A bullying epidemic among nurses
Young nurses are still being hazed to death despite a government pledge to stamp out the practice, said the Dong-a Ilbo. Last February, South Koreans learned of the extent of the practice of taeum—in which senior nurses harass and berate rookies—after the suicide of one victim. Other nurses spoke out, telling of being belittled, mocked, yelled at, and ordered to go home early. So the Health Ministry took action, saying it would revoke the license of any doctor or nurse who bullied an incoming nurse, and would establish a “nurse human rights center” where victims could report harassment and receive counseling. But nearly a year later, “little has improved at nurses’ workplaces.” The legislation required to legalize license revocation is stalled in a parliamentary committee, and no new nurses’ rights center has been set up. Meanwhile, nursing departments are chronically understaffed, and Korean nurses are each expected to take care of more than four patients—twice as many as their American and Japanese counterparts. “Lack of nursing staff leads to poor working conditions, which in turn spawns the culture of bullying.” But who would want this job? Just last week, another nurse, only 20 years old, took her own life—and authorities again suspect hazing.