5 Villain Proofing Tips for Nurses

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Nurses are the most compassionate people in the world.

In fact, most nurses enter the profession because they want to make a difference in the lives of other people.  Patients around the globe often refer to nurses as angels or heroes yet nurses do not always see themselves that way. They downplay such compliments by saying, “I’m just doing my job.” Or worse, “I’m just a nurse.”

However, as with all heroes, villains try taking away a hero’s power.  Lex Luther was always trying to expose Superman to Kryptonite and poor Perseus had to fight Medusa! Nurses have their villains too. Ignorance, judgments, and fear are just a few.

The good news is that nurses can protect themselves from their villains. In my keynote, Celebrate Nursing: Human by Birth – Hero by Choice, I teach nurses how to defend themselves against their villains by committing to the following actions:

IGNORANCE – when nurses stop learning, they lose their heroic powers.
  • Read every day – read something instructional or inspirational for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Get certified – studies show that when nurses are certified, they are happier, have more opportunities, and give better patient care.
  • Advance your degree – getting an advanced degree equips nurses with the knowledge and skill they need to articulate their value as an equal member of the healthcare team.
JUDGMENTS – when nurses judge others, by their age, gender, color of their skin, or the role that they play, they lose their heroic powers.
  • Celebrate other nurses – recognize, brag, and acknowledge the accomplishments of other nurses.
  • Treat support staff as valuable members of the team – it takes a village to effectively care for patients.
  • Put yourself in someone else’s shoes – when you do this, you see the world through their eyes.
FEAR – when we allow fear to stop us from doing what we know we should do, we lose our heroic powers.
  • Be comfortable being uncomfortable – when you feel fear, push past it even if you’re uncomfortable.
  • Believe in yourself – a lot of our fears stem from our own insecurities. Going back to school, sitting for a certification exam, etc. tap into self-doubt. Push past this fear by believing in yourself!
  • Make decisions based what’s best for patients – even if you’re afraid to confront a physician or coworker because of how they might react, make the decision based on patients.
POOR COMMUNICATION – when we fail to communicate effectively with members of the healthcare team and with the public, we lose our heroic powers.
  • Learn to speak honestly and respectfully (assertive communication style) – although we all have a natural communication style, the only style we should be using in healthcare is the assertive style.
  • Stop gossiping – gossip is a cancer that infects the workplace. Don’t engage in conversations that squash others.
  • Be direct with others – when it comes to patient care, always use the direct approach.
BULLYING – when we squash and “eat” each other, we lose our heroic powers.
  • Stop accepting bullying behavior as the norm – everyone knows that nurses can be so kind to patients but cruel to each other. Stop normalizing bad behavior as “the way it’s always been.”
  • Speak up when you witness bullying behavior – the #1 intervention to stop the cycle of bullying is for the WITNESS to speak up. Start speaking up!
  • Go out of your way to support and nurture each other – be the role model for how we should all treat each other.

Just like Superman protecting himself from Kryptonite, nurses need to protect themselves from the villains that try to take away their heroic powers too!


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Dr. Renee Thompson works with healthcare organizations that want to overcome the leadership and clinical challenges their people face every day.

If you’d like to find out more about her programs, please visit her website

Contact Renee today at to bring her to your organization to talk about ending the cycle of nurse bullying.

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