A “Freire Style” Solution to Nurse Bullying


Renee Thompson is an author, nurse, and an renowned expert on nurse bullying. She was our guest on RN.FM Radio on February 20th, 2012, and she’ll appear again as our guest on May 20th, 2013. Please enjoy this guest post by our dear friend and colleague.

Nurse-to-nurse bullying is destructive, pervasive and negatively impacts individuals, organizations and ultimately – patients! Although bullying exists in every industry, bullying just feels more perverse in an industry (nursing) dedicated to caring and compassion. To make matters worse, many nurses leave their organization AND the nursing profession because of the emotional, psychological and physical consequences of being a victim.

To address the issue of nurse bullying, many nurses (like myself) study, conduct research and focus their efforts towards helping individuals and organizations eliminate bullying and create “bully-free” work environments. Many years ago while I was learning about the issue of bullying I came across the work done by Paulo Freire, a sociologist who studied oppression. What Dr. Freire discovered was that an oppressed group of people was often oppressed by each other and not necessarily the government or people in more powerful positions. It was Dr. Freire who coined the phrase “horizontal violence” that described oppression of the people BY the people.

In his book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Dr. Freire offers the oppressed (victims of bullying) recommendations to gain control and stop the cycle of bullying. I’ve taken the liberty of adapting his recommendations to nursing:

Freire Style

Thanks so much for reading. Remember, you deserve to work in a nurturing and supportive environment – free from the bullies!

Take care and stay connected.


For more great tips, make sure you “like” Renee on Facebook,”follow” her on Twitter and YouTube and subscribe to her blog. Also, check out her new book on nurse-to-nurse bullying!