Over the last few weeks to months, many colleagues have been sharing their experiences and insights of bullying in one form or another. These examples have shaken our understanding, expectations and thoughts of what a pharmacy profession we all work in. In particular some of the horrendous stories from colleagues working in Community pharmacy.
I am here to tell you (unfortunately) that the experiences we have been hearing about are not isolated cases. I believe, and have witnessed, bullying of some kind and feel it is more widespread than initially thought. Be it biased or unbiased, conscious or sub-conscious, peer-driven or position dependent bullying; there is some form of it in most if it not all workplaces. Now with the real emergence of social media platforms and the reach to wider audiences, this has the potential to really open up the floodgates for different forms of bullying to exist and emerge.
One of the main reasons why I think there is a system-wide problem with bullying in UK Pharmacy is that many colleagues don’t really know what constitutes as bullying. Granted we may not necessarily be trained in identifying it, or that our employed organisations have a degree of responsibility to train and tell us or the wider societal/environmental influences are not geared up to fully inform us; still does not constitute that anyone should tolerate it. Bullying can take many forms and sadly unless we understand and recognise it, then there is no hope of actually resolving and overcoming it.
You may gasp or disagree with this, but over the numerous places and clinical settings I have worked it, I have seen it in one form or another and I know many other colleagues have too. It is only with self-reflection and a wider understanding of the issue that I can better understand it and try to inform my colleagues about it. But far too many colleagues still live under the daily pressure of bullying.
What can be done?
My top five tips/solutions are:
1. As a profession accept it exists
2. Be able to identify it- educate ourselves on the different forms of bullying
3. Talk about it- create safer environments for discussion to happen
4. Address it- via internal and external methods to you, create and make visible all the different forms of help out there and those within organisations
5. DON’T HIDE IT!
So, call yourself an advocate of patient care, that you put patients at the heart of everything you do when was the last time you put your care for your fellow colleague?
We, as a profession, are widely known healthcare professionals that understand and give patients a voice, let’s start to give those working in the profession a voice too and get a firmer grip on a growing bullying epidemic.