Putting an end to bullying.
Nurses (Crimes against)
|Publication:||Name: Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand Publisher: New Zealand Nurses' Organisation Audience: Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 New Zealand Nurses' Organisation ISSN: 1173-2032|
|Issue:||Date: June, 2010 Source Volume: 16 Source Issue: 5|
|Topic:||Event Code: 200 Management dynamics; 980 Legal issues & crime|
|Product:||Product Code: 8043100 Nurses NAICS Code: 621399 Offices of All Other Miscellaneous Health Practitioners|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: New Zealand Geographic Code: 8NEWZ New Zealand|
As I get closer to finishing my nursing degree, I've started
to think about my options once tutorials and exams become, temporarily,
a thing of the past.
While considering these options, I decided to do some research into the experiences of new graduate nurses to help me gauge the realities of the transition to practice and better inform my own choices. What I found was pretty daunting. Possibly I should have been forewarned by the words of my programme director in the initial interview at NorthTec when he said: "How do you think you would deal with bullying, because there's a lot of it in nursing?" But why dwell on the negatives, right?
Having decided belatedly on a career path and found the required commitment, I wasn't prepared to be slowed by this revelation. The challenge of something that far distant could be dealt with at a Later date. Well, now that date has arrived.
Articles written by new graduates and conversations with both new and experienced nurses on the topic of bullying have all added up to the same thing--a commentary on a trial by fire.
Student survey reveals extent of bullying
Last year's National Student Unit/Te Runanga Tauira online student survey revealed the extent and range of bullying experienced by students. It is truly rife at all Levels. I've read of graduates who needed support and encouragement but instead got "the cold shoulder" or answers seemingly designed to cause self doubt.
I have discussed this issue with friends outside the health sector and they are shocked by the reality that some nurses could sabotage the health and well-being of those they work with. Frankly, so am I. They have also questioned why I would knowingly start a career in such a challenging environment, a question worthy of serious thought.
When I started my degree, it was because I had lined up my personal values and attributes against the job specifications and thought they were a good match. But I was thinking of the fact that I enjoy helping people. Taking care of other people's health has been a natural part of my Life. What I didn't take into account was my ability (or lack of) to survive and function in an emotionally hostile environment, which I have come to realise nursing often is.
One registered nurse working in a rural hospital in one of the most serene places you could find said bullying was common in her workplace. It seems there is probably no avoiding this dynamic. It also became apparent that the burnout/dropout rate of nurses in their first year is high and that hostile work conditions, including bullying and exhaustion, contribute to this. Apparently some new graduates change jobs and others change professions.
So achieving competence in skills, acceptance of a high level of responsibility and finding my way in a new workplace is not all that awaits at the end of my degree. I wonder if some of those already nursing think new graduates should "do it hard" because they had to? Or is the pecking order so ingrained, that some nurses progress from frightened new graduate to competent bully by accepting the existing culture and being grateful when someone new arrives, replacing them at the bottom of that order? There must be many other reasons I'm not aware of. But surely none of them can justify ruining people and hard won careers.
Meanwhile on the shop floor, bullying reduces the workforce by driving people out. This leads to extra uncovered shifts when the bullied nurse has had enough and leaves, or has a breakdown due to the constant strain of being ridiculed or found at fault.
Let's treat each other better
In contrast, it seems equally Logical that simply by treating each other better, students and nurses could increase student/employee retention and job satisfaction, in turn doing something positive about staffing. Simply put, we at[ need the same things--to be accepted and to feel we are making a worthwhile contribution.
This is a big issue with no single easy answer but I would Like to propose one practical suggestion to consider. ALL applications to both nursing schools and nursing jobs should include:
* a clear statement about what constitutes bullying;
* a written agreement between employer/education institute and employee/student not to engage in these behaviours; and
* an explanation of the repercussions that will follow if this agreement is not upheld.
Each section could be signed and dated by the applicant and employer and kept as a formal and enforceable contract. If this agreement was a standard requirement for acceptance into nursing programmes and jobs, it may help people recognise how negative and bullying attitudes and actions can affect others before any damage is done.
And in case you're wondering, I still want to be a nurse, because I believe we can be Freed to Care and Proud to Nurse--together.
Report by NSU vice chair and second-year Student at NorthTec, Lisa Tangitu
|Gale Copyright:||Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.|