Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion about the importance of awareness about bullying in veterinary medicine. There are many articles and resources on the detrimental effects of bullying and how to identify and overcome it.
Though the discussion about bullying is new, the problem isn’t. Even back in 2012, a DVM360 article found that “One in five veterinary team members admit to feeling bullied by their boss...” (7)
Thankfully, we are now, as a profession, addressing this common problem and offering solutions. For example. Today’s Veterinary Nurse has an amazing article on Bully Tactics that covers a lot of critical information and resources related to bullying.
I am really glad to see that we are empowering victims of bullying. People may be victimized by bullies for a multitude of reasons - they may be a recent grad, new employee, or they be less experienced, less powerful, or hesitant to stand up for themselves. While empowering victims of bullies is absolutely part of the solution, we can’t fail to acknowledge the root of the issue - the bullies themselves.
We have to call them out. But we have to do so with kindness and understanding because otherwise, we too become part of the vicious cycle of bullying. It is possible that the detrimental behavior can be traced back to low self-esteem.
In medical professions, the opposite can also be true. In fact one article states, “It takes confidence to work in medical professions. Sadly, sometimes that confidence can turn into egotistical behavior — and may even lead to disrespect toward team members and associates.” (4)
So let’s think about the hard questions - the ones that may give you some insight about whether or not you display bullying characteristics.
- Do you often make harsh or rude remarks, threaten, shout, or yell at others?
- Do you consistently display signs of a bad attitude or rude or condescending behaviors such as eye-rolling or ignoring others?
- Do you routinely blame others for mistakes or fail to take responsibility for your own errors?
- Do you regularly engage in gossip, cliques, or “talking trash” about others, particularly those in lower positions of power or newer employees?
- Does how you treat people result in others experiencing feelings of incompetence, shame, humiliation, intimidation, fear, guilt, or lack of worth or value?
If you can identify with some of the characteristics of bullies - ask yourself, “why am I treating others this way? Is it really about them or about me?” Others deserve to be treated well and you deserve to become a better version of yourself.
I encourage you to try to answer these questions and address the issues even with professional help if needed. By gaining awareness and seeking assistance, together, we can put an end to the cycle of bullying.
- Hehn, Lori. Bullying: New Vet Tech on the Block. VetTechPrep.
- I’m Tired of Bullying in Veterinary Medicine. DrAndyRoark.com.
- Murray, Rebecca. Harassment and Bullying. NAVTA.
- Scislowiscz O.D. Got Bullies in your veterinary practice? DVM360.
- Squires, Julie. Bully Tactics. Today’s Veterinary Nurse.
- Warning Signs for Bullying. StopBullying.gov.
- Workplace warzone: how to deal with bullying in veterinary practice. DVM360.