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Survey Reveals Nearly Half of Recent Nursing School Graduates Are Concerned About Hostile Workplaces or Bullying

Sept. 10, 2014
Nursing school graduates worry about being bullied by colleagues and many know nurses who were the victims of bullying.

For those entering the workforce, typical top-of-mind issues include opportunities for growth, benefits and job security, but nearly half of those entering the nursing profession voice another concern: being bullied by colleagues. 

According to a just-released Kaplan survey of over 2,000 nursing school graduates from the class of 2014, 48 percent say they are concerned about being the victims of workplace bullying or working in a hostile working environment. The survey also found that 39 percent personally knew nurses who were victims of workplace bullying or a hostile working environment.

One widely cited study found that approximately 60 percent of nurses left their first nursing job within six months because of bullying issues or because of a hostile work environment. And studies conducted over the past decade show there’s a financial cost to this for medical providers, ranging from $22,000 to over $64,400 per turnover.

“Workplace bullying is a disturbing dynamic in the nursing profession and our survey shows that nurses entering the workforce have a justifiable degree of anxiety about the issue,” said Susan Sanders, DNP, RN, NEA-BC and vice president of nursing, Kaplan Test Prep. “What makes workplace bullying among nurses so appalling is that most who enter this profession do so because they care about the well-being of others and rightfully expect the atmosphere of caring to include peer-to-peer interactions.  But unfortunately that’s all too frequently not the case.”

Changing cultural norms within the nursing profession will require efforts from all parties, she added: from nursing graduates, in treating their colleagues with respect and raising awareness by reporting incidents; from nursing leaders, in leading by example to foster supportive behaviors and promote a healthy work environment; from health care institutions, in setting zero tolerance disciplinary policies and empowering staff to report on issues without fear of retaliation; and from academic institutions, in preparing students with conflict management skills to address situations as they arise. 

Kaplan’s survey also found that 79 percent of nursing school graduates think nursing schools should provide workshops and special training about how to handle workplace bullying or a hostile working environment.  

Kaplan currently is surveying nursing school and medical school administrators for additional insight on the issue. Results will be released later this year. 

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