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Bullying in Health Care Professions

Date: 02/18/2020

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Course Curriculum

Lateral violence or “bullying” among nurses is thought to be a very common phenomenon. It is typically characterized by senior level or veteran nurses abusing peers or other nurses who occupy lesser positions of power in the organizational hierarchy. Examples of bullying can range from a disrespectful glance or remark to surreptitious behavior that seeks to destroy another nurse’s career. Nurses who claimed they were bullied have reported unrelenting condemnation of their work; consistently being given difficult assignments without necessary resources; and even feeling their careers were being actively conspired against by other nurses.


This can take a considerable toll on nursing personnel and their health care organizations. The literature reports that bulied nurses frequently suffer serious psychological and physical damage. Their care of patients might be compromised and quitting their positions can result in considerable financial loss to the clinics and hospitals that have to spend money to recruit replacements.

This presentation will survey the nursing literature examining the nature and suggested causes of lateral violence in nursing; its personal and organizational effects or repercussions; and conclude with suggestions to remediate the problem.


John Banja, PhD, Professor and Medical Ethicist, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the Center for Ethics at Emory University

Dr. Banja has conducted research and educational projects with numerous federal and private organizations. He currently serves as the editor of the American Journal of Bioethics-Neuroscience. His research interests include patient safety, neuroethics and ethical dilemmas occurring in clinical and translational research. His most recent book, Medical Errors and Medical Narcissism, was published in 2005.

The speaker has no real or perceived conflicts of interest that relate to this presentation.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the phenomenon of lateral violence or bullying in the nursing profession and give examples.
  • Discuss some theories that offer causal explanations of bullying.
  • Describe the physical and psychological toll bullying takes on nurses.
  • List recommendations whereby bullying behaviors might be reduced or eliminated.