New nurses wanted.

by GrnTea

25,272 Views | 117 Comments

We need new nurses. We need people with strength of character, intelligence, and drive. So who says they're being driven away?

  1. 36

    New nurses wanted.

    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.
    Last edit by Joe V on Feb 13, '13
    ShyeoftheTiger, beckster_01, Swellz, and 33 others like this.
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  4. About GrnTea

    GrnTea is older'n dirt, has worked decades in critical care, case management, teaching, and many other nursing specialties. She loves students and new grads and will do anything to help them grow, believe it or not, but suffers fools poorly.

    GrnTea joined Apr '11 - from 'out in the country'. GrnTea has 'since Florence was a probie' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'legal, teaching, LCP, CM'. Posts: 9,644 Likes: 20,807; Learn more about GrnTea by visiting their allnursesPage


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    117 Comments so far...

  5. 5
    Well done, GrnTea.
    Thank you.

    nursel56, itsmejuli, SoldierNurse22, and 2 others like this.
  6. 9
    OHhh, i am so so saving this article somewhere in my favorites list. Oh, thank you thank you for saying these words, GrnTea, oh it is a wonderful thing to read. This should be mandatory reading for anyone who posts "Nursing eats it's young."

    I have always objected to the word "young".
    This old worn out, not true statement, comes closer to the truth, (if/when it does happen)
    if we reword it to read "Nursing eats the new employee"
    It doesnt' matter the nurse's age.
    This is not "just" nursing either. Many many other high-intensity or competitve professionals experience sometimes not being warmly welcomed aboard.


    another point, is, many people---of any age----just do NOT easily warm up to new people, strangers, as quickly as others do. It is not the age of the nurse arriving, nor the age of the nurse welcoming new employee.
    Young nurses AND old nurses both can be unwelcoming, even petty and nasty or uppity. A person's character really is not locked in by one's age.

    I've moved extensively, from coast to coast, and was often the "new" nurse. Occasionally, i am not much welcomed, yet, i stand there with a stripe of gray hair and decades of experience,
    i am not young,
    and i am not a new grad, either,
    it is just i am new to them. It's not just *me*, i've witnessed this happen to other new employees, it happens sometimes, that some people just don't take to strangers right off the bat. I suspect, it might be possible that a very needy person who is insecure and/or not yet confident about nursing, might feel it even MORE, and blame that on her "age"
    than a nurse who knows her stuff might.


    still, overall, what i've seen and experienced, is, most nurses do help each other, they really do, regardless of age. I've been taught tons of stuff by other nurses,
    and i have tried to always help out a nurse in need.
    Like GrnTea says, it really is far far more common, that nurses DO help each other. Probably none of us would have made it, without other nurses teaching us and helping us.
    Last edit by somenurse on Feb 13, '13
    nursel56, itsmejuli, anotherone, and 6 others like this.
  7. 2
    Is this an "article"? if so, i will vote for THIS one next time we are supposed to pick favorite article.
    GrnTea and poppycat like this.
  8. 13
    I roll my eyes every time I see a post about someone's "dream job". How can you know it's your dream job when you haven't even worked one day yet? And, if it turns out you don't like it, is it then your "nightmare job"? I've seen quite a few posts on here by people who've gotten their (perceived) dream job & ended up hating the specialty/area. Apparently, then, your dreams are fantasy & not based in reality. Stop worrying about getting your dream job & just absorb all the knowledge you can from the more seasoned nurses in whatever area you're working.
    havemercy21, MBARNBSN, itsmejuli, and 10 others like this.
  9. 15
    [QUOTE=GrnTea;7171135]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 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.
    [QUOTE]

    Wow... those are two excellent points that are so often overlooked in this friendly-fire debate between experienced RNs and those of us newbies who are just cutting our teeth on patient care.

    It always strikes me as ironic when a new nurse comes on AN to gripe about their treatment from an experienced nurse, classifying the experienced nurse's attitude as "unfair", "mean", or "rude", and several of AN's experienced members try to gently tell the OP that the anecdotal experienced nurse may have a point. Cue the orchestra and rosin up your bows, because the time to pull out the Kleenex is NOW!

    You'd think someone had insulted their mother or kicked a puppy. The truth of the matter is that this reaction is (sadly) more and more the norm, which I suppose can only be expected from a culture that so desperately values youth and beauty that it is quick to dismiss/discredit experience of any kind as "irrelevant" or "old school", having no place in current practice or modern conversation. The conversation then devolves into the new nurse accusing the experienced nurses of all kinds of crimes against the new nurse's self esteem/perceived expertise. And on and on it goes.

    The second point is stunning in both its honesty and bluntness. I have met many a nurse who is disenchanted with the way they have found nursing to actually be versus the image they had in their minds. Sadly, interpersonal interaction (in ANY setting) is not always going to be rosey, happy, healthy rapport between a caregiver and the patient. To assume anything else is dangerously deceiving.

    Sometimes at the end of the day, you will leave shift with half of your patients mad at you and the physicians distributing dartboards with your face on them. All you have to feel good about yourself is that you did your best for your patients given the circumstances, and that should be sufficient, because if you're looking for anything else out of nursing, beware!

    I am far from an experienced nurse by any means, but I have already been accused of being "mean", "rude" and "heartless" on several occasions...for refusing to do someone's homework/job for them. This is the kind of immature, unprofessional conduct that can ruin a profession, both from the point of view of the public, for the nurses, and most importantly, for the patients.

    To GrnTea and all the other experienced RNs on this board who so willingly give of themselves to nurses like myself, thank you!!
    Last edit by SoldierNurse22 on Feb 13, '13
    Ruby Vee, anotherone, RN520, and 12 others like this.
  10. 4
    Quote from KarenfRN
    I roll my eyes every time I see a post about someone's "dream job". How can you know it's your dream job when you haven't even worked one day yet? And, if it turns out you don't like it, is it then your "nightmare job"? I've seen quite a few posts on here by people who've gotten their (perceived) dream job & ended up hating the specialty/area. Apparently, then, your dreams are fantasy & not based in reality. Stop worrying about getting your dream job & just absorb all the knowledge you can from the more seasoned nurses in whatever area you're working.
    Hi Karen! I agree with you 100%. Throughout nursing school, I enjoyed all areas of nursing! Especially OB, Med surg, ICU! 80% of my class could not picture themselves doing anything but OB or ICU. I graduated nursing school and I did not know in which specialty I belonged! I tried med surg , and I was told it was not a good fit and I agreed!

    Actually at this point I will accept any job, it is hard enough to get hired as a new grad, forget about getting hired in a very popular specialty !

    I personally i won't know what my dream job is until I try it out for a while!

    One of the interview questions that is frequently asked is : what interests you in this position ( something like this), I wish I could be honest and say.....I desperately need a job! Only time will show if it is my dream job or not! As long as I am taking care of pts and work in a friendly environment ill be happy !

    When I was in clinicals and in orientation as an RN-- I got a ton of support from seasoned nurses , and not so much from the younger ones! I hope I land a new job soon and I would love to be trained by a seasoned nurse !
    db2xs, Esme12, poppycat, and 1 other like this.
  11. 5
    I work with a wonderful nurse who has been such an exemplary unofficial mentor and I'm wondering if I'm reading her words. Well said.

    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)
    You responded to one of my panic stricken, flightier sounding posts earlier this week, and I was grateful for the experienced tone that brought me back down to earth. Though I'm new, I've never found this belief to be true. For those who complain, I'll direct them this way. And for the days when I'm starting to feel the slightest bit twitchy, I'll remember Mr. Emerson's wise words. Thanks, GrnTea. I'll be keeping an eye out for more posts.
    Last edit by LaLaEm4 on Feb 13, '13 : Reason: wording
    not.done.yet, Esme12, poppycat, and 2 others like this.
  12. 11
    Holy hell! Where have you been hiding my whole life?

    This!

    This!!!


    So brilliant. So marvelous.

    Might I stalk you a little? Follow you around murmuring bits of poetry in your ear and spreading banquets of chocolate chip cookies before you? May I mention my cunning ability to sprinkle ekg dots (fresh out of flower petals....sorry. Plus, you know, seasonal and all that.) at your croc covered feet?

    And should you hear Peter Gabriel echo over your facility speakers, be assured that I am out on the lawn with a boom box (that's like a big ass iPod with speakers, kids) held aloft over my head.
    Baubo516, elkpark, Do-over, and 8 others like this.
  13. 10
    I am a new nurse and I have a remarkable preceptor.

    She is knowledgeable. She is dedicated to teaching me how to function to the facility’s standards without encouraging shortcuts that may cost me my job, if not my integrity. She is able to intuit when to “hover” and when to loosen the reins and let me fly on my own. She has never been “unavailable” for or disinterested in any question I have had. She doesn’t speak to me like a child. She communicates with me like an equal and treats me with the respect that she would expect from me. She involves me in decisions on how to progress through my training, she gauges my comfort/confidence level and doesn’t make plans for me based on arbitrary standards and yet she keeps me challenged by adding to my responsibilities in appropriate ways. She’s not afraid to correct me if I do something wrong and she does so in ways that allow me to keep my dignity.

    I have a REMARKABLE preceptor and our nurse manager knows it – because I took my very first opportunity to let her know it. I leave work most days physically exhausted, but mentally amped. It is because of her that I am happy to be there and it is because of the commitment and respect that she has shown to me that I would do pretty much anything she asked. She has earned my respect and loyalty without question.

    There are a few nurses on my unit who have started to get catty. I quietly watched as it started with one. I quietly watched that one spread it to as many others as would listen. Fortunately for me, my skin is leather-thick and it doesn’t bother me in the least if someone doesn’t like me. If it gets to the point of interfering with my livelihood, I will respond in a very direct and calculated manner. Hopefully it won’t ever get to that point. She’s young and I believe she underestimates my capacity for tenacity. I’ll take apart a wall brick by brick if I have to. She may not be so patient.

    But I will say this…My preceptor is the saving grace. I have a feeling that the kindness she has bestowed on me will be what keeps this transition from being so steep an uphill battle that I consider whether or not it would be more advantageous to cut sling load and take my chances somewhere else.
    C-lion, Twinmom06, Pets to People, and 7 others like this.


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