Signs You Are Working in a Toxic Environment as a Nurse

You can easily notice numerous signs of toxic behaviors in the workplace if you pay attention. There's no denying that nursing jobs in general are demanding and tasking on the body and mind. You may be working in a toxic environment if the mere thought of going to work causes you anxiety or even makes you "hate" going there. 

How do you know if you're in one? What you need to know is right here!

  • Are you content with your life right now? Honesty is the best policy. Is your dissatisfaction alleviated? If the answer is no, ask yourself why. Is everyone around you smiling? Other people's happiness is an important factor to consider. How's the mood? You may be dealing with a toxic workplace culture if your coworkers are miserable and the atmosphere is one of low morale and dissatisfaction.
  • The absence of praise for a job well done but the availability of criticism for even the smallest error can be an indication that something is wrong. Is it possible that the punishment meted out doesn't correspond to the crime? Does the leadership show favoritism?
  • Inconsistency, dishonesty, and a lack of openness. What is the truth about a leader's words? Do they deliver on their promises?
  • Coworker harassment, microaggressions, or lateral violence. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence, and it can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, exhaustion, and even depression. Keep in mind that bullies thrive on power and delight in making their victims squirm. Try to maintain the moral high ground and choose mature professional communication. You can de-escalate the situation or keep it from escalating while you involve the organization's leaders.
  • Leadership's inability to manage under-motivated employees who aren't doing their jobs. High performance isn't valued, which creates resentment in the workplace. Disillusionment sets in for those who work hard to succeed and contribute. In the event that you see this, it could be a sign of ineffective leadership and a toxic work environment.
  • In conversations, do people react and defend themselves, or do they listen and give constructive feedback? What level of openness is there to other people's viewpoints and what level of action or change is being taken as a result of it?
  • People who are always blaming others for their problems. This is a sign that morale is low and people are unhappy. It's not unusual to hear people griping here and there, but when it becomes a daily occurrence, it's a sign of greater toxicity. Be aware that it may not be obvious to everyone around, but it could still be happening. Social media, online chat, texting, etc. are all possible ways to connect with others. Set healthy boundaries and refrain from getting involved.


Effective leadership and systemic change are often necessary to successfully navigate these kinds of environments. If the damage is irreparable, however, you have the option to save your life. First and foremost, you're the best. Having a healthy mental state is important, and you'll never be stuck. All aspects of your health are important.

May 12, 2023

Natasha Osei

Passionate Nurse Practitioner | People person
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