Bullying and the older nurse


  • Joy Longo PhD, RN

    Assistant Professor, Corresponding author
    1. Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL, USA
    • Correspondence

      Joy Longo

      Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing

      Florida Atlantic University

      777 Glades Road

      Building 84

      Boca Raton

      Florida 33431


      E-mail: jlongo5@fau.edu

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The purpose of this article is to discuss bullying from the perspective of the older nurse.


Inappropriate behaviours, such as bullying, are being scrutinised in health care because of the potential negative impact on patient care and safety and worker wellbeing and satisfaction. Although this phenomenon is often referred to as ‘nurses eating their young’, the implications for the older nurse cannot be ignored.


The work environment is instrumental in the retention of workers. Older nurses are essential for knowledge transfer. When developing strategies to retain the older worker, issues such as bullying need to be examined.

Key issues

Without proper identification and the willingness of management to acknowledge it, bullying may become a cultural norm. Once this occurs, it is necessary to examine the underlying structures that support its continued presence. Hierarchical and disempowering work environments may be contributors.


Nurses of all ages can be affected by bullying, so empowering initiatives need to be developed to prevent perpetuation and victimisation.

Implications for nursing management

To prevent bullying, initiatives that recognise the skills and knowledge that nurses contribute to patient care need to be developed.