Nursing requires compassion and empathy, but some organizations struggle with bullying and incivility among their staff members. The stress and intensity of the job, along with a host of other factors, can lead to internal conflict and quickly devolve into a toxic work environment. At a time when many organizations are struggling to retain nurses, it is even more imperative for leaders to create and maintain a healthy work environment for everyone.
Rhode Island Hospital Program Manager of Inpatient Student Programs Charlene Draleau, MSN, RN, CPN, CPEN, NPD-BC, TCRN, will present the Fast Track session “Nursing’s Dirty Little Secret: Identifying and Addressing Bullying in Nursing” from 10:30-11 a.m. Pacific time on Sept. 23 at Emergency Nursing 2023.
Draleau will lead the session’s audience through case studies to identify and discuss the behaviors that lead to a toxic workplace culture and how to address them to create a respectful workplace for all.
“People would like to say that there’s zero tolerance for bullying and disrespect, but that’s practically impossible to perpetuate,” she explained. “Nurses need structural empowerment from their leadership to assert themselves and say, ‘This behavior is unacceptable’ when they notice bullying.”
Draleau said that bullying can come from nurses of all experience levels. She has seen veteran professionals become frustrated with younger, inexperienced colleagues. In other cases, younger nurses have disrespected their older colleagues.
“One of the most important lessons is not to be a bystander,” she said. “Would you be a bystander if you saw a patient being treated poorly? Of course not. It’s our responsibility to ensure it doesn’t happen to our colleagues either.”
A key lesson from Draleau’s presentation is that while workplace bullies must acknowledge and apologize for their behavior, other team members must be willing to forgive them when they’ve shown proper contrition.
“You have to demonstrate how you want others to behave through your own actions,” Draleau said.
In addition to her presentation, Draleau will provide handouts and additional resources for nurses to leverage and implement in their work settings.
“People who are bullies don’t usually want to be seen that way,” she explained. “If we can provide nurses with the tools to call out bullying constructively, that’s often enough to spark a behavioral change.”