Violence Against Nurses By Nurses: The Skeleton in Nursing’s Closet

Did you all know Nurses suffer the most workplace violence of any profession?

May 6th through 12th, is National Nurses Week, a week where this country honors the contribution of Nurses across the country, but little lip service is given to the tremendous amount of pathology and Spiritual distress we suffer.

Nurses rank highest for ethics of any profession in this country, according to Gallup polls , but what few people know is that Nurses also face the most violence at work of any profession. AND, most of that violence is in the form of Lateral violence (LV), a deliberate and harmful behavior demonstrated in the workplace by one employee to another or violence against nurses by other nurses. Read more about it here and here.

If you participate in any behavior that is undermining, or are a passive observer of the abuse of another, then know YOU are part of the problem of Lateral Violence!

Unfortunately, as a smart, badass nappy headed, brown skin nurse, I am constantly exposed to the most base expression of Lateral Violence in nursing.

My recent experience of character assassination, collusion, sabotage and backstabbing by the President and Board of the American Cannabis Nurses Association, has left me in a state of shock and unable to attend and access the most recent gathering of the scientific community in endocannabinoid therapeutics. The biannual Patients Out of Time Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics. Again, isolation is another form of violence.

The last place I expected to be marginalized and mistreated was in an organization that is on the fringe of the nursing community!

Unfortunately, like the majority of nursing which is 74.3% white, the American Cannabis Nursing Association’s Board of Directors demonstrated expressed conditioning of violent behaviors, so entrenched in the culture of nursing that anyone appearing as an egotistic threat, me, the only black advanced practice public health nurse among them, is quickly discredited, isolated and marginalized while others, to intimidated to object, stand by meekly and watch, or participate out of fear, lest they are beset by the same violence too.

While my experience with American Cannabis Nursing Association has been the most shocking, unexpected and surprising, hospitals are filled with managers and other nursing leaders, who not only condone, but promote acceptance of LV on their units with poor treatment of specific staff.

As an operating room nurse, advanced practice nurse, and nurse of color, this scene is all to familiar in my experience, as less than 9% of operating room Nurse Managers have Masters’ Degrees and above.

This is mind boggling considering the annual budget of an operating room could be in the millions. Only in nursing would a major corporation, put an inexperienced an undereducated leader in charge of a million dollar budget!

This instance is clearly illustrated and played out in major OR’s across this Nation, but the most flagrant nepotism and “fudging” of credentials to promote and grandfather in “favored” nurses was done at Peninsula Hospital in Burlingame, CA. In order to promote a nurse, Diana Maionchi, without the leadership credentials into a position of Director whilst she only held a two year Diploma nursing degree.

Human resources in this particular Sutter hospital, justified her placement by taking her 35 years of service as a substitute for a Masters Degree! I would have saved myself the $150,000, and the pain of having to do advanced practice nursing work, if I had known that in just a few years, I would be eligible for a position of leadership based on the fact that I “showed up” for 35 years!

The level of violence, lack of evidence in practice, mismanagement and condoning of violence was insane under this Managers leadership, to the point where I was so stressed, I literally lost the vision in my left eye suddenly at work. As the only Black nurse, and only one of the few with a Masters Degree, in the entire unit, I was subjected to such a Witch hunt by the manager that when I lost my vision she was thrilled and delighted at the prospect that I might not be able to return to my job and indeed, happily forced me out of my position before I was able to make a complete recovery.

“Common forms of lateral violence include nonverbal innuendo,verbal affront,undermining activities, withholding information, sabotage, infighting, scapegoating, and backstabbing. Bullying and lateral violence have serious negative consequences for nurses, their patients, and healthcare employers. Disruptive behaviors are toxic not only to the nursing profession but also to the institution in which they occur.”

Learn more about Lateral Violence to recognize the signs and understand how we need to prevent it!

The American Academy of Med-Surg Nurses have a fantastic article worth the read



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