The consequences of bullying and verbal abuse are wide ranging, from spurring nurses to call in sick more often, to causing post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, or insomnia in victims. Patient safety might also be in jeopardy when nurses are working in a toxic, abusive environment.
But a striking finding of the new RN Work Project study is that nurses who are verbally abused are more likely to jump ship.
The study shows that intent to leave a job is highly correlated with the levels of abuse new RNs experienced.
RNs who reported no verbal abuse were least likely to plan to leave in the next three years. But those who experienced moderate to high levels of abuse were most likely to say they intended to leave in the next 12 months.
It's also important to note the finding that these new RNs didn't want to leave the field of nursing, just their current, poisonous environments. This means that hospitals that allow verbal abuse to occur are likely losing valuable employees to other organizations.
The authors of this study recommended a course of action similar to the one Dellasega calls for in her book, Toxic Nursing: Managing Bullying, Bad Attitudes, and Total Turmoil. They say hospitals should implement mandatory organization-wide programs for all employees about the impact of verbal abuse and other disruptive behaviors, as well as zero-tolerance policies.
And if your organization hasn't taken the time to train its nurse leaders in conflict resolution, now's the time to do it.