5 thoughts and statistics on nurse bullying

Sixty percent of new nurses quit their first job within the first six months due to the behavior of their co-workers, and nearly 50 percent of nurses believe that they will experience bullying at some time in their careers, according to research presented in a new e-book from Aurora, Colo.-based American Sentinel University.

The new e-book, "Dr. Renee Thompson's Series on Nurse Bullying," examines the roots of bullying and conflict resolution as Renee Thompson, DNP, RN, a nursing professional development/anti-bullying thought leader, shares her professional insight on how to best address and eliminate workplace bullying.

Here are five other thoughts and statistics from the e-book.

1. Nearly half — 48 percent — of new graduating nurses are afraid of becoming the target of workplace bullying.

2. In Dr. Thompson's research and observations, she identified two primary reasons why bullying is prevalent in nursing:

  • Nursing is a female dominated profession. "Theories suggest that age-old female 'competition' has shifted from competing over a man to competing over status, respect and position in the nursing environment. The same behaviors once witnessed between two women fighting over a man are the ones witnessed today in the behavior of bullies," Dr. Thompson wrote.
  • Nurses are an oppressed profession. Dr. Thompson noted that nurses are seen as a silent majority, which can bring about frustration. "Feelings of frustration, coupled with an increasingly complex and stressful job, can create environments where nurses 'take it out' on each other. Since nurses can't 'take it out' on administrators or physicians, the theory is that they take it out on the already oppressed, subservient group," she wrote.

3. Dr. Thompson identified the following as common overt bullying weapons:

  • Verbal criticism or name-calling
  • Intimidation
  • Blaming
  • Ethnic jokes or slurs
  • Finding fault
  • Threatening
  • Physical violence

4. Dr. Thompson identified the following as common covert bullying weapons:

  • Sabotage
  • Withholding information
  • Excluding others
  • Unfair assignments
  • Undermining
  • Downplaying accomplishments

5. Dr. Thompson's recommended action steps to address bullying are:

  • Name the behavior. "Bullies who feel a sense of power during their tirades gain momentum as they scream, yell or spread rumors and sabotage their co-workers. Naming the behavior as it occurs can stop things immediately and prevent an escalation of that behavior," Dr. Thompson wrote.
  • Document, document and document. "If you are being bullied, start a documentation trail. Keep a small notebook with you and write down dates, times, witnesses, verbatim comments, and any behaviors you believe undermine a culture of safety and a professional work environment," Dr. Thompson wrote. "Keep growing this documentation trail until you are at the point where you can file a formal complaint."



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