Nurse bullying is a problem that affects many nurses, and Travel Nurse bullying can be an intensified issue considering Travel Nurses are injected into a workplace that is otherwise fully formed culturally. This can make it easy to paint a Traveler as an outsider which provides favorable conditions for nurse bullying.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way! So, how to stop nurse bullying? Here are a few facts and tips on how to stop nurse bullying.
Facts on Nurse Bullying
- Frequency: According to the ANA, 18-31% of nurses have been bullied at work.
- Types of nurse bullying: Vertical, which involves a nurse being bullied by a manager or other superior, and horizontal, which involves a nurse being bullied by a peer colleague. Bullying can be aggressive and overt or it can be more “under the table” — regardless the type, negative effects are the same.
- It affects patient safety: In addition to a hostile job environment, nurse bullying can also harm patients. Putting nurses under additional pressure distracts and can cause errors on the job. The Joint Commission has said that “intimidating and disruptive behaviors can foster medical errors and [result in] preventable adverse outcomes.”
- It costs hospitals: Nurse bullying at its height can eventually lead to nurse turnover, including, in the case of Travel Nurses, cancelled contracts, which incurs costs that hospitals must absorb. According to a 2009 MedSurg Nursing article by John Murray, “bullying in the workplace can cost over $4 billion” on an annual basis.
How Travel Nurses Can Combat Nurse Bullying
- Be aware: So often a Traveler will just brush off bullying; chalk it up to being the new guy or gal. Be in touch with what’s really going on and remember that you deserve respect on the job.
- Document: Take notes — including dates, names, and times — on how you’re being bullied.
- React properly: The worst thing you can do is retaliate in a bullying fashion, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t defend yourself. It’s a tricky balance to strike, but just be communicative, professional, and honest. Speak up and say, “You are bullying me. Please stop.”
- Report: If a situation can’t be resolved on your own, you should formally report it to hospital administration and/or HR.
- If you see a colleague being bullied: Observe the situation and makes the same notes you would if it were you being bullied. Tell the colleague being bullied that you’ve noticed and are willing to provide any support necessary. Don’t be afraid to speak up against bullies. Like the saying goes, “If you see something, say something.”
- Be a part of the solution: At the end of the day, nurse bullying is a part of a hospital’s culture. While you might not be there long as a Traveler, do your best to be a good part of the culture and improve it through your own personal conduct, if nothing else!