In her article titled “Break the Bullying Cycle”, Terri Townsend (2012) explores the many different ways in which nurses are bullied in the workplace. Despite nursing being all about compassion, empathy and care giving, it is surprising how many nurses are subject to physical, verbal and emotional abuse on a daily basis. Townsend (2012) explains that while bullying is an issue that affects all professions, research has demonstrated that a remarkably high percentage of nurses are subject to bullying on a regular basis and that the main reason why so many newly registered nurses tend to quit their first job after a very short time is because of humiliating and abusive encounters in the workplace.
A study conducted by Ovayolu, Ovayolu & Karadag (2014) revealed that over 50% of female nurses working in public hospitals have been assigned tasks outside of their usual duties, criticized for no good reason and held responsible for other nurses’ mistakes. In an attempt to identify the main causes of the abusive behavior towards nurses, the author observes that healthcare facilities should implement different internal structures, rules and administrative hierarchies, as their current ones have been found to promote oppressive and frustrating conditions that contribute significantly to the problem (Townsend, 2012).

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Since bullying represents a major threat to both nurses’ motivation and patients’ safety, Townsend (2012) suggests that healthcare facilities create healthier work environments and implement zero-tolerance policies aimed at discouraging and punishing bullies. I personally find Townsend’s recommendations perfectly feasible, and believe that hospitals should stop underestimating the devastating effects of bullying on nurses’ morale, psychological / physical health and career. With available data clearly indicating that nurses across the world experience emotional, verbal and physical abuse on a regular basis, it is crucial that both public and private healthcare facilities should address this problem in a prompt and effective manner.


  • Ovayolu O, Ovayolu N, Karadag G. (2014). Workplace bullying in nursing. Workplace Health & Safety, 62(9):370-4.

  • Townsend, T. (2012). Break the bullying cycle. American Nurse Today, 7(1).