"Eating Our Young" and Ethics - page 4

Hello: We are a group of RN students in a BSN program in Northern California, and we are exploring the ethical implications of experienced nurses "eating their young". We would like to hear the perspective of experienced... Read More

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    Originally posted by RNsToBe:

    We are a group of RN students in a BSN program in Northern California, and we are exploring the ethical implications of experienced nurses "eating their young". We would like to hear the perspective of experienced nurses, new grads/novice nurses and nursing students on this topic. Why do you think this behavior persists (ie., what are the dynamics or other factors that contribute to this behavior). What are your suggestions for breaking this attitudinal/behavioral cycle and for bridging the gap/improving relations between experienced and novice nurses? What do you think are the ethical ramifications (if any) of experienced nurses deliberately withholding information/support from novice nurses? It seems to us that supporting new nurses would be beneficial not only to the novice nurse, but also to the experienced nurses and to the unit as a whole. It seems that the team and unit would function more efficiently and the quality of patient care/patient safety would be better as a result. We acknowledge that there are many caring/supporting nurses working in the field and that “eating of the young” is a practice that is not practiced by the majority of nurses. However, we also acknowledge that it does persist; therefore, the purpose of this project is to better understand the reasons for and the repercussions of this behavior.
    We appreciate your viewpoints.
    Thank you,

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    I am a nurse educator working in Australia, and I can tell you, the problem is universal. I work with my students to try to end this professional jealousy/rivalry that exists and would welcome suggestions from students as to how I , as an educator, can prepare or assit the student with this problem. My own believes and observations on humans in general and nurses more specificaaly, is that it is a very deep seated gender socialisation thing and is actually (a very effective) tool that keeps nurses from standing together to be recognised as a force to be reckoned with. While I relaise I cannot change the world, I take me commitmment very seriously and do what I can to help the next generation of nurses to A. abolish this childlike attititude ( my children get sent to their room when thet deliberatly act like that ) or B possibly more realistically, to help prepare the student nurse for this so that the persoanlly and professionally survive this "running of the gauntlet". Comments welcome
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    I work on a med/surg floor in a large hospital. I precept and orient new rn's very often. I do see the lack of compassion at times by other nurses for new nurses. However in their defense, nurses today are so overwhelmed simply by their job that precepting and orienting is really difficult. I have seen nurses with over 20 years experience drowning with an assignment of 8-10 very ill patients. I have spoken to them and they feel like they are barely able to properly do their job, which is very hard for them, to add to that the stress of showing someone can be just too much. People talk about staffing and leave out that the acuity of the patients in the hospitals now is much higher than it used to be. The more experienced nurses aren't used to having to run their tails off just to get out meds, let alone if several patients need dsg changes or some other type of treatment. It is a sad case, but don't be so hard on the more experienced rn's, and let them know that you respect them, even if it is only because they have been doing this job for many years and that takes huge commitment. They would love to help and often it is the circumstance that keeps them from doing so. I think that as a profession, we need to start supporting each other and often if we consider what the more experienced nurses are going through, it is harder for them to accept the conditions in hospitals and they are the ones that can't leave and go elsewhere because of the time they have put in. I feel sorry for more experienced nurses, they are watching changes happen that are disturbing and they can do nothing. Just thought that you might like a different perspective on this.
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    While I'm sure that some preceptors DON'T start out on a positive note, in my experience, most do. However.....a LOT depends on the way the information being taught is recieved. Attitude is EVERYTHING!!!!! Yes we were all new at one time but we all didn't have a cocky "know it all" chip on our shoulders. We always laugh at work when someone starts nursing school from another position because they immediately become "experts" who point out to us all the things we are "missing" "OH boy...here we go!!" We recently went through ten days of hell orienting someone who always knew more than us, refused to take good, KIND advice and constantly looked for any "not by the book" mistake we made to point out to us. Yes we make mistakes, but the way for someone on their first couple of days on a job to makes friends is NOT to look for mistakes so they will feel less inadequete!(sp?)It's very hard to offer information and advice to someone who already knows everything and to be "blown off". One thing I've noticed is that no one on here is really addressing this issue in depth. You simply CAN'T teach or orient an unwilling person no matter how hard you try. A new grad is of course up to date with all the "newest" info, techniques, etc. which most of us are glad to learn, but just realize that because it's newer doesn't mean it works as well in the "real world".
    Just keep an open mind......remember that the "perfect" hospital or LTC facility exits only in the books, and remember that these people will be your co-workers and hopefully friends for a long time. In the long run, every new person we orient is more staff to help our jobs run smoother, we REALLY don't want to lose you!!! Just check the attitudes at the door!
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    Bless your hearts...as one who has been on the receiving end of 'nurse-eating,' I always try to be kind, patient, and supportive of students and new nurses alike.

    I got eaten biggie time at my first job, and consequently left the position because of my EVIL preceptor that rode in to work on a broom every morning... It was horrible. I cried to my husband and friends, I had knots in my stomach driving to work. I didn't sleep. I felt like a total failure. Why I gave so much power to this evil preceptor I will never know, but she succeeded in chasing me off, which I believe wholeheartedly was her goal. Since then, I've learned to defend myself and stand up for myself. Nipping 'young-eating' in the bud is the best solution.

    I have received many letters of thanks and commendation from nursing instructors because of my patience and willingness to teach the students. I can't stand to see other nurses get snippy and rude when a student asks a question or asks for help. People need to remember that we were ALL students at one time or another. It's the ones who forget that little tidbit that are doing the 'eating.'

    Stepping off the soapbox....
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    Most of the time I am glad to have a new grad on the floor. Its a nice prospect to be able to teach someone the ins and outs of the biz but it's a double edged sword. You WANT to show them the right way but you are lucky to get out an hour after your shift has ended and getting called away from your charting to answer that same question for the third time gets old. As nurses it is our nature to be helpful and patient. We should remember to be that way with our "young" as well.
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    In two days I start my refresher course to change my LPN license from inactive to active. I can't wait. After spending a great deal of time reading posts on this wonderful board I feel a strange sense of urgency to return to nursing... to 'rescue' my fellow nurses from this terrible predicament and try to help.

    Having not worked in a clinical setting for 5 years there is much I will have to learn and re-learn pertaining to all the changes in procedures and new equipment. I'm scared.

    But you know what scares me the most? Other nurses. Back-stabbing, two or three-faced premenstrual nurses!!!

    When I left nursing to open an assisted living facility I swore I would never go back. In my experience (I have worked a grueling med/surg floor, home health and LTC) nurses were the biggest bunch of B's I had ever met.

    It is not in my nature to back-stab or be two-faced. And if I ever get out of line an earnest apology follows quickly. I am a sensitive individual and have always tried to put myself in the other person's shoes. I like going out of my way to treat the new person with kindness and helping her to feel welcomed. However, in too many situations I was not treated with the same respect. In fact, I consider some of the deliberately cruel tactics downright evil.

    I think every last one of us needs to examine her/his behavior and ask ourselves how we might have contributed to this nursing shortage. Could it be there are a million nurses sitting at home because of the politics between nurses? Sensitive people who went into nursing to help and make friends with other helpers and found out that the nurses (and doctors) who treat their patients like gold and turn around and treat each other like S--T?

    Who wants to work in that kind of environment?

    There is enough pain and sorrow in this world without having to spend 40+ hours a week enduring pain and sorrow from our fellow nurses.

    Treat your co-workers with professionalism and respect and the profession of nursing will be respected.

    (There is another great thread pertaining to this subject under "Nursing Issues/Concerns...": Shortage Solution.)
    Last edit by SusieQ1243 on Jul 7, '01
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    I am a new nurse, I graduated last May, and I have to say that I have had positive experiences with preceptors. I am getting ready to get a new job soon I will be starting and ER position and of course I feel vunerable again. I have had to move once to CT, and started a new job, and now six months later a job in the ER has presented itself. I hope I get lucky for a third time and get a wonderful preceptor.

    I agree with other posters here with this thread, don't go into the situation feeling that you know everything, learn from those who have been there for a long time and enjoy teaching. Know in your mind that you have done the best you can do with the experience and skills that you have and know that you will continue to learn everyday. Don't be afraid to ask questions. I have seen older nurses not want to give others the time of day, and I have seen new grads who want to do it all their way, and I have only been doing this one year. "nurse eating" does exist at different levels, and hopefully we can continue to improve this. First we have to get and keep people interested in being nurses in the first place.

    I would like to thank all of the wonderful nurses out there who welcome the new nurses into the profession, and continue to practice with professionalism, and empathy for the sake of their patients and co-workers!! Call me an optimist but, I truely feel there are more non "young eaters" then there are "young eaters"
    that is just mho.

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    "Eating the young" - or old for that matter is a phrase that should be abolished from nursing. It has been discussed many times on this BB that nursing functions like an oppressed society with all the dysfunction that entails. Nurses in hospitals have a lot of responsibility with little or no authority or autonomy. The buck stops with the floor nurse. She/he must protect his/her license at all times. She/he endures little respect, long hours, low salary, poor pension benefits, and unsafe conditions with poor staffing and often, ridiculous expectations from management. These conditions can breed anger, apathy and exhaustion. It also contributes to a pecking order. If nurses can rise above the opression, gain autonomy and respect, I believe "eating the young" would be eliminated.

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