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Dealing with Nurse Bullying with JoNeil Smith Conley

JoNeil Smith Conley has been in nursing for many years. Nurse bullying was something that she saw happen and knew that it needed to change. So what did she do? She did her doctoral dissertation on bullying and came up with very interesting information, as well as solutions to deal with it.

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JoNeil Smith Conley

JoNeil Smith Conley has been in nursing for 44 years and has many academic accomplishments. The roles that JoNeil has held include bedside nurse, leader and consultant. She spent years researching nurse bullying within organizations and has great insight into the issue. She also developed a tool to decipher bullying from other negative styles of communication.

“It is not the nurse’s job to fix the bully. That’s administration’s job,” she says. JoNeil works with organizations to teach them how to work with bullies in healthcare and improve the culture of the hostile work environment. Her tip for nurses is for them to know their organization’s code of conduct – everyone should have an understanding of their employer’s expectations for behavior.

Nurse bullying can create toxic work environments and stress that ultimately leads to less than optimal patient care. Nurses suffer and often end up with symptoms of burnout. JoNeil helps those individuals gain courage to break free from the bullying behavior and deal with difficult individuals. If you work in a toxic work environment or are dealing with a nurse bully at work, reach out to JoNeil so you can live a more joyful life!

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About JoNeil

As an OR Nurse, Dr. Conley faced bullying by her preceptor, other nurses, and surgeons. Over the course of her career, she experienced and witnessed the negative impact of bullying on nurses’ emotional and physical well-being. The data from Dr. Conley’s doctoral study, Bullying in the Perioperative Nursing Workplace, supported the correlation between bullying acts and negative patient outcomes – including the death of healthy patients.

Dr. Conley has taken her experience and made it her passion. She is on a mission to work with nurses and organizations to change the consequences and outcomes from bullying in healthcare. Her expertise, practical tools, and strategies include implementing The Meanness Matrix and “How to Chart Bullying So Your Voice Is Heard.”

While Sr. Director of Talent Development for the Advisory Board Company, she worked with over 300 healthcare organizations, training and empowering staff and leaders in subjects such as disruptive behavior, conflict resolution, self-care, teamwork, negotiations, and many others. She has recently opened the Miss JoNeil’s School of Bullyology and Toxicity Taming. Students are currently being enrolled for Bullyology 101, which begins November 29th, 2021.

Connect With JoNeil

Episode Transcript

Voiceover: Welcome to Don’t Eat Your Young, a nursing podcast with your host, Beth Quaas. Before we get started, we have a few quick notes. Don’t Eat Your Young is a listener-supported podcast. To learn more about becoming a member and the perks available to you for becoming a patron yourself, visit patreon.com/don’teatyouryoung.

Voiceover: You can learn more about the show, share your story to join Beth as a guest, or connect with our wonderful community in our Facebook group. You can find all those links and more at donteatyouryoung.com. Now, on with the show.

Beth Quaas: We are so lucky today to have JoNeil Smith Conley here. She’s been a nurse for over 40 years. She knows a lot about both bullying because that is what she’s studying. JoNeil, tell us a little bit about yourself.

JoNeil Smith Conley: Well, thank you so much for having me today. I started my career a gazillion years ago. I was a diploma grad and I think there are very few of us left. Interestingly enough, and this is where I want to tie in to where this whole conversation is going. Even back in the late ’70s, we talked about eating our young and we talked about that.

JoNeil Smith Conley: We’re looking at 50 years later for pity sakes. I began my clinical practice in the emergency room and they had excellent, never had bullying, or never really had that issue until I moved to the operating room. The OR nurses out there going, yes, yes you know their life. I think what happened to me there happens on other units as well.

JoNeil Smith Conley: During my orientation, the person I was close to the end of orientation and the person who was supposed to be helping me actually set me up by sending me out of the room to find a piece of equipment that wasn’t available, that she knew wasn’t available. I came back to the room and I was mortified in front of the chief of the service and all of that.

JoNeil Smith Conley: What I found out afterwards, again, she set me up in front of the physician. She put the patient under stress, put me in a place where I was like, holy Christmas, and I found out later that the piece of equipment was out for repair. That wasn’t the first time, but that’s the one sticks in my memory as that first opportunity.

JoNeil Smith Conley: As my career went, went on, I was a staff nurse. I’ve been a nursing leader. I’ve been a nursing executive. I’ve been a teacher, a consultant. I worked for the advisory board company for 10 years. Got my BS on my master’s. Finally, my doctorate in organizational leadership, knowing full well that I would study bullying while I did it. That was my end.

JoNeil Smith Conley: I’m heading this way because anybody who’s in a doctoral program knows you have to have a reason to be doing it. I did my doctoral dissertation on bullying and I used the population of, or nurses that I was the most familiar with. What I did is I used a model from an Australian nurse who said, "There’s three pieces to this. One, there’s organizational factors that lead into bullying. There’s personal factors. Then there’s consequences of bullying."

JoNeil Smith Conley: I did this particular study and I correlated the surgical never events and what was interesting, and at the time they were wrong patient, wrong site, wrong procedure, retain instrument, and death of an ASA one patient. Not to my surprise, every single one of those particular never events correlated to bullying.

JoNeil Smith Conley: When we did the study, the surgeon came out as the highest bully, and these were findings I wasn’t surprised with, but when I added bullied by my boss, bullied by my colleague, and bullied by ancillary staff member, they far exceeded bullied by the surgeon. I think that’s kind of telling as well. I got done with this about 11 years ago and I went, "I found out what I already knew. I validated what I knew."

JoNeil Smith Conley: I didn’t know what to do with that information. I was still figuring out, looking for tools and I had gone to a coaching practice years before. I did it. I coached as a nurse. I think we do it all the time, but I was still trying to process, what’s something I could give nurses, not just nurses, but everybody?You know how sometimes these downloads just come to you.

JoNeil Smith Conley: I was in a convertible with my husband in the Upper Peninsula Michigan, and all this information came to me and what it turned out to be is what I call the Meanness Matrix. This tool is, and again, we’ll make it available to your listen and in some other fashions, was a way for you as the person who is being bullied to recognize, first of all, it’s not about you.

JoNeil Smith Conley: Even though you are feeling this and it’s very, very personal and it’s extremely toxic and it’s extremely difficult to address. There’s a spectrum of bullies. There are people who are rude and a lot of times people go, "They’re bullying me." It’s a fine distinction, but I want us to recognize, I would say the majority of things are rudeness. We react to them in such a way that we give away our joy.

JoNeil Smith Conley: We give away some of ourselves because we automatically responded. We have the spectrum of bullying, we have rude, we have actually the folks who we would categorize as bullying. Part of the researcher’s problem is we don’t have a true definition of bullies, but we have an idea what that looks like. Then the third category are the folks with narcissistic personality disorder or full-fledged narcissists.

JoNeil Smith Conley: I used a lot of the work of Dr. Christiane Northrop, she wrote a book, Dodging Energy Vampires, where she talks a lot about this and that’s a small population of individuals. The first thing I want you to give some thought to is who’s this person? Who is the person that’s doing this. Again, let’s be honest, right now we’re talking about people, but you can be bullied by an organization, by a doctrine, by a whole bunch of other things.

JoNeil Smith Conley: On another episode, we’ll talk about me being bullied by the healthcare system when I had a medical situation. Determine what is the characteristic of that individual. Then on this grid, which we call the Meanness Matrix, the horizontal axis in the far left hand corner, it talks about, does this person really matter to me? Are they in my circle every day?

JoNeil Smith Conley: Now, I always say, "They matter to Jesus. They just might not matter to me." Then you move up a little bit and put folks that matter a bit, folks that you have not intimate, but a friendship, a collegial, a comradeship. Then, the upper folks are the ones who really are that small circle of your dear friends, dear family, those people who really impact your life.

JoNeil Smith Conley: This nine by nine grid gives you the opportunity to say, "I’m dealing with somebody who’s rude and they don’t matter. What’s a strategy I might use?" That was the outcoming and I’ve been presenting this for the most part in nursing orientations, when we think about our new grads, let’s pause for a minute, for those pandemic new grads, we send you our love and prayers.

Beth Quaas: Stick with it. You’ll get there.

JoNeil Smith Conley: All of us are rooting for you. In nursing orientation, a lot of times you come out of school and don’t have this wherewithal about who the players are? How do I react? How do I respond? This has been a really good tool there. Now, I’ve also taken it that particular tool to some other groups. I do a lot of work with Shriners International and those fraternal organizations.

JoNeil Smith Conley: It resonates well with people and it gives you that snapshot of what to do. Over the course of the last couple years, I’ve added some other tools to my tool belt. I’ve added the work of the Arbinger Institute, which is outward mindset. Again, which lets you say, "That person is behaving in such a way. How might I respond? Do I need to respond? Are they there and I’m here?"

JoNeil Smith Conley: I’ve added that to my toolbox. Recently this past summer, I did some work with David Emerald and he took the work of Steven Karpman who created, what’s called The Drama Triangle. Can we stop for just a second? Everybody’s going, "I’m there JoNeil, give it to me." The drama triangle talks about when you’re faced with a situation, you can become a persecutor.

JoNeil Smith Conley: You can become a victim or you can become a rescuer. Now, can I just stop for a minute and let everybody know I resonate or I reside in the rescuer spot a lot? Probably most nurses do. What David Emerald has done has said to get out of that. The rescuer can become a coach. The persecutor can become a challenger. The victim can become an advocate. There’s a lot of thoughts to that.

Voiceover: You do it at orientation because those new people need to learn, need to know how to cope with those things, but we all need to hear what you are talking about.

Beth Quaas: At the beginning of 2020, I’d really started a process of interviewing nurses. It was a year of the nurse and then we had March hit us. The nurses were, as we all know, we all were consumed with what was happening in our world. I had done about 15 interviews and those 15 nurses were seasoned nurses, surprisingly.

Beth Quaas: Most of them said, "I struggled a lot with this early in my career with nurse to nurse. Now, it’s other factors. It’s organizational factors, it’s leadership factors." I think the concepts are still there, but I think over the course of our career, sometimes those are our focus changes on what we’re dealing with. I also have a strong belief and this comes from my days at the advisory board where we talked about disruptive behavior.

Beth Quaas: Those of us who were in practice in 2008, when the joint commission came out and said, "Thou shall do something about disruptive behavior." We talked about the fact that we have to own our own behavior. We have to make sure that we’re in charge of what we’re doing, and not always blame the other person.

Beth Quaas: I think organizationally, one of the things I learned during that period is that organizations need first off, a code of conduct that is enforceable and enforced. That is square one. For those of you who are having issues at your organization, be sure you have a copy of that code of conduct and have it with you. Again, things have evolved over the last year. It’s not just racial slurs and all that.

Beth Quaas: I always talk about the trifecta, the eye roll and the hand on a hip and a sigh, I just did it for those of you who are watching the podcast. We always talked a lot about as leaders, "I can’t discipline somebody for that behavior." Well, we know that is still putting up a wall. That kind of behavior is keeping the other person from getting the information they need or the things.

Beth Quaas: Organizations first off have to have a code of conduct. Secondly, organizations have to have the courage to address these behaviors. Again, I can speak for the most part with my wonderful beloved surgeons in my life that I’ve had to have some of these really interesting educational processes. I’m not being correct with all this, but everybody else in this podcast knows.

Voiceover: You are.

Beth Quaas: I know exactly what she’s talking about, but organizations have to have courage to say, "You know what, this isn’t okay. These behaviors are impacting how we deliver care." If I could pause right here for one second and I want your listeners to understand, and you’re going to have access to this resource about how to word your descriptions of bullying so your voice will be heard.

Beth Quaas: The document’s actually called how to chart bullying so your voice will be heard. What ends up happening any of the leaders who [inaudible 00:12:34], I used to get things shoved under my door, "So and so did so and so." If it wasn’t signed, I did nothing with it. I figured, "You know what? You better have the gut, I was going to say the ball, the gut to sign it."

Beth Quaas: What I want you listeners to understand, and this back to the organizational piece is that you can say what happened. This is the other piece that we’re not really good about taking our emotions out of the equation.

Voiceover: I know I’ve found too that when people would come to me and have complaints of bullying or something, they rarely would put their name to it. They’d say, "Well, I don’t want to do anything about it, but well, then I can’t do anything about it."

Beth Quaas: If you can own up and say, "This person said these," and put the exact words. Don’t use words like, "They were rude, or they were mean, or this was awful." That’s not going to get you very far. If you can say, "Sally Sue said, "The piece of equipment is so and so, and I told you, it’s there and you need to go get it because I said."

Beth Quaas: I’m giving an example, but what the next piece I want you to document is what was the impact on patient care of that? That’s the key, my friends and say, "Because this piece of equipment was not available and she was not helping. I had to go running Mrs. So-and-so’s treatment was delayed by an hour and a half. Therefore, she didn’t get this. She ended up staying an extra day."

Beth Quaas: Is that making sense how we can map that piece out so that we’re not granted, this is impacting you. I’m not downplaying the impact on the individual, but what I want you to get to in this spot, the very beginning of this document is what was the impact on the patient? What was the impact on the organization? Did you end up staying an hour and a half overtime to the tune of $75?

Beth Quaas: Again, I don’t always want to go to the money, but when you’re presenting this to your leadership team, you say, "This was the impact on patients, the impact on the organization, the impact on me." Actually write those things out. Now, the other piece of this document, there are what we would call serial bullies.

Voiceover: Yes, there are and we all know them.

Beth Quaas: We know them. Guess what, I’m going to predict that middle person’s middle name is but. Meaning they’re really good at blah, blah, blah, but they are a booger to work with. My philosophy in leadership has always been, now again, do not repeat this friends. Anybody’s whose middle name is, but should be released to the community.

Voiceover: Yes, I agree. It’s so hard to have upper leaders back those in and I will say I was a middle manager. It was hard to get anyone to back me in saying this person is really toxic to our department.

Beth Quaas: The end result of bullying and these kind of behaviors is a toxic/hostile work environment. I think we need to make sure that we understand that and we’re able to put words around it. One of the things I think for us as nurses and some of you may have seen this, I have been walking down a hallway and I would hear a nurse in a room, the most kind, loving, attentive individual.

Beth Quaas: Come out of the hallway and rip the face off her colleague, just what is this? This is another piece I think that we were mentioning and I know we diverted a little bit and we’ll get back in a second. As a profession, we need to acknowledge what’s over the last two years.

Beth Quaas: We do to acknowledge that toxicity and stuff, the PTSD that is raging within us. Figure out ways to wrap arms around each other and say, "This has been not fun. Let’s figure out how we’re going to take care of each other?" That just a tiny little offside. Again, you’re going to get this document. The organization needs to have courage, needs to have a code of conduct, needs to be willing to enforce it across the board.

Beth Quaas: Let’s talk about you, the individual. How do you process this? How do you address this? Now, again, I don’t know if it’s us as nurses or just who we are as people, I think making sure that you protect yourself and protect your heart. That’s one of the things the Meanness Matrix encourages you to do is put up your force field.

Beth Quaas: There’s no sense of you giving away your joy, which is in short supply sometimes. In a moment of, "This kid smashed my potato chips in the grocery store." Now let me tell you, that kid who smashed your potato chips in the grocery store is just going to work, trying to get through. Let that one go, let it go. As you move through the spectrum, there are times that you do have to do things.

Beth Quaas: You have to recognize if somebody matters a little bit, you’ve got to see them as people. This goes back to the serial bullies versus the naive bully. I think all of us, if we were in the quietness of our hearts would acknowledge that we’ve probably bullied somebody in our day.

Voiceover: That is so true.

Beth Quaas: I talk about this naive versus serial. I can speak when I was running the OR board and I had 14 rooms and I needed to get stuff done and people walked by and I said, "Get to that room." I was like, "Good gravy." One of the things I knew is I went back and said, "I’m sorry for being gruff. Thank you for doing what I asked you to do."

Beth Quaas: I think people knew me well enough, but there are times that we just snap. As you’re looking to this and the meanness matrix, and when you get into the bullying and the narcissist, I think it is so important for you to guard your heart, to be in those interactions with those folks. Know that again, one of the things that sets a rude person aside from a bully is the bully has intentionality on their plate.

Beth Quaas: This isn’t willy-nilly. The rude person is usually somebody who’s just off having a bad day or whatever. The bully oftentimes is very deliberate, very intentional, can be overt, meaning out in the open or can be covert. Those are things like hiding pieces of equipment, keeping information. What was the other? Gossiping, Facebook stuff, all of those kind of things.

Beth Quaas: Those are the ones that somehow we think it’s our fault. I’m here to tell you, it’s not your fault. I’m here to tell you that you did nothing to make that bullies, heart hardened, and to do that stuff to you. It’s so easy. It is so easy.

Voiceover: Do you have a way to know who a bully may target? Is it a certain personality?

Beth Quaas: There’s all kinds of opinions on that. One is that they target people that they perceive as vulnerable. That’s one of the opinions. One of the opinions though, is that they target like the superstar. The person who’s really doing well. Again, it’s hard to determine what that might look like. I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that it’s happening.

Beth Quaas: Another part of my studying over the summer is the role of the amygdala and the primitive brain and the prefrontal cortex because when you’re bullied, your amygdala has just hijacked your system. You are in fight, flight, or freeze response before you even know it. You’re already tensed up. You’ve already had a shot of cortisol.

Beth Quaas: You’ve already had all that raging through your body. One of the things I ask everybody to do, and this is the simplest thing is just deep cleansing breath. If you can take that tiny pause to let your prefrontal lobe take over before you send the nasty email, before you do this stuff, before you bark back. I know there’s a lot of bullying, people that say, "Just give them a taste of their own medicine."

Beth Quaas: What you’ve just done is you should just emboldened that bully a lot of times. If you are solid and secure and what’s hard is sometimes in nursing, we’re not solid and secure. We’ve transferred to a new unit. We got pulled, we’re working a different shift. We’re working with people we don’t know.

Beth Quaas: We’ve got a strange patient who’s got [inaudible 00:21:42] disease, all of a sudden our confidence is shook. Then somebody comes in and shake it even further. The other thing, there’s nothing wrong with saying, "I don’t exactly know what’s the deal here."

Voiceover: That’s exactly what I was going to hit on that you said we can’t know everything and that is okay. Admit it, find the answer, and then move on. Learn something from it.

Beth Quaas: Don’t feel bad if you don’t know it all. That’s the piece of it. That’s the piece. To finish your question you asked earlier about targets, there’s a wide spectrum of that. I’m not sure I could give you a clear cut response to that. That amygdala piece, I really think we have to get on that. Then the last thing, I listened to a lot of people.

Beth Quaas: I was watching Andrew Weil the other day do a talk. He’s the guy with the beard, the holistic fellow he’s been around a long time. Him and then another book I read called Burnout. [inaudible 00:22:45] it was written by two sisters. They talked about ending the stress cycle. That one of the things we don’t do is the stressor is over, but we still have all of that running around in our bodies.

Beth Quaas: We don’t have a good way of shaking it off, or crying in the bathroom or whatever it is, we have to get that of our system. Now, my favorite thing is rocky road ice cream, which isn’t particularly healthy. I’m looking on some of those. Acknowledging the saber tooth tiger, the bully, the surgeon, who’s a twit, the boss who’s in another dimension.

Beth Quaas: We have to recognize that we’ve gone into that fight, flight, freeze. That cortisol is running through our bodies. We are tense up tighter than a drum, and then they leave and we’re still tense up tighter than a drum. What Andrew Weil has suggested, and I’ve started doing this, where you do a breath in for four, you hold it for seven, and then you breathe out for eight.

Beth Quaas: I’m all for breath in, breathe out, deep cleanse breath and breathe it out. Whatever it takes, I think this whole spectrum, and I don’t think that bullying is going to be eradicated or by one strategy, by one modality. We always think that one shot of penicillin’s going to fix us. I think we have this in multidisciplinary approach that we have to take to this.

Beth Quaas: As professionals and the folks listening to this, I challenge you to take charge of your own response. I challenge you to say, "You know what, this is happening. It’s probably not right. I’m going to document it in a way." You may have to document it more than once. If it’s a serial bullier, you’re probably going to have to keep those sheets and eventually show the pattern.

Beth Quaas: I’m telling you, if something terribly egregious occurs, get on the dang phone. I always talk about the fact that most of us as nurses would lay over a patient if we saw somebody doing something wrong, but don’t do the same for ourselves.

Voiceover: When is it time to say, "This is enough. I am now suffering PTSD from working with whatever the bully may be." When is it time to walk away?

Beth Quaas: Well, we can also talk about the consequences of bullying. We know that there are physical consequences. When I tell the story about when the CEO was a bully of an organization that I was at, I gained 30 pounds and had seven ulcers. That was a clear-cut signal and something was a miss.

Beth Quaas: I also feel like sometimes we detach from our physical signals. Your body’s going to send you signals. If you lay awake and you can’t sleep, you have insomnia, and you’re playing that scene over and over in your head, if your family relations are suffering, my husband, when I was in that situation goes, "I don’t like you right now."

Beth Quaas: We know that there’s physical, there’s emotional. Again, there’s a spectrum. I have sadly stories of nurses who committed suicide over these issues. There’s nothing wrong with saying, "I need help." Whether it’s a coach, whether it’s employee assistance, whether it’s a therapist, all of those things.

Beth Quaas: I think this is getting to the question that you ask, at the end of the day, each of us owns our own practice. Each of us owns our own soul. If you are in a toxic or hostile environment, get the heck out if need be. There are toxic organizations, I’m just going to say it. Please don’t, they’ll come after me.

Voiceover: There are. I think most of us could say that, that we know of them.

Beth Quaas: One of the things I think that keeps us as nurses from making big, bold changes when we know that we’re getting eaten alive, well, we’ve lurked long enough that we don’t have to work X a number of holidays. We’re on day shift. We got a good schedule. We’ve got all these sort of things. All of those things are important.

Beth Quaas: I’m not negating that, but if you’re getting eaten alive from the inside out, nursing is a buffet for pity sakes. Your nursing knowledge is usable in so many places. I was never one that was gifted for the bedside. I went to the emergency room. I went to the operating room. Those were really good places for me. Now, I did my times.

Beth Quaas: I always tell people, if you pull into the parking lot, you grab the steering wheel, you bang your head on a steering wheel going, "I can’t do this." Listen to yourself. Look in your organization, there may be a different unit. You may have to go through the [inaudible 00:28:04] and going back to banners, novice to expert, we hate being novices.

Voiceover: Yes, we do.

Beth Quaas: We hate being novices. We like being the one because I think a lot of us are rescuers like me. We like having the knowledge. We like hearing the skill. We like those things. A lot of times we like our friends. My dearest friends are some of the folks I’ve worked with over the years. We build those and we don’t want to lose them.

Beth Quaas: My dad always said, make a list, pluses, and minuses. Only you can decide, but there are red flags. If the red flags are your friends and family saying, "Listen, I just checked your trash bag. There’s four bottles of Canadian Club in there in four days." That’s a red flag. You notice that you’re stopping and eating or you’re barking at your kids, or you’re not enjoying life.

Beth Quaas: That’s the other piece. One of the things I also offer is a five step how to rejoy your life by rising and shining and accepting and creating energy and recognizing this is a journey. We always think it’s a point in time and it’s a journey. The fourth stage of that is offer grace not only to yourself, but to others.

Beth Quaas: That’s a hard one sometimes. The last one is say, yes, say yes to life. It’s a quick rotation. If these things are stealing your joy, own your own happiness and your own joy.

Voiceover: I love that. I am so glad that you could share that with people because we do need to take care of each other, especially right now, because it seems like we’re being left in the dust some days and kicked when we’re down. You’ve given us as individuals so much to think about. What would you tell the organizations that we’re working for?

Beth Quaas: They have to own their piece of it as well. Again, I acknowledge that everybody’s squished. Everybody’s squished, all of this. That’s that offer grace. My husband is not in healthcare. When we’re watching all the pandemic issues and nurses and the PPEs and all this, he goes, "Why the heck don’t they just quit?" I go, "Because you’re not a nurse and you don’t get it."

Voiceover: That is perfect.

Beth Quaas: Our loved ones and all that, they love us, but they don’t always get us. Sometimes we don’t even get us as a profession. Organizations, again, one of the things, when I worked at the advisory board, I did mid-level training. Anyone in this audience who went from staff nurse to assistant nurse manager, manager, that’s the hardest jump you’ll ever take.

Beth Quaas: The things that you learned in nursing school don’t apply oftentimes. What I tell those managers is remember that you’re your patient is now your unit, and use the same skills. I always say you never gave insulin until you check the blood sugar. Why would you change a schedule before you asked your staff?

Voiceover: Well, and the problem too is JoNeil and you know this very well, they don’t get the training to step into those roles.

Beth Quaas: Bingo. That’s exactly what I’m saying. Everybody gets mad at this brand new manager who’s out of his/her element. I was blessed, again, this was a thousand years ago when I first made my very first transition from staff nurse to leadership is there was five of us.

Beth Quaas: We had to go to HR every Wednesday afternoon from two o’clock to three o’clock. We got a really good how to do agreements, how to do a schedule, how to have a difficult conversation, all of those things. Organizations have lost that. They expect I’m going to take this fabulous clinician, super star.

Beth Quaas: A lot of times that superstar is the last man standing and they go, "You’re not the boss and it’s not fair and it’s not right. I would say to organizations, invest in your nursing leaders, invest in leaders overall, but I’m passionate about nursing leaders. That’s what I did for a lot of years was that piece of it.

Beth Quaas: When I was assistant director, I can’t remember, in my leadership career, in the operating room and I was fast approaching our director level. I went back to school and got a master’s in business administration, because I thought the net present value of money was what I had in my checkbook.

Beth Quaas: This sounds terrible, but I wanted to sit at the main table. I wanted to be the person sitting at the table, but I didn’t have the education. I didn’t have the knowledge. Now, a lot of times people can get knowledge by studying. There’s a lot of resources out there now, you don’t always have to get a master’s degree, doctorate degree, whatever.

Beth Quaas: I would challenge new leaders or leaders, you might have been a leader for 10 years and you still don’t know some of this stuff, take it upon yourself, become friends with the chief financial officer if he’s a good guy or gal. Learn some of the strategies that are going to help because bullying is a symptom sometimes of other things happening in an organization.

Beth Quaas: It’s a symptom of a poor communication chain. It’s a symptom of poor leadership decisions. It can be a symptom of one of the model that I used, one of the things I talked about was that sometimes bullies get promoted because they get things done at the expense of other people. Those are some of those key factors that organizations should be thoughtful and be considerate of they’re dealing with live human beings, not robotrons to do these things.

Beth Quaas: Again, I’m going to sound so biased for nurses, but I used to say, I could fix anything with duct tape and hemostat, because I could never count on environmental services to fix the stuff.

Voiceover: Nurses have to wear all hats.

Beth Quaas: We’re tired and that’s the piece. Folks that are listening to this, just try to rest into yourself, try to listen to your body, try to listen to those signals that say, "Something’s not right. I got to talk to somebody. I got to be with somebody. I got to do something. The whole thing about put your oxygen mask on first is overdone, but it’s still true.

Beth Quaas: This sounds terrible. Nurse managers out there going to kill me, but if you can’t pick up an extra shift, don’t pick up an extra shift.

Voiceover: Absolutely. Please don’t or if you really truly need a mental health day take the mental health day.

Beth Quaas: That goes back to seeing people as people and as a profession and as individuals, now I know most of us will tell, we’ve all had colleagues that have had dastardly things, kids die and crashes, and all that. We will rally to that person’s support and we will pick up shifts and we’ll donate PTO and we’ll do all that sort of stuff.

Beth Quaas: When it gets to be through years after the fact and the person is still in that spot, we get a little bit tired of it. That’s why that person has to say, "I got to own my own grief, my own things."

Voiceover: That is so spot on. When I say take a mental health day, once that becomes your routine or your habit, then truly it’s time to say I need to do something differently. I am so in love with the work that you’re doing and it is so spot-on to what we all need right now. I so appreciate you coming on. Where can we find you, JoNeil?

Beth Quaas: Again, we’ll put all this in the show notes, but I have a website www.drjoneil.com. I’m on Facebook. I just did my very TikTok. It’s not naughty. I don’t swear. I don’t do any of that mean stuff on TikTok. I can get addicted to that, but I want to share some of these thoughts out there in whatever venue I can. I’m available to do presentations to organizations.

Beth Quaas: I just was saying, I did one for some nurses in California. We can’t really travel a lot, but I got pretty good at this virtual presenting. I have a presentation that says, don’t eat the toxic soup, it gives you heartburn. If anyone is interested in hearing that presentation, like I said, Facebook, Dr. JoNeil. Those are the places.

Beth Quaas: If you get that document, when you get the document, not if, when you get the document about how to chart and it doesn’t make sense, reach out to me. We can have a quick phone call. I’m happy to give you some of the verbiage because it’s a shift to how we do this.

Voiceover: We all need to get better at reaching out. I know you and I both were passionate about what we’re doing and we want to just help nurses, and please reach out to us. I want to thank you so much for being on the show today, JoNeil. I hope people can find you because your work is very important.

Beth Quaas: Thank you.

Voiceover: Thank you so much to JoNeil for being on the show today. She is a dynamic woman of great speaker and she has devoted a lot of her life to helping those that have dealt with bullying. Thank you for your time in listening today. If you like the show, please go leave a rating on Apple podcasts and subscribe to the show if you’d like so you can know where to find me every week. (singing)

JoNeil Smith Conley: Don’t Eat Your Young was produced in partnership with True Story FM. Engineering by Andy Nelson. Music by the Light Hearts. Find the show, show notes, and transcripts at donteatyouryoung.com. If your podcast app allows ratings and reviews, please consider doing that for our show. The best thing you could do to support the show is to share it with a friend or colleague. Thank you for listening. (singing)

Stories from the Incredible World of Nursing.

Welcome to Don’t Eat Your Young, the podcast that brings you stories from the trenches of the incredible, wonderful, exhausting, terrifying, joyous world of nursing with your host, Beth Quaas.