How to Lose Good Nurses

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, June 25, 2013

Hospitals that fail to stamp out verbal abuse among RNs and those that demand 12-hour shifts risk losing valuable employees to other organizations where working conditions are more favorable.

New nurses, especially if they are young, are classic victims of nurse-on-nurse bullying. But while the practice may have been viewed as a rite of passage in the past, hospital leaders can no longer afford to let it go unchecked.

One reason is financial. Cheryl Dellasega, PhD, RN, CRNP, an expert on bullying among nurses told me that left unchecked, it can result in good employees leaving an organization.

New research adds more evidence to Dellasega's point. A study of newly licensed registered nurses finds that nurses who are verbally abused by nursing colleagues report lower job satisfaction, unfavorable perceptions of their work environment, and greater intent to leave their current jobs.  


See Also: Healthcare Workers Dissatisfied with Stagnant Pay Raises


The study, "Verbal Abuse From Nurse Colleagues and Work Environment of Early Career Registered Nurses," was conducted by the RN Work Project and published online in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship.

Researchers surveyed 1,407 newly licensed registered nurses about how often they were verbally abused by nurse colleagues:  

  • Never (low level);
  • One to five times in the past three months (moderate); or
  • More than five times in the past three months (high)

Almost half (49%) experienced moderate verbal abuse and 5% said they had experienced high levels of verbal abuse. The most commonly reported experiences involved being spoken to in a condescending manner and being ignored.  

Alexandra Wilson Pecci

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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