The government takes this serious – we should too

Workplace bullying is real. It happens just about everywhere. About 60% of workers claim to currently be working with a “toxic” personality right now and over 90% say they have worked with a “toxic” person in the past. Those are stunning statistics.

crying girlIt turns out that the US government, specificially the CDC is very concerned about this because it’s not just office buildings that have this problem. Hospitals do as well and when bullying negatively affects a hospital work environment the patients suffer. This problem is considered particularly acute in the field of nursing.

According to the CDC: The prevalence of workplace bullying in nursing is pervasive, and estimates range from 30% to well over 50% of nurses reporting that they have been bullied or witnessed others being bullied at work. They are so concerned about this that they have commissioned a study to not only document the extent of nurse on nurse bullying, but also studying what impact, if any, training has on the situation.

The CDC has justified this study by saying: Nurses who are young or new to their careers are typically singled out as targets for harassment and bullying by more advanced nurses or nurse managers due to their lower status in the organization and their relative inexperience. Some studies have found that up to 57% of nursing students report experiencing or witnessing nurse-on-nurse bullying at least once during their training, with some reporting multiple incidents.

It is clear from existing research that horizontal bullying begins quite early during clinical training, and that it is detrimental to the health and well-being not only of those who are victimized but also other nurses who witness such exchanges, resulting in a host of physical and psychosomatic complaints, as well as anxiety, low self-esteem, sleep disorders, symptoms of depression, and in some cases post-traumatic stress-like reactions.

Both globally and in the U.S. this has resulted in a large percentage of registered nurses leaving the field much sooner than anticipated or choosing not to practice their vocation at all. This has contributed to the severe worldwide shortage of qualified nurses, a trend projected to continue increasing over the next decade.

Lateral violence has only recently been widely publicized in the nursing literature as a serious concern, especially in terms of short-term and longer-range retention of nurses. Consequently, researchers have not yet moved into developing training for this issue, and nursing students currently receive little, if any, training on recognizing all types of workplace violence including workplace bullying and harassment, nor on communicating about or dealing with these types of harmful work behaviors.

So what has come out of all this research? I’m glad you asked. Here is a link to the study research conducted by the University of Cincinnati’s school of nursing on behalf of the CDC.

This link includes audio of all the presentations as well as the powerpoints. Anyone concerned about workplace violence and aggression and especially how it impacts health care – should review these findings.

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