Midwifery culture must change to eradicate bullying at all levels of the profession, an Irish study has concluded.
The authors, from the University of Ulster, recommended that midwifery acknowledge that bullying in the profession was unacceptable, and increase awareness of what constitutes bullying.
They surveyed more than 150 student midwives in the UK, finding that more than half had been badly treated in their place of work. Students said they were most often bullied by another midwife, usually their mentor or ward sister, although university lecturers and personal tutors were also identified as bullies. Bullied students reported a lack of confidence and self-esteem, and increased anxiety, as a result.
‘Over half the students gave examples of being treated badly, one-third reported that they had witnessed their midwifery colleagues being bullied, and over 50% stated that they suffered intimidation, excessive criticism, belittling of their work, undervaluing of their skills, questioning of their competency and undervaluing of their effort,’ said the authors in the journal Evidence Based Midwifery.
They called for all qualified midwives to examine their own behaviour, particularly when dealing with student midwives. They also recommended that the nature of bullying, and how it happened in practice, should be added to curricula for midwife education.
Student midwives should be taught how to deal with bullying, and how to offer support to colleagues, said the researchers.
‘Key stakeholders such as the RCM, RCN, NHS Employers, the NMC, and midwives, need to face up to the fear that surrounds this phenomenon and take a proactive approach, which clearly labels bullying as a behaviour that is not acceptable within 21st-century midwifery,’ they said.
Did you experience bullying as a student nurse or midwife?