie
Positive, constructive feedback is necessary to improve behavior
Gretchen is an experienced orthopedics nurse who is currently precepting new grad nurse Tammy. Although she is progressing well clinically, Tammy has a condescending attitude towards the support staff. She makes negative comments about them in the break room and rolls her eyes when they ask questions.
Once, when another nurse asked for Tammy’s help in cleaning a patient, Gretchen overheardTammy say, “Get the CNAs to do it. They’re used to the dirty work.”
We often associate workplace incivility with established cliques and hostile old hands, but it sometimes starts with the arrival of new nurses with bad attitudes. If not corrected, this negativity can lead to a toxic work environment.
What should be done to set a nurse like Tammy on the right path?
Although many nurses believe it’s the manager’s responsibility to address personnel problems, any staff member who witnesses negative or disruptive behavior (e.g., yelling, cursing, derogatory comments, gossiping) should speak up. In the case described on the facing page, the preceptor, Gretchen, witnessed Tammy’s unprofessional comments. However, so did the nurse who asked Tammy for help. If Gretchen didn’t intervene, that other nurse had a responsibility to address Tammy’s rude comments.
Prepare a Script
When they witness disrespectful or disruptive behavior, many nurses don’t know what to say, so they say nothing. It’s easy to get caught off-guard in the moment, so the key is to have simple, powerful “scripts” prepared ahead of time. What could Gretchen have said when she overheard Tammy’s comments about “dirty work”?