How to deal with the old/experienced nurses?! - page 2

by Anna-s 15,157 Views | 155 Comments

Hello! I m a new RN on A med-surge floor and most of my co-workers are old nurses that have been on that floor for years! They don't seem to like me and i have NO idea why! I am a quiet person. I mean i like to socialize but I... Read More


  1. 6
    You are the newest member of this staff and are young. I don't know how old other members of the staff are but it seems you have come into a unit that has its own culture. If you give it time you will figure out most of that culture. There will be things you agree with and things you do not agree with. You may be able to find one or more older nurses you can safely ask questions of. Use these people. If it is things that are done the way they used to be done but aren't evidence based etc. you can figure out how to address these things without making these nurses feel put down but educated. This is part of learning to work with other people which you will be doing throughout your professional life.
    ER-RN12, carolLeeAnn, anotherone, and 3 others like this.
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    Tothe OP- it's med-surg. There is no "e" in surgical. I'm 65 and still working. Correcting poor grammer and spelling is about as grouchy as I get. I was so lucky, as a new grad, to go to a floor where all of the nurses who worked there chose to work on a teaching floor and went out of their way to help us orientees learn the ropes. I don't know why so many nurses are so ignorant and ill-tempered. Yeah, I wish my 401K didn't crash but that has nothing to do with you. I wish all hospitals had "orientation floors" where you could feel a part of the team from the getgo before being discharged to work on your ultimate unit. Just remember how you felt when it's your turn to usher in a new grad into the profession.
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    Quote from Anna-s
    Hello!

    I m a new RN on A med-surge floor and most of my co-workers are old nurses that have been on that floor for years! They don't seem to like me and i have NO idea why! I am a quiet person. I mean i like to socialize but I am not that loud person ( because I still feel a stranger to the floor). Anyways some of them ignore me if I ask a question, others yell at me for the smallest mistakes ( one yelled at me cause I didn't change the NS bag that was good for another 3hours and even tho I put a new bag in the room, she wanted it change) i am nice to them! I try to talk and use humour but most of them just give me the look and roll their eye!
    How should I treat them or deal with them?
    Im an older person but a brand new nurse and Im sorry but maybe its just me, but I don't see why anyone should have to put up with this crap. You are grown just like they are, you a professional just like they are; if they are burnt out or tired of nursing, then they need to move on and stop making eveyone else life around them miserable! Im not sure if maybe they feel threatened or whatever the case maybe they need to remain professional at work, this isn't some social gathering. I use to work for a large company before I went back to school for nursing and that was the most miserable/bitter group of women I had ever come in contact with; but I went in did my job, killed them with kindness and went home. Now I realize that nursing is a team effort, not sure why they are ignoring your questions or yelling but if you can't get answers from them, can you perhaps ask your nm, this is ridiculous and petty.
    My nm has a sign on her door that says "save the drama for your mama". The job is hard enough without coworkers making it that much harder. What type of person is your nm, maybe she can weigh in on this. Not that you should rat your coworkers out, but you are there for the good of your patient and if the pettiness is interferring with that, then it should be brought up to the nm; also if you can find other coworkers to talk to like someone else mentioned, I would ignore them. Good luck and keep us posted. Of course, once you get experienced, you can always find another unit to work on.
    carolLeeAnn and msancheeze like this.
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    I work on an oncology unit and we get very attached to our patients and doctors. It is hard when new nurses come in and think they know everything and show no humbleness or respect for the environment that we have built. It is also true that most nurses just starting out on our unit won't last past 90 days because of the emotional aspect of what we do. When new nurses show up, I am not rude or disrespectful to them, but I don't open my arms to them either. When they last past 90 days and they get in the trenches with us and care for the patients the way that they should, then we start to warm up. When you attend your first memorial service for a dear patient and you show up the next day to do it all over again, then you are no longer the new nurse.

    My point is, learn what these nurses respect and show them that you have it. Keep quiet and observe. Find the ones that are just negative versus those that are being cautious. You don't want them judging you without knowing you, so don't judge them without knowing them. They have seen many "new" nurses in their years of service and one day you too will have seen your share of "newbies" and will have much better insight. Till then, hold your chin up and hang in there...
    anotherone, shaggy77, GrnTea, and 6 others like this.
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    To the OP, really sorry you are having a hard time. I think the others who are urging you to "kill them with kindness" and/or go for more professional relationships for now, seem to have good ideas.

    but,
    i also wanted to be one voice on this thread, to stand up for us old broads.
    I'm probably what you'd call "old". I am friendliest, most outgoing, compassionate person you'll ever trip over.
    I've had some snotty rude, burnt out, grouchy coworkers who were super young,
    and
    some awesome, giving, hard working, helpful, kind coworkers with gray hair.

    I just personally rather dislike seeing any group of people all lumped together as "all just the same/homogenous".
    It's also hard to believe you are only person who is not old on your unit, but, whatever.

    I'd also like to suggest,
    that even though most humans tend to connect better socially with their own age group,
    that in nursing,
    it might not be so much the old adage "Nurses eat their own young"
    but instead,
    "Nurses eat their own NEW employees."

    I'm older, and have traveled extensively, which results in my often being a new employee............ and i sometimes encounter coworkers, of ALL age groups, who seem unfriendly initially,
    even though i am standing there with a gray stripe of hair and decades of experience. It's cuz i am NEW there, a stranger to them,
    not cuz i am a new RN,
    nor am i young. NOt everyone is friendly by nature like i am, not everyone warms up easily to strangers,
    of any age.
    I've stood witness to what you are describing happen to
    older
    but
    "new to that hospital" nurses,
    too. It's not always about the new nurse's age,
    it's sometimes just cuz this new person is a stranger to them.


    Still, i'd like to see more nurses watch out for those who are new in nursing, of any age,
    and needing support, and do what they can to lend some support, and help the newbies feel welcome.
    BEST OF LUCK!! hang in there, it usually gets better, once they get to know you and get used to you.
    Last edit by somenurse on Dec 30, '12
    carolLeeAnn, anotherone, tntrn, and 9 others like this.
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    It would seem that your presence threatens them. There has to be a balance. There can never be all "old nurses" or all "new nurses". It will benefit patients more to have both ends of the spectrum there to help them.
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    PS---to the OP,
    now, i might get slammed here,
    but, what i've found sometimes helps, when i am new to a facility, is watch out for times my 'new-but-still-unfriendly' coworker is twirling around the drain.
    yes, even us old broads can have moments we are jacked up busy and could use a hand.

    when i spot the time the "N.B.S.U" (new-but-still-unfriendly) coworker is in need, i step forward and offer some help. "I'll get that bell for you, okay?" or "Can i do that for you, you look like all your patients are mashing on their bells all at once." or whatever. Always kinda get some kind of 'ok' from the N.B.S.U coworker, too.

    this has helped me thaw out some N.B.S.U coworkers, IS, REACHING OUT WHEN THEY ARE JAMMED UP,
    might be worth a try. GOOD LUCK!!
    GrnTea, ER-RN12, carolLeeAnn, and 6 others like this.
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    Don't take it personally. If you ask a question and no one answers, it may be that they don't know the correct answer, and don't want to lead you wrong. It takes a good year to feel comfortable enough to think of yourself as a nurse, and it will be a lifetime of learning after that first year. You are right not to socialize much. Be polite, cordial, but I would caution you against becoming personal - I realize this may be an unpopular view, but in my experience, familiarity breeds contempt. Let them get to know you on the job and keep your personal life to yourself at this time. Old nurses .....I am one. I am frequently tired, have aches and pains in strange places and not much of a social life. Be happy. Continue to be nice, and use humour, it will serve you well in your career. And lastly, learn from these crones....LOL> As new people come on board, be the go-to girl. Be the one who they feel comfortable enough to go to for help, answers and assistance. I predict a great career for you.
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    Great post, Jean Marie. Some things I hadn't thought of.....sometimes we are more cautious of new folks until they prove themselves to be "sane".....we have had more than one new employee come on board and welcomed them heartily, only to be faced with terminating them when they proved to be dishonest, or just plain cuckoo. It is great advice, just to hang in there....
    anotherone likes this.
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    I have it on good authority that you can soften RubyVee up with chocolate. I prefer pizza myself. Ask them about their grandkids, it usually helps. If you decide to stand up for yourself in some situation do it gently so you make allies, not enemies. You have every right to develop your own style, within what hospital policy allows. Try to catch them giving you good advice, and thank them- try to teach them how to treat you.

    Unfortunately there's always one or two battleaxes in every crowd. It's hard being new, and even harder when you don't have experience to boost your self confidence. I hope you have one or two good teachers in the mix too.
    GrnTea, carolLeeAnn, and metal_m0nk like this.


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