5 Steps to Combat Bullying Among Nurses

Written by Rose Torrento on Tuesday, April 19, 2016 Posted in Press Releases

5 Steps to Combat Bullying Among Nurses

Bullying is a well-known issue across educational institutions. The news channels are consistently running stories about children who have suffered from anxiety disorders, depression, or have even died by suicide as a result of bullying. We aware of the signs, the solutions, and the potential impacts when it comes to young children. But do we recognize it when it happens to us?

According to her eBook, Dr. Renee Thompson's Series on Nurse Bullying, 60% of all new nurses quit their first job within the first six months due to the bad behavior of their co-workers. In addition, 48% fear becoming targets of bullying. This demonstrates a significant problem that is widespread enough that even those who have not yet become victims are taking precautions.

Luckily, this issue is coming to light in a big way throughout the medical industry with resources, policies, and trainings to help combat it. But what if you're experiencing workplace bullying? What can you do? Here are five steps to help you take charge of the situation and create a healthy work environment in which you can thrive:

1. Recognize bullying when it happens.

Bullying tactics are not always overt, meaning they may not be obvious to those in the vicinity. Very often, in fact, they are covert. The Workplace Bullying Institute offers some examples of covert bullying, including:

  • Giving the silent treatment
  • Excessively monitoring another's work
  • Social isolation
  • Gossiping and spreading rumors
  • Purposely assigning low-skilled work

Bottom line: If it feels like you're being bullied, you probably are. If you can identify it, you can deal with it.

2. Name the behavior.

Thompson suggests that vocally identifying the behavior of the bully is one of the most useful tools available to you. It could be as simple as stating, “You are raising your voice at me in the middle of the nurses' station where patients and families can hear you.” This sends a powerful statement to the bully that you are aware of what he or she is doing, and you will not tolerate it.

3. Document.

You won't find a single article about bullying in the nursing industry that does not stress the importance of documenting the bully's behavior. If the issue has to be taken to a supervisor or if legal action is taken, documentation will allow you to show the existence of consistent abusive behavior.

4. Report the behavior.

Be sure your superiors are aware of what's going on from the get-go. If the person instigating the bullying is your superior or if your superior is unresponsive to your complaint, consider going higher up the chain. Either way, make the issue known so you can get help from those with the power to step in.

5. Seek support.

Talk with loved ones, friends, or co-workers you trust to help you deal with some of the emotional fallout from the situation. Being bullied — even as an adult — is no small challenge, and you'll need some people on your side to help you get through it. You may even considering counseling, if necessary.

HPC takes workplace bullying very seriously. If you are experiencing this type of abuse, there are resources available to you in a variety of places. The American Nurses Association website has a number of articles, tips, and webinars on this topic.

Stopbullyingnurses.com is another resource for statistics and insight into what various groups are doing to crack down on this issue. Researcher Cheryl Dellasega, Ph.D., is a well-respected advocate at the forefront of this issue with several published books, a support group, and some motivational products, all of which you can access through her website.

If you're suffering from workplace bullying, you're not alone. If you see something, say something. Contact us online or give us a call at (888) 299-9800.

About the Author

Rose Torrento

Rose Torrento

Rosemarie Torrento has worked in health care for more than 26 years, beginning as a registered nurse in 1988. Early in her nursing career, Torrento worked as a freelance contract nurse before accepting a position in nursing administration. During her 17-year tenure in that role, she oversaw nursing employment and travel nurse contracting at a Level 1 Trauma Hospital in Michigan. Understanding the challenges travel nurses faced, Torrento founded Health Providers Choice Inc. (HPC) in 2003. Through Torrento’s extensive experience and her role as President and CEO, HPC provides travel placement of registered nurses and allied health professionals to hospital systems nationally.