How to Deal with Negativity at the Nurses StationHow to Deal with Negativity at the Nurses Station

The nurses station. A breeding ground, metaphorically speaking, for negative nurses.

From personal experience…

When I worked as an inpatient psych nurse, I would literally LEAVE the nurses station. I would purposefully go sit in the day room where the patients watched TV and went to group, just so I could get away from the negative nurse.

Now, as I stated above. The nurses station is a metaphor for wherever you gather as a collective nursing group. Of course, if you do not work in a hospital setting, you may not find a typical nurses station during your workday.

But you may still come across negative nurses!

Nasty nurses, unhappy patients, and even unruly doctors may get in your way during the course of your workday as a nurse. So what do you do How do you deal with all of that potential negativity in nursing?

[Tweet “Here Are 6 Strategies for Dealing with Negative Nurses”]

How to Deal with Negativity at the Nurses Station1. First off, as best you can… avoid them. As I shared above, I removed myself from the nurses station just to get away from the negativity in the workplace. I do realize that you may not be able to always avoid a negative nurse, but I can tell you this. You become most like the people you spend a great deal of time with. Put yourself around positive coworkers and upbeat nurses if you want to remain that way.

2. OK, so you cannot always avoid them. You gotta work with negative nurses from time to time, eh? Well, here I suggest setting limits. That’s right. Put up healthy boundaries. Sure, you work with them. At work. And then you go home. Do not let these negative nurses drain your energy outside of work. Them being nasty is their “stuff”. When you leave the workplace, do not dwell on them. Don’t talk about them. Do not start telling your loved ones about the negative people you work with over dinner.


That energy then gets stuck in you. It becomes part of who you are. And you have then just allowed the negative nurse to infringe upon your space.

3. Third, bulk up on your “positive” juices before you get to work. No, I’m not talking about catching a buzz before your shift. What I mean here is use something that my dear friend and colleague talked about on her interview of the Your Next Shift podcast.

Sierra Marie Baker of Holistic Nightingale described a practice that she does every day as she walks into work. She recites a mantra such as “Calm, Cool, Collected” during her walk from parking lot to nursing unit. Now maybe reciting a mantra is not for you. But what I will encourage you to do is find your practice. Do what you need to do to beef up on positive vibes before entering the battlefield of negative nurses.

4. Next, be proactive. Now this may sound similar to the one above. But it is not exactly the same.

Maintain your own well-being. I am talking in mind, body, and spirit. So, exercise. Eat well. Get proper rest. All of that good stuff. Why?

When you are feeling cranky and tired yourself, it will be much easier for that negative nurse to get to you even more. If you are feeling healthy and strong you will have a much easier time walking away and not letting their gray cloud follow you.

5. Fifth, tell someone. OK, so I do not mean that you have to feel like a tattle tale and go rat out that negative nurse. No, but still…

What if that negative nurse is being that way for an even greater reason? Meaning, what if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol? What if something is going on at home that they have not told anyone else about?

You never know it but you just might be helping another nurse out! If they are not typically nasty and then all of a sudden are, take the time to talk to them one-on-one first. Ask them if anything is wrong and if there is something that you can do to help. Then, if you are unable to handle it yourself, ask for help.

6. Finally, put yourself first. Yes, it sounds completely selfish. And you know what, I don’t even care!

I am sick and tired of hearing about these nurses who are out sick because they failed to take care of themselves earlier on. We need to move past this image of martyr nurses.

You need to enjoy your work. And that means being in an environment that is healthy and supportive. You need to take care of yourself first so you can show up and take the BEST care of your patients.

Time in short. Our lifespans are faster than we think. Wasting your days in a job that is filled with negative nurses is a terrible idea. If it has come to that, then it is time to make a change. Do what you love. Follow your heart. Make decisions on what is best for you.

By doing that you role model this behavior for other nurses to see. Then those who are newer and less experienced will realize earlier that taking care of ourselves is OK, even necessary. We can shift the entire profession of nursing from the inside out.

All it takes is one nurse at a time.

A nurse who practices nursing from within and puts themselves first.

Let’s hear from you! Have you experienced negative nurses in your nursing career? What did you do cope with the negativity in nursing? Share a comment below and thanks for reading!

p1050390About the Author: Keynote speaker and virtual conference host, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the host of the Nurse’s Week program, The Art of Nursing, Elizabeth supports nursing organizations in celebrating and recognizing their staff in a meaningful way. Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.