Lateral Violence: Nurse-to-Nurse Aggression
Whether it’s considered hazing, or a rite of passage, (“This happened to me when I was a new nurse so I’m just passing it along.”) or the real or perceived imbalance of power, nursing students are frequent targets of lateral violence. Cynthia Clarke Ph.D., RN notes that the consequences of lateral violence or incivility in nursing education include disrupted student faculty relationships, problematic learning environments, and increased student stress, as well as the potential for violence. In addition to nursing students, newly licensed nurses, along with newly hired nurses, temporarily assigned nurses, float nurses, and nursing assistants or aides also commonly experience the backlash of lateral violence.
Lateral violence in nursing can consist of a variety of behaviors; from unintentional, thoughtless acts to purposeful, intentional, destructive acts meant to harm, intimidate or humiliate another group or individual(s). Lateral violence can range from random instances to a pattern of repeated behaviors. Collectively, these behaviors have the effect of creating an environment of hostility. Any time there exists a ‘we versus they’ attitude, or an imbalance of power, conditions are ‘prime’ for lateral violence to occur. In its extreme form, lateral violence can manifest itself as bullying -- a conscious, willful, and deliberate, hostile activity intended to harm, induce fear through threat of further aggression, and create terror.
A variety of resources on this problem are listed below.
Adult Bullying Within Nursing Workplaces: Strategies to Address a Significant Occupational Stressor by Michele R. Haselhuhn, RN, BSN, MSN, CCRN, CEN, EMT-P
Bad behavior no longer acceptable, Michigan Nurse, 2008
Lateral violence: Calling out the elephant in the room by Ann Kettering Sincox and Michelle Fitzpatrick, RN, MS, CPNP