Nurse Bullying

  1. 5 thoughts and statistics on nurse bullying

    Written by Kelly Gooch | February 24, 2016

    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."

    (STAFF NOTE: This was copied from Beckers Hospital Review. Full article can be found: 5 thoughts and statistics on nurse bullying)
    Last edit by traumaRUs on Feb 27, '16
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  2. Visit Slhengy profile page

    About Slhengy, BSN, RN

    Joined: Feb '16; Posts: 93; Likes: 80

    167 Comments

  3. by   KatieMI
    Dr. Renee Thompson pretends to naively ignore the fact that no naming of anything and no documentation will help because workpkace bullying, except for cases of bodily harm perpetrated then and there, is not illegal per se. It is not possible to prove that harm done then and there but diagnosed (like in my case) 6 months later, was directly caused by bullying. There were no precedents, and we are living in society where judicial system is built upon precedents.

    Nursing (and workplace overall) bullying will continue till there will be a half a dozen or so rich, determined victims who bring perpetrators to the court and send them to jails for at least a decade each without parole, among big public noise. Then and only then things get start moving in the head of every potential bully, because these one are afraid of only one thing: power greater than their own.
  4. by   NurseGirl525
    So Dr. Thompson wrote this article? What were your own thoughts concerning this? Have you ever experienced this?
  5. by   Slhengy
    The article was written by Kelly Gooch. I have been on the receiving end for sure. As a brand new nurse I was bullied by LPN's simply because I was a new RN. They were seasoned LPN's that were basically jealous of those who continued their education. I was also ostracized because I didn't smoke and refused to go on a smoke break with them. They would omit important facts during report and refused to come to my aid when I requested help. They sat by with their feet propped up while I ran myself ragged with difficult patients. I refused to be abused in that way so I left.
  6. by   jadelpn
    Quote from Slhengy
    The article was written by Kelly Gooch. I have been on the receiving end for sure. As a brand new nurse I was bullied by LPN's simply because I was a new RN. They were seasoned LPN's that were basically jealous of those who continued their education. I was also ostracized because I didn't smoke and refused to go on a smoke break with them. They would omit important facts during report and refused to come to my aid when I requested help. They sat by with their feet propped up while I ran myself ragged with difficult patients. I refused to be abused in that way so I left.
    As the RN, were you in charge of the unit? Not all LPN's are "jealous" of RN's, rather this unprofessional behavior was allowed to continue unaddressed. And unfortunately, you walked in on a very ingrained group which this behavior had been tolerated. This would be an issue for the DON.

    I am not sure what to say on the smoking thing.....if someone is a non-smoker, then not sure why it is an issue. Unless you spoke to them about excessive smoke breaks. Which again, ingrained behaviors that have been allowed to continue.

    Never rely on just report. Important facts need to be documented, and if they are not, then that would be a re-education issue. And I always check my own charts--you never know what someone will tell you or not tell you and what you need to know can be subjective.

    The big non-subjective issue here is when you ask for help and not given help. That is insubordination and a patient safety issue. Which needs to be reported each and every time.

    If you are charge and you are making assignments and the other nurses decline to do anything with said assignment, again, a reportable issue that needs to be reported each and every time.

    If you have a unit full of nurses who decline to work, that needs to be reported to your DON, the omsbudsman, and the state licensing bodies.

    The bottom line is that bullying continues because the powers that be allow it to continue. Unless management has a no tolerance policy that is followed through with each and every time.

    Further, that there is not a sense of "ratting" anyone out, "tattling" or some other juvenile descriptive word for reporting facts of what is happening which is ultimately to the patient's detriment. I am not a huge fan of attempting to "discuss" other nurse's behaviors towards me on a 1:1 kumbya come to Jesus meeting. If I wanted to do that, I would be a manager or in charge. So this whole concept of "go directly to the person and try to work it out" stuff is bogus in my opinion.

    Until there is no tolerance with follow through, this will continue to be a norm in some unit cultures.
    Last edit by jadelpn on Feb 27, '16
  7. by   Hoosier_RN
    I'm going to get flamed for this, but here it goes: I think nowadays, it's so easy to cry bully when someone doesn't act or react the way you want them to. I see it at my workplace all day. Mainly the younger generation, but some older nurses, too. If I said I was being bullied every time I didn't get my way, or said something I didn't like, I'd spend all day with my director reporting it. Direct aggression, that's one thing. But the whole 'they don't like me, I'm being bullied' or 'I wanted x but didn't get it, so they're mean' is just getting old!
  8. by   Thunderwolf
    Don't feel bad RNinIN, I'll probably be flamed also.

    Regarding inpatient hospital nursing, for the most part, this has improved or greatly improved, at least from my experience. Talk about bullying, it was "power for the course" and almost routine on inpatient floors 20-30 years ago. As a nurse, it was called, developing your "tough skin", which was on the job training. Bullying came from ALL directions...other nurses, nurse managers, and especially (OMG) the physicians. If you survived and developed that protective emotional skin, you were half way home to be considered being a "seasoned" nurse. Nurses, especially new nurses, crying at the nurses station or in the hallways was not uncommon. I would imagine now that that kind of bullying or some measure of it would probably be more common in smaller community hospitals and at ECF/SNFs than at large inpatient hospitals. From my experience, bullying is a climate that is either permitted or NOT permitted by hospital administration. Bullying starts and ends there. And with the proverbial "**** runs downhill," so does bullying...from admin on high to the physicians, from the physicians to the nurses and patients, from nurses to other nurses and also to patients. Do you see who ultimately looses in this whole process chain?....it is the patient, because they get it from all directions as well. Bullying is detrimental to patient health and well being. So, a bullying climate in any hospital or at any outside facility is a measure (in my opinion) of management or administration. So, not meaning to minimalize bullying found today....but, you should have seen it 20-30 years ago. It was bad. Real bad. Not as much any more, but if it is bad for you today, this may be more facility specific. If so...look at administration in being somewhat responsible for it. Administration directs and structures the climate. Then ask yourself, is it really worth it to stay there and not look elsewhere if that is an option? More medical institutions are "modernizing" themselves away from it.
  9. by   OCNRN63
    Quote from RNinIN
    I'm going to get flamed for this, but here it goes: I think nowadays, it's so easy to cry bully when someone doesn't act or react the way you want them to. I see it at my workplace all day. Mainly the younger generation, but some older nurses, too. If I said I was being bullied every time I didn't get my way, or said something I didn't like, I'd spend all day with my director reporting it. Direct aggression, that's one thing. But the whole 'they don't like me, I'm being bullied' or 'I wanted x but didn't get it, so they're mean' is just getting old!

    ^^THIS^^ And I'll be flamed too.

    Also, if you go into a job anticipating that you are going to be bullied, you are going to find situations that seem like bullying.

    Instead of approaching a new job with a negative attitude, look at it as a positive challenge. Abusive treatment definitely needs to be addressed, but some of the things people report here as NETY are just ridiculous. (e.g. "My preceptor won't talk to me about her personal life. She's nice to me and gives me positive feedback, but she won't include me in talking about her weekend."--This wasn't even a new employee, but rather a nursing student.)
    Last edit by OCNRN63 on Feb 28, '16
  10. by   Altra
    I had no idea who Renee Thompson is. Google led me to her LinkedIn profile - she is a professional speaker - and a YouTube video promoting a conference she led earlier this month. Her target audience seems to be general medical-surgical nurses "of a certain age". Her pitch to attend her conference included the following:

    "As med-surg nurses we never used to have to know telemetry, now we do."
    "Patients are now on all these different anti-coagulants and they have questions - and I don't always know how to respond."
    "If you're not on social media, you're missing out on a great opportunity for nurses. (this speaker) will show you how to open that door just a little bit ..."

    What these have in common with her book excerpts in the OP, in my opinion, is that she runs a business targeting those who feel inadequate or victimized as nurses.

    OP, you mentioned you are currently pursuing your BSN. I'm genuinely curious to hear from you and from others who may currently be taking baccalaureate or higher courses, or who teach at the university level - are Thompson's assertions regarding female behavior in line with current feminist theories?

    Edited to add: thinking about this some more ... I just wanted to clarify my last paragraph. In a nutshell, I have a real issue with those who assert that interpersonal problems are the result of some defect in us as women! In a nutshell, I do not accept that half of the human population is, in 2016, predisposed to negative behavior patterns solely on the basis of gender. Nope, not buying it. One who repeatedly finds herself involved in unproductive interactions would do well to examine her own contributions to the situations.
    Last edit by Altra on Feb 27, '16 : Reason: additional thoughts
  11. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from RNinIN
    I'm going to get flamed for this, but here it goes: I think nowadays, it's so easy to cry bully when someone doesn't act or react the way you want them to. I see it at my workplace all day. Mainly the younger generation, but some older nurses, too. If I said I was being bullied every time I didn't get my way, or said something I didn't like, I'd spend all day with my director reporting it. Direct aggression, that's one thing. But the whole 'they don't like me, I'm being bullied' or 'I wanted x but didn't get it, so they're mean' is just getting old!
    I agree. If I could "LIKE" this post a few dozen times, I would.

    I'm getting so tired of "the bully card." And anyone who truly believes that she is "being bullied just because they're jealous of me" ought to take a real long, close look at her interactions with coworkers. "They're just jealous" is the kind of thing your mamma told you to make you feel better when you were little. It doesn't mean much now except that you have an excessively high opinion of yourself."
  12. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from Altra
    I had no idea who Renee Thompson is. Google led me to her LinkedIn profile - she is a professional speaker - and a YouTube video promoting a conference she led earlier this month. Her target audience seems to be general medical-surgical nurses "of a certain age". Her pitch to attend her conference included the following:

    "As med-surg nurses we never used to have to know telemetry, now we do."
    "Patients are now on all these different anti-coagulants and they have questions - and I don't always know how to respond."
    "If you're not on social media, you're missing out on a great opportunity for nurses. (this speaker) will show you how to open that door just a little bit ..."

    What these have in common with her book excerpts in the OP, in my opinion, is that she runs a business targeting those who feel inadequate or victimized as nurses.

    OP, you mentioned you are currently pursuing your BSN. I'm genuinely curious to hear from you and from others who may currently be taking baccalaureate or higher courses, or who teach at the university level - are Thompson's assertions regarding female behavior in line with current feminist theories?

    Edited to add: thinking about this some more ... I just wanted to clarify my last paragraph. In a nutshell, I have a real issue with those who assert that interpersonal problems are the result of some defect in us as women! In a nutshell, I do not accept that half of the human population is, in 2016, predisposed to negative behavior patterns solely on the basis of gender. Nope, not buying it. One who repeatedly finds herself involved in unproductive interactions would do well to examine her own contributions to the situations.
    I, too have an issue with those misogynists who assert that interpersonal problems are a result of a defect in us as women. Unfortunately, misogyny runs rampant on Allnurses, and some of the biggest offenders are women. I cannot even begin to comprehend the defect in a person who believes that all of her interpersonal problems are a result of a defect in half the world's population -- or in all those women other than HER. Because I haven't yet encounter a woman who admits to perpetuating the problem she sees with "all women in the workplace."
  13. by   Farawyn
    Following.
  14. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from Ruby Vee
    I agree. If I could "LIKE" this post a few dozen times, I would.

    I'm getting so tired of "the bully card." And anyone who truly believes that she is "being bullied just because they're jealous of me" ought to take a real long, close look at her interactions with coworkers. "They're just jealous" is the kind of thing your mamma told you to make you feel better when you were little. It doesn't mean much now except that you have an excessively high opinion of yourself."
    She's kind of a local girl . . . I've disagreed with her about some things and she thinks I'm wrong. To each their own.

    I'm not crazy about the reasoning behind why nurses are mean to each other being because we are women.

    Linking her video from a recent posting in a professional nurses network in my area.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7q6...ature=youtu.be

    Here's an older one that mentions NETY . . . .

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAq2N0ZF0vI

    Here is her website.

    Nurses Do No Harm - RTConnections - Anti-Bullying
    Last edit by Spidey's mom on Feb 27, '16

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