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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Bullying Resources

Published June 19, 2013 10:01 AM by Pam Tarapchak

Nurses are not strangers to bullying - unfortunately. And new research points out bullying by nurses outnumbers what occurs in other professions. In fact, twice as many nurses as other working Americans have experienced bullying in the workplace.

According to a recent study in the Journal of Nursing Management, among 612 staff nurses, 67.5% had experienced bullying from their supervisors, while 77.6% had been bullied by their co-workers. Outside the healthcare industry, just 35% of Americans had reported workplace incivility, revealed a recent survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute.

So what is it about nursing that causes these trends? Is it the mixture of young nurses versus older nurses, or the stressful situations nurses face? But even more important than identifying the reasons should be finding the solutions.

ADVANCE covers bullying on a fairly regular basis, offering materials that can help solve this problem in the nursing profession. Recently, we ran a story on how social media provides new outlets for nurses to address horizontal violence and support each other. You can read more about this new wave of support at www.advanceweb.com/Nurses, keyword search "Facing Bullies in Nursing."

You also can view a webinar on combating workplace bullying that covers how addressing this common workplace problem is good for employees and patient outcomes too. You can find it archived at www.advanceweb.com/NurseWebinars.

And a recent CE article, "Motivating Co-Workers," may provide solutions for how nurses can all get along. Earn 1 CE credit - for free! - at www.advanceweb.com/NurseCE.

As bullying persists in the profession, it's important that everyone try to find ways to end the trend. Take the time to review these resources and address the issue at your workplace.

13 comments

I am also now unemployed due to bullying in the workplace.  I was just out of orientation in a level 2 trauma center emergency dept. and throughout my 5 1/2 months there, was constantly bullied by a charge nurse.  She always was demeaning, making me think I was stupid, made me question my abilities as a nurse and question my wanting to remain in the profession.  As a nurse without any prior ER experience and my ICU experience had been 6 yrs. prior, I felt the experienced nurses should have been teaching me, not demeaning and humiliating me.  She would accuse me of things I did not do and she was basically the reason I left the job.  I had always wanted to practice in and emergency room but this experience has left me questioning that decision and my nursing skills altogether.  I could have been a darn good ER nurse with instruction, support from co-workers and management, and even physicians.  It is sad that this does happen in our great profession.  And this is not the only place I have experienced bullying between nurses, but it was the first time it happened to me.

Danay Blair, RN January 7, 2014 8:54 PM
KY

A year ago I was let go from my positiuon in which I worked for 6 years. I earned the respect of older and younger nurses and all staff accross the hospital,as well as outside community.It took 1 new manager to ruin my name in a few months. 2 months prior to my termiunation,I was abused in the worst possible way by this individual who literally accused me of being turned on by the CNO(male) This I brought to his attention with the hope that something would be done.It was ironic that the day I was let go this manager gave me an half-cocked apology and within 2-3 hours I was let go on the grounds that I tried to cover up another nurses mistake. One year later I still cry when I think about it.

Lorette, Med-surg - RN, Hospital December 21, 2013 4:23 PM
Lake Wales FL

A year ago I was let go from my positiuon in which I worked for 6 years. I earned the respect of older and younger nurses and all staff accross the hospital,as well as outside community.It took 1 new manager to ruin my name in a few months. 2 months prior to my termiunation,I was abused in the worst possible way by this individual who literally accused me of being turned on by the CNO(male) This I brought to his attention with the hope that something would be done.It was ironic that the day I was let go this manager gave me an half-cocked apology and within 2-3 hours I was let go on the grounds that I tried to cover up another nurses mistake. One year later I still cry when I think about it.

Lorette, Med-surg - RN, Hospital December 21, 2013 4:20 PM
Lake Wales FL

I was aware of bullying behaviors, heard of nurses eating their young, co-authored research papers while in school about bullying effects on nurse retention.  I never thought it would happen to me. My experience with a horrible preceptor left me feeling distraught, depressed, humiliated, incompetent, and questioning my choice to pursue nursing.  I left my unit as a graduate nurse after less than two weeks.  This was back in March and I haven't worked since.

As nurses, we really need to treat each other like we are supposed to treat the patients by supporting one another and being accepting of one another's individuality.  Bullying behavior has got to stop!

Tricia Denton, BSN, RN July 30, 2013 9:10 PM
Orlando FL

 I have spent 45 years in nursing.   My years have come with many mixed feelings and experiences. Some of what have been stated, along with diverse others.  The directors, supervisors, Nurse Managers, and co-workers have been contributing factors of negative work ethics. I recently retired 10 months ago.  I graduated from Nursing school in 1967..........   How is that for experience for you.  I have worked in multiple departments. I diversified myself to keep from getting burnout. However, when I put these work changes in place. I had no idea what I was doing at the time.  I have had all of the above to use their bullying work tactics on myself.  Another subject I want to discuss is I have not ever seen a intervention for the staff in light of bullying PATIENTS either.  I have also expierenced this type of bullying. In fact, that is what caused me to retire.  At this point of my life I have had "ENOUGH"  you think??????   I also write poetry.  'INSPIRATIONAL POETRY"  One of my favorite pieces of poetry is "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH."  The  most disheartening part of all of this........   I had no idea this would be the end of my career in the manner in which it came.   Lastly,I became a nurse because I had worked with so many nurses who showed no compassion for the patients /residents...     I wanted to be there for so many people, and I was, NOW !!!!! It is my time ,  I made this statement to my children so many times  WHO IS GOING TO BE THERE FOR ME???  REMEMBER RETIRED NOW  @ 77YEARS OF AGE..........   Come on now somebody has to bring a halt to this.  Lighten, this soften this,%0d%0areform this.........  I remain the compassionate, concerned nurse, I always tried to be.  I tried to reverse the roles doing my tour of duty, before I spoke, how I spoke, an mainly,my body language in reference to their care @ all times.  I have more to this story  but not enough time or space to put it..............

Gloria, Dementia/Alzheimers - L.P.N., Retired July 22, 2013 3:29 PM
Baltimore MD

I had a department manager that was a bully.  She wrote me up five times in one year for things I didn't do and when I showed her the records she did nothing about it.  I tried to complain to management and they referred me back to her!  I even wrote a long letter of problems when we did our "manager evaluation".  I had to write it long hand because they only allowed 300 characters on the computer comment section.  I finally had enough and had to quit.  I got so discouraged with the whole situation, fell into deep depression over it and retired.  Now I ache to return to nursing, but don't want a repeat.  Administration is supposed to back you up, but failed big time with this one.

Jane McMahan, Ortho/Surg - LPN, NWMC July 13, 2013 8:30 AM
Tucscon AZ

I believe that bullying is the result of poor management.

Because of stressful work conditions people usually take out their frustrations on their coworkers. An experienced nurse manager should consider bullying a symptom of a poor work environment. The administration should then take steps to correct the problems. During my 20 year career I did not observe this. At times good nurses were ostrsized and sometimes quit.

Bullying is a serious stressor which hospital administration should address.

Marie , Oncology - RN July 12, 2013 9:30 PM
New York

I see this problem as a clinical nurse instructor also. Some nurses look down upon the newer nurses got so.many reasons such as what school they are attending, what is the level of education, who their instructor is even. It is unfortunate.  The other problem I see is that we are a profession primarily made of women. And women don't fight fair. Unlike men we talk behind the back, backstab and smile to your face. There are a lot of strong personalities in this profession and instead working for the common good of the patient we tend to work for the common good of ourselves.

lisa, er/acute - RN July 12, 2013 4:48 PM
vinton IA

When are we going to realize that we older nurses must help and teach the younger ones because they are the future of healthcare?  I always tell my preceptee that one day she is going to be taking care of me and I certainly want her to know what she is doing.  But we older nurses must also realize that since medicine changes so fast, there is always new information that can be shared from the younger nurses and we must accept this as beneficial to better patient care.      Unfortunately, there are those people who do not want to accept  that anyone else can teach them anything, nor do they want anyone else to look good in the doctors' eyes.   It is a jealousy thing and is so stupid.   While most doctors appreciate a good nurse, they will not think twice about letting a nurse take the fall for anything negative.  

Alice, heart care - RN, Anmed Health July 12, 2013 3:57 PM
Anderson SC

So much bullying occurs everywhere I see it. In my own situation it really is old nurses versus new nurses. The older nurses treat the new ones terribly. They act as if new nurses know nothing. In reality both could learn something from one another. Older nurses have more skill, time management and critical thinking skills. However, new nurses bring to the table the ever evolving evidenced based practice that makes conditions safer for patients or is a more effective way of going about things. Older nurses feel that they must hold on to old tradition and mode refuse to change. This difference in style of practice makes a real communication and learning barrier. I think this is a huge problem for bullying. Nursing is a learning career. Can't we all get along, decrease the arrogance, and know that we all can learn something from another nurse of any walk of life!

Samantha, Medical Surgical - RN July 12, 2013 3:36 PM
PA

Was wrongly accused of "Drug Diversion for personal use", despite negative drug screen that I voluntarily submitted to in a supervised situation (Charge RN came in restroom stall with me).  A complaint was subsequently sent to my state licensing board where it was dismissed without any sanction, suspension, or restriction, it was flat out dismissed.  The original suspicion was initiated by an ADN who thought i wanted her job as nurse educator because I was studying for my CNS in Nursing Education- i aspired to be Nurse Faculty at a University, not on a clinical educator.  Due to state inquiry i was administratively withdrawn from my final class and have been unable to get a job anywhere in ICU or a hospital.  It has left me heartbroken because I was falsely accused and have no way of getting the Accusing Hospital from removing their reason for termination from my employment history. I now work in an dissatisfying job for average pay that wont even allow the renewal of my CCRN, not acute enough patients.  Its been 3 years and im still stuck out to pasture.  :(

Shannon, SICU - RN July 12, 2013 1:42 PM
Detroit MI

Currently unemployed secondary to severe incivility, racism, age discrimination, denied access to employee policy & procedures, and other aspects blocking my ability to locate and secure a position in the profession I dearly love.  Most of all I miss being out of the healthcare team and am unable to contribute to the new aspects of delivery of National Healthcare to a "thirsty nation interested in preventative health matters" I have so much to offer and currently am blocked in getting to the community who needs a nurse's care approach.

Marie Hill, Mental Health - Staff RN, Dept of Health & Human Services July 10, 2013 3:56 AM
Raleigh NC

This article is so timely. When an issue was brought to my supervisor, she would blame me when  she recommended the wrong solution. Anything that  became an issue was blamed on me. I had no idea how many lying nurses I would  encounter. So sad to see this in my profession.

I have also encounter insane jealousy and it cost me my title.

Unfortunately, less prepared, less intelligent nurses can form a very uncomfortable situation.

Susan, case managment - TCM June 26, 2013 4:10 PM
Orlando FL

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