I have just read a post in a Nursing Specialties forum on Staff Development that makes reference to the need to recognize and nurture new nurses because the nursing-eat-their-young attitude is so widespread. I went to respond to that but realized it might see more eyes here.
As a clarification, it is critically important to know that someone who has a bad experience is likely to tell the story 25 times, while someone with a good one is likely to tell that story only 5 times. If therefore you apply this algorithm to the posts complaining of wretched treatment at the hands of old meanies who don't remember what it is to have a dreeeeaaaammmmm and passsssssiooonnnn, then you come out with a more realistic picture.
Language is also critically important. Using words like, "It has been a chronic problem that has driven new nurses to leave nursing areas they had aspired to work in, and oftentimes caused new nurses to leave the nursing field entirely. No one knows how many talented people have been driven from the field of nursing, but it seems to be a widespread problem if all the articles and discussion in nursing forums is representative of most nursing environments" makes assumptions on facts not in evidence. "Seem(ing) to be a widespread problem" only works if you believe that "all the articles and discussion is representative of most nursing environments." (emphasis added here and below). Data, please. What's the source of that information?
There are many threads and posts on AN that describe awesome experiences and workplaces, yet this assertion of "all the articles and discussion" clearly ignores them. There is ample evidence of older nurses here and at work supporting, teaching, and mentoring younger ones, on their own time, for free, late at night when they ought to be in bed, precisely because they want to nurture new nurses. We know they are our future, and we want them to be good. At the same time, there are multiple posts from new nurses that can bitterly dishearten the seasoned thoughtful practitioner, posts that indicate low levels of preparation, high levels of neediness and entitlement, unrealistic expectations of the realities of bedside work, and inability to adapt to the labor market.
Those older, seasoned, and experienced practitioners express their dismay at these attitudes in many ways, from light-hearted banter to bitter and heartbroken rant. The resulting wails are instructive-- and demonstrative of a problem that has generally nothing whatsoever to do with young-eating. Perhaps some of those "many talented people" (in whose estimation? their own?) are "oftentimes" "driven" away by other factors than this seriously-overused and incredible (in the definition of the word, meaning, "not believable," not "rad, totally awesome, duuude") sound bite. Beware the shallow thinker who prefers sound bites to thoughtful analysis; do not be that person. We need better critical thinking in nursing. It can start here.
Those of us older and more seasoned nurses know better than to discourage all new nurses from practice. We, better than they, have a clearer vision of being in those beds rather than beside them; we, better than they, have a larger perspective on the world of nursing care. We have already been new nurses. We have already been managers. We have already taken the responsibility of being charge nurses. We have been years at bedsides. We have already seen and participated in disasters, codes, deaths, family tragedies, fights, and labor actions. We know what it takes. We know we need more of us, as we age and leave because we are not able to do it anymore.
We can be pardoned for being scared to death of those soi-disant (this means, in translation, self-described) "talented people" who are unable to (for lack of a better word) hack it at the bedside and do not understand, or try to understand, from whence we come. The perennially-aggrieved give us heartburn; we have no patience with them, we don't have time. We are scared of what will happen to us and our loved ones when the self-esteem movement leaves us with caregivers that need more validation from their patients than they have the fortitude to learn to give them.
We welcome whole-heartedly, unreservedly, new nurses who are willing to put their education in its proper place, planning and providing competent care. We love the one who doesn't come in and say, "I'm just working here for a year so I can go to ICU and then go to CRNA / NP school." We want good nurses; we are willing to help new nurses who want to work wherever there is a need even if it's not their dreeeeaammmm job, and work hard, to grow. We want to work with people who don't have such a twitchy trigger finger, ready to go off with a bang over the least perceived slight. We want colleagues who believe this:
Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. (~Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Anyone who wants to be a nurse who has the strength of character to do that, we're ready for you. Are you ready for us? We are already here.