View Full Version : Eating Our Young


Mother Jones, RN
07-09-2007, 06:47 PM
Ive always heard that nurses eat their young, and over the years, I have seen some real cannibals at the nurses station. Personally, I want to support the new nurses coming up the ranks because they are going to be the ones who take care of me during my golden years. Do you have any ideas as to why some nurses devour new RNs?

geenaRN
07-09-2007, 11:38 PM
Honestly? I think some nurses feel so beaten down and low-on-the-totem pole that they somewhat enjoy knowing more and being superior (experience-wise) than newer nurses. Which, of course, is very counterproductive.

Then again, there have been some doozies come through... the ones where you wonder how on earth they passed the NCLEX. It takes SO much time and so much effort to train a new nurse, doesn't it? Even after the official training period is over, if they're brand new, it unofficially can go on for months and months!

I think you can only assist in the training of new people so many times before it gets really old. And I don't mean as a preceptor - every nurse working on a floor is a preceptor as far as I'm concerned. Just because you aren't the primary one doesn't mean you won't get asked a zillion questions. Once you've done it a few dozen times and see your hard work go down the tubes when someone decides that they don't like it or can't cut it after a few months, one might get to a point where they'd prefer a new nurse "prove" themselves before investing so much time.

That all sounds callous and cold hearted. Nothing I've described above should condone nurses being actively mean and rude to new nurses.

As for those that do that... well... see my first explanation.

MyOwnWoman
07-10-2007, 09:01 AM
Oh, I have so many opinions on this attitude that I'm not sure this forum can contain them.

1. A new nurse comes into a department eager to learn. She's like a sponge sucking up every bit of information you can give her. In return, she gives you all the new information that she has learned. If the older nurse is receptive, everybody learns. If the older nurse is less than receptive, the learning on both sides stops right there.

2. Some new nurses come in to a department knowing "everything." In fact I had to chuckle (silently of course) when one of our male nurses asked this pretty little nurse where she went to nursing school. She proudly answered the name of her nursing school and his reply was, "Damn, I wish I would have gone there, then I'd know everything right out of nursing school too." Of course the background to the scenario was that this nurse knew EVERYTHING making her very dangerous.

If the new nurses would arrive on the floor knowing that they have very little experience and ask for help when they need it and learn from it. Most would not be lunch for nurses.

BUTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT.......if the older nurses don't realize that things have changed in medicine and we could actually LEARN from then; we wouldn't want to eat them.

POPT
07-12-2007, 11:42 PM
Another thing to think about: sometimes new nurses tend to be slower than the more experienced nurses. It may take them longer to think through a situation or longer to react. They haven't had time to develop what some nurses call "instinct". What seems perfectly obvious to a more experienced nurse can be a complete mystery to the new one.

Now take a pressured, harried, too-busy experienced nurse and pair her with a slower new one. Too many times the duties of preceptoring the new nurse is added to the full workload the experienced nurse already has to carry. Management has not made allowances for the extra time and attention the new nurse needs. All too often the experienced nurse gets impatient and short-tempered and takes it out on the new one. It's not right and it's not fair but it happens.

kate loving shenk
07-13-2007, 06:27 AM
hello all--

i like to think of myself as a mentor to the new people coming in which has as much to do with kindness as with my nursing skill.

much of my practice is based on gut instinct, and this is difficult to teach.

the tendency for new nurses to think the worst of patient situations and miss the opportunity to heal and calm the patient and her situation, is challenging for me--eliciting more kindness from me--i hope.

nurses eating their young is called nurse to nurse hostility--anyone here ever read the book by Kathleen Bartholomew? (http://www.kathleenbartholomew.com/)

maybe we can read it and discuss it here at the forum, because this is a very important topic.

thanks MJ for introducing it!!

KimRN
07-13-2007, 08:20 AM
>>>Do you have any ideas as to why some nurses devour new RNs?<<<

They're hungry? Sorry, couldn't resist.:p

KimRN
07-13-2007, 08:23 AM
Oh, I have so many opinions on this attitude that I'm not sure this forum can contain them.

1. A new nurse comes into a department eager to learn. She's like a sponge sucking up every bit of information you can give her. In return, she gives you all the new information that she has learned. If the older nurse is receptive, everybody learns. If the older nurse is less than receptive, the learning on both sides stops right there.

2. Some new nurses come in to a department knowing "everything." In fact I had to chuckle (silently of course) when one of our male nurses asked this pretty little nurse where she went to nursing school. She proudly answered the name of her nursing school and his reply was, "Damn, I wish I would have gone there, then I'd know everything right out of nursing school too." Of course the background to the scenario was that this nurse knew EVERYTHING making her very dangerous.

If the new nurses would arrive on the floor knowing that they have very little experience and ask for help when they need it and learn from it. Most would not be lunch for nurses.

BUTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT.......if the older nurses don't realize that things have changed in medicine and we could actually LEARN from then; we wouldn't want to eat them.

What a great response!!!
I wish I'd written it!:)

KimRN
07-13-2007, 08:26 AM
Honestly? I think some nurses feel so beaten down and low-on-the-totem pole that they somewhat enjoy knowing more and being superior (experience-wise) than newer nurses. Which, of course, is very counterproductive.

Then again, there have been some doozies come through... the ones where you wonder how on earth they passed the NCLEX. It takes SO much time and so much effort to train a new nurse, doesn't it? Even after the official training period is over, if they're brand new, it unofficially can go on for months and months!

I think you can only assist in the training of new people so many times before it gets really old. And I don't mean as a preceptor - every nurse working on a floor is a preceptor as far as I'm concerned. Just because you aren't the primary one doesn't mean you won't get asked a zillion questions. Once you've done it a few dozen times and see your hard work go down the tubes when someone decides that they don't like it or can't cut it after a few months, one might get to a point where they'd prefer a new nurse "prove" themselves before investing so much time.

That all sounds callous and cold hearted. Nothing I've described above should condone nurses being actively mean and rude to new nurses.

As for those that do that... well... see my first explanation.

You do have a point - it takes energy to precept/be a resource person for a new nurse. The only cure for inexperience is time.
As a new RN, it was a full year before I even felt worthy of the title. I was in a very supportive environment, though, so I stuck it out and I'm glad I did. But I knew so little when I first started.

Oooo...Geena, two post ideas just came from reading your comment!
I'm gonna have to give you a co-author credit on Emergiblog!:D

geenaRN
07-13-2007, 09:44 AM
You do have a point - it takes energy to precept/be a resource person for a new nurse. The only cure for inexperience is time.
As a new RN, it was a full year before I even felt worthy of the title. I was in a very supportive environment, though, so I stuck it out and I'm glad I did. But I knew so little when I first started.

Oooo...Geena, two post ideas just came from reading your comment!
I'm gonna have to give you a co-author credit on Emergiblog!:D

TWO ideas? Where are they, I don't see them in that post? :-) LOL

I often think about how little I knew starting out. And how patient my preceptors were with me. Now I know how hard it is (to precept) and it makes me appreciate them even more.

KimRN
07-13-2007, 02:20 PM
TWO ideas? Where are they, I don't see them in that post? :-) LOL

I often think about how little I knew starting out. And how patient my preceptors were with me. Now I know how hard it is (to precept) and it makes me appreciate them even more.

Okay, here's how my mind works: (1) A post on my first experience as an RN - very supportive, almost unreal and would not happen today (2) A post on the diametric opposites of the new nurse continuum: shy and scared vs. know-it-all and how that has affected me over the years

MyOwnWoman
07-16-2007, 07:03 PM
Another thing to think about: sometimes new nurses tend to be slower than the more experienced nurses. It may take them longer to think through a situation or longer to react. They haven't had time to develop what some nurses call "instinct". What seems perfectly obvious to a more experienced nurse can be a complete mystery to the new one.

Now take a pressured, harried, too-busy experienced nurse and pair her with a slower new one. Too many times the duties of preceptoring the new nurse is added to the full workload the experienced nurse already has to carry. Management has not made allowances for the extra time and attention the new nurse needs. All too often the experienced nurse gets impatient and short-tempered and takes it out on the new one. It's not right and it's not fair but it happens.

Excellent point. In my humble opinion, a nurse being oriented and the nurse doing the orientation should not even be counted in the staffing pattern..... but there I go... dreaming again.

NewGrad57
07-17-2007, 08:34 PM
Hello, all. I wanted to add my take on the question about nurses eating their young. I apologize in advance for it's length.

I graduated in 2006 but have yet to take my board exam... partly due to finances, but mostly fear.

I had the same instructor three of four semesters... an instructor who's response to my "you never have anything positive to say to me," was "if you want positive comments from me, you're going to have to ask for them." This same instructor was always telling me I was too slow, to which I finally replied, "I'm not slow, I'm deliberate and there's a difference." And along with those honest thoughts, is the one that I ended up learning more from her than anyone.

I had excellent nurses to work with and ones who were more than willing to share everything pertinent about patients' physical conditions... up until my senior semester. Then I got the preceptor from hell during my senior clinical. She was about 15 years younger than my *mature* age, very condescending, thought nothing of screaming at me/techs/other nurses/etc., and her actions told me that she got paid to do her personal business while I did her work. She touched a patient's obviously infected and unknown skin condition with bare hands and blew it off when I asked her about it. She refused to let me watch her start an IV because it was the first time for her. I can honestly say I learned nothing from her except 'don't do that, give it to the techs/aides.' (I refused to pass off to a tech any skill that I'd never done myself for a patient.) I could continue ad nauseum. Her lone positive comment during the exit review with my instructor was that she'd never seen anyone write care plans as well as me. Other nurses on this particular wing absolutely refused to answer any student's questions if the student was not their charge. The one sanity saving part of this semester was that I also got to evaluate my preceptor. Unfortunately, it came about 3 weeks and 9 shifts before the end of my semester, LOL, so I ended up having some very interesting moments after my comments to her about her communication skills and her lack of standard precautions.

So, when I pass my NCLEX, I have to believe that there are good nurses out there who have the patience of saints, who realize we cannot learn everything from books or from the limited number of patients we get during clinical, and who also realize we need to be challenged without being degraded. But I'm also afraid that just the opposite is true.

You ladies give me hope!