Recently, during one of our weekend shifts, the unit was almost to capacity with each nurse having the max number of patients we were allowed to have. Our sister unit is the unit that gets our over flow once we are no longer able to accept any more patients. The charge nurse was a young Army Lieutenant and new to being a charge nurse. When the nursing supervisor called to notify us of another admission, the charge nurse informed her that although we were able to accept two more patients, our sister unit only had five patients. She then asked if the other patients could be directed to the other unit. The supervisor proceeded to yell at her so loud over the phone that we could hear it, stating she would take any admission she directed towards her. Just because she was a new Lieutenant it would behoove her to mind her own floor. Our head nurse was notified and she spoke with the supervisor, but the damage had been done. The nurse is now very hesitant when she has to be charge and tries to change shifts so she will not have to do it.
Bullying has been receiving a mass amount of attention due to recent horrible acts that have been committed against individuals who are considered helpless and/or weak. From psychological damage to physical harm or even death, bullying is a phenomenon that can be damaging to an individual, group or community. This fact holds true on the professional side as well. Bullying in the nursing profession has been increasingly reported over the past decade. Although bullying behaviors are unfortunately common acts committed by physicians, patients, and patient’s families, nurses also engage in bullying of their colleagues. With this recent increase, it is important to understand the ethical and legal issues associated with this behavior. Considering that the nursing profession has topped the list of the most honest and ethical professions for eleven years in a row, it is concerning that nurses would engage in behaviors that have been described as humiliating, intimidating, threatening, or demeaning aimed at their own colleagues (Matt, 2012). There are detailed codes of ethics in place that are supposed to provide guidelines for moral character. Yet, despite these guidelines, nurses engage in the aforementioned behaviors targeting their subordinates and peers. What Is Bullying/Workplace Bullying?
Bullying is known by many names; aggression, incivility, mobbing, horizontal or lateral violence and intimidation are some of the synonyms that are associated with the term (Murray, 2009). Workplace bullying is a serious issue affecting the nursing profession. It is defined as any type of repetitive abuse in which the victim of bullying behavior suffers verbal abuse, threats or behaviors by the perpetrator that interfere with his or her job performance (Murray, 2009). Often, workplace bullying involves abuse and/or misuse or power and authority within an organization.
Bullying behaviors create feelings of defenselessness in the victim and significantly demoralize his or her right to dignity in the workplace (Murray, 2009). Looking back at the example in the introduction, after the nurse spoke with others who have been charge and had to deal with the supervisor, it was found that many of the other nurses were treated the same way. The supervisor only spoke and behaved that way to nurses who were new to the charge nurse position. As it is a requirement for military nurses to act as charge nurse in order to get leadership experience, the supervisor liked to target the newer nurses because she could intimidate them. Nursing leaders must be able to work with others to achieve common goals and be able to assess and develop new opportunities for nurses (Finkelman, 2012). This supervisor creates such a hostile and uncomfortable environment the nurses were hesitant to approach her for any type of guidance for fear of being belittled.
Ethical and Legal Considerations...