Why do we eat our young? - page 2

I'm a float pool nurse at my hospital so I bounce around, a lot. Wherever they need me, I go. So I'm pretty well known around the hospital, favorably, thank goodness. The past few months, I was... Read More

  1. by   ianursing22
    I really like the story because I can somehow relate. I just hope more nurses are like you!
  2. by   BSwasBS
    "what makes you great is because you are thinking of the patient first, whether you realize it or not, you are putting your patient first because you don't want to do the wrong thing or make a mistake! That, to me, makes a phenomenal nurse."

    Best thing I've heard said to a new nurse ever! :-)
  3. by   payitforward
    You know, I agree with you to a certain extent. New Grads do go through a phase, but we as seasoned nurses need to not be so selfish. By that I mean, if a new grad has questions answer them!! Show them!!!! You are never too busy to answer a question. I know I will probably get flack from this but it's true. We all say we're too stressed and too busy, but why dont WE remember what it was like for us? I had some FANTASTIC mentors, and being as I am curious by nature I always ask questions, and after 30 years I'm STILL asking questions!!! Imagine all the things we can pass on!! In the same respect, we do the same thing to seasoned nurses as well. I know many nurses who have the "crab in a barrel" mentality. It shouldn't be that way, but in reality, it is. When I mentor someone I always try and do the best I can for them because I know I was once there, and someone did the same for me. I wish that new nurse well!
  4. by   Born_2BRN
    You brought up a good subject. She's being bullied. Eat our young's or not is irrelevant. I have this new grad on my floor who thinks she knows it all. I have little over a year of experience and I wouldn't dare say I know it all. I just hope she's last. I sympathize new grads who eager to learn and be respectful of older nurses.
  5. by   SarahLeeRN
    I wish (and maybe this does take place in some hospitals) that there were systems in place for a debriefing of a new nurse after every shift or at least three times a week for the first year. I agree there is the honeymoon phase-but I wish it didn't have to be so trying for some of our new nurses when that phase wears off. It seems like the new nurse needs even MORE support when they are on their own for at least the first eight months than they did while they were on general orientation. I am sure there are different theories out there about whether or not something like that would be good-maybe too much 'hand holding' is not a good thing... but programs like the nurse residency programs(for example at Vanderbilt Nurse Residency Program (New Grads) - Nurse Residency Program Home Page ) have to be helpful. The first year for a new nurse can make or break their view of the profession. They need as much support as they can get that first year if not longer.
    Many of us were sort of 'thrown' into roles we didn't totally understand-and for some learners that is ok and for other learners it is not. I really do think that a different form of support for a new grad needs to be somehow adapted-it would help the new grads, the seasoned nurses and most likely save the healthcare facility money in the long run.
    No easy answers here, but thanks for being supportive of a newbie!
  6. by   Nightingallow
    Perhaps if new nurses "naitivitee" (I'm a semi-new grad btw) could be looked at as a reminder of why most nurses chose this helping position.
    When I was 7 years old I remember asking my mom about a homeless man "Why is man sleeping on the floor?" mom:"well he doesn't have a home and a bed...(and the whole explanation)" As I got older I understand that there is so much more than to this than my 7y.o. brain could ever understand. Now I'm older and "wiser" & had the same conversation with my young nephew. He reminded me of how much I wished everyone could have a home, food, and a nice family.

    Few months ago I saw a lady prob in her late 50s, well groomed, and in a respectful flower dress, slumped over, sitting on the floor outside the train station. The friend I was with was angry because he wanted to go on the train and had no time. I went over to see if she's breathing, and she was...My friend told me how she's "just a drunk, don't go near her"...I assessed her to my best from afar. She did have a bottle, she wasn't your typical "drunk"...something must have happened to her sometime in her past. I felt as powerless as when I was 7...I spoke to her from a far and basically she was "ok" because she sitting leaning forward so she wasn't going to choke on her vomit.

    Later that week, I saw the same lady walking, she smiled, and came over to me (sober btw), and told me what a nice dress I have (she's the only one who complimented me) and when I thanked her she gave me a strange look and told me "You have such a familar voice, it's so nice...you seem like such a nice young lady" Thanked her and told her to have a good day. Very rare conversation in NYC btw.

    Sorry for such a long story but jreynrn reminded me of the value of new faces, and how they remind us of how we used to think and how important we keep that feeling in our heart. I hope everyone is inspired by her observations and will always keep this in your minds. Maybe it's too painful for people to remember a time when they were younger, more sensitive, and powerless. Thank you for sharing this story. It hit a nerve.
    Last edit by Nightingallow on Jan 16, '13 : Reason: typo
  7. by   samadams8
    OK. In some ways, this is pretty simple.

    First, nurses do not JUST eat their young; they eat each other, regardless of age or experience.

    Second, they do this b/c they TASTE good. Seriously. It's a form of social cannabalism.

    No, I am not being facetious.

    So what do I mean?

    We continue to readily eat something when we like it and feel that it satisfies a want or need. There is at least an immediate, a transient gain out of eating it. The long term effect may not be great or even good, but we like a sense of immediate gratification--a sense of immediate security, which may well be an unconscious need that stems back to infancy. Babies don't care about long-term benefits. They only care about immediate comfort and security.

    Adults can get stuck in this kind of response to things if they are not willing to do the work of emotional, spiritual, and psychological maturation. Even if they have grown somewhat in those respects, the sense of instant gratification and need for security is well fixed in all of us.

    People do things for the primary and secondary psychological gains.

    "The reporting of symptoms by a patient may have significant psychological motivators. Psychologists sometimes categorize these motivators into primary or secondary gain.

    Primary gain produces positive internal motivations. For example, a patient might feel guilty about being unable to perform some task. If he has a medical condition justifying his inability, he might not feel so bad. Primary gain can be a component of any disease, but is most dramatically demonstrated in conversion disorder (a psychiatric disorder in which stresors manifest themselves as physical symptoms without organic causes, such as a person who becomes blindly inactive after seeing a murder). The "gain" may not be particularly evident to an outside observer.

    Secondary gain can also be a component of any disease, but is an external motivator. If a patient's disease allows him/her to miss work, gains him/her sympathy, or avoids a jail sentence, these would be examples of secondary gain. These may, but need not be, recognized by the patient. If he/she is deliberately exaggerating symptoms for personal gain, then he/she is malingering. However, secondary gain may simply be an unconscious psychological component of symptoms and other personalities. In the context of a person with a significant mental or psychiatric disability, this effect is sometimes called secondary handicap.[1]

    A less well-studied process is tertiary gain, when a third party such as a relative or friend is motivated to gain sympathy or other benefits from the illness of the victim. "
    Primary and secondary gain - Psychology Wiki

    Yes, I realize the above description is looking at medico-psychological perspectives.

    But people are complicated psychosociological beings.

    So what are the motivators?

    Acceptance, job security, job promotion, power and control, potential for increased income, and/or a sense of psycho-emotional self-esteem derived from being one-up over someone else.

    There are internal motivators and external motivators.

    Sociologically, and to me it seems most apparent in female-dominated social dynamics (Men do it too; but they just make it look differently from an external perspective very often.),the idea is to divide in order to achieve the above things, or be a part of the dividing power group,rather than be the target of domination and bullying, which may be either overt or covert. Nurses have become great at doing this covertly.

    In an imperfect world, it will never stop, but those that desire a higher and better way of functioning will work toward building constructive coalitions. Those that are out for their own bottom line will pretty much gravitate toward cliques and/or factions.

    Understanding this reality as helped me cope in the workplace. BTW, this insight came through nursing leadership education from a nurse that a holds a doctoral degree and has many years of psych experience. When that person gave that lecture, not only did things become a bit clearer for me; but I also didn't feel so helpless, stuck in the turmoil of nursing disunity. I mean I realize it exists, and I can't change every environment, but I know more what to look for, and what I would choose to gravitate towards, rather than feeling prisoner to groups that are out for themselves, espouse all kind of professional stuff in meetings, but are the worst offenders in terms of being agents of disunity, cliques, fractions, and underhanded dynamics within groups of people.

    My freedom comes from knowing I can cover my need to survive by working for more than one entity, and that I can continue to move forward in the areas and environments that best suit me. I know full well after > 20 years that there is no utopia. But I can strive to choose those areas where I am mostly to thrive--where the group dynamics may better fit my own set of morals and ethics about how people are to work together.

    That is where your freedom lies. When a group has their heels in deeply, so to speak, you will probably not be able to change it, at least not immediately. So you have to make a decision.

    You will have to find a way to endure until the landscape changes, or you will have to be prepared to limit your time there, or simply move on.

    One last thing, however. I urge, rather plead with nurses to resist becoming part of the clique and faction dynamics. I understand that due to issues of job secure, etc, it might seem hard to resist. In fact, if you do resist, you may become the target of bullying and so forth. But we need people in nursing that will NOT compromise higher morals and ethics just to be left alone, to fit in, or to achieve acceptance and promotion. The nursing profession and in fact the world needs role models that will not compromise import aspects of integrity. Our future really depends on it.

    We have to try to take the long-view!
    Last edit by samadams8 on Jan 16, '13
  8. by   learner1108
    I think this "eating their young" is a description for what some experienced nurses do to their orientees because the experienced nurses are like new first time parents who feel that what the newbie does on the floor is a reflection on the experienced nurse's performance.

    With the stress of caring for patients, the experienced nurse doesn't feel he/she has time to hold the newbie's hand. But some new nurses need feedback (hand holding) on clinical procedures as done in that particular hospital a little longer than other new nurses. Also, some experienced nurses just aren't teachers. They are caring people, but didn't become teachers because they weren't interested in teaching. This is not meant as a disrespectful remark about them.They either don't have the personality or training on how to effectively teach, so they go the boot camp mode and tell themselves the younger new grads are not willing to work, etc., when actually the new grad might be demoralized and dread asking questions because the drill seargent experienced nurse will bark at them. The new grad after a couple of weeks may actually dread the way the experienced nurse treats her/him so much that the new grad's brain freezes when the "old" nurse is around. This is a severe stress reaction easily recognized. When the new grad freezes in her thinking and behavior when the "old" nurse is around, but not when a more friendly "old" nurse is, the new grad's stress level is high. And notice, please, it happens after a few times with the orientor, not when the new grad is new to the unit.

    If orienting nurses were paid extra for orienting new grads and given paid training in how to effectively teach, would that stop the "eating young" behavior and lower the stress levels of both "new" and "old" nurses?

    I think the experienced nurses assigned to a new grad are also in a new role and they are adjusting to that role. But who is helping the experienced nurse orientor when a problem arises with training the new grad? Where does the experienced nurse go for help? To other nurses on the floor is where. What a new grad experiences as other nurses talking negatively about her may be a way the experienced nurse uses to find how to work with the new grad. Meanwhile the new grad has no one to talk to about work problems related to the "old" nurse except the "old" nurse. And knowing the "old" nurse is talking about how the new grad "isn't one of us" to the other nurses makes the new grad feel even more isolated and like a failure.

    The new grad has spent thousands of dollars and gone into debt to be a nurse. She has worked her brain and butt off to pass nursing school and the NCLEX. She doesn't want to be a failure. She is aware that if she fails at this newbie experience, she has wasted 2 or more years of her life and thousands of dollars on becoming a nurse. Now how is that for a set up for stress? No new grad wants to fail. If she did, she would not have graduated (especially with a BSN) or passed her tests. So, please don't automatically think she is lazy or unmotivated.

    An experienced orientor/preceptor doesn't want to fail at being a good o/p either, but where does the o/p go for help in her teaching?

    How about hospitals paying for training newbies, having a person the experienced nurse can talk to about problems with the newbie, and having a person the newbie can talk to about how to work with the experienced nurse? Even some experienced nurses have a hard time talking and working with other experienced nurses, why should they have a different personality or behaviors when they work with a newbie?

    The orientor/preceptor needs help too. Can't the organization which hires both the experienced and new nurse offer help to both? School districts offer help and orientation to experienced teachers who are overseeing new teachers and to new teachers during the first year of teaching. Can't hospitals? Shouldn't they?

    I think we should stop laying this situation of "eating young" totally on the backs of the experienced nurses and pass it on up the line to the hospital to train both well.
  9. by   samadams8
    But there is a social dynamic that some may be missing. The "culture" of the area or unit that is set in play and given full run determines the level of toxicity very often. Isolated issues of toxicity are relatively easy to adjust or fix, if the leadership and strong group dynamics stands strong against the toxicity. It's like isolating the disease before it spreads.

    When it becomes part of the culture or a "survivor" mentality develops, the rottenness replicates. Even managers that are new to these cultural behaviors often walk in and don't know what to do about their prevalence. And the advice they receive from their higher ups is discouraging as well. So what do some of them do? Well, they don't want to make their management time there too difficult, on their road to promotion--their career trajectory; so, they coddle these dominant, toxic folks. They use them to help them in their leadership role. There is a trade-off of gains, so to speak. And the toxicity continues to grow and expand. When you gain insight and see it, it will turn your stomach something awful. Why? Well, b/c people like the new nurse in the OPs posts will not have a chance, unless of course they become like them. Even then, they may not have a chance. If someone makes an issue out of it, they may leave that nurse alone for a while, only to go after others.

    When it becomes this fixed and inculcated into the culture, often enough there isn't much you can do about it. It comes back to what I said earlier. You try to find a productive way to survive and endure without compromising yourself until the landscape changes. You find a job elsewhere and only work there part time--or limit your time there as much as possible. Finally, you make a decision that the environment is so toxic, that enduring in that particular environment may produce more harm than good for you, so you find something else.

    That's the hard reality. People have to spend more time observing the leadership models, and where those people within leadership roles stand within an institution. This is key, and it will often tell you what kind of unit or place in which you will be working. Early on, you have to be quiet and observe, observe, observe. It helps also to have discernment. Some have it, and some don't. It's more of an intuitive gift IMHO.

    I mean positions are a little like marriages. It really helps to know the other party as well as possible before you make a commitment.

    It also helps to know yourself. For example, I don't do "office politics" very well. I never have. At this stage of the game, I think it is a safe bet to face the reality that I can't stomach it. Thus, I tend to gravitate toward being independent, unless I know I have one heck of a team with which I am working. I mean you have to pick your battles, and people do have their own idiosyncrasies, for which you must be accepting. But those really toxic environments. . .well, only in very few occasions did I stick it out for the long-term benefits of growth and experience, certain other team members, and my resume. I always paid a price for it; and that was my choice, so I had to accept it. Point is, you have to weigh the cost: benefits, b/c a price will be paid.
    Last edit by samadams8 on Jan 16, '13
  10. by   Conqueror+

    1. New grads are often a bunch of texting, whining, the- rules-don't -apply-to-me-because-i'm-special, YOU'RE HOW OLD?, entitled, disrepecful, pitas who see nursing as nothing more than a guaranteed paycheck.

    2.Vets are often a bunch of bullied, burnt out, passed over, overworked, underpaid, micromanaged, disappointed, opinionated shrews who don't see the benefit of helping susie sunshine learn the ropes when they may just quit or become their boss and treat them like crap later. They have an old school "learn the hard way like I did" mentality that is hard to break especially if they see no benefit to changing.

    I have been in nursing for 20 years now and started very young. I have seen LOTS of things change.
  11. by   learner1108
    Well, as I stated in my original post, if the hospitals or organizations who employ nurses offer incentives and training to the vets, perhaps some things might change in their behaviors to new grads and colleagues. Or if the hospitals/organizations who employ nurses require courteous, respectful behavior to everyone, things might change. Many hospitals won't tolerate doctors displaying "eating subordinates" rude behavior. Why should some nurses get away with the same behavior?

    The nurses I went to school with (you seem to be describing what could be nursing students, but I didn't know any with those attitudes) went into debt to become nurses. They want to succeed, especially when they want "...nothing more than a guaranteed paycheck". Seems to me if the guaranteed paycheck was their motivation, they would really try to be successful and if someone talks straight to them about their behavior or models better behavior, they might change too.
    Last edit by learner1108 on Jan 16, '13 : Reason: correct a couple of my grammar mistakes
  12. by   samadams8
    Quote from learner1108
    Many hospitals won't tolerate doctors displaying "eating subordinates" rude behavior. Why should some nurses get away with the same behavior?

    Seems to me if the guaranteed paycheck was their motivation, they would really try to be successful and if someone talks straight to them about their behavior or models better behavior, they might change too.

    Oh but many nurses do get away with it, many times, daily. The leadership tolerates it. Look at the middle management and upper management.

    In order for those others to change, the leadership has to set and maintain a proper tone. This is often not done. Covert bullying is VERY often tolerated. Of course, they have to address known "in your face," overt bullying. But often it is the covert stuff that does the most damage and keeps places unduly toxic.
  13. by   cienurse
    Thank you for taking the time and patience to nurture this new nurse. She will never forget you for it, even years from now when she's long forgotten her new job and some of the cronies who made it miserable for her!