Why do we eat our young? - page 2

by jreynrn

8,358 Views | 71 Comments

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 pretty regular on one unit and had... Read More


  1. 5
    I think I've been pretty lucky as a new nurse. The nurses that have been less than pleasant to be are that way to everyone they work with, so I haven't felt the least urge to take it personally. The "old bats" I work and have worked with are always GREAT resources when I have a question or have needed advice. There's one that comes to mind in particular: she's very by the book and my preceptor told me she has a tendency to write people up a lot.....but any time I've had a question or had to do a procedure I've never done before, she is patient, direct, acts like she has nothing better to do than make sure I understand what I'm about to do.

    Maybe I went to my first job with more realistic expectations that new grads who feel constantly beaten down. Maybe I've just lucked in to really supportive environments. I really struggled with anxiety issues prior to starting nursing school, and did a lot of work on that, so maybe that's been a big factor too. Maybe all new grads need pre-emptive cognitive behavior therapy lol.
    VivaLasViejas, nursel56, OCNRN63, and 2 others like this.
  2. 14
    In my experience, new AND old nurses share the blame for this phenomenon, and neither want to take responsibility.

    A lot of the "young" make themselves look pretty tasty by their lack of work ethic, sense of entitlement, poor communication skills, immaturity, unrealistic expectations & reactionary emotional response to EVERYTHING. Then when they get called on it, they cry and play "poor victim," usually get defensive and all-out refuse to take responsibility for their own actions or thoughts. Rather than learn self-recognizance, the art of reflection or have a sense of humor or honor, too many newbies choose to react, blame, and deflect. That's an unfortunately common characteristic of being "young."

    Many old bats also seem to want to refuse to accept their role in this stereotype. I've seen some be AWFUL to new grads. Too often they are complacent with the "boot camp" mentality, grinding their axes on the heads of those they precept. I think too many old timers have deep-seated issues with facing the facts that they are aging, and all the aspects about it. They use their wisdom & knowledge as a blunt instrument rather than a constructive tool. Many are bitter or burnt out and can't admit misery loves company. And again, when called on it? You guessed it: defensive, blaming and deflecting.

    All of this 'eating our young' nonsense is really becoming a tiresome discussion. Maybe if we all made a conscious choice to practice some self-control and personal responsibility in the name of combatting this stupid stereotype, it wouldn't be such a burning issue all the time. Maybe then we could focus on IMPORTANT issues facing our unstable profession these days.
    anotherone, GrnTea, VivaLasViejas, and 11 others like this.
  3. 1
    Because we are a tired,worn out bunch of *******. It is terrible, but I see it happen daily where I work. At least the night shift is new grad friendly.
    Last edit by Esme12 on Jan 16, '13 : Reason: TOS/profanity/use of letters and symbols
    anotherone likes this.
  4. 0
    I really like the story because I can somehow relate. I just hope more nurses are like you!
  5. 4
    "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! :-)
    arl50, Ceci81, chevyv, and 1 other like this.
  6. 4
    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!
    motownmama27, Nightingallow, chevyv, and 1 other like this.
  7. 1
    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.
    Not_A_Hat_Person likes this.
  8. 4
    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!
  9. 4
    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
    Ceci81, cienurse, chevyv, and 1 other like this.
  10. 2
    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
    Nightingallow and funvirgoRN like this.


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