Why Does Nursing Eat Its Young? - page 3

by Garry Halliday

4,050 Views | 29 Comments

I first heard this statement 20+ years ago from a nursing colleague. Recently, I heard it again from a professor in my graduate program. And, 30 years in the health field have shown me that it's TRUE -- our profession does not... Read More


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    EMT-125 you have found the secret to stopping the eating of our young. I have been around nursing close to 25 years first as an aide and then as an LPN. In the 16 years i have seen alot of eating but it has to do alot with attitude. As someone new to the field of nursing the biggest benefit you have is to Listen to what your mentor is saying to you. Listening is a form of respect and that you are hearing what is being said by acknowledgement. I have read many posts on this bb and the mentors are frustrated because they can not get the feedback that they need to know that they are truely getting the job done that management has given them. I believe that if you respect someones experience and knowledge base that pretty much takes care of the eating, it is when the individual feels that the person being mentor is not Hearing them based on not listening that the problem of Eating comes into play. Years ago i learned to listen, i worked with the mentally ill and i had to listen, really listen to what it was they were saying because they talked to me from their world,and i would get my peices of information as they chose to give it to me. I took that and used this listening concept especially in any new job that i have taken and I have not been eaten.
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    To add an addition to my previous posts, We as nurses MUST stop the nursing schools from telling the new student We eat our young.I remember being told that my first day of school and it is really intimadating and it sets up a US verus Them type responce. As Nursing Educators you can stop this right at the very get go by not telling this to your students, they have enough on their plates without worrying if someone will eat them. I feel that is a cruel statement to use to put fear or intimadation into a student. They will be less willing to ask questions and be less eager to learn if this statement is in the back of their mind. I also think the positive and negative aspects of the job should also be taught-that we don't have 2-3 patients, some nights i have 10 and they have multiple problems not just one or two. give them the benefit of knowing what they are walking into before they go threw the program and then realize this is Not what I thought it would be, or this not like i learned in school. The educators of this profession could really help the profession by being really honest and then the students don't have culture shock when they walk into a nursing home and have 15-30 patients they are responsible for, or go to the hospital and have 8-10 really sick people. As an Educator you can stop the cycle before it begins.
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    I have never understood exactly what "eating your young" means. I have not witnessed this as being that prevalent. What we do to our old is much worse!!
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    Originally posted by res04lly:
    <STRONG>To add an addition to my previous posts, We as nurses MUST stop the nursing schools from telling the new student We eat our young.I remember being told that my first day of school and it is really intimadating and it sets up a US verus Them type responce. As Nursing Educators you can stop this right at the very get go by not telling this to your students, they have enough on their plates without worrying if someone will eat them. I feel that is a cruel statement to use to put fear or intimadation into a student. They will be less willing to ask questions and be less eager to learn if this statement is in the back of their mind. I also think the positive and negative aspects of the job should also be taught-that we don't have 2-3 patients, some nights i have 10 and they have multiple problems not just one or two. give them the benefit of knowing what they are walking into before they go threw the program and then realize this is Not what I thought it would be, or this not like i learned in school. The educators of this profession could really help the profession by being really honest and then the students don't have culture shock when they walk into a nursing home and have 15-30 patients they are responsible for, or go to the hospital and have 8-10 really sick people. As an Educator you can stop the cycle before it begins.</STRONG>
    15-30 pts! Where? Here I have had up to 50 pts at one time and even as an experienced nurse it is a shock!
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    I think it also varies according to specialty. I worked a med surge and peds floor as a nursing student in colorado springs where many nurses ate their yong especially on the peds floor.

    However at a private birthing center and in the trauma center everyone functioned as a team and was very tight with each other. If you were working with an infaction patient and asked for help you got it. I would float when not busy and do tasks for others. It was great. I think with floor or ward nursing there is not enough coverage and each nurse is stuck there doing everything by themself. There is no support but this type of care is not designed this way. In ER and l&D you must function more as a team and I have seen this to make a difference.
    Jared
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    Hello, fellow nurses, this is Zen, and I wanted to share an interesting experience. I left nursing for several years, took other jobs, and returned to the health field this year. I had a lot of issues with nursing years ago. In between I worked a lot of hard, low paying thankless jobs. The worst one was coming home smelling like cow dung, after riding a motorcycle 110 miles round trip. Believe me, it makes an ocassional trache shot seem like a harmless spit wad passing by you from a senseless, freckled, grinning schoolchild.
    I CHANGED MY ATTITUDE. I got excited about learning again, tracing those 12 cranial nerves, naming all the bones in the body (well....) started looking upon the hospital as a wonderful learning experience for so many things we encounter in life. A great supportive bunch of people to work with (not to mention girls!) Great benefits. Away with you, tooth decay, because I have a Dentist now! Anyway, stop, take a breath, take a day off, go swimming, look forward to your next tender kiss, and think what a wonderful job you really have) zeN

    PS I have no idea what plattitudes mean in my usage, I just could'nt think of another word that rhymed with 'attitude!'
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    I do remember this phrase from over 20 yrs ago also. Personally, I think we do need to remember what it was like when we first started. Part of that comes from realizing that in nursing you are constantly learning. Nursing changes every day. New procedures are approved by the FDA, new drugs hit the market, research is being done to improve or finds better treatments, etc...... The list goes on. I once heard an experienced nurse say "What is with the attitude of the new grads?" Several minutes of discussion went on with some people agreeing. Maybe some of the new nurses didn't go into nursing for some of the reasons we did but "we" as experienced can act as changemasters to help them understand what nursing is all about. Some of us are burned out, overworked, underpaid, short-staffed, whatever the case may be. You can still make the best of it and try to focus on the positive side of nursing; helping patients get better if at all possible. We have all seen that "miracle patient" make it home. We also need to listen to what the new nurses are saying. Some of them can and have taught this "old dog" new tricks. Being flexible helps. As the saying goes "The flexible tree bends in the wind, the rigid tree breaks!":)
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    Quote from res04lly
    to add an addition to my previous posts, we as nurses must stop the nursing schools from telling the new student we eat our young.i remember being told that my first day of school and it is really intimadating and it sets up a us verus them type responce. as nursing educators you can stop this right at the very get go by not telling this to your students, they have enough on their plates without worrying if someone will eat them. i feel that is a cruel statement to use to put fear or intimadation into a student. they will be less willing to ask questions and be less eager to learn if this statement is in the back of their mind. i also think the positive and negative aspects of the job should also be taught-that we don't have 2-3 patients, some nights i have 10 and they have multiple problems not just one or two. give them the benefit of knowing what they are walking into before they go threw the program and then realize this is not what i thought it would be, or this not like i learned in school. the educators of this profession could really help the profession by being really honest and then the students don't have culture shock when they walk into a nursing home and have 15-30 patients they are responsible for, or go to the hospital and have 8-10 really sick people. as an educator you can stop the cycle before it begins.

    i dont think new nursing students should be told that nurses eat their young either. this may set up some kind of self fullfilling prophecy where the students are tense and on their guard when they meet the nurses which may make the nurses feel like they should be on guard too.

    rather, why not just let the eating come as a surpise! :chuckle
    Last edit by northwest20 on Oct 6, '04
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    ...their young and their old...they are multifactorial indeed. I try to explain to the students that when they become a RN and have all of his/her responsibility, they will understand this better. I try to get them to think about how overwhelmed they are with one or two patients, then multiply that by 10. I also try to teach them ways that will help them to get along well with the staff nurse. When I see a student with his/her hands in their pockets and standing back, it is the trigger that leads me to action. I have discussed the perception others may have of someone with that behavior. I try to explain to them in this manner...what if you had six patients of your own, responsible for six more that the LPN was assigned to and had a student on your caseload? I ask them if they can see how someone standing against a wall with their hands in their pockets might be perceived negatively when the nurse is running down the hallway and wants to pull her hair out? They seem to understand this and since I also write specific behaviors on their evaluation, it sinks in.

    Some nurses treat new employees and students poorly because of their own poor self esteem. When this is the cause, the only thing we can do is attempt to build that confidence through respect...sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Some nurses are so burned out that there isn't much that can be done to make them feel better about themselves or their profession...with this type of nurse, it is best that the student and I limit our conversation with him/her. In postconference, I allow the students time to vent about how they felt during that clinical rotation. If one student mentions a nurse who they perceived treated him/her in a negative fashion, then we discuss reasons for the possible behavior to include what the student could have done differently. Usually, I am able to help them to understand that the nurse was not necessarily angry with them. However, there are times that the nurse should have been irritated by the student and those issues are discussed...that usually stops the negative responses about the nurse in particular which encourages them to self-evaluate.

    In education, there are many staff nurses who have the perception that the educator has not worked actively in practice since the 80's...it is this perception that is often times, wrong. The staff nurses will make comments that they think it is great when an educator is active in practice, but in reality, they often times, perceive that as threatening. It usually takes the staff some time to get to know the educator and vice versa. The staff want to know that the educator's sole purpose is not to make them look bad nor challenge them.

    I recall a new grad this summer that I worked with while an agency M/S nurse. The staff nurses treated her without respect and ignored her. In the time that I worked with her, I attempted to support her. Since the staff nurses respected me, in time, they began to respect her. They knew that the new graduate needed support and she was not supposed to be oriented by an agency nurse. By the end of the summer, they had increased her orientation by two weeks and had accepted her. Role modeling does affect change.

    Hope this helps you Gary,

    Barbara
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    Quote from jp#1
    Nursing eating it's young? Nursing eats it's young, old, sick, well, all! Why? After many, many years in nsg., I've had the opportunity to compare work environments. I think the tone is set by the managers and supervisors. The last unit I worked on, gossip and ill treatment of each was not tolerated by our supervisor. In fact, she promptly addressed it, and went so far as to bring both or all parties into her office to discuss it! We developed a very cohesive staff and remain friends to this day. Other work environments, I have seen negative behavior of fellow staff and students nurtured and encouraged. This is develops into a toxic and contagious situation. I think that's what we have today. Now, I am trying desperately to leave it. Just can't take the hostility toward each other. The main reason for treating student nurses badly, I think, is either they do not KNOW the answer or it feeds THEIR insecurity!! I can remember when nurses were comrades and nurturing of each other. It is terribly, terribly sad to see what we've done to each other. I feel very outdated in the workplace. Just my opinion.
    I agree with this entirely!! Well said. May I also add, I have seen this occur in nursing school. Instructors who acted in this way, berating students instead of mentoring. Modeling lazy or condescending behaviors. Of course not all instructors, I have had some great ones. But, I have also had some very negative experiences in nursing school, and therefore I have concluded we learn to eat our young in nursing school, in much the same way as residents are abused by attending physicians.


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