Why do we eat our young? - page 3

by jreynrn

8,017 Visits | 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 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.
  2. 5
    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
    anotherone, NYC68, Sisyphus, and 2 others like this.
  3. 1
    IN MY EXPERIENCE/OPINION:

    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.
    Orange Tree likes this.
  4. 0
    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
  5. 1
    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.
    Sisyphus likes this.
  6. 2
    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!
    Nightingallow and Hygiene Queen like this.
  7. 0
    This happened to me. It really made me become jaded and less trusting of other nurses, quite honestly. The way it happened to me was just beyond ****** ** in the worst way.

    I have heard nurses are kinder to male nurses, though. I wonder what the male nurses have to say about this lol
    Last edit by Esme12 on Jan 17, '13 : Reason: TOS/profanity/use of letters and symbols
  8. 2
    Hi Jreyrn,

    I'm trying to get into nursing school and I can't imagine what that girl must've gone through. I just wanted to say that you're very nice for being there for her when she needed someone to talk to and vent; this to me is what makes a great nurse. I'm sure that we all wish we can have someone to comfortably talk with about our problems, especially if you work in a stressful environment. For some people, it even helps them pull through their issues because they've been supported from someone who has years of experience in this profession. I really wish that when I enter nursing school that I can have someone to look up to as a role model, like yourself, when I'd really need a shoulder to lean on and for someone to give me the courage to pull through. It's wonderful nurses like you, that give us nursing students the strength to carry on and have a special place in our hearts. I'm inspired to be a terrific nurse like you someday.Thank you.
    Last edit by BulmaBriefs on Jan 16, '13
    Nightingallow and r_nurse like this.
  9. 1
    I've worked alot of jobs. I don't find the whole "eat their young" thing to be exclusive to nursing. When orienting/training is involved, there's going to be those that catch on fast and those that don't. There will be those who are born teachers and enjoy that honor, and those who'd rather clean the toilets and it shows. New employees who engage, and those who cower. Victim vs peer.
    As we all know, bullies come in all shapes, sizes, and professions. Nursing doesn't have the market cornered.
    goomer likes this.
  10. 8
    In the article the new grad talks about numerous ways she was treated...not just by her preceptor. I'm a new grad and a mature woman who has been thru many of life's experiences and done well in all of them. I have come across all kinds of personalities and rotten people in life. People can make up all kinds of excuses they want for the way things are and how they treat people. If you're a nurse, you are b/c you make that choice to be and stay with it. Why does that give you the right to treat people the way you do? Deal with your issues or get out! Many professions are stressful but to use it as an excuse to ok the way new grads are treated??? In the last year I had the same rotten experience as a new grad b/c of many things. I have never been treated so poorly and humiliated in my life. I'm a very hard worker and have always been. I have never needed my hand held and have always overcome tough obstacles to get to where I needed or wanted to be. I worked for a Magnet hospital for 5yrs and they never treated their new grads with such disrespect. Nurses are overworked b/c many places are short staffed but then you don't want to take the time to help the new nurses,who will be able to help with the load once they are trained and make your life less stressful?? So the new nurses quit and then where are you... still no better. You treat people how you want to be treated...with respect. You all started in the same place we are today, except things are much different and more difficult now. There are no excuses for how nurses treat their young! It tells me that you experienced nurses, who are suppose to love helping people, really aren't such caring people. Nursing is very stressful and new nurses are willing to do the work to get where they need to be. I don't think that any new nurse goes into nursing thinking that it's going to be a "piece of cake" and handed to them!! With all that you go thru to get thru nursing school, we all know that! I believe that nursing makes you old faster and many of the people, who are nurses, shouldn't be b/c they are there for the wrong reasons. We always have choices and making excuses for how you treat new grads speaks a lot about you. A new grads success is in the preceptors hands, so if you don’t want to be a preceptor and know you aren’t good at it, then don’t do it! You don’t have the right to take that away from someone who has worked hard to get into nursing and knows that this is where they want to be! I’m so tired of the excuses that experienced nurses give for the way they treat new grads! You were all once in our place.
    Last edit by sheba516 on Jan 16, '13 : Reason: formatted wrong
    Nightingallow, milfordmom, NYC68, and 5 others like this.


Top