Addressing Incivility in Nursing Practice

Subject: Nursing
Pages: 5
Words: 1511
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: Bachelor


Incivility represents a significant problem in modern society as it may every aspect of life. In the majority of cases, incivility occurs in the industries that provide services and products, which require direct interaction between employees, customers, and stakeholders. In some cases, a conflict of interests may lead to inappropriate behavior of parties. In other, challenging working conditions combined with constant stress may cause employee burnout and emotional breakdowns involving uncivil behavior. It may also occur as a result of insufficient ethical education or inappropriate socialization. Nevertheless, regardless of the background and reasoning, incivility may cause severe harm to the well-being of a particular community. It may significantly affect nursing environments by decreasing patient safety, worsening patient outcomes, and reducing job satisfaction (Patel & Chrisman, 2020). In this paper, I will discuss the issue of incivility and its importance to nursing, supporting my argument with a scenario of incivility. I will also introduce three strategies for creating a healthy environment and two strategies that I will implement in my future practice as a nurse executive.

The Issue of Incivility

The nursing practice involves complex ethical dilemmas, and controversial problems and may cause employee burnout. Such stressful environments, combined with the need to provide services to people directly in close cooperation with other clinicians, increase the risk of incivility (Jochim & Rosengren, 2021). Incivility can be defined as the violation of workplace norms for respect, which may vary from direct insults and bullying to inappropriate attitudes (Patel & Chrisman, 2020). It may prevent the development of healthy and trusting relationships between people, reduce worker productivity, worsen communication, and lead to medical error (Patel & Chrisman, 2020). Moreover, it may have adverse effects on the emotional, psychological, and even physical health of both victims and witnesses of incivility. Therefore, it may be necessary to address the issue on multiple levels to reduce related risks.

The Impact of Incivility

Impact on Individuals

Incivility may have adverse effects on an individual regardless of the field. As uncivil behavior includes a wide variety of actions from inappropriate attitudes to insults and even violence, its impact may vary from one case to another. Incivility toward nursing employees may lead to poor performance, lack of motivation, higher levels of stress, and clinicians burnout, which, in turn, may result in more incivility. Moreover, an inseparable part of nursing practice is providing care to people in need. In many cases, patients may have fragile emotional states and psychological health. Becoming a victim or even a witness of incivility may be traumatizing. Hence, it may have a considerable impact on patients’ well-being, decreasing the probability of positive healthcare outcomes. Incivility contradicts the principles of holistic care and patient-centered care as it may harm the emotional and spiritual well-being of patients. It may also be essential to consider spirituality among employees as a factor in incivility prevention. Recent studies have shown that there is a correlation between staff spirituality and higher civility (Phillips et al., 2018). Therefore, it may be particularly important to address the issue in nursing practice by providing individual and flexible techniques.

Impact on Microsystem Work Environments

Nursing work environments may transform depending on the global environment. For instance, disaster management frameworks involve the mobilization of medical facilities in case of emergencies. Higher workload and patient-related risks generate more stress and hence, increase the probability of uncivil behavior. The human factor plays a significant role in the occurrence of the issue. Therefore, higher social tension may have a considerable impact on microsystem work environments. Furthermore, some sources state that such fields as intensive care and intermediate care are related to higher risks of incivility (Layne et al., 2019). The impact of incivility on work environments correlates significantly with its impact on individuals. As mentioned before, it may lead to low performance of individuals, prevent the development of healthy and trustful relationships, and impede communication. Cooperation is a critical factor that influences the efficiency of a facility and correlates considerably with patient outcomes. In addition, establishing trustful relationships with patients is an essential element of holistic care. Consequently, lower cooperation and poor communication may lead to deterioration of the performance of the medical unit. Therefore, it may be vital to develop and maintain work environments with minimal incivility rates.

Impact on the Profession of Nursing

Micro, Meso, and macro systems are closely interrelated with each other. Hence, the impacts of incivility on individuals and work environments may influence the profession of nursing as a whole. Recent studies have shown that incivility frequently occurs in nursing education (Al-Jubouri et al., 2021). Such an issue may lead to a lack of civil behaviors, insufficient moral frameworks, and poor ethical education. As a consequence, more incivility occurs in the profession of nursing. It may be essential to develop global frameworks and assessment standards to address the issue on the macro level.

Incivility Example

A graduate nurse misinterpreted a medical abbreviation and provided the wrong medication to the patient. Fortunately, the provided medication had a weak effect and did not cause any harm to the patient’s health. However, the executive was furious and started shouting at the nurse, blaming her for their lack of professionalism and irresponsibility. Although such a mistake could have led to severe health problems and required attention, the way the executive handled the situation was inappropriate. Such incivility mainly affected the nurse as she became the victim of inappropriate behavior. Even though she became more attentive to medical prescriptions, her overall confidence and self-esteem decreased, resulting in lower performance and lack of motivation. The effect on the work environment was also significant as other employees who witnessed the action lost the will to cooperate with the executive as they were scared to experience similar incivility. Furthermore, some nurses viewed such behavior as an appropriate model and demonstrated similar uncivil behavior towards their colleagues and patients. Overall the event had a considerable adverse impact on the development of a healthy working environment.

Healthy Working Environment Development Strategies

There is a significant number of methods and techniques that may improve working environments and prevent incivility. These strategies are implemented not only in nursing practice but also in other fields. As incivility is closely linked with the human factor, in most cases, preventive strategies are aimed at shaping the behavior of an individual or a group of people. The first and the most common strategy is incivility-related education. It may include the provision of knowledge about both incivility and related topics such as ethics or conflict management. Recent studies have shown that incivility education may help nurses identify inappropriate behavior and react properly (Razzi & Bianchi, 2019).

Another possible strategy is implementing spirituality into the workplace. Some sources suggest that spirituality may increase organizational commitment, improve job satisfaction, and develop healthy environments (Phillips et al., 2018). Spirituality may serve as a medium for moral standards and life principles that prevent uncivil behavior. It may also be beneficial to utilize other methods of maintaining good morals. Such a goal may be achieved by developing comprehensive working codes and regulations.

Finally, proper leadership plays a significant role in the development of healthy working environments. A recent study has shown that nurse preceptors may provide needed support for employees encouraging professional and personal growth (Jochim & Rosengren, 2021). It may be highly beneficial if the nurse executive acts as a nurse preceptor and supports the staff. Such an attitude may contribute to the development of healthy and trustful relationships, which, in turn, decrease the probability of uncivil behavior.

Nurse Executive Perspective

My specialty track is nurse executive, which means it may be necessary to have sufficient nursing skills and experience as well as high communication skills, conflict management knowledge, decision-making skills, and leadership abilities. As already mentioned, effective leadership is an essential part of working environment development (Jochim & Rosengren, 2021). Hence, I would implement the nurse preceptor strategy by actively listening to the employees and providing advice and guidance. Moreover, it may be necessary to avoid any uncivil actions to set an appropriate example. Another strategy that can be implemented by nurse executives is developing a moral code or a list of regulations to help nurses assess inappropriate behavior and avoid it (Razzi & Bianchi, 2019). It may also be necessary to react to incivility professionally and constructively.


Incivility is a significant issue that may occur not only in nursing practice but also in every other field. Incivility may occur due to a wide variety of reasons, including emotional pressure, conflict of interests, medical employee burnout, and even miscommunication. Consequently, it may occur in stressful and high-risk nursing environments with high frequency. Incivility may have adverse effects on diverse levels, reducing performance and patient outcomes. Therefore, it may be vital to utilize several strategies to develop and maintain healthy and civil working environments. This assignment helped me better understand the issue of incivility and its impact on the profession of nursing. I also learned more about practical methods that may be utilized to build and maintain healthy and productive environments in the workplace.


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