Violence: Not in My Job Description

Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS


August 23, 2010

In This Article

What Can Nurses Do?

Child offers this advice to all nurses:

  1. Don't be complacent about workplace violence or assume that it is just part of your job description.

  2. Find out whether your department/hospital has a policy about workplace violence and how to report it. If not, ask your manager to create one.

  3. Request regular training for workplace violence that is relevant to your department and patient population.

  4. Report incidents of verbal, physical, or sexual abuse, even if you don't think anything will be done. Sometimes, these data will point to the need for more staff or other departmental changes. But without these data, nothing will change.

Managers and other administrators need to evaluate their own attitudes toward workplace violence and be aware of the underlying costs of violence to nurses, patient care, and the hospital. They should make it less cumbersome for nurses to report incidents of violence and stop punishing the victims. All nurses should find out whether their professional organizations have taken a stand against workplace violence and, if not, encourage them to do so.

It's time for people to pull their heads out of the sand. Violence against nurses is a complex and persistent workplace threat. Intimidation, harassment, stalking, beatings, stabbings, shootings, and other forms of physical and verbal abuse continue to occur in our healthcare facilities, and nurses continue to be on the receiving end of these assaults. The consequences of such violence are huge and place the nursing profession in peril.

Acting on their own, nurses have little chance of influencing policies on workplace violence.[28]Although legislation has been passed in a few states, many more states have no legislation and leave their nurses unprotected. Nurses must take up the gauntlet, not to fend off attack but to deliver the message to administrators and elected officials that nurses must be protected from workplace violence; if they are not, it will be society's loss.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.