job openings job postings job listings local jobs job seekersOne topic that I find comes up in my conversations both online and amongst other nurses more than any other is that of bullying.,

One topic that I find comes up in my conversations both online and amongst other nurses more than any other is that of bullying.

I hear of managers bullying staff. I hear of executive bullying managers. Staff bullying managers. Staff bullying other staff.

I am told of bullies that are promoted up the line. I am told of managers who are hesitant disciplining staff for fear of being branded a bully themselves.

I even hear of head on collisions; with bullies trying to out bully each other.

What the heck is going on here?

There is no question not every nurse is a bully.

On the whole my feeling is that we are inspirational, compassionate, collegial, professionals. We are also working in an extremely difficult environment.

Every shift, every one of us, face a unique collective of pressures and stresses that arise from managing the suffering of others in an environment of increasing constraints and complexities.

Despite this, no one wakes up and thinks, well Im off to work to really put some people in their place today.

Yet, it seems (anecdotally at least) our profession, and our workspace is rife with bullying.

The adage that nurses eat their young has now become so frequently used, and so ingrained into our collective nurse psyche, that we risk becoming desensitised to the awful reality that it suggests.

The truth seems to be that nurses eat everyone. Their young, their old, each other and themselves.

And to be clear, when we say eat, what we really mean is: belittle, subvert, embarrass, humiliate, de-rail, destroy, disempower, suck dry of all self-confidence, disrespect and disregard.

Bullying may be officially defined as:

Repeated, unwelcome behaviour of a person/s which has the potential to cause harm to a person/s wellbeing and may include;

Continued aggressive behaviour that intimidates, humiliates or undermines a person.

Deliberate misuse of power, and can come from people at level, above or below the employee;

and It can also occur outside of work location or hours and still affect an employees work performance or well being.

All official definitions and proposed solutions aside for just a moment. There is an important topic that needs to be reflected on here.

If bullying really is this bad, there is something deeply and fundamentally wrong with our profession.

Bullying should be met with zero tolerance and those responsible should be skilfully counseled (not simply punished). However, responding to each individual incidence of this behaviour is one thing. We also need to dig for the roots.

In a profession built upon the practice of caring for others, compassion and selflessness, what exactly is it about nursing and nurses that might engender this sort of antithetical, self-destructive behaviour?

This is where we must work.