Letter to the Editor by Lindberg to Healthy Academic Work Environments

Promoting Healthy Work Environments: A Shared Responsibility

October 6, 2010

Response by Claire Lindberg to "Healthy Academic Work Environments" by Marilyn S. Brady, PhD, RN (January 31, 2010)
Reply by Editor

Dear Editor,

I just finished reading 'Healthy Academic Work Environments' by Dr. Brady and found it to be interesting, informative, and well researched.  However, I would like to point out an important omission. In the section entitled '˜Collegial Environment' Dr. Brady discusses bullying in the academic environment, specifically mentioning the need to eliminate intimidating and disruptive behaviors involving 'student-student, faculty-student, student-faculty and nursing staff-student' interactions.  I believe it is also important to discuss faculty-faculty and administrator-faculty bullying, with '˜administrator' referring to all those in authority, including deans, program directors, chairpersons, and coordinators.

Faculty-faculty and administrator-faculty bullying is all too common, particularly in settings where some faculty have control over other faculty members' careers, as is the case where faculty have a strong voice in tenure and promotion committees.  I have personally observed the demoralizing effect of this bullying on faculty, students, and others. By negatively altering the academic environment, bullying directly or indirectly affects student learning. These bullying behaviors can take many forms, including unfair course assignments, undermining faculty authority or 'popularity' with students, and threats to attaining tenure and promotion. When this behavior involves faculty-faculty bullying, administrators may turn a blind eye to the behavior, or fail to respond appropriately, for example by '˜blaming the victim' for the bullies' behavior. 

Faculty-faculty bullying may have some of the same sources as nurse-nurse bullying seen in clinical workplaces, and also may be related to professional jealousy and clique-group behavior. In light of the important role of social and collegial relationships in faculty job satisfaction and faculty retention, I encourage OJIN to include in this topic an article addressing faculty-faculty bullying.

Claire Lindberg, PhD, RN