Whether you are new to the nursing profession or a veteran, the chances of encountering nurse bullies is the norm, rather than the exception. A crucial idea to bear in mind when dealing with a bully is to know your rights, and recognize when they are being violated. You have the right to be respected and to protect yourself from being threatened physically, mentally, or emotionally. Bullies aim to intimidate you, either publicly or privately. They attack your intelligence, appearance, or capabilities and fault you for their violent outbursts and/or problems. Bullies utilize name-calling, belittling, talking down, and speaking angrily to maintain control. Bullying behaviors proliferate in the work setting when such behaviors are not addressed decisively. If you are bullied and remain quiet, you are empowering the bully to continue their aggressive behavior. It may be tempting to believe that if you downplay a bullying episode with excuses or apologies the aggressor will change; or, you may even believe that by not speaking up you will avoid retaliation or a repeat episode. These beliefs are false. You can choose to suffer silently or take action to protect yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Nurse managers play a crucial role in preventing negative interactions between nurses by establishing and enforcing rules and codes of conduct of professional behavior expectations. Being clear as to what constitutes professional behavior is a pathway to effective leadership. Other strategies include continuing education programs to promote awareness of bullying behaviors and the implementation of an anonymous reporting system where nurses can report improper actions or behaviors. It is extremely important that nurse managers follow-up with corrective actions up to and including disciplinary actions as outlined in agency policies and procedures in order to stop bullying and promote a safe patient care environment.

Our mantra to nurse bullies should be:

Get back, stay back, and do no bullying!

Reflect and share an experience of a time that you were bullied and how it made you feel.


Thoughts on Teamwork:

Teamwork to me means many things like, helping each other to see old things in new ways, or to create a harmonious working environment that makes it safe to share, grow, and thrive to be and give the best of ourselves. Teamwork can even be likened to a puzzle where each member brings diverse viewpoints, talents, and skills that when blended together is a seamless transition of where one-piece ends and another begins. Or simply put, teamwork can achieve more with less. Mother nature though exemplifies teamwork though blending picturesque trees, rivers, mountains, valleys, and animals that make us stop and notice.

Fran Smoker

22 Dec 2018


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