Workplace violence: why nurses are quitting

Workplace violence: why nurses are quitting


Nurses continually attempt to bring safe, efficient, and holistic care to their patients. Nevertheless, if they feel that their well-being and safety is under threat or compromised while working in a healthcare setup, it becomes difficult for them to work more efficiently and effectively.

Hospitals that want to retain their top nurses should be aware of the many factors that can cause nurses to quit their jobs, including bullying and violence.

Forms of workplace violence in the nursing profession

Occasionally, workplace violence in the nursing profession occurs because of interpersonal conflict between two or more professionals. The conflict usually results from differences in the professionals’ ideas, interests, values, goals, or needs. In most cases, the violence is not limited to physical abuse only.

It can include harmful activities like verbal abuse, bullying, negative insinuations, pranks, insubordination, withholding of patient information, and gossiping, among others. Apart from interpersonal conflicts, nurses are also exposed to violence from patients, their families, and visitors.

Such violence comes in the form of intimidation, shootings, beatings, stalking, and stabbings, among other types of assaults.

Why nurses are quitting

Graduate nurses are more susceptible because they are not well-prepared to handle such experiences. Regardless of a nurse’s level of expertise, the hostility can force them to leave their profession. A nurse is more likely to quit if:

  • They experience emotional distress and anxiety that lowers their self-esteem
  • The violence results in a physical injury, whether a minor or severe disability
  • The abuse causes either short or long-term psychological trauma
  • They feel incompetent, powerless, or guilty
  • The violence makes them fear to return to work
  • They fear criticism from their superiors or supervisors
  • They lose their confidence in their ability to offer quality patient care
  • The working environment changes their relationships with colleagues
  • The violence impacts their personal life, including emotional factors, daily activities, and economic issues

Consequences of workplace violence

To an organization, workplace violence is a critical issue that the entire leadership must address. That is because it can affect productivity, turnover rates, the general quality of care, and patient safety. Furthermore, it can result in distrust in the management, challenging in recruiting new nurses, absenteeism, and increased job stress.

How to prevent workplace violence

Since workplace violence can have negative consequences to both an individual nurse and an organization, hospitals must look for ways of preventing it or at least reducing it. Hospitals should learn how to recognize various forms of violence and try to avoid or defuse them before they occur. They can achieve this by implementing personal safety training programs.

Organizations should also develop and enforce safe practices in the working environment. The hospital leadership must also address low staffing issues, especially when there is increased activity in the hospital.

How nurses can protect themselves

Nurses should also learn to protect themselves, especially when dealing with different types of patients. For example, nurses should communicate more frequently with their colleagues to identify possibly violent patients early enough. If a patient’s behavior is escalating, a nurse should call for help from their immediate colleagues or security.


Workplace violence in healthcare environments can threaten the effective delivery of quality patient care. When nurses work in a hostile environment, it can cause them to experience emotional distress and anxiety. That will lower their self-esteem and may quit as a result. To avoid this, hospitals should have policies that do not tolerate violence in workplaces and introduce prevention programs.


I am Dr. Marion Johnson, a Nurse Supervisor, Educator, and A clinician with a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree (DNP) and a Master of Science in Nursing Degree (MSN) both from Walden University. I have worked as a nurse in the healthcare industry for over 15 years. Presently, I am doing something I love most, which is being an online instructor. In this position, I believe I can learn, educate, create and implement positive input into the nursing field. Besides work, I am also an avid reader of nursing journals and articles that is why I have a passion for reading, learning and sharing on the trending topics in the nursing arena.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.