It’s improper conduct, but is it abuse of authority or just management right?

To take appropriate steps, it is important to clearly understand the difference between management right and abuse of authority. Here’s a scenario:

I had a disastrous week on the floor with my staff physician. I had the misfortune to make a tiny mistake when I was teaching the clinical clerks, and now you’d think his life’s mission was to prove to everyone that I don’t know a thing. He spent a week pimping me on really impossible subjects! It was quite clear he was aiming to belittle me, and make me look completely useless in front of the other resident doctors and clinical clerks. Then at the end of the week he came and told me that if I don’t know my discipline, I have no business teaching it to clinical clerks, and should ask myself whether I’m up to being a doctor.

Management right means the right to supervise work

Management right is employers’ right to monitor and oversee their staff’s behaviour and performance. So the rotation supervisor has a certain management right over resident doctors, that of supervising their work. Resident doctors have a certain right of supervision over clinical clerks. In exercising their management right, supervisors may impose certain measures on those they are supervising so as to keep the care unit running smoothly, provided this is not done with a view to harming them.

For instance, supervisors are allowed to reassign the work among the members of their team in the interest of efficiency. They can also refuse to let those they supervise carry out a medical procedure if it can jeopardize the patient’s safety. Staff physicians who (respectfully) move a resident aside to insert a central line on an increasingly unstable patient are using their management right, not abusing their authority.

Pimping technique: sometimes unpleasant, but not necessarily abusive

This technique of teaching by rapid-fire questions can certainly sometimes be unpleasant for the person being subjected to it. When done in a constructive, respectful manner, though, it does not in itself constitute an abuse of authority.

But, if pimping is used maliciously and repeatedly, to demean or humiliate someone in front of others, as seems to be the case here, then we can talk about abuse of power, and therefore psychological harassment. So, further analysis is required.

In light of what you’ve just read, do you feel you’re the victim of psychological harassment?

Yes

No

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