In any working environment, interpersonal challenges of varied nature are bound to arise, and one of them is incivility. This issue is described as a consistent behavior of offending, abusing, intimidating, humiliating, and insulting fellow colleagues in the workplace. In the nursing environment, the perpetrators could be fellow nurses, patients, and superiors. The tendencies of incivility among nurses transform their workplace into a hostile environment. At the same time, it is difficult to measure the scope of the problem due to lack of reports about such cases or their recognition as a real issue. However, studies that have focused on incivility in the nursing sector show that 27% to 85% of nurses experience some of incivility in the workplace (Warrner, Sommers, Zappa, & Thornlow, 2016). It is also estimated that 90% of nurses have reported witnessing abusive at the health care sector (Blevins, 2015). Consequently, nurses’ morale plummets, thus hindering the organization’s work on achieving its goal (Blevins, 2015). Incivility makes the working environment toxic as one feels unappreciated, while their efforts are undervalued, and all this negativity might lead to job burnout. From a nursing perspective, incivility stands as a significant challenge that jeopardizes their ability to work patients’ safety; therefore, the eradication of this issue requires emotional intelligence, which is possible in a healthful environment.
Impact of Incivility
Incivility has devastating effects on nurses since it may lead to poor performance, deteriorated mental health, and a resolve to leave the organization or even the nursing profession. In nursing, this issue has ripple effects on the hospital administration. For example, hospitals incur additional expenses and financial losses due to nursing turnover, absenteeism, and decreased work performance. Due to incivility, nurses might be forced to move to another healthcare facility or clinical unit. Thus, it is estimated that 37% of nurses leave their jobs due to the toxic environment in the workplace (Blevins, 2015). The abusive behavior that emanates from incivility creates such an environment. Victims often suffer from stress-related mental disorders and physical illnesses (Blevins, 2015). These factors have a significant contribution to absenteeism among nurses. For example, a study by Warrner et al. (2016) estimates that healthcare institutions spend $30,000 to $100,000 every year for the treatment of each victim of workplace incivility from depression. Absenteeism also leads to significant expenses for institutions. Other financial losses emerge from the need to hire and train new employees to replace those nurses who have resigned.
Incivility in nursing has much more dangerous repercussions for patients due to the fact that their safety can be compromised in this case. There is an established connection between incivility towards nurses and their inclination to exhibit behaviors that put their patients at risk. In this case, the nurses often perform orders that may not be in the best interest of their patients. Disruptive behavior in the workplace can lead to medical errors and reduced patient satisfaction (Abdollahzadeh, Asghari, Ebrahimi, Rahmani, & Vahidi, 2017). Furthermore, when nurses leave their units and clinical centers due to incivility, they deprive patients of their knowledge and expertise. Such a move decreases the number of resourceful staffs who can attend to patients, which increases the nurse-to-patient ratio (Blevins, 2015). Finally, patients suffer due to the little care and attention they receive from the nurses.
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The phenomenon of incivility and bullying in the nursing profession can be better understood with the help of an example. When Joyce, a medical-surgical nurse, joined a cardiac catheterization lab team at her local community, she was excited about the new experience that she would have. She was also enthusiastic about learning something new from a much more experienced supervisor. Contrary to her expectations, from the first day of her work in the hospital, Joyce’s supervisor belittled her in front of her colleagues. The supervisor would constantly tell her that she would never succeed the catheterization lab. In a matter of weeks, Joyce transformed from a confident, brilliant, and self-aware nurse into someone who could not complete even the simplest tasks, finding them highly stressful and difficult. She would lock herself in a closet and cry. Due to the stressful working conditions, Joyce confided in her fellow nurses that she considered resigning from her job. She was shocked to learn that the colleagues also experienced the same treatment from the supervisor, but they were too afraid to report such an attitude due to possible reprisal. This scenario shows how incivility affects the working environment and the ability of nurses to realize their full potential.
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Strategies to Counter Incivility
Emotional intelligence is one of the strategies that can be used to combat incivility in the nursing profession. Nurses who possess this ability are aware of their thoughts and emotions. They think before they react, and they are able to read verbal cues and interpret body language quickly (Meires, 2018). The adaptation of Golesman’s model by nurses would ensure that they act rationally instead of showing their emotional reaction. Consequently, they will be able to hold their temper and think before they act. If nurses apply this model, they would be less likely to bully each other.
Another strategy, which nurses have found to decrease incivility and which creates a healthful environment, is the timely completion of tasks. Thus, Abdollahzadeh et al. (2017) mention an experienced nurse who has realized that perfecting and completing her tasks on time reduces incivility towards her from her superiors. Doing the job correctly, according to instructions and expectations, the nurse will give their supervisor little reason to be hostile. This strategy works best for vertical bullying in the workplace.
Organizations can also contribute to curbing incivility among nurses. A positive effect can be achieved through managing the workload assigned to nurses, which would lead to the decrease of work-related stress. Stress has been proven to increase pressure and anxiety among nurses and cause them to develop hostility towards each other. Therefore, emotional comfort improves tolerance among nurses. Finally, organizations should also support nurses in cases of incivility that emanates from patients’ rude behavior.
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My selected specialty track is nursing education. Incivility and bullying in educational institutions are rather widespread. Therefore, one of the strategies for curbing this issue in schools lies in the use of skillful communication. Schools should develop and execute codes of conduct, zero tolerance policies, and viable processes of handling aggressive and disruptive behavior. Leaders and administrators should act as role models for skillful communication to achieve congruence between their actions and their words (Morton, 2015). Another strategy is the incorporation of true collaboration in academic institutions, which stems from skillful communication and incorporates trust and mutual respect between faculty members. Moreover, integrating inter-professional education into the school curriculum can help mold future academicians. Skillful communication is important in the process of true collaboration, but an organization may need to provide resources for conflict resolution when problems arise (Morton, 2015). Thus, showcasing successful collaborations may be a valuable strategy in dealing with incivility.
Incivility presents a significant problem in healthcare. In nursing, this problem has the potential of disrupting the normal working environment and compromising patients’ safety. This issue should be taken with seriously since nursing and medicine are among the most significant sectors in society. Decrease in practicing nurses due to incivility has an impact on every member of society. In my specialty track, education, I hope to apply the aspects of skilled leadership that have proved to have a significant impact in incivility in nursing. While the issue of incivility seems like cycle that cannot be disrupted, in the nursing practice, it seems like a rite of passage. However, the perpetrators lack knowledge of the mental and social repercussions that their actions have on their victims.