Nurse Retention: Stop Verbal Abuse…Retain Nurses

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, July 9th, 2013

Nurses who are verbally abused by colleagues report lower job satisfaction, unfavorable perceptions of their work environment and greater plans to leave their jobs. To stay on top of nurse retention this is something healthcare executives must address.

Researchers with the RN Work Project, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, surveyed 1,407 newly licensed RNs about how often they were verbally abused by nurse colleagues: never; one to five times in the last three months (moderate); or more than five times in the last three months (high).

49% of respondents had experienced some verbal abuse, but thankfully only 5% had experienced abuse more than five times in the past three months. Being spoken to in a condescending manner and being ignored were the most frequently reported types of abuse.

Day shift nurses experienced higher levels of verbal abuse than those working evenings and weekends. RNs working eight-hour shifts were less likely to experience abuse than those working 12-hour shifts. Staffing shortfalls also were correlated with higher levels of abuse.

Intent to leave a job was highly correlated with the levels of abuse new RNs experienced. RNs who reported no verbal abuse were least likely to plan to leave in the next three years. Those who experienced moderate to high levels of abuse were most likely to leave in the next 12 months, but also indicated they planned to stay in nursing.

RNs working in Magnet hospitals were the least likely to report high levels of verbal abuse, as well as those working in ICUs.

Wendy Budin, RN-BC, PhD, FAAN, a study investigator and adjunct professor at the New York University College of Nursing, said in a news release, “Rather than yelling, swearing, insulting or humiliating behavior, most early career RNs report that the abuse they experienced involved condescension or lack of acknowledgement.”

This kind of subtle abuse is often overlooked and is less likely to be reported, which makes it all the more insidious and all the more important that hospital leadership confronts and prevents it.

The best way to retain nurses is to care for them. Having zero-tolerance for verbal abuse is a critical retention strategy.

To learn more about nurse retention, nurse recruitment, bringing self care to your facility and how to increase work life balance for nurses and healthcare professionals, go to SelfCare for HealthCare. CONTACT ME DIRECTLY to talk about customizing this powerful program for your employees.

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