1. Simpson, Kathleen Rice PhD, RNC, CNS-BC, FAAN

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In July 2015, the American Nurses Association (ANA, 2015b) released an important new position statement Incivility, Bullying, and Workplace Violence. The purpose was to highlight the shared roles and responsibilities of nurses and their employers in creating a safe and healthy work environment. This includes a professional practice environment in which nurses do not experience incivility, bullying, or workplace violence and applies to all types of places where nurses might be practicing such as various inpatient and outpatient settings, as well as schools of nursing. The vast majority of nurses are caring, competent, and kind professionals. They may read the ANA position statement and be surprised and appalled at the behaviors described. However, there are a few individuals who do act as such and for whose actions the position statement was intended.


Although most nurses do not engage in incivility, bullying, or workplace violence, some have not spoken up when observing these behaviors in others, and some have not supported or protected fellow nurses who have experienced one or more of these adverse actions. I'm sure all nurses can recall at least one cringe-worthy moment when a colleague was the brunt of abuse such as demeaning or condescending comments, mocking, or gossip. Likely most nurses can bring to mind more than one of these types of events. Other types of negative behavior that may not be as obvious can be just as hurtful, such as avoidance, holding back information, not being helpful, being isolated or eliminated from the group, nonverbal rudeness, eye rolling, and the like. Hazing of new graduate nurses or nurses new to the workplace setting is one example of behaviors that must be stopped immediately. We all need to support and encourage those who have chosen nursing as a profession and do everything we can to make sure they are successful.


The ANA (2015b) position statement provides details about each type of behavior, definitions, and implications for individual nurses and their employers. Clinical practice, financial, and nursing profession ramifications of an unsafe work environment where negative professional behaviors are allowed to occur are discussed. Responsibilities of nurses and their employers are provided with extensive suggestions for making things better in the workplace for all nurses. The ANA (2015a)Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements is used to focus on the responsibilities of individual nurses.


I encourage all nurses to thoroughly read this new ANA (2015b) position statement even if you don't believe it applies to you because you are not practicing in a negative work environment. The recommendations are solid and may be useful to you at a later date. Other nurses may recognize that improvements are needed in their professional practice environment and this position statement provides the support needed to take a leadership role in making healthy changes.




American Nurses Association. (2015a). Code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements. Silver Spring, MD: [Context Link]


American Nurses Association. (2015b). Incivility, bullying, and workplace violence (Position Statement). Silver Spring, MD: Author.[Context Link]