Bullying in nursing: a silent epidemic

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We’ve all seen it and looked the other way. Maybe we’ve even done it to another nurse after a bad day, or watched in silence as a colleague berated a newer nurse. Then there is the gossip. Bullying is rampant in nursing, and it makes a difficult job all the more stressful because of it. Not only does a nurse have to worry about her patient, but also whether her coworkers are talking about her in the tea room. Instead of focusing on taking care of your patient, bullying makes you worry about how you fit in with your coworkers and if they are going to make you miserable today. It’s very much like school all over again, and it makes for a terrible place to work. Luckily, many hospitals and organisations are aware of bullying and are taking measures to stop it. By drawing it out into the open and reporting it, bullying can be stopped.

Who Gets Bullied?

Everyone is familiar with the old saying “Nurses eat their young,” and the research finds that this is true. New grad nurses are particularly susceptible to bullying by senior nurses. New employees, bank nurses or new transfers into a department are also considered targets for bullies. Whether this is due to a feeling of superiority on the part of the bully over those who are new the unit is unknown. Others who are likely targets include someone who has gotten a promotion or special praise that others feel is undeserved, those who have trouble working with others, nurses who get special attention from the doctors, and when the unit is under severe understaffing conditions. When the stress is at its worst, then the bullying behaviours seem to come out the most. Some bullies are motivated by a sense of superiority, resentment towards others, the need to gossip, a sense of envy, or a sense of cliquishness. Either way, the bully seeks to separate a more vulnerable person from the rest of the group and make her feel bad.

Read more at Ausmed

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