Bullying in the Nursing Workplace

The professionals in any occupation are exposed to a particular level of conflict inside the workplace. The tension and psychological oppression, or bullying from the side of managers or co-workers often become a reason for leaving the place of employment or the profession in general. When viewed from the perspective of the medical sphere and nursing, in particular, the problem of bullying occurs to be one of the most acute ones. According to recent research, more than a quarter of nurses quitted their jobs after their first year of work and “57% left by the second year” (Johnson & Rea, 2009, p. 84). Workplace bullying in the nursing field is one of the most decisive factors influencing the quality of medical services carried out by victims, as well as the overall atmosphere in the institution. It is essential to find the ways of dealing with this threat to improve the efficiency of nursing as a profession and make it a respectful kind of occupation.

Bullying in a workplace is an internationally recognized phenomenon. Bullying might be defined as an intentional disgraceful behavior of an individual toward anyone else at the place of employment that is characterized as “undermining the individual’s right to dignity at work” (Etienne, 2014, p. 6). It occurs in many professional spheres and has diverse manifestations including threatening, embarrassment, and intimidation (Ovayolu, Ovayolu, & Karadag, 2014). However, as the results of multiple types of research imply, the medical professional field obtains a higher rate of bullying than any other sector (Ovayolu et al., 2014; Johnson & Rea, 2009). That is why it is relevant to understand the reasons and outcomes of this problem.

According to the study made by Johnson and Rea (2009), 27.3% of the questioned participants stated that they were victims of bullying at the workplace which influenced their wish “to leave their current position” (p. 87). The conflicts happen between nurses, as well as between managers and their subordinate employees. Besides, due to the specific features of nursing occupation which expose nurses to constant interactions with patients, they may also be the bullying victims of the persons under treatment and their family members (Ovayolu et al., 2014). It is essential to differentiate between incivility and bullying, where the first one is not planned or intended, and the second one is done on purpose with harmful intentions only (Olender, 2017). Therefore, such inappropriate actions which continuously appear in the workplace flow into serious outcomes negatively affecting the working process and its results.

The unfavorable environment at work exposes nurses to various adverse effects which do not only result in the decline in their well-being but also negatively influence the quality of their service. The harmful outcomes of the aggressive and intolerant behavior toward the workers in medical facilities are “absenteeism,” low level of job contentment, and “job stress” (Chipps & McRury, 2012, p. 94). The victimized individuals suffer anxiety and try to avoid contact with the bullies which leads to the decline in their productivity, attendance, and quality of services. According to the empirical data retrieved during the study of the relations between bullying and quitting rates, bullying is “more predictive of intent to leave than satisfaction with salary” (Johnson & Rea, 2009, p. 88). Subsequently, bullying in the workplace negatively affects both, the personal emotional well-being of a nurse, and his or her quality of performance at work. It is essential to find the ways of stabilizing the detrimental situation.

Healthcare is one of the most important fields of activity because the medical professionals deal with people’s health. The feeling of safety at work is potential to increase the work rate of the nurses (Etienne, 2014). It is evident that the productivity in the healthcare sector is essential for the well-being of the whole community. Being scientifically recognized as one of the major issues in the healthcare sector, bullying has to be minimized utilizing specific interventions. The government introduces procedures within the national programs aimed at regulation of common inappropriate behavior at the professional institutions. However, these implementations of different strategies, training programs, and discussions do not give the desired result due to the “hierarchical chains of command” in the institutions (Strandmark, Rahm, Larsson, Nordstrom, & Rystedt, 2017, p. 113). Some researches involved in the study of bullying in the medical workplace introduce the educational approach to the solution of the problem. According to Chipps and McRury (2012), the educational interventions within the workspace are capable of recognizing the facts of bullying for further interactions and discussion sections in groups to prevent oppressive behavior in a hospital.

In conclusion, bullying in the nursing workplace is a severe problem that shapes the professional and emotional environment in the medical organizations. The victims of this disrespectful behavior show lower level of productivity, tend to be more likely to leave their current positions or even the profession in general and provide non-satisfactory services quality (Etienne, 2014; Olender, 2017). Regarding the numerous adverse effects of bullying among nurses at the workplace, the government programs, and educational interventions are implemented with an aim to minimize the bullying rates in the healthcare organizations. It is vital to prevent disgraceful behavior among nurses due to the high level of responsibility of these professionals.


Chipps, E.M., & McRury, M. (2012). The development of an educational intervention to address workplace bullying. Journal for Nurses in Staff Development, 28(3), 94-98.

Etienne, E. (2014). Exploring workplace bullying in nursing. Workplace Health & Safety, 62(1), 6-11.

Johnson, S.L., & Rea, R.E. (2009). Workplace bullying: Concerns for nurse leaders. The Journal of Nursing Administration, 39(2), 84-90.

Olender, L. (2017). The relationship between and factors influencing staff nurses’ perception of nurse manager caring and exposure to workplace bullying in multiple healthcare settings. The Journal of Nursing Administration, 47(10), 501-507.

Ovayolu, O., Ovayolu, N., & Karadag, G. (2014). Workplace bullying in nursing. Workplace Health & Safety, 62(9), 370-374.

Strandmark, K.M., Rahm, G., Larsson, B.W., Nordstrom, G., & Rystedt, I. (2017). Preventive strategies and processes to counteract bullying in health care settings: Focus group discussions. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 38(2), 113-121).