PA Hospital nurse CJ Cabilan is on a mission – to reduce occupational violence in emergency departments around the country and protect the frontline workers of the health system.
Occupational violence is more than just a passion project for the nurse, she has witnessed it being inflicted upon colleagues firsthand.
“I’ve seen the impact of occupational violence. I’ve talked to our nursing staff who have been physically assaulted; I’m an advocate for these nurses.”
CJ believes it’s important that people recognise occupational violence is not just physical, and that verbal violence can be just as harmful and can include threats, intimidation, racism and more. One in five nurses have been physically assaulted. Almost all nurses will report they have experienced verbal violence while caring for others.
The impact of both forms of violence can range from nurses having to take time off work due to injury, to depression, to budding nurses choosing not to enter the field, and nurses leaving the profession altogether.
CJ recognises that more needs to be done to better protect nurses, hence her focus on occupational violence.
CJ Cabilan accepts her grant certificate from PA Research Foundation Board Chair Robert Bowen.
“Occupational violence is a topic that never gets the momentum it needs. People will only be aware if a nurse gets severely assaulted and it makes it on to mainstream media, then as time goes on, they just forget about it until the next time. It just goes round in circles and we’re not getting anywhere or addressing the problem.”
She cites an example:
“In Australia, since 2008 we are up to five states now that have imposed laws to deter violence, but that law is not going to work if nurses aren’t reporting or given the tools to report,” she said.
Now thanks to an emergency medicine grant from the PA Research Foundation she is a step closer to her goal. CJ has received a grant to survey nurses across the country to learn what discourages them from reporting violence to legal authorities. At the end of the research, she hopes to have recommendations for workplaces employing nurses to be better equipped to support nurses reporting assaults to police.
“The study is ambitious, but we’ll make it work. I’ve talked to my colleagues who are going through the legal system after being assaulted. They helped me create the survey so that we’re asking the right questions”.
“I’m collaborating with a professor of law so that with the results of the study we can make practical and realistic recommendations to ensure that we’re resolving violence in a different context - the legal context”.
The study will add to other occupational violence work she has already completed towards striving to make our valued nurses safer.
CJ said she felt PA Research Foundation’s support of her project and others in the emergency space will have long term positive impacts for the health system and wider community.
“PA Research Foundation’s support, and the public’s support of the Foundation mean that people will see this research and appreciate the impact of occupational violence. It also shows us (nurses) that people really care about us, and they are invested in us having a safe workplace,” she said.
“This support by the Foundation and collaboration with their donors to fund emergency research really highlights the importance of emergency care and what it does for the wider community.”
If you’re a nurse who would like to complete CJ’s survey you can find it here.
You can donate to support emergency medicine research here.