While none of us are eager to admit it, many of us have witnessed bullying in the healthcare environment. Sometimes it’s senior physician versus junior physician or medical student. Sometimes it’s physician versus nurse. Almost invariably it involved the presence of a power differential, someone who is advantaged versus someone who is not.
This past week, this podcast was released as part of the JAMA Podcast series. If you’re not familiar with the JAMA Podcasts, they are pretty terrific. In this one, Ed Livingston cites much of the data about the prevalence and impact of abuse/ bullying, with a particular focus in this podcast on medical students. If you want background reading for the podcast, the original case and discussion are here. I want to highlight the importance of ignoring behavior like that described in the podcast (as do Dr. Lucey and Dr. Livingston)- if we ignore this behavior, we’re implying that this is okay. Note: I am particularly heartbroken by the surgeons who were so terrible to the medical student- I promise we don’t eat our young. Also, if you’re in training as a student or resident and have someone in a position of power who is bullying you, it’s likely not just you they are picking on…find someone safe to report it to who can hold them accountable.
Interesting timing of course means that during the same week something came across my email talking about how to overcome bullies at work. An important point that he makes is at the very end: If you’re surrounded with jerks, you’re at higher risk to become one. Choose your environment wisely. (((Related but unrelated: some of you have heard me talk about Eric Barker’s blog in the past, and this piece is no exception to his usual brilliance. I try to subscribe wisely to things, and his weekly blog is a highlight in my email inbox on Sundays.)))
And what if this isn’t about a power differential, but is more about a peer who is a jerk when they aren’t being watched? Remember not to get hooked, and that it’s really not about you. Then refer back to the prior piece.