Dealing with 'nurses eat their young' attitudes


  • Specializes in Geriatric/Hospice. Has 1 years experience.

I've been working at an LTC facility for approximately 6 months now. I have only been a nurse for... approximately 1 year and I came from home care to this facility.

Over the past few weeks there have been an increasing amount of complaints brought to my charge nurse from the oncoming shift (days, as I work nights) about me. At first I was really worried. I was thinking "if you have a problem with everyone else, you are probably the problem." But then, after a while, I began to notice a pattern in the "problems" they were having with me. None of these "problems" had anything to do with the job I was doing. For example, one nurse complained that I was wearing a sweater on my midnight shift. Every single person (nurse, CNA, even the charge nurse herself) was wearing sweaters on the midnight shift. The building is cold, your body temperature lowers midway through the shift due to circadian rhythm and it's winter... and it's michigan. I couldn't understand why they would complain about me wearing a knitted, non-print, solid-color sweater when my co-workers were wearing hoodies and labeled shirt (against company policy, btw.)

Another complained that I left my bag and my coat out when there were no lockers left in the staff room to put my things in. Yet another one was complaining that I always rush through shift report like I really just want to leave... Now this might SOUND like a legitimate reason to complain, but in reality this nurse was on her cell-phone texting people while I was trying to give her report. I got to the point where I told her, flat out, to put her phone down and stop being rude. She always would talk to other people on her shift in the middle of my report, as if she doesn't have the entire shift to say hello to them.

I'm not the only one going through this. Another nurse who started shortly after me is going through the same stuff. She made a mistake her first time doing MARs and changing them over to the new month (everything is on paper at this facility so we have to write out medication lists from month to month.) She got in trouble for this and was super upset about it. The following month our charge nurse sends her a text and says "we need to talk." So my friend was freaking out wondering what she did wrong this time. She was brought into the office and berated about making more mistakes on the new MARs for the new month. She was furious now. She had purposefully NOT done the MARs this month because she was terrified of making another mistake. In other words, because she had made a mistake before, they automatically blamed her for someone else's mistake without even looking to see who the one who did the MARs actually was (which would not have been hard to do considering we have to sign the new MARs at the bottom of eat page.)

The other night the charge nurse ranted at me about the day shift saying I had left medications out AGAIN. Let me back up a bit here. At our facility we get nightly visits from a medication company that packages and delivers bubble packs of our clients medications and it it night-shifts job to put them away in a timely manner... so anyways. I was upset to the point of tears. I told her I had never left meds out. When they came in I put them away if I had time, if not I put them into the medication room (which is locked) to be sorted out when there was time to do so, but I would never leave them out for anyone to grab. The first incident she borught up was when she had to come in on an afternoon shift and put away meds that "I" had left out. No, I told her, the meds came in late that night and I was in the middle of med pass so I put them in the med room. When dayshift got there the day shift nurse offered to put them away for me so that I could leave for an appointment. I ASSUMED he would, indeed, put them away as those meds were for his residents. I had assumed incorrectly. Lesson learned, I will not rely on other nurses ever again.

The second incident she spoke of, and the one that invoked her rant, was from my last night at work. I told her I didn't even know the meds were there. I saw the med guy leave and talked to him for a minute as he walked out the door and then went back to my med pass. He had never said anything about leaving any meds and I didn't see any when I got back to the nursing station. Luckily I ranted to a fellow coworker about this and she realized that SHE was the one he had left the medications with and told the charge nurse just that. No one decided they wanted to apologize. No one decided to pass it on that it wasn't my fault, they just ignored the situation and moved on.

I'm so sick of this bullying crap! Just because I'm new doesn't, by any means, make me stupid or incapable. I know I don't know everything, which is why I constantly ask questions, why is this treated as inexcusable? Every time I or my friend ask a question we're treated as if the answer should be blatantly obvious and we're stupid for not knowing it. Every mistake we make is brought up over and over and over again and there's nothing we can say or do about it.

It got to the point where I had to stop in the DON's office and tel her I'm done. I listed off the complaints to her, acknowledged the ones that were legitimate but told her I'm sick of the ones that aren't. She told me I can't those things get to me and that nurses eating their young is in every facility and it would eat me alive if I don't just "let it go."

My response to her was as follows, "Nurses eating their young is like chinese water torture. You're slowly feeling more and more pain from it with every drip." Every unnecessary or uncalled for complaint shoots my confidence and makes me afraid to ask the questions that I really need answers, for fear of appearing stupid to everyone else around me.

Why is this even a thing? Why do people with 10+ years of experience act like a new grad should know everything they know? Why do they feel like I, as a new grad, should know how to handle every situation that pops up right off the bat? Did they forget how it was to be new themselves?

I'm sorry for ranting, I'm just at my wits end here. I'm tired of being the punching bag around here and I'm at the point where I'm ready to tell them to shove it and find someone else to take my place. I've already created a new resume and am waiting for my one-year to come up to apply for a position in a different facility.

I love my residents, I love my CNAs but I just can't stand the a lot of the other nurses and the fact that management does absolutely nothing about their behavior. They practically foster this sort of behavior. This place is already understaffed and has a high turn over rate with new nurses. I don't know what to do anymore...

I'm not going to stop asking questions even if someone else thinks it's stupid. I'm not going to put my residents in danger because of lofty of hostile co-workers. I am NOT going to loose my license because I was too afraid to ask someone with more experience for help...

Specializes in Gerontology RN-BC and FNP MSN student. Has 23 years experience.

About those meds....they have to be signed for before they can just leave them. Who ever signs for them is responsible for them...up to a point. But if they're for your carts that's your business to try to put them where they belong.

You have to seriously try to ignore the haters....they are at any job. As you know nursing is a 24 hour show....we show up to work around the clock. That's what I would tell them the next time they try to rake you over the coals for something. Seriously just do your job. It takes practice and persistence but let the crap roll off your back!;)

Good Luck!


1,756 Posts

Specializes in LTC, Memory loss, PDN. Has 23 years experience.

"circadian rhythm" really?

just tell them your scrub jacket that says mind your own business was in the laundry

i don't believe in ignoring those people who try to make everyone miserable just because they are

don't let it get to you, if it does, don't show it

laugh, sing, ask them, "why are you always so unhappy"

but don't let them get away with lying

you cannot control their mouth, but you can say," that's a lie and you know it "

of course all this is easy for me to say, because the smart butt in me actually

enjoys playing with the permanently ****** off

can i say peed off?


582 Posts

Specializes in Rehab, LTC, Peds, Hospice. Has 18 years experience.

I don't think this is a 'nurse's eat their young issue.' This is is a 'nurse's complaining about other nurses' issue. Which will forever be an issue. 18 years a nurse now and yes, sometimes I've forgotten to put away meds, probably because I had many other truly important things to worry about, that were my priority. I think shake it off is good advice.

As to being called in for something I didn't do, that's funny, but not uncommon in my experience. The emails for example I have to try and answer when I come back from vacation are endlessly amusing. (We do have a schedule management, aren't you the ones that make it?)

I will say I would not directly call someone rude. More like, are you sure you're getting this? Or I might just write it for her and tell her to ask me if she has any questions.


10,834 Posts

Specializes in NICU, PICU, Transport, L&D, Hospice. Has 44 years experience.

yup, not a "nurses eat their young issues" but rather an issue of unhappy maladjusted nurses picking on someone they perceive as vulnerable and unlikely to talk back. They are bullies.

Don't tolerate it.

Either management will support you in requiring that they behave like professionals or you will have to find another job. If you need another job rest assured that not all work situations are like this and there are more terrific nurses than there are bullies.

You really do need to sort through the medication security issue and clean up that chain of command process.