Another dental nurse writes an anonymous letter to a previous manager. Here, the very real perils of a toxic workplace

Ever since I qualified as a dental nurse, I admired your practice. I would walk past this beautiful building in a quirky little town and think to myself how much I would love to work here one day.

I decided to email enquiring about vacancies. I hadn’t heard back for at least couple of years, until one day I received an email asking if I was still interested in the position. I remember reading the email and being so excited. Four weeks later, I left my position as a lead dental nurse in a lovely practice to work for you because I thought that was my dream. I was very wrong.

The first few weeks started great and I was embracing new ways of working, learning the new software and getting to know everybody. Then it started to slip. I soon realised I was in a very toxic place. Everybody was against each other behind each other’s backs. There was no team work at all and the atmosphere was always very tense. I kept thinking there was something wrong with me for feeling this because working here was something I had wanted for a long time. The worst time was after the first lockdown.

Having a couple of months off was really enjoyable and I felt like the weight had lifted off my shoulders. When we returned to clinic, things started to worsen. On our first meeting after coming back, you shouted at me and made sarcastic comments towards me all because I had a question regarding amendments to my contract. You told me I had to work anti-social hours with fewer breaks to make up my hours. I was exhausting myself every day, but you didn’t care. You made me feel like I had no choice and that there was nothing better out there, so I stuck with it and did what I was told.

Whenever I nursed for you, I was made to feel so small and never good enough. The way you spoke to all the dental nurses was awful, but I put up with it because I was scared. Achieving so much in my previous workplace – being shown appreciation and getting promoted – to then coming to your practice to have you crash me down was awful.

My confidence was gone, my happiness was gone and my passion for dentistry was quickly disappearing. Every day, walking to work I had tears in my eyes and every day I returned home in such an unhappy state. This ruined my friendships, relationships and took away part of me, part of who I was and who I loved.

I felt my mental health was deteriorating. I was constantly in an unhappy mood because I was put down in my job daily. My achievement didn’t matter at all, as I was always made to feel so insignificant. It was a really hard time for me.

The tipping point came when I realised I had lost myself. I needed to get back to 'me' without being constantly knocked down. After I summoned up the courage to leave, four other members of staff handed in their notice, too.

Slowly rebuilding

Five months later, I am in a different place and slowly rebuilding who I was before. Slowly finding my happiness again. Slowly getting back what you took away from me. Looking back at this experience it was the hardest part of my life yet. But I know being mistreated in this way will only make me stronger and more determined never to let anyone take away my confidence again.

The practice I now work in is full of supportive people. Everyone is understanding and we work in an open space clinic, so team work is extremely noticeable. Everyone looks after each other and the days flow easy.

If you feel like you’re losing yourself, as well as your passion, then find pastures new. Perhaps the grass is not always greener on the other side, but you certainly won’t know until you try. Getting out of a toxic situation has proved crucial – for my mental health, my career and the people I love.

To write for this series, email Julie Bissett at with your 750-word ‘letter’.