Incivility in the nursing profession is not a new topic. Frankly, the word has evolved over the decades. What incivility is being called today used to be called nurse bullying, backstabbing, gossiping, sabotage, rude, impolite, discourteous behaviors, a lack of respect, a lack of manners, vulgarity, nurses eating their young- well, you get the picture.
The unprofessional behavior has been part of the nursing profession for decades and, by any other name, is still the same thing, one reason why the profession fails to become a strong player in the global professional marketplace. Publications are replete with articles about incivility among members of the nursing profession at work in a clinical setting. However, incivility in a nursing education setting is starting to surface as yet another forum where nurses can engage in professional misconduct that sometimes reaches the level of criminal impertinence.
Educators have a role in creating a positive learning environment by communicating expectations, establishing policies, being impartial and fair within the confines of the rules, and by modeling respect that learners can model back.
So, given the role of the educator, why does incivility still happen in online classrooms?
Incivility can be any unsocial behavior that runs the range of being rude to violence and can be the result of stress, pressures to succeed, or a sense of entitlement.
So what can be done to mitigate incivility in the online classroom?
- Start with a clear list of unacceptable behaviors contained in a student code of conduct policy with administration that supports enforcement when there is a severe breach of professional codes of conduct.
- Apply consequences when the fist signs of incivility happen to stop the behavior before it escalates.
- Mitigate incivility by creating a warm welcoming online learning environment. This can be done by having a welcome, class conference call or by using innovative technology rich teaching strategies that keep the learning fun.
- Teaching stress management with early intervention and remediation plans can also help.
Finally, when incivility rears its head, intervene early but don’t take the bait - recognize that you have a problem and need to address it by serving as a professional role model instead. When all else fails, contact your first line supervisor for academic intervention because disruptive behavior begs the question; do we really want to teach incivility is an acceptable behavior in nursing education by turning a blind eye to the misconduct, or do we want to teach accountability, professionalism and tolerance as a colleague and a mentor? You decide!
Question: In your opinion, what is causing the nurse bullying in online nursing education?