Stop Losing New Nurses Out of the Nursing Profession

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New nurses have 2 fears when they start their first job. Their biggest fear is that they are going to harm a patient. Actually, many use the word kill. But their second fear is that the nurses will eat them alive. New nurses are afraid of becoming the target of nurse bullying.

Amy, a new nurse, arrives on the unit at 6:30am on her very 1st day of work. She approaches the unit secretary sitting at the nurses’ station but the unit secretary ignores her. Finally, after an uncomfortable 5 minutes, the secretary looks up and asks Amy what she wants. Amy says that she is new and asks if Carol, her preceptor is available. You see, the manager was off that day but told Amy to come in and find Carol. The unit secretary, who doesn’t smile and barely acknowledges Amy’s existence, turns to a group of nurses who are sitting at the nurses’ station and says, “Hey Carol. Your baby is here.” Carol looks up and said, “Great” sarcastically. She walks over to Amy and says. “Look. I hate being a preceptor. Just don’t get in my way and try not to kill anyone. Okay.” The look on Amy’s face is shock and horror.

Unfortunately, new nurses have every right to be concerned about how they will be treated in the workplace.

60% of all new nurses quit their first job within 1 year due to the bad behavior of their co-workers

48% of newly graduating nurses are afraid that they will become the target of workplace bullying.

Almost every day of my life, a nurse reaches out for help.

We are hemorrhaging new nurses faster than we can create them.

How can we stop losing new nurses?

FIRST, we have to stop accepting bullying as the norm. Identifying why nurse bullying continues is a start to ending it.

SECOND, we have to teach students and new nurses how to protect and bully-proof themselves before they enter into the work force. While in my doctoral program, I developed an online workshop to teach senior nurses students how to protect and bully-proof themselves before starting their first job. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and I was thrilled to demonstrate statistically significant results (article pertaining to my research will be published in early 2017). However, to share this program with more than just my student group, I’ve converted this work into a program that is designed to teach student nurses AND our newest nurses the strategies they need to protect themselves in the workplace.

Module 1: We talk about how to recognize bullying behavior…the key here is BEHAVIOR.

Module 2: We discuss how bullies choose their targets. Just like a criminal looking for his next victim, bullies go through a similar process until they find an easy target.

Module 3: I share simple strategies you can incorporate to avoid becoming a target.

Module 4: I share strategies to confront bullying behavior (sometimes a bit scary but I make it easy for you).

Learn more about my new nurse bully-proofing program.

THIRD, we have to stop using silence as a strategy. The bullies thrive on our silence. It’s time to call bullying what it is – destructive, unprofessional, and a violation of our nursing code of ethics.

We can no longer afford to say, “Well, that’s just the way it is in nursing.” Why? Because when all of the good nurses leave, our public will be left with the bullies.

Stop losing new nurses, bullying

It’s time for nurse bullying to stop!

Thanks so much for reading. Please do your part and share this article with others. Nurses should be kind – not cruel!


About the author: Dr. Renee Thompson is a keynote speaker, author and professional development/anti-bullying thought leader. Renee spends the majority of her time helping healthcare and academic organizations address and eliminate bullying behavior. Find out how you can bring Renee to YOUR organization or nursing event, or access Renee’s other anti-bullying resources.

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