eating our young and old

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    we eat our young because we've never been taught not to.It's also a power rush. For the first time WE have the control over someone else.And it does get passed down form nurse to nurse,I'am not sure why I'am not sure were even aware of it at times.Maybe its a matter of respect.AND YES were even faster to kill older nurses than young ones.WE seem to have a problem supporting one another. No tolerance for anyone who doesn't measure up. I think tolerance is learned,so is supporting one another,so is respect.You'll never hear doctors talk about one another like the way we do about each other. Certainly never in public. To much to do maybe. Not enough time
    to look around to see how the other fellow is doing or feeling or stressing, We all need to learn to nurse each other.

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  2. 13 Comments...

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    Quote from john william
    we eat our young because we've never been taught not to.It's also a power rush. For the first time WE have the control over someone else.And it does get passed down form nurse to nurse,I'am not sure why I'am not sure were even aware of it at times.Maybe its a matter of respect.AND YES were even faster to kill older nurses than young ones.WE seem to have a problem supporting one another. No tolerance for anyone who doesn't measure up. I think tolerance is learned,so is supporting one another,so is respect.You'll never hear doctors talk about one another like the way we do about each other. Certainly never in public. To much to do maybe. Not enough time
    to look around to see how the other fellow is doing or feeling or stressing, We all need to learn to nurse each other.
    I have to reply to this. Because you realize something, does not seem to make much of a difference in the actions of the nursing communities. A nurse eating their young seems to be said more of brag than a real concern. I have heard this for a long time now; however I do not see any change in the way new nurses are treated. If we want our profession to receive the respect it truly deserves then we need to start with respecting each other and those associated with the profession. The physicians are part of the problem too. I have seen unnecessary cruelty displayed to a new nurse and that type of behavior only contributes to the inadequacies a new nurse feels anyway. Compound this with a person entering the field being older, not so cute and slim and the problems increase. I will never understand how a nurse can go into a room to care for a client and then come out and talk terrible about that person, who most often they do not know to begin with. These are the examples that are being presented to our new nurses and our new old nurses.
    I want to keep writing on this issue but I do not see the point. It appears that this has been the way it has always been and will continue to stay this way. The only time I have seen the eating their young in real time was when our cat ate her kittens because they must have been defective. That is how things are in the animal kingdom, but I thought we were above that type of behavior. If we continue to treat new nurses like this the shortage will continue. After all with all the domestic violence and violence period, why would a person who has a kind and loving heart want to throw themselves in to the violence? I have already seen nurses change their occupations because of this behavior.
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    I've never been a young eating nurse, but recently I got some cannablistic urges after encountering a cocky new grad who is still on orientation. I'm an easy going person, but this one gal is definately on my watch carefully list because of the attitude she displayed.

    So, I wouldn't blame it all on the experienced nurse. Some new nurses do seem to need lessons in humilty.
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    Hi, Old CAT, during my short time of being a member here, I have seen this issue addressed many times. It appears to be a real concern for most nurses. And everybody seems to have one theory or another of why it occurs (this phenomena of "eating our young" - one thread was entitiled "why are nurses so catty" - kind of fitting as I read your story about your cat eating her kittens, etc.). Suggestions are made that maybe it's because we are a predominately female gender-based profession, others say there are too many varying levels of education creating the division, LVN vs. RN, ADN vs. BSN, etc., and thus lack of unity.

    This issue is one of intraprofessional relationships, one that I have been unable to find hardly information on within the nursing profession. And while there has been a lot of discussion of why this occurs (at least on this board), I see no progression towards resolving it. No suggestions for further studies. No suggestions of how to remedy it. Such as, IMO, I think it should be part of every school of nursing's cirriculum to stress the importance of maintaining healthy intraprofessional (nurse-nurse) relations if we are to continue and thrive as a profession.

    I see that this thread is posted in the Nursing Educators forum. Are you a nurse educator? Are there any others here, reading this? What do you all think? What do you think could be done to improve and conquer this situation?

    Why do we not apply the same principles/values we extend to our patients and other professions (particularly physicians) to ourselves? To change behaviour, you have to first identify it, right? Then, let's explain it. Then offer real solutions/interventions with reinforcement. Where are the "young" going to get this if not through their programs of education?
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    what do you say we, one person at a time consciously decide, " I will not be a canibal, I want to be better than that." And we live by example, and we speak up when we see canibalism happening, in a respectful way ofcourse. and if we feel like we are being nibbled at, we can respectfully replie we do wan't to be treated this way. There will be those who will not like this. But, There will be those who will say hooray! and with time find strength from our examples.
    In the words of the great Margaret Mead, "Never dought that a small group of concerned citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has."
    What do you say? Let's lead by example, let's change things.
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    Quote from Kelly_the_Great

    I see that this thread is posted in the Nursing Educators forum. Are you a nurse educator? Are there any others here, reading this? What do you all think? What do you think could be done to improve and conquer this situation?
    Good point. Maybe we should start looking at preceptorship as a unit activity instead of 1 on 1. You know, like the village raising the child? Maybe some professional relationship CEs available at work along with the usual classes.

    I also have to agree with Mystery about the attitudes displayed sometimes by some new nurses. I have experienced it myself. I've heard (in a condecending tone) "Well, we are taught to do it this way these days" "This place is soo behind the times" Sometimes there is an attitude that "I learned everything I need to know in school, I don't need you to tell me anything" This kind of thing sets everybody's hackles up. They are unwilling to accept any constructive criticism and perceive it as "being eaten."

    Then there are the cannibals who eat everybody no matter what, because of power issues. These are also the nurses who were born with all the knowledge of an experienced nurse and only went to school as a formality. I've experienced some of that, too!
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    I think the issue of our treatment towards older nurses is an important one as well. Ecspecially, as the population (nursing) ages.

    I remember my mother (who was DON of a home health agency before she died) telling me about the treatment one of her nurses who was older. The agency had recently introduced computer charting. This nurse, who was an excellent nurse and over 60 y/o, had never had any form of computer training before. Heck, she'd never even had a typing course. She just couldn't keep up with it. Mom said the younger nurses were in her office everyday, griping, griping about how the older nurse couldn't keep up. I mean, eventually, most of us - anyways, are likely to be faced with the prospect of technology surpassing our skill level, as technology advances increase. Maybe not, maybe things will become more and more user-friendly. Regardless, because of age, many changes occur, such as endurance levels, old work injuries, etc.

    I think it's important we start addressing older nurses' needs and retainment techniques. After all, they've earned the right to bail out like any one else at age of retirement. And, furthermore, I believe they've earned the right of our respect.

    Oh well, just some more "deep thoughts" by Kelly_the_Great....LOL
    Last edit by Kelly_the_Great on Jun 3, '05
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    Yes, the cry "you're eating your young" is becoming a bit overused. Some new nurses are overly enthusiasticly cocky, and think they are going to take the unit by storm. I got written up by one once because an alert and oriented pt was put on a bed pan at shift change by the CNA, and failed to call to be taken off of it until the next shift went to get her up for breakfast. The nurse called another nurse in to look at the impression of the bedpan on her buttocks, then called the nursing supervisor, then brought it to the attention to the doctor, but I think it had faded by then.

    She wrote a blow by blow detailed account of this 'incident' on two pages of blank paper. My manager passed it on to me, as was her duty, but I think she laughed it off. The whole thing was ridiculous. I wrote to my manager that the pt had been using her calllight all night, was A&O, and that I didn't put her on the bedpan.
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    I have always strived to be very kind to new nurses.it seems like today if we say anything but wonderful things to a new grad, they run crying they've been 'eaten'.

    In today's money driven healthcare system, hospitals use warm bodies where they shouldn't. They have given me new grads (counted as a staff member in) ICU and told me to 'train' them on the job, without an education or internship program at our disposal. That is unfair to me and all the ICU patients, as well as unfair to the new grad. But when I have spoken up about the unfairness of this (and refused to precept new grads in my ICU), I have been accused of 'young eating' and of 'not liking new nurses'. Both untrue...it was the SITUATION I didn't like!!. Of course a few spineless nurses took on the new grads. <sigh>

    Just because a seasoned nurse says 'this is no place for a new grad and I cannot be responsible for precepting them' doesn't mean the problem IS the new grad.

    So...the term has been twisted IMHO. Perhaps even used against us to manipulate us into accepting new grads in less than optimal conditions to keep from being labeled a 'young eater'.
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    I truly believe there is a lot of wisdom among those of you who have posted. I am sure we are scattered all over the U.S. at least. I like the idea of creating the solution since we all agree there is a problem.
    Some areas that I see that can be disconcerting are that you are all precepting new grads who probably come to you with varying degrees of education. As a nurse educator almost, (working on my MSN, NED) I see that students come to me with all types of personalities however one thing stands out for sure. Most nursing students are fiercely competitive people but they also have very kind hearts. Those who come to school for the purpose of earning a wage usually fail to make the grade and are dismissed from the program. Those that remain work hard to get through the programs that are becoming increasingly more challenging and demanding. Some programs send students out with a lot of skills, LPN’s for instance, others present the students with a lot of head knowledge and not enough clinicals to allow for proficiency. Nurse educators have a lot of information to try to present to students today and therefore when the student reaches you they may have many deficits. Because of this they are subjected to comments like; didn’t you learn that in school?
    I believe that the way we say things to one another is the key to creating a pleasant atmosphere for working and learning. We know that in any relationship the tone of the voice or the body language can set up the response before words are even spoken. Some students who display cockiness are often using that attitude to cover up their insecurities. We all have ways to hide our true emotions and sometimes attitudes are just because of a person’s age and lack of opportunity to work on their interpersonal skills.
    What do you think would happen if seasoned nurses could take these new grads and think about why the person is acting the way they are. No, I do not mean to make excuses for the person, who really has some bad manner themselves, but take them aside and try to truly mentor and nurture them. Even if your efforts do not seem appreciated you can go away from the situation with peace in your heart because you did the right thing. It seems to be so much easier to gossip about someone than to work on the problem.
    No, you did not take these students to raise however I would want to “raise” up the new grad in MY ways if I had the opportunity. Yes, they will say that is not the way we were taught because they come to you with the perfectionist and rote information from their books and they want to be right. In desiring to be right and feeling foolish if they are wrong, they put on the blame game and tell you, that you are doing it wrong. Well, think about how you can respond to this kind of student and find a creative way to nurture them. Nurses are very innovative and creative people and I am sure we can find a way to turn this “eat the young” behavior around. We will, we must or we can find our jobs being replaced with foreign nurses, much like industry has outsourced many of our products that were once made here in the best country in the world. We can use this discussion board to complain or we can use it to brainstorm and change things. Thanks for responding to my post and thanks in advance for thinking about the changes you are going to make in your corner of the world. Sincerely, Old CAT


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