How to deal with bullying in nursing clinical placements

workplace bullying preventionThe Nurse Path founder Ian Miller says that bullying is the topic that comes up in his conversations both online and amongst other nurses more than any other. Laurie Bickhoff from Defining Nursing has also spoken of the infamous “eat our young” culture in nursing.

So if you’re a nursing student embarking on your clinical placements this year, perhaps go in with the knowledge that you may be exposed to bullying in some of the workplaces you visit.

Of course there are official documents used by hospital nursing unit managers to characterize and prevent workplace bullying, but a study published in the Journal of Advanced indicates that the discourse only focused on the prevention of bullying by moulding the behaviours of individuals.

The study found that the discourse of workplace bullying prevention centred around three themes: prevention of workplace bullying through managerial presence, normalizing behaviours and controlling behaviours. All three are individual level discourses, despite of the fact that workplace bullying is a complex issue with antecedents at the individual, departmental and organizational level.

So for nursing students about to start a clinical placement, it’s important to be aware that there may be some complexities within an organisation that are beyond their control as a student. However, there are some tips for student nurses in the video by Renee Thompson.

According to Renee, it is important to:

  • Recognise the behaviour as bullying
  • Be aware that it will take moral courage to stop accepting the behaviours as normal
  • Remember that you deserve to work in an environment that is supportive and nurturing

For tips on bully-proofing yourself by being aware of your own behaviours and the signals they send to a potential bully, watch the videos below:


More articles and resources on My Health Career:

Image: Alexas_Fotos – pixabay

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  1. marjan says:

    I’m a second year nursing student. I just finished my 3-week placement in a private hospital in Melbourne. I assumed I was doing great as I was told by the educator that I had been perceived as highly intelligent, confident and enthusiastic. however, on the second last day, I was pulled aside by the educator and was told that she believes I am overconfident and that was only one of the nurses’ opinion whom I had been buddied with. I was shocked and asked her to specify that but she could not put a finger on anything. That night I received an email from our subject coordinator only to find out that the educator who works in that hospital has placed a complaint against me. The next day, I talked to my subject coordinator and he wanted to know what really has happened. I told him the story and he got confused. He said all the comments on your clinical skills are perfect. What is their problem?
    they have not marked me yet and they keep saying that they are not going to fail me.
    But what I want to say is I was not unconfident this time. I went there with my whole energy and did my best. They even assumed that I had practiced nursing back in my own country, and I was labelled as overconfident!!! Apparently, as an international student, I was not meant to look confident!!

  2. caralyn says:

    caralyn says: I have just completed an eight week clinical placement as a third year student and was assessed by RNs as independent, comfortably confident and even receiving hand shakes from the husband of the wife who was the patient upon discharged thanking me for the nursing care I had provided to his wife, I was happy as I had achieved the required level to pass at half way mark of clinical placement. The second half of placement I had to endure quite a few attempts made at me like humiliating me in ear shot of the patient which also was a breech in patients privacy and confidentiality as well as an ethical dilemma as things worsened after this including my health. Who do nursing students go to when the contact person for students is the creator of non physical bullying?

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