Verbal abuse frequently hurled at newly licensed registered nurses: report

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Almost half of newly licensed registered nurses were verbally abused at work by their colleagues within the past three months, according to a new study.

Not surprisingly, these nurses feel less satisfied at their job, view their work environment negatively and want to resign, the RN Work Project reported.

Four researchers surveyed 1,407 of new registered nurses about the frequency of their verbal abuse. The nurses were asked about the frequency of incidents, and 49% said they had been verbally abused between one and five times in the past three months. Only 5% reported being abused more than five times.

The two most frequent forms of abuse were either being ignored or being talked to condescendingly.

“The verbal abuse we found to be most common is best characterized as passive-aggressive,” said Wendy Budin, Ph.D., adjunct professor at the College of Nursing, New York University.

Daytime RNs experienced more abuse than evening or weekend nurses and those who worked 12-hour shifts also were berated more, researchers found.

“If hospital and health systems want to retain these new nurses, they need to make changes that will end this kind of abuse,” noted Carol Brewer, Ph.D,. professor at the School of Nursing, University of Buffalo.

Recommendations for a more productive workplace included therapeutic communication, assertiveness training and conflict management strategies. Researchers also recommend mandatory programs for employees to learn about the impact of verbal abuse and a “zero tolerance” policy.

Read the full study here.

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