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Bullying in Nursing: Issues and Trends
When people grow up, get out of school, and move into careers, they may feel they have left bullying behind them. Unfortunately, that is often not the case. Bullies exist all throughout life, and are often found in workplaces around the country and the world. There will always be people who feel they can manipulate and control others, by tearing them down and making them feel bad about themselves. One of the professions in which this is often seen is nursing. In such a fast-paced, patient-centered environment, one would think that it would be vital for everyone to work together. That should be the case, but there are some who feel the need to be in charge or make themselves appear important. These people are bullies in the nursing profession, and they must be stopped in order to ensure that nurses are treated fairly and that patients are getting the proper care.
An article written by Hutchinson, et al. (2006) indicates that a much more organizational perspective is needed when it comes to stopping bullying in nursing. In other words, it is not just about the bullies, specifically, but about the culture and design of the organization itself, and how it allows for bullying to continue to take place (Hutchinson, et al., 2006). Until the organization is viewed as a whole and addressed accordingly, there will be little that can be done in order to ensure that bullying stops in the nursing profession. The heart of the issue is that the way nursing is designed builds a culture of bullying, and once that culture begins, it is almost impossible to stop it and/or change it to something else that is better-suited to a professional environment (Hutchinson, et al., 2006). Nurses are often treated with a lack of respect by doctors and other medical personnel, and this is something that has been a consideration for many years (Hutchinson, et al., 2006).
Additionally, nurses are not always kind to one another, as they often vie for top spots, better shifts, better pay, and other options that can make their stressful and difficult jobs easier to handle (Hutchinson, et al., 2006). It is understandable that they want to make their jobs less stressful, and that can also help them treat patients more appropriately, but allowing a culture of bullying (either by other nurses or by any medical personnel) only makes the job easier for some people. For others, it can make it much more difficult, to the point where the nurse may quite (Hutchinson, et al., 2006). Since there is already a nursing shortage, the goal of any nurse should be to work together with others and keep everyone focused on caring for patients and enjoying the work and camaraderie involved.
Belsky (2012) writes that the problem of bullying in the nursing profession is actually much more significant than was first assumed. This is true in many workplaces, but nursing is specifically mentioned in the article because it can be very brutal when it comes to how people treat one another on the job. Nearly 25% of workers are bullied on their jobs (Belsky, 2012). It is not just about the nurses and others being bullied, either. The people who work in the area and who witness the bullying can also be traumatized by the event, making it more difficult for them to work and less comfortable for them to remain in that particular profession (Belsky, 2012). Many people who bully on the job are men, but women can be guilty of it, as well. This is seen more often in workplaces where there are more women, such as in nursing, because there is a more equal playing field for women in those cases, and some decide that bullying is a good way for them to rise to the top (Belsky, 2012).
When nurses get bullied, they are more likely to consider a different job (Belsky, 2012). That is not all, though, because the ripple effect of deciding to pursue another line of work carries through to the people who saw the bullying take place (Belsky, 2012). They, too, will think of quitting. That means many good nurses are being lost every year, simply because other nurses and medical personnel fail to treat them as equals and peers, and must bully, harass, and shame them, instead. With these nurses leaving and a shortage already in place, the bullies are the ones sticking around and taking care of patients (Belsky, 2012). Not all organizations in which nurses work will tolerate bullying (Belsky, 2012). Some are much more professional than others, and they will be the ones that the good nurses will seek out, so they can work in peace and feel safe coming to their job each day (Belsky, 2012). The less professional organizations will continue to allow bullying and continue to lose nurses who could have been excellent employees (Belsky, 2012).
The American Nurses Association (2014) addresses bullying and workplace violence on its website. In contrast to the other articles that talk about bullying and how it is getting worse than actually assumed or anticipated, the ANA website considers some statistics, along with a statement of how workplaces should operate for nurses. In addition, there are resources that can be accessed, in order to get help if a nurse is being bullied. According to the site, over 50% of nurses working in emergency centers were victims of violence from patients (American Nurses Association, 2014). While that is alarming, it can be very difficult to control what patients do and how they react, especially in an emergency situation. What is possibly most concerning, though, is that 53% of nurses report being "put down" by a more senior nurse (American Nurses Association, 2014). Fifty-two percent say they have been bullied, harassed, or have experienced violence as their workplace (American Nurses Association, 2014).
This brings to light a very serious issue, and one that appears to be getting worse instead of better. Nurses are intelligent people who have been through plenty of schooling to get to where they are today. They do not want to waste that because of mistreatment on the job, but the burnout and bullying does cause many nurses to leave and seek other work (American Nurses Association, 2014). Since there are no federal standards to protect against workplace violence, the ANA suggests that states and organizations become proactive and focus on ensuring that nurses are treated fairly in their workplaces and that they are safe and protected, so they do not become the victims of on-the-job violence (American Nurses Association, 2014). This is a step in the right direction, but may not be enough to really keep nurses from being bullied in a number of organizations.
While the three articles are similar, they are not the same. The ANA is more of an advocacy group and, as such, did not perform a study into the issue of nurses being bullied in the workplace. Still, that does not mean that the ANA does not provide valuable information. Many people do not realize that the bullying of nurses is so prevalent and so serious. Others feel that bullying ends with high school, and that adult bullies do not really exist. No matter what a person's "take" is on bullying, it is clear that significant numbers of nurses believe that they are being bullied, harassed, and mistreated in their workplaces. It is not just the ANA and its advocacy to stop bullying in the nursing profession where information like this can be seen, either. The other two articles also address the issue, even to the point of indicating that the problem is worsening.
Whether things are really getting worse, or it is only that they are worse than they were expected to be now that they are really being studied, remains to be seen. Either way, however, there are issues that have to be handled. Hutchinson, et al. (2006) focused more on how the organization is allowing the culture of bullying, and how it should be changed in order to make sure bullies are not allowed to cause nurses difficulty. In some organizations, that is already being done. The more professional organizations that employ nurses do try to keep bullying from taking place -- although making sure it does not happen at all, ever, can be difficult. In cases where it occurs despite clear rules against it, swift action must be taken in order to stop the offender from continuing. As Belsky (2012) showed, too many good nurses and other professional workers are being lost because of clear and direct mistreatment of them by others in their organization. This can be stopped, but only if organizations like the ANA continue to advocate, and only if workplaces take the issue seriously.
Personal and Professional Values
The bullying of nurses -- or anyone else -- goes against both personal and professional values. It…[continue]
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