"Nurses are so Mean" - page 4

by Ruby Vee

59,692 Unique Views | 219 Comments

I wish I had a dollar for every post I've read claiming that "nurses are so mean," "nurses are nasty to each other," "nurses eat their young" or "my preceptor is picking on me for no good reason." And then if you add in all the... Read More


  1. 5
    You make a lot of valid points. However, I can think of one educator of new grads in particular who, after talking to every fellow new grad I knew who she precepted, it was complained about that she was demeaning and rude to them. Just like any workplace, there are nasty people and there are people who keep to themselves. But I would agree that if it's starting to seem like no one is getting along with you, perhaps you better re-examine yourself.

    I think in most workplaces there is gossip and backbiting. I've witnessed it in my nursing career as well as my retail career. I see people insulting someone behind their backs then smiling to their faces. No one's perfect but certain people do it more often than others. I try not to get involved. I try to be positive, and I gravitate towards people who do the same.

    One of the things that I'm starting to see (that I'm guilty of too), is nurses complain about the rudeness/condescending attitudes, or lack of knowledge of interns/doctors, then go around and talk about them behind their backs - instead of confronting the problem, they seethe in their anger and are even ruder to them behind their backs than the MDs were in person.

    Maybe what the nursing profession needs is more training on polite, direct confrontational approaches to interpersonal problem solving, versus the same old passive aggressive nonsense.
    Last edit by muesli on Apr 30, '10
    dragonfly55, LockportRN, RetRN77, and 2 others like this.
  2. 2
    I totally agree that there are plenty of people that have a victim mentality that will jump on any negative interaction as abuse. Esp the changing jobs frequently, that's a dead giveaway.
    I know Ive certainly recieved some catty/snotty comments and I've given a few as well. That's part of being working in a stressful environment. No harm, no foul, get over it and get on with life, right?
    On the other hand we all know there are some bullies out there. Sometimes a mob will join the bullies but more often than not, everyone just turns a blind eye and says nothing. I have been guilty of this.
    I submit that a preceptor that is having a particularly bad time in life should probably not be precepting until things lighten up in their home life - for their own benefit (because precepting is stressful and can be frustrating so why add any fuel to a fire?) and for the benefit of their trainee.
  3. 3
    Fellow nurse's, M or F, old or young, pretty or not, please lets work together. Don't give up on this profession. Not only is it a decent wage earning job, but it's the most righteous job you could be involved with. We are on this earth to help one another. By being a nurse, it implies that you/we care obout other humans.

    We will always struggle to pay bills, struggle with interactions with other humans who are going thru stressful situations. Whether it's that rude trauma resident who hasn't slept in 36hrs, or a new mother who presents at 03:00 with a sick kid...we are health care professionals that CAN make a difference in someone's life. What other profession has multiple oppurtunites, as we do, to do good? Don't let those oppurtunitues to impact a pt., family memeber, co-workers, go by. I feel so blessed that I'm an RN. I couldn't be happier with my choice of professions!!
  4. 10
    Indeed , Ruby -just why are you so defensive ? The very tone of your article makes me wonder if you don't see your own role in this . What if you are inflicting "lateral violence" on your co-workers and you don't recognize it - are you willing to examine your own behavior and change it ?

    I have been a nurse for 15 yrs and I have at times been appalled at how poorly nurses treat each other . Interestingly , the very nurses who are the meanest are also the ones who appear the nicest when interacting with patients - is it that you only have so much kindness in you ? And why is it that if you're having a bad day you can be as mean as nasty as you want to be but a co-worker (especially one not in your inner circle ) is not afforded the same consideration if they are having a bad day ?

    I totally agree that the unit manager sets the tone for the unit - and it is far easier to take care of the "target" than it is to change the "groupthink" . I honestly believe that there are nurses that thrive in toxic environments where they work to create drama and controversy . Why I will never understand .

    So, Ruby , what if we agree to quit using excuses for treating our co-workers badly, stop acting like kids in junior high cliques and behave like adults . How about treating each other the way we wish to be treated ? What if we recognize that everyday we come to work we must handle a stressful work load and we have an obligation to each other not to heap on more stress by creating toxic work environments ?

    In short ,if you are not treating your co-workers with the respect and dignity you wish to be treated with than you need to change your behavior . Period . No more excuses.
  5. 3
    I won't address the mobbing/bullying problem, because obviously that kind of behavior has no place in any workplace and should have been stamped out long ago. I do want to say something in regard to "mean" behaviors, specifically why the same behavior may be perceived differently by those who have been in nursing for a while vs those who are just coming into practice.

    When I started in nursing around 20 years ago I was fairly sensitive, got my feelings hurt easily, etc. The folks who were orienting me made it very clear that I needed to toughen up if I were to continue in the field. They said something like, "Look, Max, this is a stressful field. It is filled with some very bright and experienced individuals who do not necessarily have a lot of patience and who may not always worry about your feelings. They are not going to change. This is the way the hospital works. It is on YOU to adapt to them. They are not going to adapt to you. You will be snapped at by nurses, doctors, housekeepers, phlebotomists, etc. You are going to have to learn to give as good as you get or just let it roll off and get on with the job--otherwise you are never going to make it."

    I did toughen up because I had to as a survival strategy. As far as I know I have never been accused of being mean or rude to co-workers. However, I also probably just take in stride rude remarks or impatient snappings from other people, figuring "this is the way the hospital works." Because that's how I was socialized into the system. Today's students and new nurses have been taught that any expression of impatience, irritation, is unacceptable, and hospital management increasingly agrees and is putting "no tolerance" policies into effect, and that is how it should be. The environment I had to adapt to was not always a healthy one.

    What I would say to myself and nurses of my generation is: We need to start giving more thought to how we come across to others. What has been "just the way hospitals are" for years no longer is acceptable. Yes, some may be over-sensitive, but then again, they may not be.

    What I would say to students and new nurses is: Realize that behaviors that are clearly hostile to you may not even register with us veterans, because we were taught that they were OK and just part of the hospital culture. Please don't assume we're just mean old buzzards. Talk to us, don't attack us.

    Both groups: None of us is going to do this perfectly. Let's cut each other some slack while we work on the problem.
    NurseShelly, RetRN77, and somedaycrna like this.
  6. 0
    nursing is a tough, nasty and often thankless job. for many of people this is not condusive to making a person happy and cheerfull. i have often felt myself starting to snap at people for silly little issues that really dont matter much at all. god forbid i turn inot a nurse ratchett.
  7. 1
    Change the culture of nursing by supporting eachother...it takes all of us not just one person . You can be serious about your work without being serious about yourself. If you feel your energy lapsing try and find someone who needs a helping hand, give a word of support or be a good ear and MAKE THEIR DAY....FISH !
    Last edit by kpaa on May 3, '10
    somedaycrna likes this.
  8. 7
    After reading this post I too got the impression that you feel so personally defensive about this topic. I would like to add a few points. Yes, It is evident that we as nurses have difficult days . However, have you not heard of the saying " LEAVE YOUR BAGGAGE AT THE DOOR ". If you do walk through the door and see that you have a student nurse working with you today embrace them and pass on your knowledge.
    For these student nurses or graduate nurses were just like you when you begun your nursing career. It's not hard to be nice to people and being disrespectful is just not on. If you personally have an issue then speak to a counsellor outside of work hours or take some days off. These so called 'Young Nurses' may very well be looking after you or your family members in the future. Remember this " People will forget what you said and forget what you did but they will never forget the way YOU made them feel".
    kht124, JRP1120, RN, NurseShelly, and 4 others like this.
  9. 11
    Nurses are seen as mean because they are. I've been in the field for 10 years now and have seen that no-one will screw you faster then another nurse. I heard somewhere that if one person says something you can generally dismiss it, but if a lot of people are saying the same thing it MUST be at least worth thinking about. In my experience the nurses who will try to defend nurses who behave badly are usually the ones that are behaving badly. There is a lot of arrogance and favoritism in the field of nursing and the only nurses that can get away with acting this way are the ones that are friends with the managers and charge nurses. It's so like a mean nurse to turn it around on the nurses that speak up about it and make it about the nurse that will verbalize there experience with mean nurses. I think that the nurses that are mean are calloused unhappy people who need to feel better about what they do by making others feel bad about themselves or by being the Dr's "best friends." You mean nurses don't need the Dr's approval, you need the camaraderie of your fellow nurses. Blaming new nurses or students for being offended at bad behavior is exactly what mean nurses do. That takes the focus off the bad behavior and then just addresses the symptom of the problem and not the problem. We as nurses know what happens when you ignore the problem and only treat the symptoms. Shame on you for your post.
  10. 4
    My sister had been a nurse for 5 years when I told her that I had been accepted to nursing school. She told me that it was a mistake, that I was too sensitive to function with other nurses. It was the first time that I had heard the saying, "Nurses eat their young." Before nursing, my sister had been a police officer. She told me that although her cop co-workers were mostly jerks, nurses were even worse. She worked as an ED nurse for around one year and then had a baby, quit, and never went back--not a problem for her as her husband is an attorney and they can live on his earnings. If I tried nursing and hated it, I would not be able to lean on anyone else for financial support; I would be stuck in a job I hated.

    I ignored my sister's advice (lifetime habit), and now I have been working as a nurse for 3 years, which is two years longer than she actually spent on the job. Yes, there are hurdles, and not everyone was as welcoming as I would have wished them to be, but the environment is nowhere near as toxic as what she warned me about. In the end I decided that my sister's advice said more about her own personality than anything else. She has never been happy at any job. Her co-workers have never lived up to her high and inflexible standards. She will accept nothing less than perfection from anyone, including herself. Her personal life is characterized by interpersonal conflict as well. I can't imagine my sister as I know her being able to function in my ICU. She would be a magnet for discord.

    Hospital nursing is stressful and usually thankless. Nobody is perfect, and even the best nurses make mistakes. The only way to make it work is to function as a team. You can have awesome clinical skills and/or care deeply for your patients' welfare, but if you are unable to play well with others for WHATEVER reason, you will have a crappy time of it as a nurse.

    I think that we do a disservice to students and new nurses to keep warning them that "nurses eat their young." If that is what they expect, then that is what they will experience. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
    cubsfan1, LibraSunCNM, CCL RN, and 1 other like this.


Top