Do nurses really "eat their own?"

  1. Hi all,

    I am very excited to start nursing school to become an RN in January after a FINALLY deciding to leave my career in another field. I have been thinking about nursing for years, and finally got the courage up to make the switch this year.

    My question for you is-- Are nurses really as cut-throat as some of these posts suggest? I have heard the expression that "nurses eat their own" and are highly competive, etc. What has been everyone's experience here working with other nurses? I am a very friendly, good-natured person, but a bit shy... and sometimes have trouble sticking up for myself to mean-spirited people. I am always helping the underdog, which is one reason nursing appeals to me. I am really looking forward to helping others and making new friends. I hope the profession is not as hostile as some are suggesting ?!?
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  2. 7 Comments

  3. by   Elisheva
    Quote from socishan
    Hi all,

    I am very excited to start nursing school to become an RN in January after a FINALLY deciding to leave my career in another field. I have been thinking about nursing for years, and finally got the courage up to make the switch this year.

    My question for you is-- Are nurses really as cut-throat as some of these posts suggest? I have heard the expression that "nurses eat their own" and are highly competive, etc. What has been everyone's experience here working with other nurses? I am a very friendly, good-natured person, but a bit shy... and sometimes have trouble sticking up for myself to mean-spirited people. I am always helping the underdog, which is one reason nursing appeals to me. I am really looking forward to helping others and making new friends. I hope the profession is not as hostile as some are suggesting ?!?
    I'll just say this: the skills you acquire in nursing school are only the beginning. You will have to learn to be assertive and to stand up for yourself, and you would have to learn to do this in any professional job, whether it is in the medical field or the corporate world.

    I think the stress, the liability, the fatigue, and the odd hours can add a dimension of irritability to the job. I've experienced the "nurses eat their young" mentality and my mistake was in not nipping it in the bud. You must stand up for yourself. If I had it to do over, I would have confronted the offenders head on in private. Had that failed, I would have taken it as far as I could take it, even writing up the guilty parties.

    Be a team player, be helpful, be humble and willing to learn...but draw a line. You're a human being and a nurse and for that you deserve respect.
  4. by   acadia
    I have to reply here because this has been a topic that has confused me from the beginning. I was once a "new" nurse after a bazillion yrs. of working as a CNA. I get the not so great job, low pay, almost all newbies get, and work my way through, to pay my dues so to speak.
    Starting as a CNA, it begins. If a new CNA on the floor does not meet the criteria of the established (& VERYshort staffed, I might add) staff members, this person is chewed up, spit out, and has left the job so fast. Usually a no call, no show. I can not count the times I have witnessed this behavior. Instead of the staff helping the new person, they almost set them up to fail. The new staff will be given the hardest residents, or wing, and left to sink or swim. Remember--- very short staffed to begin with.
    I began my position as a new grad RN. My supervisor was a 20yr LPN. This person had seen, done, experienced, etc, etc far, far more than I had in my mingy, school book/ clinical rotations. When I began my job, I gave her my full repect as somone that really knew what she was doing, she had been doing it for 20yrs.She knew what she was doing, and very well.

    Yet one day in the beginning of my employment, I felt uncomfortable (not unable) to do a procedure, and would have appreciated her just lending a hand and a voice. I was told "You are the one with R.N. after your name" and she turned and walked away.
    I agree, if you stop the behaviors in the start, you will be the much wiser for it. Even as hard as it will be, if you are a quiet prson, in the long run, IMO you will be happier in this profession if you set your boundaries from the start.I wish you the very best.
    I would still really like to know from others why they think it is way? This is a helping profession, a teaching, nurturing one as well. I have seen nurses from Administration down , some so very nice, supportive, while others openly, publicly, rude, offensive, abrasive etc. I know nurses now that would do anything including myself, than go back into the nursing field. It is a bitter disappoinment, because I had always wanted to be a nurse. While I did it, I worked several different areas, was complimented on my abilties, as well as learned from others that I have the gift of having a calm, calming and easy going approach with my patients that was very appreciated. The talent of remaining calm (or at least appearing that way) in a crisis, and thus helping to keep my floor working together in a team attitude. I left thinking, life is too short to work in conditions such as these, in a cut throat, territorial and back stabbing. I forgot, exhausting, being mandated, arrogant MD treatment. ....
    I will be very interested to hear other experiences, and their thoughts on WHY? ok ,off of my soapbox now. Acadia Thank you for putting up with my rantings
  5. by   Tweety
    Please don't judge the profession by what you read on a message board. Students and new grads encourter many many nurses, but let one nurse snap at them and they come here screaming "nurses eat their young".

    There are a few toxic units where it seems everyone is a troll and eats young, but those are few and far between.

    Nurses and students come to this board to vent their concerns and frustrations with nursing, so it's a bit skewed to the negative. Also, students and new grads are nervous and raw and very sensitive to the tiniest bit of negativity and criticism, even when it isn't there, and when it is there it hurts.

    Do you have to have tough skin? Yes. It's a tough and demanding profession, not for the faint of heart.

    I think you'll do just fine. Just don't believe the stereotypes. Nurses to not eat their young and nurses are not catty.

    Good luck.
  6. by   cookie102
    having been in nursing for over 30 years, i have to agree , we do eat our young, but the good news is not everyone you encounter will be this way...i for one, love to see the young nurses come on board and i try to mentor them....remember they are the ones that will be taking care of us "older" nurses down the road...teach them the way you want to be treated makes a huge difference.
  7. by   traumaRUs
    I think like any profession, you have disagreeable people. The majority however, are kind-hearted and willing to help you to succeed. These are the people to seek out. Ignore the others.
  8. by   acadia
    Hi Socishan,
    I can empathize with your enthusiasm, nervousness, feelings of elation, of finally making it.. graduating!! I graduated with honors, raising 5 children three were teens!!! (one was only a yr. old) I was on top of the world when I graduated. Perhaps I should have phrased things differently. One thing that I believe is helpful to new grads today, is a preceptor. One place I worked, I had 2 days orientation, then I was responsible for 2 floors in a nursing home.Skilled and LTC. Very scary to a new grad. The person that was there to orient me, called out and was not replaced. I see many places having an actual preceptor program. If this is available to you, it gives you the chance as a new nurse ,to work with an experienced nurse. The preceptor likes this job, and enjoys helping the new people get a solid, structured chance to be working confidently and independently. As in many things, there is learning in school, but then there is real learning on the floor, and then you are the RN to your patients, clients, whatever.
    I agree with Elisheva in the matter-of-fact way that things were said. As I said in my first post, also, be assertive. This is the time to ask questions,so do not be put off by the nurses you come across that do have real "attitude"or are very burnt out, but are still working.
    My words are true, my experiences were real. I do not know where Tweety works, but I did notice he is a male nurse. NOT to start anything in that direction, but my husband is an RN as well. His story is different, and also with unfortunate events, but much different, and no, men are not catty.
    Just knowing you will run into these types may be of help to you, because you won`t be as naive as I was.
    Believe in yourself and all the hard work you`ve just done, there are good and bad co-workers as you know, everywhere. In time you will be able to assess your work situation. Yours may be a fantastic one, they are out there. If it isn`t ,well by then you will know what you are looking for in a working environment that suits your needs as well. acadia
  9. by   sirI
    this topic has been discussed many many times here on the site. please refer to these threads:

    eating our young?

    survey: do nurses eat their young?

    eating your young

    nurses eat their young

    a nurse ate me as her young and i'm still paying for it

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