Bullying in the Nursing Workplace [Interview][Transcript]

RN_Claudia_Sanborn_Bullying-Nursing-WorkplaceGuest: Claudia Sanborn, RN
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Claudia Sanborn was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. Traveling the road that wound through the working world of nursing, Claudia soon discovered that it was rather bumpy, crooked, yet sometimes pleasant. When she recognized bullying in the medical field, she started keeping a journal of all the dysfunction she saw in management and administration. In spite of some traumatic bullying experiences, Claudia continues to work as a nurse. She also participates on the Creating a Better Work Environment committee in Salt Lake City, Utah, that is working toward legislation to make bullying in the workforce illegal.

Segment overview: In this segment, Claudia Sanborn, RN, talks about her nursing journey of 22 years, her journals and why she wrote the book, THE YELLOW SICK ROAD.

Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, very glad that you could join us today. Our guest in studio today is Claudia Sanborn, she is a registered nurse and has spent 22 years or more as a registered nurse. She attended Brigham Young University in 1965 and she took some nursing prerequisite classes. And then she got married, transferred with her husband to Orange country California in 1980 where she signed up for some more nursing classes, also working on a health science degree at Chapman University in the city of Orange. She is also a published author, the author of the “Yellow Sick Road.” A book where she outline her 22 year journey as a registered nurse and all of the things that go on in the workplace positive and negative. How are you doing today Claudia?

Claudia Sanborn: Oh I’m fine, thank you.

N: Thank you so much for joining us today. Now you’re the author of the Yellow Sick Road, could you talk a little bit about why you wrote the Yellow Sick Road? And what exactly is the book about?

C: Okay. Well I became a signal parent around the age in my mid 40’s and I had taken prerequisites at Brigham Young University and so I hurry and went back to school, and I kept feeling like everything would be great became once I became a nurse and I would be able to take care of my 4 sons. And as I finished my nursing school and I have talked for a little bit, just getting to know myself in the beginning in the book. And then the disappointments that I found once I got into the nursing field and the medical field and there were so many. They were real surreal that I just decided I was gonna keep the journal on it and when I finished and retired and I felt like I wouldn’t be black balled or there’s no harm could happen to me, that I will write a book. And I’m semi-retired now.

N: Okay, now what you’re describing is you were afraid to write a book until after you’re I guess for lack of a better term “out of harm’s way.” Could you describe, I mean is this something that you noticed in the workplace immediately or did it take years?

C: Well I went to a support group that has to do with bullying and I was counselled there by a nurse that had filed a suit at the hospital and had won the case, but she was unable to get a job for years and years. And she counselled me, she told me “If it’s not worth it, don’t do anything. You’d be black balled. You won’t be able to get a job.” And so I went by that advice. And I think that’s true and a lot of nurses are afraid to speak up because they’re afraid that they will lose their own job, their afraid to be an advocate to a nurse that maybe be being abuses… they’re all afraid.

N: Now you began keeping track, keeping notes of different incidents and just holding on to them for years, is that correct?

C: Yes and I was able to kept going and I just kept. I worked at a hospital to 7 years and then wanted to venture out a little and studied and travel nursing and it explain some of the things that happened to me up to that point. And then I one of the travel nurse and I’m still do travel contracts, every now and then.

N: Now bullying is a huge topic when it comes to the school yard, it’s a huge topic when it comes to social media among teenagers that are bullying each other to the point sometimes suicide, violent acts, drug overdose, and what not. Now you are all professional adults, you’ve been to school, you deal with saving people’s lives on a daily basis. Are we talking about bullying among the nurses or are we talking about bullying from the administration or surgeons? It’s kind of hard to get my mind wrapped around these people that are so dedicated to helping, and being basically wonderful people, that they could be bullies. That just doesn’t add up.

C: Well I think the workload was so heavy, that if you are friends with the charge nurse or management that they manipulate it. And so that’s where it comes, it’s not necessarily nurse to nurse conflict but unfairness on the patient load or a doctor makes an error and a nurse reports it. They don’t side with the nurse, they’ll side with the doctor because the doctor is the one that brings their patient to them. And so there some different scenario, it’s not specifically one particular area. It can be a little bit complicated, but in this particular community that I belong that’s helping legislature makes some of this was and have gotten an amendment task on the definition of bullying in the work force. There was a man that actually took his life, and I think that we’re just starting to open up to report bullying. That the impact it has to do because it dominos down to the kids, the family, they end up having to move, they end up to make all of the adjustment that a required if someone is terminated – it’s very devastating. And I don’t undermine bullying in the schools, but I think there needs to be more tension to work force bullying and how devastating it is to families.

N: Now bullying among the nursing staff, bullying by the administration – did you notice any other types? I mean is there bullying going on among surgeons and specialists or is it when we think of bullying, we think about you know the kid getting slammed up against the lockers, we think about physical violence, their harmful verbal abuse. This incident that you talked about where someone took their own life, is that an isolated incidence that you’re aware of or is this something widespread throughout not only the nursing community, but throughout the medical profession as a whole? Is that something that you’ve seen?

C: Oh I don’t think it’s a high percentage of suicide. But it’s an example of how devastating it can be, that like I said to undermined bullying in the school, but that’s a child but when you all of a sudden lost your job. And I think there is more of it now because there’s more competition in the work field. And they feel like they can let people go easier, because there’s going someone there to replace them. And I think it’s gonna be a bigger problem with the baby boomers because a lot of them want to continue the work and they don’t want to pay those wages anymore and so they will start documenting.

N: Pushing them and out of the woods.

C: Yeah, they’ll start setting them up to let them go so I don’t know if that answers your question.

N: Well as we wrap up the segment, in your opinion and in your experience having written this book the Yellow Sick Road, the documents your journey through nursing, bullying and some of the far reaching ramifications of bullying in the workplace – are we talking more about a hostile work environment or are we talking about actual bullying? Because we’ve all heard of the hostile work environment for either whistle blowers or someone like you say, wanting to push someone out of the work force or maybe in retaliation for a sexual harassment complaint, something like that.

C: Well most of these are mostly in the hospitals. And I’m a med. surg. nurse, I’m a … nurse and oncology certified. And I think I wasn’t physically pushed, I was more abused and other than that belittled and bemeaned from my peers. And I’m gonna give you a little quick example where I felt like I was being set up, I was working at a facility an hour away because I lived quite rural and then I had worked all night. It was very stormy and snowy, I drove all the way home after my shift. And as I walked in my manager came and said you have to come back and sign this discharge order. And I’ve been in management and I know they can hold onto those orders until you come back on your next shift. And I said “Can I just comeback by my next shift?” She said “No” so I have to drive back in the snow after worked all night, all the way back and sign that which took about 2 seconds, and drive all the way back which put me in a lot of harm because I think she was trying to push me out. She was trying to set me up I don’t know what she wants, if I would quit or whatever. And there had been a lot of series of things before that incident, and that has nothing to do with a person’s evaluation of work performance, anything that – has to do with abuse to an employee. And there was nothing I could do, nothing what can you do? I just said “Okay, I will go back” and I thought that was terrible if I’m done management.

N: It’s horrible. I mean you took two hours to sign a document that you had to go back the next day anyway for your next shift, yeah.

C: I can’t remember when my next shift. But I know there is sometimes when they’ll just put a little sticky note. They put it on the desk, when you come back in you just sign it, and I just knew.

N: I mean she put you in harm’s way, she actually endangered your life in those weather conditions. And as a result you’ve written this book the Yellow Sick Road. Now where can our listeners get a copy of the Yellow Sick Road? I know you’ve got a website, is there information there as well as the major outlets as far as the book is concerned?

C: Well it’s on Amazon, and it’s on kindle and it’s also an eBook. And most of the nurses that have read it, relate. And I have a stock full of reviews and comments and all of it has been excellent. And even if it’s not a medical field, they’ll say “Yes, that happened to me but what can we do about it?” And there hasn’t been one that said they didn’t relate to it in some way or another.

N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. It’s been a pleasure talking with Claudia Sanborn – a registered nurse of more than 22 years who is also written a book, she’s published the Yellow Sick Road. Her 22 year journey as a registered nurse and more importantly how she discovered that there was a lot of bullying going on in the workplace among nurses and how nurses were being put in harm’s way, having their jobs and their finances basically their entire lives jeopardized by the whim of someone who could for all intense and purposes be termed just a big bully. It’s been great having you here with us Claudia.

C: Okay, thank you.

N: Thank you so much. Transcript and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.com and you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.

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