What to do if you experience bullying on travel nursing assignments

While working travel nursing jobs, you may have run into bullying in the workplace. Sometimes, no matter how hard you work to maintain your own professionalism on the job, others' attitudes and actions get in the way. However, this behavior is not OK and more RNs should try to do something to put an end to it. So, how can you help prevent lateral violence, or bullying in nursing, in the workplace?

The stats
Bullying can happen between colleagues, come from someone who is an authority figure or even subordinates. It doesn't have to be physical – lateral violence includes verbal and non-verbal aggression – including body language. According to the American Nurses Association, this world-wide issue affects a surprising number of healthcare professionals. Among nurses, pharmacists and other medical personnel:

  • 43 percent have experienced threatening body language
  • 48 percent have reported strong verbal abuse

As a result of this bullying, some nurses have even ignored things like improper medication being administered due to intimidation from co-workers. According to the source, other impacts of lateral violence have included:

  • hypertension, coronary artery disease and depression for the victim
  • low staff morale
  • staff members leaving their jobs or the field completely

In some cases, nursing professionals have been unable to do their jobs effectively due to the negative environment in which they work. So, what can you do as a travel nurse to help prevent and deal with bullying while on assignment?

Take action
If you are working travel nurse jobs and notice that lateral violence seems to be an issue, there are a few things you can do to address the situation. Healthcare Traveler suggests first evaluating the situation from an objective point of view. From there:

  • point out what's working and being done right on the job, rather than the negative
  • make advancements to improve the situation instead of dwelling on the problems
  • treat others as you would like to be treated, and when someone is disrespectful, it should be reported
  • when the bully acts out, document the situation so that there's evidence of it

There are a number of other solutions to preventing bullying in the workplace. Talk to your colleagues about some of these ideas:

  • a zero-tolerance policy
  • creating guidelines for dealing with it
  • protection when violence is reported
  • raising awareness of bullying at work

Keep in mind, studies have shown that patient care and safety can be impacted as a result of lateral aggression, so it should not be taken lightly. However, you need to make sure that you have a clear definition as to what exactly bullying is, and that information should be shared with all employees on the floor.

Although lateral violence can be experienced in any profession, it seems to be especially prominent in nursing. There is no clear reasoning for this; however, it may be due to feelings of powerlessness over situations experienced on the job. If you are a victim to bully in travel nursing, you can work through it. Many who are able to do so maintain success throughout their careers and are able to help others dealing with the same issues.