Expert Commentary: Rite of Passage?

Martha Griffin
Martha Griffin, PhD, CS, RN
Director of Research and Education
Boston Medical Center

Usually nurses in the least organizationally powerful positions manifest worker-to-worker violence among themselves and particularly toward those with the least power, especially the newly hired or newly registered nurses. It's almost a rite of passage, with nurses thinking, "This is how people were to me, when I was learning."

Newly registered nurses are particularly vulnerable because they need to gain knowledge and have less past experience, making their work more subject to micro-managing or scrutiny. But it can be true for anyone new to the workings of a unit.

Any environment that fosters bullying behavior among co-workers can inhibit newly licensed nurses from asking questions, seeking validation of knowledge, and feeling like they fit in. It stops them from acquiring the tacit knowledge-build necessary in clinical practice and it puts patients at risk.

Page last reviewed: February 7, 2020