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Bullying of newly qualified nurses 'international problem'

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More than half of newly qualified nurses are picked on in the workplace by their superiors, researchers have found.

They warned that this behaviour caused anxiety and depression among graduates and in some cases drove them out of the job.

“Negative workplace behaviour towards new graduate nurses continues to be an international problem”

Study authors

The research was published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies and carried out my academics at the school of nursing and midwifery at the University of Newcastle in Australia.

The study authors warned that “negative workplace behaviour” among nurses was a globally recognised problem and new graduates were at high risk of being targeted.

Their aim of the study was to “synthesise evidence” on this topic, they said.

Reviewing eight qualitative and eight quantitative articles focused on acute settings, the researchers found 0.3% of newly qualified nurses suffered “disrespectful, unprofessional and uncivil” attacks on a daily basis, while 57.1% experienced it sporadically.

“The negative behaviour was identified as either a personal or professional attack”

Study authors

Reasons listed in the study for staff bullying these nurses included “new graduates’ perceived lack of capability, magnifying power and hierarchy, leadership style and influence of management”.

“The negative behaviour was identified as either a personal or professional attack, which left new graduates feeling emotional distress, anxiety or depression, which in turn impacted upon job satisfaction, cynicism, burnout, and intention to leave,” the researchers warned.

They also found that employers had no specific support in place to address this behaviour and, therefore, the targeted nurses found “personal” ways to deal with it.

The researchers concluded: “Negative workplace behaviour towards new graduate nurses continues to be an international problem.”

They said “multi-level organisational interventions” were needed to improve “civility norms” among the nursing profession.

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