About Tammy

Rare Combination

Tammy has a rare combination of healthcare experience and insider insights. Her experiences in the healthcare system have spanned industries over 20 years.  Her first exposure to healthcare began as a medical transcriptionist in the 1990s  shhh… age is only a number, right?  A  marriage and move to the East coast presented occupational challenges.  Without meaningful work, and after hearing a friends stories about nursing in the ER, Tammy enrolled and began her BN at the University of New Brunswick. After graduating in 2006, she continued her studies and specialized in critical care nursing in 2009. 

The most impactful lessons did not occur in class or at the bedside.  As a result of the relentless bullying, Tammy became a patient and while navigating the benefits and barriers of the medical model coupled with organizational practices, she was left to wonder just what is patient-centred care?  

Oh, and did we mention she is smarter than a con artist? True story!

International Nurse

As a retired military nurse of almost 10 years, Tammy has worked on multinational healthcare teams  overseas in challenging physical and emotional conditions. 

In 2010 Haiti was devastated by a 7.0 earthquake and Tammy deployed with the Canadian Forces Medical Team to set up and care for patients in the field hospital.  Working in the ICU with colleagues from across Canada required open and ongoing communication re processes and practices.  

in 2011 she deployed to Afghanistan to work on a multinational team in the ICU and ER. The physical injuries were extensive and the frequent “rocket attack” alarms were a daily reminder that she was not in Canada anymore. 

Mental Health Advocate

I am passionate about emotionally safe workspaces.  We cannot rid the world of conflict, and nor do I want to.  Conflict can be extremely healthy if done right. It is a place of discovery and exploration.  It is a time for self-examination and clarity of the real goals.  It is an incredible resource in challenging us to think outside the box and taps into our creativity and gives us permission to imagine a different world.  If we did not have conflict, our world would be stagnant and boring. 

As a survivor of workplace bullying and experiencing the challenges in both the medical and organizational practices, I know we can do better … and it is not really that hard.  

My Story

Being a target of a bully was the last thing I expected in my life, especially at 38 years of age. I was a confident and well-liked person and in my work; expected to advance ahead of my peers – that is, until my new boss arrived. Looking back now, the warnings signs were all there but I had rationalized her behaviour away as “poor leadership” and “incompetence”. I had successfully managed bullies in the past, so how hard could this be?

Long story short, I was wrong.  It was harder than I imagined and I found my communication and conflict management skills being tested, often.  After two years of harassment, I felt alone, isolated, and abandoned by the very system I cherished and worked in.  One day I stood in front of the mirror looking at my beaten reflection and asked out loud:

“How the hell did this happen to you? You are a strong woman! You have managed situations like this before. What the hell is going on with you?”

I suffered with severe panic attacks, anxiety and I became suspicious of everyone.  Sometimes I would tremble and cry uncontrollably just looking at my work uniform hanging in the closet. 

As a nurse turned patient, advocating from within the “belly of the beast” caused me further trauma and was emotionally exhausting. Creating an emotionally safe space was met with more barriers than best practices. I mean, who returns a target back to work under their harasser?  It happened more than once and I was questioning the very profession I belonged to and the role of the healthcare system in organizational bullying.

 

 

Recovery is an ongoing process and there is no finish line. I share this because I thought there was. I always maintained I could function, just not under “her”.  I did the work, reflected on my thoughts and beliefs and considered my actions as a partner in this “toxic relationship”.  I found new communication tools and put them into practice and focused on my mental, emotional, and physical health.  Eventually, I left that job and secured a safe work space where I flourished.  I thought those days were behind me until I was triggered by someone who sounded just ….like …. her.  

Despite the immediate panic and anxiety (no slow burn like the first time) I was better equipped to navigate the relationship; although to my peers it would not have appeared that way in the heat of the moment. I was a hot mess.  The initial fight or flight response was strong and although I left work, went on stress leave, the time to return to work was shorter and engaging with my support system was critical to our success. After weighing the options, I knew there was only one way forward – and that was to have a difficult but safe conversation with the person who sounded like my past bully. The outcome of that conversation deepened my resolve and confidence as we collaborated on what an emotionally safe workplace looked like for me. We were committed to the process.

These outcomes do not come without work.  I have spent many hours talking through my problems with professionals and friends. Today, I help others create and design psychologically safe workspaces with action steps informed by research and experience. Let me share with you the strategies and tools you can use to build the workplace and relationships you deserve. 

You deserve a safe place too, together we can make better choices, 

 

Contact Info

Tammy Dunnett

108, 350 – 55 Salisbury Way

Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada

T8B 0A9

✆ 1-587-991-3771 

info@tammydunnett.com

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