Eden Chandler-Knight thought he was one of many nurses who had experienced workplace bullying while working in the mental health nursing sector, but he couldn’t prove it.
But now, thanks to extensive research undertaken for his Bachelor of Applied Management dissertation while studying with SIT2LRN, he can show there is a genuine problem that isn’t being addressed.
He’s optimistic the findings can make a difference in the under-pressure sector, with the report provided to a District Health Board (DHB), the PSA (nursing union for mental health nurses) and to be included in a submission to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) bullying review.
Eden hopes more evidence-based information can lead to better industry standards being introduced to eliminate the behaviour and improve overall employment conditions.
He was compelled to undertake the study because of “horrendous” bullying he’d experienced from both managers and colleagues, and even by team members who reported to him.
His varied and interesting CV features roles in nursing and other industries, as well as senior management roles both in New Zealand and overseas.
He was drawn to SIT2LRN because he wanted an additional qualification that covered “more than the ‘standard’ Bachelor’s degree in business”, he said.
“SIT2LRN’s Bachelor of Applied Management offered more choice in papers, which suited what I wanted in order to make studying more relatable to me and where I want to take my career,” Eden said.
“The ability to be flexible with my study timetable meant the actual study I had to take was able to fit into my life rather than me having to fit into a face-to-face course.”
In his second year, in the ‘contemporary issues’ paper, Eden began developing a plan for the dissertation but soon found professional roadblocks were placed in his way – along with a challenging Covid-19 lockdown.
But his dogged determination and unwavering support from his SIT2LRN facilitator, meant he eventually found a way to gain access to his research subjects – mental health nurses.
“I managed to get approval from the PSA and they agreed to send out a link to the study.
“They agreed the study needed to be done as it was the first of its kind in New Zealand.
“Reports had been written but no formal study had been undertaken to prove that bullying in Mental Health Nursing did indeed exist.”
He was overwhelmed by their support … and the responses he received.
“Their approval process took less than a week. When the link was sent out to their members I received over 280 responses that night and then close to 500 by the following day.”
The final report proved bullying in mental health nursing clearly existed – and that DHBs were not not doing enough to address the epidemic.
“Except for ‘policy’, little else was done when reports of bullying were made, so several of my recommendations focussed on changes that DHBs needed to do,” Eden said.
“I’m really proud of this work as not only was it something that had never been achieved before in the country, but it identified that while so much international research had been undertaken in this area, nothing was being done in New Zealand.
“Hopefully this is the start of something bigger and better to not only improve the nursing workforce in this area but in the nursing profession in general.”
Eden is now taking two years off studying, but intends to return to undertake a PhD.
“Now it’s time to sit back and relax and enjoy the achievement of successfully completing my degree through SIT2LRN while working full-time – meaning if I can do it, anyone can.”