6 Quintessential Bullying Basics Nurses Need to Know

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bullying, incivility, horizontal violence, vertical violence, lateral violence, oppression, renee thompson, rtconnections

Bullying is a problem. Bullying behaviors are pervasive, destructive and exist in every industry. Based on the conversations I have with nurses from all over the world, bullying is alive and well in the nursing profession too! As I spend my time helping individuals and organizations address and eliminate disruptive behaviors in the workplace, I continue to be amazed (in a bad way) of the behaviors displayed by “adult” professionals.

Here are a few examples that shocked me:

  • One nurse told me that she was sitting in another nurse’s “chair” to finish her charting. When she didn’t immediately get up, this nurse threw a cup of water in her face. Really? Yes.
  • Another told me that during multi-disciplinary rounds, she started to add commentary to the discussion about her patient. The physician interrupted her and said, “Excuse me. But when you have MD next to YOUR name, then you can speak.”  Seriously?????
  • And the most recent example of bad behavior I heard from a nurse is that when she was a new nurse, some of her colleagues would photocopy her charting (paper charting), take the copies home and try to find errors so they could get her in trouble. So sad!!

I could go on and on with examples of nurses and other “professionals” behaving badly. However, something I’ve come to realize as I’m out there trying to help – there are quintessential bullying basics that everyone needs to understand if we are truly going to eliminate this badness in healthcare.


1)   Bullying is a behavior and not a person
2)   Bullying behavior is destructive to individuals, organizations and patients
3)   Bullying behavior undermines teamwork, communication and a culture of safety
4)   Addressing bullying behavior is everyone’s responsibility
5)   Addressing and eliminating bullying behavior is a skill that can be developed.
6)   Eliminating bullying behavior relies on leadership commitment, ongoing education and employee involvement.

Understand that bullying behavior won’t go away on its own. If we continue to ignore the disruptive behaviors of our co-workers, we are essentially condoning them – saying it’s okay to behave that way. However, we can all start doing our part to communicate with each other in respectful ways; support each other and finally get back to why we all decided to get involved in healthcare to begin with – to care for patients AND each other! But, you have the know the basics first.

I’m in the process of launching a 1-year anti-bullying behavior program. To find out more about how you can bring this program to your organization, just contact me by clicking here.

Nurses should be kind – not cruel!

Thanks so much for reading. Take care and stay connected.

Renee Thompson

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3 thoughts on “6 Quintessential Bullying Basics Nurses Need to Know”

  1. Hi Renee,

    Great post!
    I would like to add two additional groups to this discussion.

    Nurses with disabilities are often bullied, especially if they receive reasonable accommodation
    under the ADA.

    In addition, nursing faculty members need to be included in this discussion. Faculty are bullied by other faculty members, students, and staff nurses in clinical settings.

    Please keep this discussion going!

  2. Thanks for your great comments Donna. You are so right! There are many others who could be included in this post. I spend a lot of time in the academic world and know first hand how horrific some faculty members can be. I'm on a mission to stop the cycle of bullying in healthcare. I just can't sit back and accept bullying as the norm. I'm glad I'm not alone!!

    Thanks Donna
    Kind regards

  3. Pingback: My Top Ten Blog Posts in 2015 - RTConnections

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