Thankfully, I have not faced serious bullying or incivility, such as physical abuse or verbal slurs within my clinical setting. The worst instances I can remember are several cases of unfunny jokes or seemingly unjustified negative comments on my or my peers’ performance. However, the fact that I have witnessed these issues in a mild form does not mean that the problem is not serious. A survey by Courtney-Pratt et al. (2018) confirmed that undergraduate nursing students were regularly exposed to abuse in clinical and academic settings. The bullying episodes ranged from verbal abuse to physical attacks and caused the respondents to feel anxious and stressed. In addition, incivility undermined students’ belief in their competence (Courtney-Pratt et al., 2018). Most importantly, the students often selected avoidance and surviving through hardships without letting anyone know as to their coping strategies, and none of the cases mentioned in the survey were formally reported (Courtney-Pratt et al., 2018). Even worse, medical universities generally provided no access to quick psychological help in case of necessity (Courtney-Pratt et al., 2018). Therefore, abuse and incivility were largely left unnoticed and kept destroying the students’ confidence.
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Besides damaging the atmosphere in clinical settings and negatively affecting the personnel, any disruptive behavior can lower the quality of healthcare services and harm patient safety. According to the survey by Al Omar et al. (2019), 82,4% of respondents among the 1074 healthcare practitioners in Saudi Arabia displayed their worries about workplace bullying. The participants claimed that incivility worsens work performance and creates communication problems between the healthcare team members (Al Omar et al., 2019). As a result, disruptive behavior among the personnel can decrease the overall effectiveness of treatment.
Based on the empirical data from the surveys, it is evident that the problem of workplace bullying in healthcare demands attention. I can suggest several approaches for the mitigation of the issue. First of all, medical schools should include formal training on bullying prevention, recognition, and responding strategies in the course schedules. Nursing students should be aware of the problem and how to react to episodes of disruptive behavior. Secondly, schools and healthcare organizations should dedicate mental health professionals to provide prompt psychological help for the victims. Finally, mutual peer support remains an important source of strength and resilience that should not be underestimated.
Al Omar, M., Salam, M., & Al-Surimi, K. (2019). Workplace bullying and its impact on the quality of healthcare and patient safety. Human Resources for Health, 17(1), 1-8.
Courtney‐Pratt, H., Pich, J., Levett‐Jones, T., & Moxey, A. (2018). “I was yelled at, intimidated and treated unfairly”: Nursing students’ experiences of being bullied in clinical and academic settings. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 27(5-6), e903-e912.