Nurse Bullying's Corrosive Effect on Colleagues Confirmed

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , July 23, 2012

As a result, the study's authors said they could predict turnover intentions in a particular ward either by how much an individual nurse was the target of bullying or by how much a nurse perceived a bullying environment in his or her ward.


"This is potentially interesting because we tend to assume that direct, personal experiences should be more influential upon employees than indirect experiences only witnessed or heard about in a second-hand fashion. Yet our study identifies a case where direct and indirect experiences have a similarly strong relationship to turnover intentions," the study said. "These findings point to the potential importance of a growing area of research in organizational behavior that gives attention to and addresses third party experiences."

If we look at these findings a little more subjectively and from our own personal experiences, the nurses' sense of outrage when a colleague is bullied shouldn't be surprising. It's a natural human response. It doesn't matter if it is fast food restaurants or neonatal ICUs, few people want to work in a hostile environment, even if they are not the target of the hostilities. It is not pleasant to see the people you work with and rely upon humiliated and stripped of their dignity.

It's important to remember, however, that high unemployment and a sputtering economy forces workers in many industries to suffer through these indignities. Well aware of their value and scarcity in the labor market, nurses do not have to tolerate it.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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