Non-use of stereotypes can help a relationship

  1. Ok. This was intended to be in reply to the closed thread on the subject of nurses being mean to new grads, using the stereotyped phrase of "eating their young" which has always seemed weird to me. I never heard it before nursing so I just assumed that in every job you had a newbie phase and had to make your own way or let people take advantage of you, period.

    There's a nurse, where I work, on nights, who corrected a mistake I made one morning. She told me nicely, but my preceptor didn't like the fact that she spoke to me instead of to her about it. There was a perfectly good reason for the mistake, so nobody was too terribly concerned about it, even this nurse. She just wanted to clarify so I would think twice about that particular thing next time. Okeydokey.

    My preceptor decided no one could be mean to me, that was totally off the wall, this person always dumps on new nurses and picks at them constantly, this can NOT continue to happen. I told her I didn't agree with speaking to our unit director about it, but if she wanted to, I would bow to her judgement. So she did. Unit director comes out and apologizes to me. Short conversation, I sigh and hope this is done with.

    Well it's not. I see this nurse in about two weeks, and she pulls me aside and we have a heart to heart. What she's trying to tell me is nothing like what I've heard she wants to do to me, there's no meanness whatsoever. She wants to say that:
    1. no preceptor can know everything
    2. no nurse knows everything, we have to share knowledge
    3. new nurses frequently trip on subjects of hospital policy, while their patient care is good, so little things have to be pointed out- who has time to read the manuals and memorize them?!

    So I tell her I'm going to be on nights and she's all thrilled when I also tell her that I want to be corrected, gently, and shown the right way to do things, and that I WILL seek help when I need it, so get ready for me to ask questions!

    We'll get along fine. Notice that even though my original preceptor has strong opinions about this nurse, and they may be based on experience, etc, she never used the phrase that excuses bad behavior as stereotypical. Not only that, this nurse's behavior wasn't bad, from her perspective. And if I can't take one eensy comment then my god, my hide needs some toughening. I think that, if it's between shifts that the behavior is occurring, people passing each other coming on and off shift always run at least a 50% chance of appearing (or actually being) grouchy, and that anything said during shift change can be magnified by that, and blown out of proportion.

    So I do NOT prefer the phrase. I prefer actually stating what the behavior is that causes a problem. This forces people to THINK about what is going on. From the newbie's perspective, I have made it a habit to ask people, about 2/3 of the way through a shift, do they have any suggestions for me to improve. (I don't do this all the time. Just when I have a new temp preceptor that I don't know well.) That way they can give me advice and know that it's wanted. Some of my coworkers have used the bad phrase to refer to previous experiences and contrast them with where we work now; that's ok but when I join the conversation I won't use those words- instead I'll have to state exactly what I saw at that facility during clinicals, that made me not apply to work there. That way, we remember what it is that we don't like, and that we are not above being stereotyped ourselves if we don't behave like adults.
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  2. 8 Comments

  3. by   Thunderwolf
    Wonderful post.

    Who says one can not learn from those who are just learning themselves.

    Your observations and insights are most correct.

    I applaud you!

    Thank you for the post.
  4. by   Tweety
    Good post.

    There are nurses that eat their young. People however tend to generalize the one grouchy person to the entire nursing profession, rather than take it as the isolated (however common) case it it is.
  5. by   Thunderwolf
    I suggest the topic you proposed here BE the ongoing topic of this thread.

    Other posters...please, let's not stray from it.

    How about other poster comments which support this member's view.
  6. by   Thunderwolf
    Thanks, Tweety.

    Your observation is most valid in that a few can spoil the image of many.

    What about those "many" who have made a point not to fall into this type of category? Indy gave a good example of one nurse who definitely stepped up to the plate, offered her knowledge and support to a new, oncoming staff member. Instead of focusing on how "bad" these other few nurses are "who eat their young", what about those many others who tried to put an end or confront the negative stereotype?

    That's the topic.

    Let's keep up a good discussion.
    Last edit by Thunderwolf on Oct 16, '05
  7. by   DusktilDawn
    Excellent post Indy. When I was a "newbie" I received alot of support from my co-workers and continued to work with these wonderful people for 11 years. I had never heard the phrase "nurses eat their young" until after 4 years of nursing, a nurse educator used it. I found it offensive then and I still find it offensive now.

    Those few that exhibit deplorable behaviors towards new nurses also exhibit the same behavior to the experienced nurses and whomever else they deal with. Inappropriate behavior should not be tolerated and should be dealt with appropriately.

    Presently where I work, the nursing staff is very supportive of each other.
  8. by   JentheRN05
    I can/have seen both sides. I have worked with nurses who do in fact 'eat their young' but they are far inbetween. More often than not, especially in my most recent job, I have found that that isn't the case. I so far, haven't seen any evidence of this on my floor. In fact some how our floor has very high morale, I think it is because of a new nurse manager who made some major overhauling since I was there on clinicals.
    In either case, I have found actually very helpful nurses since I starting orientation on my floor. I haven't found anyone 'that eats their young' and I refuse to look for one like that. So - if I don't seek them out, I won't find them (at least I hope it works this way )
  9. by   gauge14iv
    TERRIFIC post!

    One thing I would love to be able to teach students in nursing school - or anyone that I ever precept, would be how to take and offer constructive criticism in a loving manner that achieves the desired result AND to realize that their input DOES make a difference.

    Feedback is feedback - it is observation and ideas - it doesn't have to be taken personally, nor should it be delivered as a personal attack.

    We all have ideas about how to improve patient care, process, policies and procedures. I think may people are afraid to speak up for fear of being beat down, that it doesn't matter, they aren't important enough to be heard etc. I know that this attitude isn't just present in nursing but in my experience I have found it to be very prevalent in our industry. I don't know if it is personality, societal influences or the way nurses are socialized (or some combination) but I find that people sometimes need to be taught that they are powerful - they don't seem to know it. They are powerful if only they will just tap into that and use it effectively.

    When people understand that they have the power to change even small things and have the communication skills to convey it in a way that moves the issue in a positive direction we all gain so much from that.
  10. by   Jessy_RN
    Awsome post!

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