Telling Others About Bullying in the Nursing Workplace [Interview][Transcript]

RN_Claudia_Sanborn_The_Yellow_Sick_RoadGuest: 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, author of the book, THE YELLOW SICK ROAD, discusses bullying in the workplace, and how she is working with legislature to make laws to prevent bullying and abuse.


Health Professional Radio

Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, glad that you could join us today. In studio today with us is returning guest Claudia Sanborn, a registered nurse of more than 22 years and also a published author. The author of the “Yellow Sick Road,” a book in which she talks about her 22-year journey as a registered nurse and some of the bullying and hostility that she found in the work place that caused great pain. And many of nurses have been put in harm’s way simply at the whim of a bully. How are you doing today Claudia?

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

N: Thank you so much for returning. Now you are the author of the “The Yellow Sick Road,” it rings of the wizard of Oz. Could you talk a little bit about the book and why you wrote the book?

C: Yeah. I wanted by book to be a little whimsical and not I know there are some other bullying books out there, and that just a lot of scenarios and that like complaining and I wanted this to be just a little lighter. And I have a travel contract in Washington DC, went to … and saw the ruby slippers and just got back … the single thing I could on the Wizard of Oz. And I wanted to use some of the characters that reminded me in my working journey of some of the people that I worked with and the characters in the Wizard of OZ. Like the Emerald City represents the hospital, the CEO is like Oz, and the Flying Monkeys they’re aides, the charge nurse the wicked Witches of the East and West, and there are also some of the good Witches. And I’ve tried to incorporate some of the good characteristics of their side to get as I went on my journey as far as the tin man and the brave the lion.

N: The lion, uh huh, uh huh.

C: Yeah. And tried to incorporate some of those characters and qualities.

N: Now did you decide to go the whimsical route because there were so much ugliness in your experience as far as bullying among the nursing staff by management and by fellow nurses? Is that why you took the whimsical route or was it simply just using metaphor in delivering a message in that style?

C: Oh it’s kind a both. Both a metaphor and being able to portray and visualize what it was like after experiencing some of those things that happened to me. And I didn’t want to come across cruel and so I decided I’m just gonna use some of these characters because everyone seems to be … familiar with that book and so they could visualize it in a more interesting way of reading.

N: Yeah. And it is such a serious issue that we hear all about the coalitions to combat bullying in school and think of that bullying on social media among teens. But this is such a serious issue in the workplace as far as you’re concerned that you’ve been working in legislation to actually create laws that well curve the tide of this seemingly rampant hostility in the workplace. Is that a correct assumption? Could you talk a little bit about how you’re trying to change the legislature so that it falls in the favor of those that are subject to be bullied?

C: Yeah. Well I belong to this committee for several years and I was working with legislature and we finally got the definition of bullying and we passed an amendment and this is the first step. I have been to workshops, I have been to counseling, I’ve management who’s had training. And I don’t really any of that work, I think you need to make laws that make it a misdemeanor and that employees can get fined and have that taken out of their wages. Because when they do leadership classes management all it really does is document that they were taught that as far as them following up on any of those, I don’t see it. I haven’t seen that it’s made any difference. I’ve been a director of nursing before, I’ve been an assistant director, I’ve been in almost all facets of the medical field and I think the bottom line is it just needs to get to where it’s against the law.

N: Now what type of grassroots efforts have you been involved in? I mean really getting the community involved other than publishing your book. You say you’ve been to these workshops, are you conducting any talks on your own or going from hospital to hospital talking to fellow nurses about what you discovered, what you’re working toward? And also giving copies of your book, or at least telling them the contents of your book so they can get some ideas about their own situations?

C: I have a very positive experience and I am living in a little small town. The administrator that was over the hospital of the incident that happened to me quite a few years ago, came up to me out of the clear blue and he said “I want to apologize about what we did to you.” and I said “Do you realize my book about?” And he I said “I don’t know about your book, but I just want to tell you that I’m sorry.” And to me that was worth me writing the whole book, to get that administrator to say that to me.

N: And because there has to be a high reaching level of secrecy and sub-diffusion involved for this to have been kept quiet for so long. And would you agree in that? That there’s maybe a secrecy or some type of code of silence when it comes to the bullies?

C: I think, he explained to me he said he just tried to support the people that are under him. And I said “Well I think that you should bring in the person that you’re concerned about and get their feedback too.” And that some people need to have a lot of testing whether or not they’re management material, and some just aren’t. Some have a lot of issues and baggage that they take into their job and they take it out on their employees. And I didn’t talk to you for very long, I am a little fearful in getting my book out in the community because there is a hospital that is in the community and I don’t want to be sued. But I am so intense about it and still like I need to do it then I’m taking the risk to do this book and put it in the community, and hopefully I’m okay as far as legally.

N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. It’s been a pleasure speaking with Claudia Sanborn – a registered nurse, has been a registered nurse more than 22 years and has published the book “The Yellow Sick Road.” Where she outlines her journey as a nurse. And also talks about the well culture of bullying and hostility when it came to dealing with nurses on for any number of reasons at any level in their careers. And she’s hoping that her book will open eyes and cause other people to look at their situations and possibly even work with law enforcement and legislature to outlaw what she terms as bullying in the work place. It’s been great having you here with us again today Claudia.

C: Neal thank you.

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

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