new grad having trouble w/ icu personalities - page 5

I am a new grad icu rn in training and am finding the most challenging part to be interacting with the nurses on my unit. Granted some are nice, friendly, and helpful, but the majority of them are... Read More

  1. by   bluesky
    Quote from llg
    I'm not going to defend the behavior you are describing. It's simply wrong to be mean. We all know that.

    However, I am going to try to explain at least a little of it -- because some of you are wondering "why" people behave that way. As a very experienced NICU nurse who is now in staff development and teaching people about horizatal hostility and relational aggression, here are my thoughts on the "why."

    1. Experienced nurses have seen many new nurses "come and go" over the years. Many have probably precepted and mentored many new people over the years. Early in their careers, they may have been very welcoming and nice to the new people. However, over time, they have invested much of their emotional energy welcoming new people into their unit who have not stayed for one reason or another -- and not necessarily because of having been treated badly. Many leave because their husbands get transferred, or they have a baby, or they decide that the patient care is too stressful for them at this stage of their career, or they don't like the hours, or they go to grad school, or they only took the job to get the training and always planned on leaving after a year regardless, etc. etc. etc. Anyway ... after a few years, some of the experienced nurses get burned out from having invested so much of their emotional energy into the orientation of these folks year after year. So, they begin to take a "wait and see" attitude. They think, "Let's see if this person has what it takes to be successful and is going to stay a while before I invest emotionally in helping her. I can't keep giving and giving to people for whom the investment is not going to pay off." I'm not saying it's right ... I'm just saying that's part of the explanation. Don't take it personally. Once they see you are competent and are planning to stay for a while, those folks may very well start to be much more helpful and friendlier.

    2. When people are frustrated in their personal lives or in their jobs, they often don't know how to deal with that frustration productively. Rather than address the sources of their frustrations directly, they just become grouchy and crabby in general. The vulnerable people in their environment (secretaries, nursing assistants, orientees, etc.) bear the brunt of their grouchiness. Again, it's not right -- but it's nothing personal against you. As you establish your competence in the unit and develop a reputation as being a good nurse to have around, you become less vulnerable and less of a target.

    3. Many people, especially women, grew up using relationships and social interactions as a means of controling their environment and maintaining their self-esteem. By being "queen bees," they bolster their inner sense of self-worth and maintain a sense of being in control in a world in which they often feel out of control and vulnerable themselves. In many cases, it is the same behavior we see amoung 12-year olds continued on into adulthood. "If you become friends with that new girl, I won't be your best friend anymore." There are cliques, and gossip, and social climbers, and cat-fights, etc. just like in junior high. For some women, maintaining the social order in this way is the only way they know how to be in the world with other women -- because this has been their social reality since they were children. Researchers have found that even girls under the age of 5 use social relationships in this way. Little boys compete openly and directly with each other and remain friends as they compete for sports victories and social status. Little girls often use their social skills to manipulate relationships to gain status.

    As I said above, I am not justifying the bad behavior ... but maybe some people will be helped by understanding it a little better.

    Good luck to you all.
    This post is simply the most brilliant analysis of the problem I have ever read.
  2. by   bluesky
    This problem has hounded me for years now. When I first started I was hired as a new grad at an excellent level 1 trauma center in this area. I did very well in the critical care fellowship as a new grad. Yet I would butt heads with a group of older nurses who had a complete hegemony over the unit. I was well liked by both management and the physicians. I had many, many friends among the nurses on the unit... yet as a new grad my expectations of nursing professionalism were so high that I continued to resent the hegemonious nurses and confront them at every opportunity possible. Of course the manager wasn't going to stand up to them for me alone... she was much younger and less experienced than they were. Well, to make a long story short, I was so sick and tired of the way that the old nurses railroaded everyone with the assignments and how manipulative they were that one day I just stood up and quit on the spot before receiving my assignment one morning. This was very hotheaded and unprofessional and arguably the greatest mistake I have made in my entire life. I had only been on the unit for 1 yr and 4 mos and even though I had learned a great deal... I still missed out on a number of excellent learning experiences. Even the friends I had on the unit all turned against me except for my closest 2 friends. Since then I have worked as an agency nurse which has been difficult because as an agency nurse learning experiences are few and far between and also no management person cares at all about you. Of course the managers (who had only been nice and supportive to me personally- just unwilling to confront the older nurses) were very upset with me and I couldn't use them as references. Major problem.

    So my take home lesson from this experience is that the cliquy unprofessional behavior that I so abhorred at my new grad hospital exists pretty much everywhere else in differing concentrations. If you find a place where the behavior is kept in check then you are fortunate. Also, if you are chosing to keep this career (nursing) it behooves you to develop a strategy to adapt to this behavior instead of confronting it because although the non-cliquy nurses will agree with you and complain about it too_ they will NOT step up to the plate and risk their money earning heinies to confront the behavior.
  3. by   luv your nurse
    Great question. I'm glad you asked so I can read all the responses too . I started in my SICU a year ago, after working there as a tech for a few years. Sadly, I had the whole unit testing me, making me prove myself, the techs ignored me, other nurses pressured me, and my mentor was very intimidating. After about 6 months I found myself crying my eyes out to my management, and still feeling like I hate my job, and that it wasn't a safe environment for me ro work and learn as a new grad. After a few months I developed a personal/professional plan- a few goals. I started to build my confidence, I knew I was smart and had common sense, and I started to go into work with a new image of myself. Instead of feeling like a scared new RN, I came in as me the strait A student, inquisitive, caring, warm person that I am. (And modest too haha) Suddenly, nurses started to back off and started to warm up to me, I would also make suggestions and discuss plans for patients during report, I helped out whenever I could- and this is a biggy- I made myself part of the team. When there was an admission I was there to help when ever I could even for 5 min to take vitals on the other patient etc, if I was done eating I'd go around and ask if anyone needed a break, I used humor with the techs to break the tension now that I was an RN, and the role transition just got better and better. I had my annual evaluation last month and my manager told me that she didn't know if I was going to make it because of the social issues on the unit, even though I was doing great clinically... she said she was so happy that I overcame those challenges and proved to the staff that I was competent, eager to help and professional. Now I feel that the nurses are there to help me not test me. And those that remained unfriendly, well I just leave them alone. I hope that this long post helped a little if anything just hang in there at least 1 year, and then you'll see things get so much better! Good luck and keep us posted.
    Last edit by luv your nurse on Oct 3, '07
  4. by   bluesky
    Quote from pedicurn
    Ditto many of the other replies. I didn't have many problems when I started ICU (except a few personalities may have got to me a bit).
    I remember being really keen, was able to pick up the pace, able to keep my patients safe due to about 5 yrs in med/surg, CCU, knew when to step in and step back and was committed to GOALS for my shift...eg weaning inotropes, improving urine output. Also, i was never overconfident...i always knew my limits.
    I saw many new nurses leave - saying they found personalities ' difficult'.
    Perhaps the older nurses grew to recognise, over time those nurses who lacked the type of attitude and ability that they prized and would not invest so much in them.
    Although I can understand why some people would term this ' mean', ' horizontal violence' and so on - I would prefer to describe it as sticking ones neck out for the patient...and for nursing.
    Surgeons do this all the time...i see them chew up residents who don't perform well. It's a way of ensuring only the fittest survive.
    Not so nice, brutal even...but it is often FAIR.
    ICU is not for everyone - not for cruisy types,or those primarily at work for a paycheck, or those who can't focus on the nitty-gritty stuff with their patient, or those who believe 'a nurse is a nurse is a nurse', or those overly caring and nurturing types.
    Mind you, i would probably be eaten alive in a cruisy environment....they would say i wasn't a good fit - probably call me blunt (:

    Sorry I just don't agree with this opinion. I've seen plenty of older nurses who pick on the younger ones regardless of their talent, skills or potential. I've caught the older ones in mistakes that they would have the younger ones sidelined for. Many are just bitter old battle axes who don't have any other scapegoats for their personal stress relief.

    As a nurse with 5 yrs prior experience, you SHOULD be better than the newbies. If the older nurses on the unit are comparing you to the newbies, and you are letting them, and feeling great about yourself as a 'fitter survivor', well that's just sad. Sad for all the new grads who will be leaving because instead of being nurtured and taught to excel, their confidence was destroyed by a theory used to describe the evolution of animals. Residents have years in training to grow and prove themselves. Nurses have just a few weeks. I was a new grad in critical care, did very well and will put myself on the line any day to protect young new nurses from sick aggressive ones like...

    Ho hum. : (

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