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Bullying or "lateral violence" is present throughout the health care professions. Bullying is carried out by someone in a position of authority over the victim, while lateral violence includes acts that occur between peers. Students, new graduates, and even experienced staff have all fallen victim to these behaviors. Examples include undermining one's activities, sabotage, scapegoating, infighting, backstabbing, and withholding information.1 The Center for American Nurses cites studies reporting that at least 53% of our students have experienced bullying from a staff nurse. Nursing students are fully capable of recognizing bullying behaviors. The consequences of bullying are numerous and include physical symptoms, depression, mistrust, fatigue, poor morale and increased errors. Extreme cases can lead to victims leaving their place of employment, or even leaving the nursing profession.


The Center for American Nurses has evidence -based solutions and tools related to the dangers of lateral violence and bullying, suggestions for implementing strategies to reduce lateral violence and bullying, and zero tolerance policies as solutions to these behaviors. They also provide a brochure Bullying in the Workplace: Reversing a Culture that includes continuing education credits, a tip card, and a poster related to bullying and lateral violence. Obtaining, reviewing, and sharing this information with students can assist them in transitioning into the role of professional nurse.




1. Griffin M. Teaching cognitive rehearsal as a shield for lateral violence: An intervention for newly licensed nurses. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing. 2004;35:257-263. [Context Link]


Source: Center for American Nurses. Stop Bullying in the Workplace. September 22, 2009. Available at Accessed on September 19, 2009.


Submitted by: Robin Pattillo, PhD, RN, News Editor at