The Elephant in the Room: Workplace Bullying

Bullying is often associated with children, but how common is bullying among adults? Are we leaving behind bullying at the playground, or are we bringing it with us to the workplace?

Join speakers Terri L. Townsend and Pamela S. Anderson on Monday, May 20, from 8 to 9:15 a.m., in room W414D, to learn about bullying behaviors commonly found in the nursing workplace, along with the effects bullying has on nurses, students, patients and employers.

During the session “From the Playground to the Nurses’ Station: Understanding and Eliminating Workplace Bullying,” Townsend and Anderson will explain what steps can be taken to address bullying. “The first thing you have to do is admit the problem exists,” says Townsend, a staff educator at Community Hospital Anderson in Anderson, Indiana.

Nurses often experience bullying before even entering the workforce. “Nursing students are publicly humiliated and unfairly blamed. I think it does turn away some. They either don’t want to experience that, or they do experience it and get fed up,” Townsend says.

Townsend and Anderson will discuss how workplace bullying affects teamwork among staff and how lack of collaboration can increase errors and lower patient satisfaction.

The speakers will also discuss the need for support and leadership from management to create a healthy work environment and model positive behaviors. And they will explain methods that can be used by management, such as zero-tolerance policies and peer mentoring.

“The commitment to address bullying needs to come from the top down. They need to create a collaborative environment where the staff can look out for one another and address problems,” Townsend says. “One thing I’ve learned is if you’re a victim of bullying, you shouldn’t keep it to yourself,” Townsend adds. “You’ll find that you are not alone.”