Resources >> Browse Articles >> On the Job


How to Handle Bullies in Nursing

How to Handle Bullies in Nursing

Marijke Durning | NursingLink

Bullying in Nursing

Bullying can happen anywhere, but it is particularly present wherever people are oppressed, as is often the case for nurses. “The female-dominated profession of nursing has typically fallen under male-dominated groups of physicians and administrators in the power structure of health care systems,” says Amy Glenn Vega, author of Lions and Tigers and Nurses. “Theoretically, members of an oppressed group will turn on each other and use violence as way to achieve power over their peers.”

In nursing, lateral violence occurs when oppressed people adopt the attitude and behaviors of those who have oppressed them. It’s a perpetuating cycle where a bully preys on a victim, who becomes a bully and terrorizes someone else.

Kathleen Bartholomew, RN, MN, and author of several works on nursing and bullying including Ending Nurse-to-Nurse Hostility, says bullying happens because nobody cares about nurses. Because caring for the nursing staff is not part a manager’s or CEO’s job description, they behave like any other business leader or administrator. But nurses, by virtue of their work, are not like regular business workers and professionals; they don’t respond to that type of “handling.”

Bullying seems even less likely in a field such as nursing, where caring and compassion are cornerstones of the job. Nurses have to devote their work hours to constantly providing care for others – physically and emotionally. Unfortunately, that kindness and courtesy isn’t automatically extended to coworkers.

Without a doubt, strong personalities abound in nursing. It’s a stressful profession, and the need to always be thinking on your feet – as well as the physical aspect of the job –takes a toll on our behavior towards one another. However, as Vega points out, “People with personality differences usually butt heads because of different views or feelings on a particular matter, but can learn to work harmoniously when they respect each other.” Bullying surfaces when there is no respect for each other.

Next: Signs of a Bully >>

NursingLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a degree program. Use NursingLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.