Is Workplace Bullying a Problem for Residents? One Center's Experience [3E]

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Workplace bullying is gaining attention in the healthcare setting. There is a dearth of data about the bullying of resident trainees. We evaluate the workplace relationship with nurses from the perspective of residents' in all specialties throughout the Detroit Medical Center.


A previously validated survey (Negative Acts Questionnaire-Revised) was modified to reflect resident-nurse relationship. Responses from residents were obtained between April and July 2015. Residents were asked to reflect on their entire residency experience.


Total of 148 respondents were from OB/GYN and 11 other specialties. Respondents were mostly men (53%), had a mean age of 30 years, and most were PGY-1 (27%). Residents of other PGY levels were equally represented (11–13% per class). Most residents were in OB/GYN, followed by emergency medicine and general surgery. Each resident had experienced at least 1 of 22 negative bullying acts (11.5%–82.5%). Work-related bullying occurs more frequently than person-related bullying or physical intimidation. For example, asking residents to do work below their level of competence occurs on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis for 29.8% of residents. The most frequent person-related bullying act is ignoring the resident or reacting in a hostile manner (36.4%). Most respondents believe nurses discriminate against residents based on PGY level (78%) and gender (53%). 81% believe that improving professionalism would appreciably improve resident morale.


Residents often perceive unfair treatment in the workplace that may significantly impact their morale. Recognizing bullying as a problem among resident trainees may open opportunities for projects to improve work environment between nurses and residents.

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