Does the Nursing Profession Have a Problem with Bullying?

A university study found that 64 percent of nurses had witnessed or experienced bullying over a six month period.

A nursing summit at Jacksonville University addressed the many challenges of the profession, with nurse bullying foremost among them.

The Quality and Safety Education for Nurses summit was organized to address best practices for preventing infections, improving safety and reporting errors, according to

Around 200 nurses, professors and students attended the event, and many questions surrounded the idea that bullying among nurses is rampant.

“Nursing is a caring profession,” Cheryl Bergman, associate dean of the JU School of Nursing, said. “To have this stigma linked to our profession is really sad, a sad state of affairs.”

One nurse presenting her doctoral dissertation said nurse bullying seems to be a nation and world-wide problem. An older nurse confirmed that bullying had been a problem in the profession since at least the 1960s. Another nurse acknowledged that their work environment “isn’t always positive.”

The university had recently published a study that showed 64 percent of nurses had witnessed or experienced bullying over a six month period. In addition, a Policy, Politics & Nursing Practice study found in 2014 that nearly one in three nurses leave within two years of starting their profession, citing incivility and bullying.

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Senior nurses at the summit offered various tips for dealing with nurse bullying.

One nurse explained that sometimes simply telling someone to stop their behavior can resolve the problem, as some nurses may not be aware they’re bullying. Another solution offered was to go to the bully’s superiors and report their behavior.

A third nurse encouraged all current and prospective nurses to attend anti-bullying training when possible.

All speakers at the summit seemed to agree, however, that the best way to handle nurse bullying was to talk to coworkers about it and report it when necessary.

Nurse bullying can create a toxic environment in hospitals, increase worker stress and decrease patient safety.

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