I have often asked myself, throughout my Nursing career, why are Nurses who are so adept at providing immense compassion to their patients in all sorts of unimaginable scenarios, so woeful at supporting and encouraging their colleagues. What is it about our profession that accepts, talks freely and even promotes the concept of “Nurses eating their own”.Is it that we have such a poor opinion of our own collective self worth as a profession that we consistently do things that harm and denigrate our Nursing colleagues. Why is horizontal violence and bullying so rife in our workplace and why do we participate in this? If there is one thing I would like to see change in our profession in my life time it would be our attitude to each other, and the concept of Nursing professionalism and all it entails.
Why is this important you may ask? Isn’t bullying just a way of managing your workplace the way you want . Uh NO! We’ve all seen bullying used in different ways, overt and covert and all so damaging to our Nursing souls.Why do Nurses participate in this behaviour and why is it important to change this status quo. One of the great hopes to come with Nursing training evolving to the universities was that this attitude would change, but unfortunately it still occurs and it continues to occur in countries that have long had university education.
The reason why it is so important to change this attitude is simple. It is to benefit our patients. When we strive to be the best we can be, when we have respectful and honest relationships, our patients are getting the best of us. Its long been recognised that when Nurses and physicians have mutually respectful and healthy relationships patient outcomes improve. Imagine the outcomes when we improve these relationships across our Nursing fields. I recall a short period during the post Patel time at Bundaberg Hospital when a transformational leadership style was in evidence and the focus was on the patient. There was such respect for the Executive and the levels of stress working within this environment were tangibly less.
In these days of positiveness at all costs, sometimes we have to say , no this is not acceptable and I will not support this behaviour.
So next time your fellow Nurse speaks up for a patient support her/him, don’t walk away, The next time your team leader has the difficult conversation with the Nurse Manager about safe staffing levels , support them, don’t walk away.
The next time one of your colleagues suggests an innovative new strategy, support her or him and don’t walk away.