Incivility among healthcare providers. How does that transfer to your care?

By February 14, 2016Workplace Violence

We have heard the expression that “Nurses eat their Young” many times, and in fact, new graduate nurses are in danger of being consumed whole by their more seasoned co workers.  However, it does not end there.  Everyone is in danger of lateral violence and incivility, depending on their workplace and the pervasive culture to either bully or not bully. Older nurses are often bullied by younger nurses in certain environments.

Incivility among nursing staff is an epidemic that has been going on since Flo lit a lamp.

Cynthia Clark, PhD, RN, and Sara Ahten, MSN, RN Wrote This Article about Incivility in nursing.  It is extremely informative and describes in plain language what incivility IS, and it is not just words.  They also give great advice about how to respond to lateral violence in the workplace.


Renee Thompson, DNP, RN wrote this material on bullying, and she is especially insightful. She has created workplace education about lateral violence and incivility.  One of the quotes on her website spoke so loudly to me that I simply had to place it here.  Sorry, Dr Thompson for the theft.:


Nurses can be so caring and compassionate to patients, yet they can be so horrific to each other. It’s time for nurse bullying to stop! Join me and bring your friends.

Be  kind – not cruel

The largest problem I see with providing you with all of these resources is that Nurse Bullies Will Not Read Them.  reso

So I challenge you to read this information.  Maybe you will find out that what is being done to you at work is bullying, and not your fault.  Maybe you will find that you ARE a bully and can take steps to modify your behavior for the good of your profession.

And if you just rolled your eyes, there is no easy help for you.

I differ with Dr Thompson in one way.  I believe that incivil nurses are not as compassionate to their patients as people who are naturally kind to their coworkers.  I have done no research to back this up. This is purely anecdotal.  I am a nurse who has been bullied, and I submit that the health care providers who bullied me and others were not especially nice to their patients either.  

So maybe asking you to read this stuff is a public service announcement. 

Nurse, Heal Thyself.







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Author Janie Garner

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Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Melissa Brown RN says:

    Thank you, Janie.

  • Lynda says:

    Well said. As a seasoned RN, nurse educator, and soon to be APN, lateral violence is a phenomena that occurs among all levels of practice. Thank you for naming the elephant in the room. Change begins with one.

  • Anne Daymont RN (retired): psych NYC says:

    So very true! I too was bullied on a unit I worked many years ago. I stuck it out for a year and transferred to a different unit after reporting to the nurse manager and DON. They paid lip service support but were obviously cowed by the same group I complained about. At one point they asked If I would be willing to meet with this group as they “Were tired of losing good nurses because of this crew”. During the meeting I laid out my facts which were all categorically denied. They even had the cojones to tell me how much they liked me and respected my skills. The admins walked away very pleased with the outcome and patting themselves on the back. Needless to say for me the situation was only worsened. A year later I left.

  • Teri Hunt says:

    A must read for many

  • Nan says:

    30+ years in the profession, and I’ve seen it throughout my career at every level. I vowed to never be the nurse who ate her young, and I’ve kept that vow.
    I pride myself in being the go-to nurse for those with less experience; because they know that I not only will not let them feel small for their inexperience, but I’ll look to them for new insight. New people have much to offer, and I’m grateful for their fresh outlook.
    Some nurses eat other nurses, regardless of age or experience. Some nurses seem to think they make themselves look taller by chopping off someone else at the ankles. Some nurses are just piranha.
    The thing that is lacking most in nursing (besides assertiveness, but that is another topic) is solidarity. When nurses start to stand together, to defend one another, to unite as a team; that is when change will happen. And it begins at the workplace. With your co-workers.
    I appreciate your perspective here, Janie. And I agree. Thanks so much for all you do.

  • Marilyn says:

    I am a seasoned pediatric hematology/oncology RN. I have been a travel nurse in this specialty for two years now. I have been bullied at each travel assignment I have taken. I think travel nurses may be easy targets for bullying.

  • Thanks to Janie Garner for referencing me in this blog post about incivility in healthcare. How are we ever going to be recognized and respected for our work if we can’t recognize and respect each other?

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