Incivility or Bullying In the Nursing Workplace

Workplace bullying or incivility is a significant challenge that has received considerable attention globally and has become a global problem documented in several countries within various professions. The terms denote rude, disrespectful, or discourteous actions, resulting in more negative intentions. Bullying or incivility can occur to anybody in the workplace and is more widespread in the nursing profession as hospital-based violence, adversely affecting nursing care quality (Al-Ghabeesh & Qattom, 2019). Even though the nursing profession is devoted to helping others better their lives, the highly charged nature of nurses’ work environments can generate circumstances where emotions boil over.

The most notable instance when I felt bullied was my first placement as a nurse student. My senior nurse supervisor verbally abused me during clinical practice. The experience was hurting, but there was nothing I could do at that time. I feared that because the nurse was in a position of power as a supervisor, all reports and grievances had to pass through her hands. Having heard from other students that an attempt to voice out or report a bully during placement is likely to be met with a worsening encounter that can translate to more psychological distress, I was scared to report the incident and chose to keep silent instead for some time. Besides, I was also wrong, having failed to follow some instructions as stated because of misunderstanding. However, I felt that verbal abuse was not the correct or professional way to correct a learner for a misunderstanding. When I later shared the experience with a senior nurse whom I became close to after getting used to the environment, she told me that I have the right to report any situation when I feel harassed or bullied by a staff irrespective of their position in the organization. She also told me to make the supervisor who verbally abused me understand that I was not comfortable with the experience, which I did. The supervisor acknowledged that she might have reacted inappropriately without noticing because of some work stress and apologized for the misconduct in need.

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Even though it is understandable that the nurses work in settings that can cause work-related stress, impeding effective teamwork, acts of aggression, physical or verbal are completely unacceptable whether coming from colleagues or patients, junior or senior staff. Such incidents not only can cause severe ramifications for the nurse’s wellbeing but also impedes the nurse’s ability to provide quality patient care effectively. Study shows that nurses who get bullied or intimidated at work are less likely to call co-workers where there is a need to help. Nurses must operate as a unit and feel comfortable seeking help or guidance from colleagues to create an environment where patients can get the proper care they need. In many health care settings, several cases leading to patients’ lifelong disability or unexpected death can be traced by neglecting adequate communication and coordination (León-Pérez, Escartín & Giorgi, 2021).

 The best way to correct a colleague, whether junior or senior, is not through verbal or physical violence, rather, it require sitting them down and teaching them what to do so that next time they can do it better themselves. Besides, senior nurses should be dynamic and have motivational influence on other nurses, seeking to inspire others. They must apply the qualities to win trust and respect of the team to build a robust clinical practice.


Al-Ghabeesh, S. H., & Qattom, H. (2019). RETRACTED ARTICLE: Workplace bullying and its preventive measures and productivity among emergency department nurses. Israel journal of health policy research8(1), 1-9.

León-Pérez, J. M., Escartín, J., & Giorgi, G. (2021). The presence of workplace bullying and harassment worldwide. Concepts, approaches and methods, 55-86.