Student Perspectives on Faculty Incivility in Nursing Education: An Application of the Concept of Rankism

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Incivility in nursing education is an emergent problem and one that seriously disrupts the teaching-learning environment and often results in conflicted and stressful student/faculty relationships. Nursing faculty who demonstrate positive, respectful behaviors, encourage similar behaviors from their students. Conversely, faculty who are aloof, disinterested, and demeaning may invoke hostility. The author conducted a phenomenological study to examine nursing students’ perceptions of faculty incivility and its impact on the students. Students identified 3 main themes of faculty incivility: (1) faculty behaving in demeaning and belittling ways, (2) treating students unfairly and subjectively, and (3) pressuring students to conform to unreasonable faculty demands. In all cases, students felt powerlessness to address the problem and described faculty arrogance and abuse of power (rankism) as primary contributors to the problem. This article describes nursing students’ perceptions of faculty incivility and interprets them in the context of Fuller’s concept of rankism. Understanding how rankism impacts nursing education may provide insight into developing preventative strategies to produce a healthier teaching-learning environment and to improve relationships between students and faculty