Magazine article American Nurse Today

A Bold Call to Action: Mobilizing Nurses and Employers to Prevent and Address Incivility, Bullying, and Workplace Violence

Magazine article American Nurse Today

A Bold Call to Action: Mobilizing Nurses and Employers to Prevent and Address Incivility, Bullying, and Workplace Violence

Article excerpt

As registered nurses (RNs), you probably agree that taking action to promote and sustain a culture of civility, respect, and safety is paramount to advancing the future of the nursing profession, to building a culture of health that honors the profession's contract with society, and to recruiting new nurses and retaining experienced nurses in the profession. To achieve such a bold agenda, we must first make a commitment to ending the incivility, bullying, and workplace violence challenging the profession. Second, we must demonstrate through professional nurse unity and genuine partnership with employers how to end this public health threat.

To that end, the American Nurses Association (ANA) issued a call in early fall 2014 for members to submit applications to serve on what would eventually become the largest of its professional issues panels assembled. More than 500 ANA members expressed interest in and applied to serve on the panel to address incivility, bullying, and workplace violence in health care. In its application review, ANA considered such things as regional and national representation, membership in an affiliate nursing organization, years in the profession, and diversity in terms of nursing practice, education, research, culture, and experience with the topic. From the full applicant pool, ANA selected and invited 24 steering committee members to lead the development of the new position statement. A group of 441 advisory committee members were also selected to provide guidance and feedback to the association and the steering committee throughout the project, and to contribute to the development of resources.

The overall goal of the panel was to develop a position statement on incivility, bullying, and workplace violence that describes evidence of related issues and provides detailed guidance supported by evidence to help RNs and employers promote and sustain healthy workplaces. Four co-chairs were appointed, including the two authors of this article; Deena Brecher, MSN, RN, APN, ACNS-BC, CEN, CPEN, Delaware Nurses Association and Emergency Nurses Association 2014 president; and James Cole Edmonson, DNP, RN, FACHE, NEA-BC, Texas Nurses Association. The co-chairs, in collaboration with staff from ANA's Department of Nursing Practice and Work Environment, convened the activities of the Steering Committee and Advisory Committee in November 2014. After circulating the draft document for public comment in April, a final version is expected by the end of August 2015.

Before embarking on the critical work of developing a position statement on incivility, bullying, and workplace violence, members of the professional issues panel collaborated to establish and adopt a team charter and to create and agree upon a set of functional team norms or ground rules. The panel's team charter provides a framework for desired individual and collective performance, defines the team's purpose and goals, describes the team members' roles and responsibilities, identifies key deliverables and decision-making processes, and includes the panel's agreed upon team norms or ground rules. Ground rules are essential components for effective team functioning, and once they are established, affirmed, and operationalized, teams have a clearer description of their mission and purpose and are better positioned for success. (See Professional issues panel's team ground rules.)

In the position statement, a "constellation of harmful actions taken and those not taken" provides an overarching framework, which includes explicit displays of uncivil or threatening acts, as well as failing to take action when action is warranted or required to address incivility, bullying, or violence in the workplace. The background section provides an overview of relevant literature and research evidence, which supports and justifies the position. The position statement defines incivility, bullying, and workplace violence, and provides examples of each; it outlines RNs' and employers' ethical, moral, and legal responsibilities regarding incivility, bullying, and workplace violence; and makes recommendations for RNs and employers to create safe work environments along with primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention strategies that extend across the healthcare continuum and academia. …

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