Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Nurses in the Workplace: Nasty or Nice?

As an expert author who has written extensively about relational aggression (RA or nonphysical bullying), it wasn’t unusual for a workshop participant or audience member at one of my talks to comment on how much the concept applied to nurses. The expression “eat their young” was used more than once. Ouch.

Work on my two books about the topic (When Nurses Hurt Nurses, and Toxic Nursing) convince me that bad behaviors in the nursing workplace often are a result of circumstances rather than personalities. Nursing education doesn't include adequate training to Nurses aren’t educated to cope with the many demands of today’s complex work setting, and hospitals often overlook bullying because there are other more important problems to be confronted.

“RN RA” is bad for business, and has far reaching effects for both individuals and institutions. It’s no longer sufficient to accept the situation and watch our colleagues crash and burn. Be a nurse who makes a difference for your patients, your coworkers, and yourself! How can you take the first step?

My nursing education colleagues tell me there's too little time in the curriculum to educate nurses about bullying -- but when one professor used a story from my book to prompt a discussion, she told me: "We could have stayed there all night exchanging horror stories."  Although emotions can be tender, beginning a dialogue about past experiences can be the beginning of a healthy change.

Cheryl Dellasega, PhD

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