Nursing Faculty's Experience with Disruptive Work Environments: A Mixed Method Study of the Phenomenon of Bullying Behaviors Among Nursing Faculty and Their Intent to Stay in Academe
ABSTRACT KELLI PALMER SHUGART NURSING FACULTY’S EXPERIENCE WITH DISRUPTIVE WORK ENVIRONMENTS: A MIXED METHOD STUDY OF THE PHENOMENON OF BULLYING BEHAVIORS AMONG NURSING FACULTY AND THEIR INTENT TO STAY IN ACADEME Under the direction of ELAINE M. ARTMAN, Ed.D Because of the limited research on the perceptions of nursing faculty on horizontal violence, this convergent mixed method study investigated the phenomenon of bullying behaviors among nursing faculty and the faculty’s intent to stay in academe following exposure to bullying. 300 nursing faculty members of the Nursing Educator Discussion list responded to a survey. The quantitative survey included demographics and the use of the NAQ-R, a two-page self-administered Likert-type questionnaire with constructs referring to work and personal related bullying as well as physically intimidating bullying. Participants who agreed to complete the survey were then invited to volunteer in the qualitative interview if they had been exposed to bullying behaviors by a peer. Twenty interviews were collected from these volunteers. The qualitative portion used Giorgi’s phenomenological method of analysis with interview data. Of the 300 completed surveys, descriptive and inferential statistics indicated some important findings. Finding indicated that overall bullying behaviors were low (x̅ =36, SD = 14.2) although work place bullying (x̅=13.35, SD = 5.66) and personal bullying (x̅=18.97, SD=8.01) had the greatest extent of bullying while physical bullying was the least reported type of bullying (x̅=3.9, SD = 1.6). Results indicated that those who indicated their intent to not stay in their current position reported significantly greater bullying behaviors for the total NAQ-R, work bullying, personal bullying, and physical bullying subscales (p< .001). The majority (89%) reported working in smaller institutions with enrollment less than 20,000. Surprisingly only 15.7% held a PhD in nursing, doctorate in nursing, and nursing doctorate combined. More than one in five participants (21.7%) indicated total years in teaching 5 or fewer years and 41.7% of respondents reported teaching less than 10 years. These numbers possibly reflects the number of young nursing academics in a field where nurses reportedly “eat their young,” and may feel “ignored” by the more than 31% of those with 20 plus years of teaching experience. While the quantitative results illustrated that more than 31% had at least 20 years of experience teaching, only 17.4% reported teaching in their current institution for more than 20 years. The qualitative results illustrate these learned patterns of abuse exist despite interviewees disbelief that bullying “could be possibly true” with the older nursing faculty “in charge.” The narrative data illustrates that while older faculty may “be in charge,” they may feel threatened by younger competition. There was a perception of a laissez-faire leadership style for the deans that allow bullying to occur. Participants described no or ineffective policies, transitional environments including leadership change, turnover created enabling structures that allowed inappropriate behavior. In addition, turnover may not be mitigated by the fact that only 22% of the participants are tenured faculty. Qualitative data indicated that bullying behaviors can be direct, indirect or covert, with emotional-social interactions. Examples of indirect bullying are gossiping, leaving others out on purpose, or spreading rumors to destroy another’s reputation. Results indicated that bullying behaviors affect nurse educator both physically (depression, gastrointestinal upset, and insomnia) and emotionally (being scared, humiliated, sad, angry, devastated, and hopeless) and played a role in whether faculty remain in nursing education. Eventually, all nursing faculty that experienced bullying made a decision to stay or go. Remarkably, the relationship they had with students and other faculty and their love of teaching influenced their decision to stay. Nursing faculty, even those who are bullied, revealed that they are committed to the nursing profession and to making a difference in the lives of nursing students. Furthermore, the enabling structures within the institution play an important role on the climate of the institution. Institutions that are under transition, lack a policy regarding bullying, or have a laissez-faire leadership style are at risk for a bullying culture to exist. Leaders need to be cognizant that bullying does occur and investigate ways to prevent faculty from bullying each other. Academic leaders need to implement a zero tolerance policy regarding bullying behaviors and role model positive behaviors. Academic culture is extremely important because nurses play a vital role in the care and outcomes of patients. It is imperative for nurse educators to role model positive behaviors when socializing nursing faculty and students to do their part to stop bullying behaviors from entering the nursing work environment.
Shugart, Kelli Palmer