"Eating Our Young" and Ethics

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    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 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,
    RNsToBe


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    [QUOTE]Originally posted by RNsToBe:
    [B]
    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 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,
    RNsToBe

    Dear RNsToBe,
    I am sorry for all those nurses that you will meet who are that way, but please seek out someone who will truly help you. I graduated in Dec. 1993 so I have not been a nurse very long. I hear what you are saying. I invite you to join your professional organizations so you can find someone to act as a mentor. Seek out the organizations in your area. I am president of 2 groups here in Milwaukee. I will warn you that membership in an organization may not always be the answer, but it is an attempt. Ask your unit manager whodoes he/she think might be able to direct you. Some nurses are better at orienting or precepting than others. Talk to your instructors, see if they have any suggestions for you. If electronic support would help please e-mail me and I would be glad to go further with this. NA



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    NA
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    I had a series of very bad experiences when I started fresh out of school in 1986. Some of the nurses I worked with looked down on us and said we had "RNitis". I can't recall ever thinking that I did, it's kind of hard to have that when you realize the nurses aide's know more about bedside nursing and relating to the patients than you did. I made it through a looonnng orientation and feel that I have turned out well knowledged in spite how my work experience started. When I had an exit interview on the floor I had worked for 4 years, one of the nurses that were so hard on us said "we made you the good nurse that you are". I told her, "no, I became a good nurse in spite of what you did". If you don't get a good preceptor, speak to your nurse manager and try to find someone who will truly enjoy teaching you. Some people are just not cut out to be teachers, although the compassion to try should be there with the nursing skills. I try to be open minded when I have had to precept someone and explain to others how slow I was when I hired in and that with a little time and patience, those of us who you wouldn't think would have a chance can turn into some of the best co-workers around. Good luck in your new positions!!!!
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    When I got my first job as a nurse I was so excited. I felt I was going to be in a wonderful profession and meet wonderful nurses. Like I was joining a club. Well, then real world hit me in the face. I was met with hostility from nurses, and given the hardest patients on the floor and expected to sink or swim. Nurses neglected to tell him information so I could find out the hard way. I actually had a nurse follow me around and try to write incident reports on me all the time. So, here I am trying to build my skills, looking to make friends and actually have a career, but the "old" nurses wouldn't let me. Many of the new hired grads left at that point, but I stuck it out. In my mind I was going to beat them. Well, after nightmares everynight and many tears, I finally broke down on the floor. I didn't cry, I GOT MAD! I stuck up for myself and let the "old" nurses have a piece of my mind. Well, I thought for sure I would fired. I wasn't! After that, they treated me differnt, and I made friends with the nurses, and got to be part of the circle of information. I even gained skills from the other nurses. I cannot believe it took an emotional break down to prove myself to them. That is very messed up in my mind. And, it didn't stop with other new nurses. But, I am always nice to the new nurses and let them in on the information and help them, because it will only benefit everyone if I do. I don't know what the answer is. I don't know what nurses are afraid of. Nurses complain they are under staffed, but don't help the situation. Just remember, everyone was a new nurse at some point.
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    My current job. My shift is GREAT. We work well. Don't back stab.

    It's the day shift. That has people difficult to work with. If they don't like you...they won't help you. Our shift runs so much better. Our personalities are calm, cooperative and we'll help anyone. Our team approach works a lot better. And it's a much more pleasant environment to work in.

    This is my experience. What to do...hold your head tall...don't let anyone intimidate you. Feel free to ask questions. All nurses have questions...even Senior nurses come together and discuss questions. As another response stated...find someone to mentor you.

    There are all different personalities. Everyday's a challenge. But I enjoy working with different personalities...doctors, nurses, ancillary staff, patients and family.

    I'm hoping nurses will eventually have the same personality. Considerate and team work. Most nurses have those attributions...but the couple that don't can ruin an effective running unit. This is one profession where working together...is very important!

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    Hello. I have been a nurse for 29 years so I know exactly what you are talking about - I have seen it first hand. I was very fortunate, when I started out being a nurse, a coupld of older nurses took my under their "wing" and nutured me along. I am so grateful. There are many factors that impact the new nurse and how she is received. I have seen new nurses come onto the unit believing that they "knew it all since they just graduated" - they would not listen to the older nurses, or they criticized the older nurses for not doing things the "new way". With the nursing shortage and the demand for performance earlier than the timeframe we were given, we sometimes get short with new staff repeatedly asking the same questions "over and over". We just don't have the time that we had when I was starting out in nursing. There are nurses that are better teachers than others and will take the time to work with new nurses, seek them out. I guess if I had one bit of advice when you first come on the unit is to LISTEN, LISTEN, and WATCH what the nurses are doing. You will soon learn within a short time who has good bedside clinical skills, manners, and ethical practices. These are the nurses to "hook up with". Do not get caught up in the unit politics or gossip, it will get you off on the wrong foot. Good luck.
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    Hi, everyone. I graduated last may, so I'm going thru this situation now. I think nurses that have been at their job for years, view the new grads as someone going in their territory(not just nurses but CNAs many have been in their job for years and they dont like a new grad giving them instructions). And you have to proof to them that you really want the job and you are strong to make it in the hospital setting. But I think that this is true of any job, but it is worst in hospital nursing because there's some many different egos. Competition for power, most well liked, most intelligence, are always there. I think this is human behavior. Someone has to be a leader and some one has to be a follower, and as a new grad you are expected to be a follower (till you become more secure with your skills and decisions). In my job there's a lot of politics, and I'm sure people talk behind my back. "She's too slow, she's unsure, why did she do that she should have done this", but I'm learning and everything I do I do to the best of my ability(that's all i can say). Personally, After going to school for 5 years and becoming a proffesional, and having other nurses or staff ridicule me, many days I did not want to go back to work. I questioned every reason I had for going into nursing. I know of several people that graduated in my class that are no longer practicing nursing. I hate to say it, but I have learned alot in a few months about myself and others. I have learned to depend on myself for everything, to answer my own questions, I can only be in one place at one time, and to not let them see me sweat. I hope this helps,
    SS99
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    Like a lot of the posts I have read here, I think there are many factors that cause the "eating of young" and I don't think all nurses are realizing what they are doing.My first job I was given a preceptor from you know where. With what I know now I would have asked to change preceptors(but I was shy then). Also many of the nurses there were leaving because of disatisfaction. They had their own little group and I was not fitting in to their plans to put the hurt on admin. At my second job I encountered similar problems due to two burned out nurses that were ready for someone else to do the work they had done for years. These trials have made me stronger( I am not so quiet any more), but I would hope I never acted this way to any new nurses. If we can all remember to treat others the way we want to be treated the nursing world would be a much better place. Good luck!
  11. 0
    Originally posted by RNsToBe:

    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 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,
    RNsToBe

    I REMEMBER WHEN I STARTED OUT. I HAD AN EXCELLENT PRECEPTER AND A LONG ORIENTATION PERIOD.IT SEEMS THAT I WAS GUINNEA PIG FOR A NEW SYSTEM AT THE TIME. THAT WAS MORE THAN 10 YEARS AGO. I HAVE BEEN EXPOSED MORE AND MORE TO NEW NURSES OVER THE YEARS AND CAN SEE WHAT YOU MEAN. IT SEEMS TO ME THAT PART OF THE PROBLEM IS THAT NURSES ARE BEING PREPARED LESS AND LESS FOR WHAT THEY WILL ACTUALLY BE FACED WITH. I WONDER IF SO MANY
    YOUNG POEPLE WOULD BE SO IN FAVOR OF NURSING AS A PROFFESSION IF THEY REALIZED THAT THEY
    WILL BE SPENDING MUCH OF THEIR TIME AS HOUSEKEEPER, DIETARY AIDE ( WE FIX MANY OF OUR PATIENTS MEALS ) TRANSKPORTER,SECRATARY,
    ETC. IT SEEMS THAT I SPEND LESS AND LESS TIME DOING WHAT I WAS TRAINED TO DO. STRESS IS HIGH AND THE EXPECTATION IS THAT A NURSE
    WILL FUNCTION FULLY ONCE THEY FINNISH THEIR
    ORIENTATION.
  12. 0
    The best advice I can think to give new RNs is to remember you didn't learn everything there is to know in school, the real world is a lot different from the text books, and you can learn a lot from LPNs and CNAs (actually they can be your best resource). You may hear the word "RNitis" a lot, if you do please step back and look at yourself and the way you come across. I was an LPN for years, then I bridged over to RN, so I've been on both sides of the fence. As an LPN, in a nursing home I oriented a lot of RNs to the floor, the ones that didn't think they were better than us because of the title and were willing to learn became some of the best RNs I've known. Experience is the best teacher, be it learning from the experience of LPNs or CNAs, or from your own experiences. School gives you the knoweledge you need to get you started in certain situations, but not all situations represent themselves in text book style. Listen to the nurses that spend the most time with the patients, be it the LPNs or CNAs, they will catch the little changes that you as a nurse supervisor may never notice. It's like a mother and her child, mom notices the slightest changes in her child, before anyone else will.
    By listening to your co-workers and learning from them you will "fit in" much better. Once they see you are understanding, willing to learn and listen, and that you are not there to pretend to know it all and snap the whip behind them at all times, they will accept you, and the wisdom and experience that you may bring with you.
    I've seen LPNs and CNAs ruin RNs, simply because the RNs' noses were held so high if it rained they would drown. We're to be a team, no one is more importanat than the other, all of us have an important part to play. I've always said it would be impossible to work an entire unit by myself, i really appreciate the work the LPNs and CNAs do. But remember also there will be a time when you will have to encourage and reprimind, that's part of a charge nurses or supervisors job as well. If someone isn't cutting it, making more work on the rest of them team, it will be your responsibility to try and help the team as a whole. Sometimes this isn't fun or popular. It takes a special person to be understanding and kind, and yet be able to ensure the work is being done as a team. There's been times I've felt like I was working with pre-schoolers, with all the "she said he said" and complaining, but with time I've learned how to handle the situation. I think the best things I've learned is to always be Fair, Firm and Consistant with every employee. I play no favorites. I have LPNs and CNAs that we hang out after work, but at the work place I don't show favoritism. Also I have never nor will ever ask someone to do something that I am not willing to do myself. I can give a bedpan with the best of them.
    I hope you the best. I've read the posts and there is a lot of good advice here, take it with you onto the floor. Good Luck and welcome to the ever changing world of nursing!

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    ~~DeathRowRN~~


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