Because that's the way we've always done it around here

  1. This little parable may be familiar to some of you. It came around to me again recently and got me thinking about the nursing rituals we see in practice, the assumptions we see made so often about the dread NETY syndrome, and a host of other things that happen --or are assumed to happen, or are assumed that WILL happen-- without conscious or critical thought. Make of it what you will. What do you think?

    "Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana.

    "As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all the other monkeys with cold water. After a while another monkey makes the attempt with same result, all the other monkeys are
    sprayed with cold water.

    "Pretty soon when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

    "Now, put the cold water away. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted.

    "Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm. Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

    "After replacing all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because as far as they know that is the way it has always been done around here."
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  3. by   Pepper The Cat
    I love that parable GrnTea!

    Thanks for sharing.
  4. by   amoLucia
    Hey GrnTea - I like the parable, but I don't know what NETY syndrome means. Maybe I just don't recognize the abbreviation but it's not on Google.

    I can appreciate the old 'resistant to change' and 'that's the way we always do it' mode of thinking. I can see how your monkey story fits in , but what is NETY????

    HELP, please.
  5. by   weirdscience
    "Nurses Eat Their Young."

    Excellent parable!!
  6. by   amoLucia
    Quote from texasceleste
    "Nurses Eat Their Young."

    Excellent parable!!
    To Tex - TY. Never saw it abbreviated. Again, TY.
  7. by   ORnurseCT
  8. by   KelRN215
    If I were still working in the hospital (my hospital was very "We have to do it this way because this is the way we've always done it")... this would be being secretly printed and pinned to the bulletin board as we speak.
  9. by   OCNRN63
    ​Excellent! Thank you, GrnTea!
  10. by   anothergrumpyoldRN
    I insist on evidenced based practice in my work. I am a professional. Most employers have appreciated that about me, not all.
  11. by   RNsRWe
    <wondering how long it will take before someone comments on the cruelty of the supervisors in spraying the monkeys with cold water...>
  12. by   mongo73
    It can only be done one way, the old way, the correct way even if it takes twice as long. Do not try and think for yourself, there will be no free thinkers here. you have no good ideas. It goes on and on......
  13. by   KelRN215
    Quote from mongo73
    It can only be done one way, the old way, the correct way even if it takes twice as long. Do not try and think for yourself, there will be no free thinkers here. you have no good ideas. It goes on and on......
    You must work for my old hospital. I used to say I'd have better luck convincing the Pope to convert to Islam than I would convincing anyone in said hospital to consider that there might be a better way to do something.
  14. by   Daliadreamer
    We are actually having a contest at the hospital I work at called "The Sacred Cow Contest". We are to think of things that we always do without any real evidence base, or something that we "have always done" and don't really know why (like taking vitals at's something we have always done). Those whose ideas are chosen will be able to receive grant money to do research and see if we can make changes. It will be really interesting to see what comes forth!