When most people reflect on the nursing as a profession, the term compassionate typically comes to mind. The association with compassion is no surprise as nursing is considered to be the most compassionate profession in the world. Nurses, by trade and in all areas of practice, have an ethical and professional responsibility to create and uphold an environment of mutual respect and civility. However, the notion of “nurses eat their young” and the behaviors that stem from this mindset are causing detrimental effects not only to those organizations employing nurses but to patients and the nurses themselves.
Over the last few years, the labor and delivery unit at the benchmark project site has seen a trend in the number of incidences where new graduate nurses feel they are being bullied, gossiped about, made fun of, and humiliated in front of patients, peers, and physicians. Most of these incidences are the result of nurse to nurse interactions. Currently, the hospital’s Code of Conduct addresses behaviors like those mentioned above that are unsuitable for the workplace (bullying, gossiping, name calling, disrespect, etc.) and states those behaviors will not be tolerated. More specifically, being the perpetrator of uncivil behaviors could result in progressive discipline or termination depending on the severity of the incident. Unfortunately, the negative behaviors are not always reported and therefore are allowed to continue. Regardless of the reasoning for the behaviors going unreported, the effects of those behaviors are seen in the number of nurses leaving the unit to seek positions elsewhere within the hospital or leaving the hospital all together to pursue a different venture that perhaps may not be nursing. From an organizational perspective, the results of uncivil behaviors among the nursing staff can be very costly and affect the overall bottom line.
The current practice of strictly relying on the Code of Conduct policy to guide and oversee the way nurses on the labor and delivery treat one another as well as fostering a culture of “sweeping it under the rug” when those behaviors present themselves is no longer acceptable. Further training and education regarding the definition of uncivil behavior, how to recognize those behaviors, and how to appropriately respond when presented with an uncivil situation is an optimal first step in combating nursing incivility. Furthermore, incorporating cognitive rehearsal into that educational model is recommended.
Date of publication
MSN Capstone Project
Masters of Science in Nursing
Melancon, Kathleen P., "Creating an Educational Intervention to Combat Nursing Incivility Benchmark Study" (2020). MSN Capstone Projects. Paper 94.