Incivility in Nursing

Incivility in Nursing

Incivility in education is defined as an intentional behavior aimed at interfering or disrupting the learning process of others. Incivility is observed in both class work and clinical practice areas where students engage in activities that disturb the normal learning process. Research has indicated that incivility manifests as lack of preparation for class and unwillingness to participate in the learning process (Robertson, 2012). Classroom incivility is displayed in a variety of ways. The most frequent type observed is student’s inattention in class during teaching. Students are seen to do activities irrelevant to the topic of discussion. Using the phone while the lesson is in progress and talking to others are examples of inattention incivilities. The absence of students disrupts the learning process of the student and also colleagues. Other forms of classroom incivility include aggressiveness, abuse, assault, and violence.

Education in schools does not only take place in class, but also in the clinical setting. Incivility extends to the clinical settings where students engage in maladaptive behaviors. Research findings indicate that misappropriation of hospital equipment for personal use is common in students (Robertson, 2012). The activity puts other students in trouble because trust is lost and sometimes penalties are imposed when stuff is lost in the hospital. The second frequent type is false documentation in the wards which gives instructors a false impression of students when one student made a mistake. Disclosure of patient’s information is another form of incivility observed in the clinical setup.

Incivility behaviors are managed both in the classroom and the clinical areas through the use of institutional protocols. The primary focus is prevention, but disciplinary measures for those caught in the act seem to work best. Establishment of clear objectives and expectations can help shape the behavior of students in class and clinical areas.


ROBERTSON, J. A. S. O. N. E. (January 01, 2012). Canʼt We All JUST GET ALONG? A Primer on Student Incivility in Nursing Education. Nursing Education Perspective, 33, 1, 21-26.