Incivility in the Nursing Profession

An incivility is a form of workplace violence characterized by discourteous and rude actions of low intensity that cause damage to the dignity of coworkers. According to American Nurses Association (2015), workplace incivility violates professional standards of respect. The list of harmful behaviors includes spreading rumors, gossiping, expressing public criticism, name-calling, and refusing to assist the colleague. Usually, it is not personally directed; however, it often works as a precursor to more violent behavior or bullying. In general, incivility comprises physical, verbal, psychological, and social actions that may occur both face-to-face and online.

The nursing profession requires effective teamwork built on mutual respect between professionals. Incivility leads to the emotional instability of the nurse that limits his/her performance. Emotional distress caused by an unfavorable working environment evokes destructive feelings, emotions, and stress clouding their judgment. Violence at the workplace leads to medical errors, deterioration of team communication, and ultimately decreases patients’ satisfaction. For instance, RNs were found to be hostile to the newcomers instead of helping them and sharing their rich experiences (Birks et al., 2017).

Objectivity and performance of the organization may suffer due to various workplace issues. The most important one is the inability of the clinical site’s staff to follow procedures and policy implementation due to the high level of violence between the nurses (American Nurses Association, 2015). Incivility also drives group forming in the clinic that sees professionals working in small groups while conflicting with others. Misunderstandings reduce the team performance making senior nurses reluctant to help others.

People tend to avoid communicating with rude individuals. Thus, incivility leads to unregular communication and difficulties regarding critical information transmission. For instance, the power indifference between nurses and people of higher positions hinders the exchange of information in the clinical setting. American Nurses Associations (2015) suggests that nurses should be attentive and communicate with fellow professionals since it affects all the stages of care.

To decrease incivility within the clinical site, leaders should devise a consistent response. For instance, they may introduce a zero-tolerance policy for violence and formally punish those who do not want to follow it. The organization itself should implement the same policy to promote a healthy culture within the medical site that will promote cooperation and assistance (American Nurses Association, 2015). Considering that incivility issues always occur, the key strategy would be to educate staff on how to deal with it in practice. Special training that includes case presentations and role-play activities can be a great solution.


American Nurses Association. (2015). Incivility, bullying, and workplace violence: ANA position statement. Web.

Birks, M., Cant, R. P., Budden, L. M., Russell-Westhead, M., Özçetin, Y. S. Ü., & Tee, S. (2017). Uncovering degrees of workplace bullying: A comparison of baccalaureate nursing students’ experiences during clinical placement in Australia and the UK. Nurse Education In Practice, 25(1), 14-21. Web.

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