The terms ‘treatment’ and ‘experience’ — we’ve heard of these so often in discussing patients. But what about the treatment and experience of doctors and nurses?

Let’s set the stage by unpacking some statistics. These help reflect on current challenges and shortcomings in the organizational culture in a number of health systems and provider organizations.

In a survey of 3,765 registered nurses (1), almost half reported being bullied in some way, either by a peer (50%) or by someone with authority over them (42%)

A survey of nearly 5,000 respondents (physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and healthcare management) showed sobering numbers from recipients of uncivil and unhealthy engagement (2):

  • 73% encountered negative comments about colleagues
  • 77% noted a reluctance or refusal from another to answer questions or return calls
  • 68% were recipients of condescending language
  • 46% received employing shaming or humiliation from others, and
  • 26% of nurses reported having had an object thrown at them by a physician (3)

The costs of incivility within healthcare teams are often buried and ongoing. Incivility comes from all sides: physician-on-nurse, physician-on-physician, nurse-on-nurse, business leader-on-physician, etc.

One study showed costs on lost productivity related to incivility valued at an eye-popping $11,581 per nurse each year. (3)

So why the silence?

Nurses may be afraid to report other nurses or doctors because they believe administrators will refuse to penalize physicians who generate revenue. Moreover, there is a high demand for experienced/quality nurses. Plus, there may be a resulting shunning, bullying, or other type of retaliation for whistleblowing.

To be clear, there are certainly strong, positive work cultures in healthcare organizations. However, there are a lot of mediocre and bad ones as well. Always remembering that employees often don’t leave companies….they leave workplace cultures.

Culture is not an HR challenge – it’s EVERYONE’S CHALLENGE to recognize and contribute betterment into!

Improve the health of civility and inclusion in your culture. Take steps to go beyond mere policy and mission statements. Recognize incivility as far more common than harassment or discrimination…while also often being a precursor of them.



1) Get an accurate assessment of your culture and of those responsible for leading your culture. This is a big benefit of the solution Walking The Ridge. To gain awareness in a manner where your people can be transparent and not feel intimidated to give true feelings.

2) Integrate the improvement of civility in a wide and thorough manner. Make it a part of within your employee hiring, on-boarding, learning, development, training, and 360 reviews. Remembering always that civility comes from learning, having and practicing engagement skills and creating sustainable habits. It is not automatically imparted because one has letters behind their name or degrees on their wall.

3) Create accountability (at lower levels initially), teachable moments, and proper feedback. Reward for civility, healthier interactions through differences, and creating an environment of trust as well. Remember that people not only leave cultures, but they stay and refer others in because of culture too.

4) Recognize that inclusion is not merely a follow-through of diversity. It is a part of a company strategy focused on driving growth at all levels. It also helps us to anticipate change, be flexible on approach to challenges, and improve innovation.


1. Institute For Safe Medication Practices. (2013). Unresolved Disrespectful Behavior in Healthcare – Practitioners Speak Up Again (Part I). [online] Available at:

2. Ariza-Montes A. Workplace bullying among healthcare workers. International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health, 2013;10:3121-3139

3. Medscape. (2018). ANA: ‘Zero Tolerance’ for Workplace Violence, Bullying. [online] Available at:


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