Today we’re profiling the views of one of our founders about the profession the three of us work in every day.
My name is Gina Chiplonia-Swircek DNP, CRNA, PhD(c). I am Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) and also a founding member of the company BEHAVE Wellness (Bullying, Elimination, Health Advocacy, and Violence Education). The topic of bullying in healthcare is a passion of mine and I am currently finishing my dissertation on the experiences of Student Registered Nurse Anesthetists (SRNAs) with Bullying while in their education and training program to become a CRNA. I am a United States Air Force veteran CRNA and currently employed by a fairly large anesthesia group in the Philadelphia area and also provide independent anesthesia services to many surgical and gastroenterology centers throughout Pennsylvania.
Bullying in healthcare is an increasingly complex issue and is repeated, health harming mistreatment ranging from verbal abuse and humiliation to threats, sabotage, and worse. The well-being of nurses is directly correlated to bullying behaviors. Attention needs to return to the nurse’s health; as a “Health Care” industry we seem to have forgotten kindness and concern for our own.
Ignoring this behavior is unethical, expensive, and affects teamwork and collaboration between nurses, physicians and other departments necessary for multidisciplinary care of our customers–patients. They may become indirect victims of nurse bullying. This destructive activity can compromise patient’s safety when they are already in a vulnerable state. Distractions have serious potential to harm patients.
Targets are often individuals who are well liked, highly educated, morally and ethically correct, non-aggressive, and do their job well. Many Targets “self-blame,” when in reality, they did nothing to provoke the bullying behavior and abuse. This can prevent Targets from taking steps to end the bully’s psychological violence and can spiral into self-destruction.
Above all, when confronted with workplace bullying, your health and well-being need to come first. Maintaining wellness is of paramount importance. As each of us are individuals, so are the paths to recovery and wellness. Each target must define “happiness” for themselves. Some wellness activities that may help with healing can include journaling, meditation, yoga, exercise, doing volunteer activities, eating healthy and taking part in other personal hobbies.
If you know a Target at your institution, you can act as a source of support by being an empathetic and nonjudgmental listener to the Target’s reality. Confirming and validating their story is significant. Educating and encouraging Targets to document what is happening to them, obtaining other co-workers’ experiences, and referring them to outside sources of advice such as a therapist and/or attorney will assist in the healing process.
Workplace employee wellness and human resources departments may not always be beneficial places of support for bullied nurses. Ultimately they work for the corporation and have their best interest in mind, not yours. An oppressive work culture can often extend past the barriers of a nursing unit.