“Roughly 85 percent of nurses have been abused by a fellow nurse and approximately one in three nurses have considered quitting the profession due to bullying,” according to a 2017 blog post by Pittsburgh-based Select International Healthcare says Alyssa Rege in her article “8 things to know about nurse bullying” from Becker’s Hospital Review.
You read that right. 85 percent — meaning the vast majority of nurses — experience workplace abuse, which in turn affects patient care (read: you and your loved ones), and one in three considers tossing everything they worked for — years of schooling and studying — right in the trash to take their health and dignity back.
“Nurses eat their young” is a common phrase workplace anti-abuse advocates who are nurses use. It was coined in 1986, and it’s not at all outdated.
Rege points to these eight facts about nurse abuse:
If we were to create a workplace bullying target persona, she would be a 42-year old, college-educated, full-time, non-supervisory, non-union worker in healthcare, education, or the government.
Targets of workplace abuse are most often motivated to help others — the do-gooders who enter healing and helping professions. When they don't also focus on politics, they become vulnerable to abuse. This mindset generally falls along gender and industry lines.
Targets and witnesses often say that those targeted abuse are often kind and cooperative. Though they also considered targets not likely to defend themselves and vulnerable (a strength often seen as a weakness in our patriarchal culture), it’s important to note targets are cooperators, not competitors. And collaborative work environments are proven to be not just healthier for employees but also for organizations’ bottom lines.
Nursing and teaching: rampant with bullying
I'm a 54-year old psychiatric RN day charge nurse who worked for the same employer for over 23 years. I had a perfect record on all my evaluations up until about two years ago, when my supervisor of many years resigned after management asked her to do unethical things.
The new young male supervisor sided with bullies and believed whatever they said. The bullies hated me because I would not be a part of their unscrupulous tactics. The new supervisor loved one of the young, pretty nurses. After she would leave his office, he would dance around me singing "out with the old and in with the new!" This nurse, the secretary, and another nurse would constantly ask me "what would you do if you lost your job?" and "don't you want to stay home with your new grandson?"
The harassment, ostracizing, and mind games came about swiftly. My schedule was changed from dayshift to 12-hour shifts. One of the main male bullies was moved to the dayshift. I was outnumbered by all the bullies at that...
Subscribe to our blog to learn more about
how workplace bullying works and how to deal with it.