5 Ways We Help You Navigate Hostile Work Environments in Healthcare

February 12, 2024


Megan Bebout


“No one should feel fear at work,” said American Psychological Association’s Chief Executive Officer Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD — and we agree.  

But the reality is those who work in patient services jobs, such as nurses and travel nurses, are more likely to experience a toxic or hostile work environment due to violence, harassment, and other types of abuse. According to government data, healthcare professionals are five times more likely to experience workplace violence compared to other workers. Even worse, a 2022 National Nurses United survey showed more than 40% of hospital nurses have seen an increase in violent incidents in recent years. 

That’s not okay with us.  

While we may not have control over your coworkers, patients, or their families, one thing we can control is how we support you in navigating a hostile work environment, should you ever find yourself in one. Let’s talk about it.  


5 Ways We Help You Navigate Hostile Work Environments in Healthcare


What makes a hostile work environment? 

While there are many different interpretations of what a hostile work environment is, generally, a toxic or hostile work environment exists when you feel constantly uncomfortable, unsafe, or intimidated at your place of employment. This may look like harassment, discrimination, victimization, violence, or other offensive behaviors. 

GettyImages-1560214128-minNot sure if you’re working in a hostile environment? Check for these red flags:  

🚩 Persistent and unwelcome conduct, comments, jokes, slurs, or insults  

🚩 Threats or aggressive/violent behavior, including such behavior involved in isolated incidents  

🚩 Offensive conduct or use of derogatory language, gestures, or actions, including sexual harassment 

🚩 Exclusion or isolation of an employee from work-related activities, discussions, or events 

🚩 Unequal treatment or discrimination, including inappropriate behavior based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin 

🚩 Subtle microaggressions or indirect acts of discriminatory conduct or bias  

🚩 Unfair distribution of workload    

Oftentimes, travel nurses and allied travelers report unfair treatment comes from perm staff nurses or allied professionals, patients, or patient families and loved ones. However, hostile or toxic behavior can also occur patient-to-patient or family-to-patient, capturing you in the crossfire.  

Regardless of what it looks like, being in a hostile work environment can take a major toll on your overall health and wellness. 

Mental and physical effects of working in a toxic environment 

From stress and anxiety to palpable tension in the air, repeated exposure to this kind of negative environment can leave you feeling emotionally drained and physically exhausted. Here are some possible side effects of working in a hostile environment.  

Mental effects 

🧠 Emotional exhaustion and burnout 

🧠 Chronic stress 

🧠 Depression 

🧠 Feelings of unworthiness, helplessness, or lowered self-esteem 

🧠 Decreased desire to go to work and dissatisfaction with current job 

Physical effects 

💪 Insomnia or fatigue 

💪 Muscle tension 

💪 High blood pressure 

💪 Headaches 

💪 Upset stomach 

How Fusion Medical Staffing helps you navigate a hostile workplace 

We want to hear about your work experiences — good and bad. With a relationship- and solution-based approach, we’re here to offer you support on your allied travel or travel nurse journey. If you’re struggling with your work environment, let us help. 


We know what it's like for you as travelers because we have former traveling healthcare professionals working with us on the inside to ensure your experience is the best it can be.

“We’re here to listen and offer advice,” said Cath Lab Account Manager Team Lead Chase Ricardo, R.T.(R)(ARRT), and former traveling cath lab tech. “Most of the time in these situations when you’re a traveler, you don’t have the luxury of having family with you. You feel alone. You may not have a sounding board at the hospital to bounce your thoughts off, and that’s why I’m here. I’m a reasonable person that has experienced it and someone who can listen and understand.”   

Check out this podcast! Maximizing Support: How Fusion Provides Extra Backing for Travelers 

From clinical providers to former healthcare travelers, we asked several in-house experts to share their top favorite ways we support our travel nurses and allied health travelers through challenging situations. Here's what they said.

Clinical support 

Sometimes you just want someone to listen and validate your feelings. Our Clinical team is ready to do just that. And as healthcare providers themselves, they’ve shared similar experiences in the workplace and can relate to what you’re going through.  

Need to report an issue on an assignment? Reach out to our Clinical team! 

“We serve as a sounding board and advocate for our travelers, and since we do have clinical knowledge, we can better understand the situations our travelers face and help guide them,” said Manager of Clinical Services Casey Morrison, RN, BSN. “Because of our prior clinical experience in different modalities, we can provide a listening ear and guidance on how to handle [different] situations.” 

Mental health resources 

Your mental well-being is a priority. That’s why we offer comprehensive benefits and resources to help you every step of the way.  

Download a list of mental health resources!

One of the ways we help is through our insurance plans. With a variety of medical insurance options that cover the cost of mental health service copays, access to the care you need from the therapist of your choice has never been more affordable.  

“Workplace injuries or a hostile work environment might take a mental toll on a traveler,” said Crystal Ford, Fusion Medical Staffing’s work comp program coordinator. “For these types of situations, we offer mental health resources through our employee assistance program or EAP.” 

Through the TELUS Health EAP, you have access to 24/7/365 telephone support, as well as five free counseling sessions per family member, per situation.  

Learn more about TELUS Health EAP.

First-day start benefits 

We’re here for you from the very beginning, so your benefits kick in as soon as you start as a Fusion Medical Staffing employee. From top-notch medical coverage to 401(K) contribution and matching options, we’ve got you covered right out of the gate.  

Related: Healthcare Traveler Benefits Breakdown 2024 

“Fusion Medical Staffing is a leader in the industry,” said one travel nurse. “I researched the agency years ago and I’m glad I signed on. The benefits are good and competitive with other frontrunners in the industry.”  

Worker’s comp  

In addition to clinical support, mental wellness resources, and first-day start benefits, we also offer our travel nurses and allied health travelers worker’s comp. Through this program, you’re covered should you ever experience on-the-job injuries.  

“With our unique business model, we have travelers all over the country working at all different times,” said Ford. “We work with our carrier to provide an injury hotline called TravCARE for our travelers if they get hurt at work. The hotline is available 24/7/365 and is staffed by nurses who triage the traveler over the phone. They can either recommend self-care or set them up at a clinic or urgent care nearby. This is a great tool to use at any time, but especially for injuries that occur after hours, holidays, and weekends. Calling the hotline also reports the claim directly to our carrier.” 

Learn more about TravCARE.

Operation Happy Nurse sponsorship 

Ever heard of Operation Happy Nurse? Focused on helping nurses and allied health professionals struggling with stress, anxiety, and/or depression through a sense of community, Operation Happy Nurse is more than an organization — it’s a mission. And we’re here for it.  

As an Operation Happy Nurse sponsor, we’re able to better prioritize the well-being and satisfaction of our travel nurses and allied health travelers with even more resources and support. From personalized assistance to ensure a good assignment fit to ongoing check-ins and support throughout your contract, our sponsorship with Operation Happy Nurse is all about making sure you feel valued, appreciated, and most importantly, happy.  

Frequently asked questions 

Do I need to provide proof of abuse? 

When you travel with us at Fusion Medical Staffing, we’ll never question you or ask you to provide proof of your experience. That said, there are steps that you can take to confidentially report harassment in the workplace.  

If you’ve experienced unwelcome conduct or other type of hostility while working a healthcare travel assignment, we want to know about it, so don’t be afraid to reach out to your recruiter or our Clinical team. That way, we can best advocate for you and come up with solutions that benefit everyone involved.    

Need to report an issue on an assignment? Reach out to our Clinical team! 

Once you’ve reported the offensive conduct to a trusted Fusion Medical Staffing representative, the incident will be escalated to an internal review board to determine the best course of action. Remember, you’re a Fusion Medical Staffing employee, and that means you’ll be taken care of every step of the way.  

What’s the difference between workplace bullying and a hostile work environment? 

While workplace bullying and a hostile work environment may share some similarities, they are distinct in their nature and impact. Typically, workplace bullying involves repeated mistreatment, harassment, or abusive behavior directed towards an individual by one or more coworkers or superiors.  

On the other hand, a hostile work environment refers to a broader atmosphere within a workplace characterized by pervasive hostility, tension, or harassment, which may not necessarily be directed at a specific individual.  

While workplace bullying targets specific individuals, a hostile work environment affects the entire workplace climate, making it unpleasant and potentially harmful for all employees. Both situations can have serious consequences for mental and physical health, productivity, and job satisfaction, highlighting the importance of addressing such behaviors in the workplace. And we want to know about either or both situations, so don’t be afraid to call us (or beep us) if you want to reach us.  


How can I best deal with workplace conflict?  

Conflict is a natural part of any workplace, but when you’re working in a hostile environment, how you manage conflict can be a gamechanger. According to the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI), there are five major styles of conflict management: collaborating, competing, avoiding, accommodating, and compromising.  

“Each strategy has its own benefits,” said Dr. Barbara Benoliel, certified professional mediator and mitigation specialist. “There is no right or wrong conflict management style. Understanding how you instinctively respond to conflicts as well as having increased awareness of other management styles may help how you typically approach specific situations and lead to efficient and effective conflict resolution.”  

What’s your style? Find out by taking the quiz below!  




“We depend on our nation’s health workers, and they must be supported,” said Debra Houry, M.D., M.P.H., and chief medical officer of the CDC.  

Being here for you isn’t just our priority — it’s our passion. Whether you’re having a hard time finding temporary lodging, navigating a new city, or overcoming a hostile work environment, your Fusion Medical Staffing support team is on your side.  

*Disclaimer: this blog was reviewed by Fusion Medical Staffing’s Clinical team. The information in this blog was accurate at the time of publication. Changes may have occurred since. Verify independently for the latest details.