Nurse Bullying: A Violation of Our Code of Ethics

Illustration of ethical terms in the shape of a human profile
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Nurse bullying is alive and well in our current health care environment. But is it a new problem? “Nurses eating their young” has plagued our nursing profession for decades. Maybe that’s why the American Nurses Association decided to address this problem when they created the Code of Ethics.

The ANA Code of Ethics was developed as a roadmap – a guideline for carrying out nursing responsibilities according to high quality standards and ethical behavior. The Code includes nine provisions with sub-provisions.

And guess what? 

Nurses who bully other nurses are in direct violation of the ANA’s Code of Ethics first provision.

According to Provision 1, “the nurse, in all professional relationships, practices with compassion and respect for the inherent uniqueness of every individual, unrestricted by considerations of social or economic status, person attributes or other nature of health problems.”

The sub-provision that I believe addresses nurse bullying is sub-provision 1.5, relationship with colleagues and others.

Basically, it states that nurses need to…

  • treat EVERYONE whom they interact with, with respect
  • maintain compassionate and caring relationships with colleagues
  • commit to the fair treatment of others
  • resolve conflict
  • value the distinct contribution of individuals or groups
  • collaborate to meet the shared goals of providing quality health services

Whoa! Can you recognize how behaviors such as…undermining, unfair assignments, sabotage, public criticism, backstabbing and being unapproachable are in direct violation with our Code of Ethics? Me too.

What should we do?

THE FIRST STEP is to know that as a nursing profession, we have guidelines for behavior and practice. Go to the ANA website and read the code!

THE SECOND STEP is to start behaving in ways that honor the code. Are you treating others with respect independent of their individual attributes? Remember, the key to changing others is to start with you.

THE THIRD STEP is to commit to honoring the code by addressing the bad behavior and bad practice of others. According to a survey done by Vital Smarts and the AANC, only 10% of nurses spoke up when they witnessed bad behavior or bad practice. Remember, according to the code, nurses have an ethical responsibility to the public to speak up!

Ending nurse bullying is possible. Heck, we have a roadmap that shows us how to behave. Read it…Know it…Own it…Share it with others.

Thanks so much for reading. Would love to read your thoughts about nurse bullying as it relates to the ANA Code of Ethics.

Renee Thompson is an international speaker, consultant and expert on workplace bullying. This article was originally published on rtconnections blog. Read the original article.

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