Why are Newbies Such Whiners?

  1. [font="comic sans ms"]catchy title, eh? right up there with "why are nurses such backstabbers" (assuming that all nurses are backstabbers) and "nurses eat their young" and "why are nurses so mean?" i don't know about the rest of us "seasoned nurses", but i'm getting rather tired of all the threads busting on us for being "mean" to new nurses, students, etc. it seems to be an underlying assumption on most of the threads of the ilk that nurses are mean, evil backstabbers who live to humiliate someone with less experience.

    i've had the opportunity lately to observe some newbies and their preceptors from the patient's perspective. granted, i've been a nurse for 29 years and have been both an orientee and a preceptor -- most recently an orientee. so i do have some experience from pretty much all sides now.

    i was a patient, flat in bed after my spinal surgery. the orientee and preceptor introduced themselves, outlined the plan for the day, and then the preceptor left for a short while to sort out another patient who was screaming the screams of the totally demented, leaving the orientee to do my assessment and am care. the orientee was supposed to be almost ready to be on her own -- and she scared me to death! wanted to give my antihypertensives when my bp was 82/50, wanted to give my hctz when i was dehydrated from vomiting, npo, and my iv rate was only 50cc/hour and a few other things indicating (to me, anyway) poor judgment. when i refused to take the meds and outlined my rationale, she ordered me to take them anyway so she wouldn't get into trouble. i asked her how long she'd been in this job, and was it her first nursing job, or where had she worked before. the floodgates opened, and she started complaining about what a terrible place it was to work, the lousy pay, the horrible hours and how all the experienced staff were mean to her. (the preceptor came back into the room in time to hear that.) totally unprofessional! the preceptor didn't say anything in front of me, and calmly took her off to "plan the rest of our day."

    later that day, i overheard the orientee telling someone (i'm assuming on her cellphone) how totally mean her preceptor was, and how the preceptor was "out to get her." she said "all i was doing was bonding with my patient who is a nurse, too, and the ***** (preceptor) just totally humiliated me. she told me i was unprofessional! i thought you were supposed to be nice to your patients."

    nurse eating her young? or totally out of line and unprofessional newbie whining about being justifiably corrected?

    another time, i heard a preceptor tell her orientee not to give my antihypertensives if my bp was less than 100/systolic. (it was.) newbie comes in to give my antihypertensives anyway. (different newbie.) i refuse. newbie goes to get preceptor. preceptor and i discuss my bp and agree not to give antihypertensives. later, i hear preceptor calmly explaining to newbie that giving an antihypertensive to a hypotensive patient can cause problems. (they're out in the hall, evidently close to my room, and i didn't hear anyone else around, so i'm assuming there was at least an illusion of privacy for this discussion.) newbie got defensive and started lying. preceptor remained calm and reiterated her position. newbie continued to be defensive, escalating the volume. later, i hear the two newbies commisserating about how mean their respective preceptors are.

    i have to admit that when i hear a new nurse complaining about how "nurses eat their young", especially after those recent experiences, i always wonder what a preceptor could possibly do to try to correct some of these blatent mistakes without being accused of being "mean." and i wonder if that new nurse was as ridiculously in the wrong as those two were, and if she was, did she have any clue that her problems weren't all someone else's fault!

    precepting is a tough enough job without being accused of being evil everytime you try to help someone to do better! being a new person is difficult, too -- but please try to look at what you contribute to the problem rather than just blaming the seasoned nurses you work with!
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    About Ruby Vee, BSN, RN

    Joined: Jun '02; Posts: 14,259; Likes: 59,793


  3. by   PANurseRN1
    It's a lose/lose proposition these days, Ruby. New nurses today seem to feel that they should only get positive feedback, and that anything remotely negative constitutes being "eaten."
  4. by   Marylou1102

    precepting is a tough enough job without being accused of being evil everytime you try to help someone to do better! being a new person is difficult, too -- but please try to look at what you contribute to the problem rather than just blaming the seasoned nurses you work with![/quote]

    well said!
  5. by   SuesquatchRN
    I'm a newbie, and even I'm getting tired of hearing how nurses eat their young.
  6. by   pagandeva2000
    I guess there are bad apples from both ends of the spectrum. The nurse that wished to administer hypertensives when your pressure was low was just plain stupid. I can agree with that. I have seen 'newbies' walk in with their textbook knowledge and try and rudely correct incumbant nurses. One in particular actually documented on the MAR that meds were administered late by previous nurses, meds were administered when the parameters were not correct, and jumping in to perform procedures without knowledge without the knowledge or premission of the perceptor. I am a new LPN and have witnessed nurse bashing to newbies, but, I can also say that at times, the new grad was, in fact, wrong, for silly reasons.

    What we need to know is that respect goes both ways, and even with the negative people, there is information you can walk away with.
  7. by   SCRN1
    I'm getting tired of hearing that phrase too. I never ran into that anywhere I've oriented, whether right out of nursing school or later when beginning a new job in a different area of nursing. Anytime I've ever noticed someone who could be considered "eating their young" was because of personality - not that they had more seniority. They were just control freaks to begin with or felt they were smarter than everyone else. It wasn't just to new nurses they worked with - it was to anyone.
  8. by   traumaRUs
    I think it is important that when one is the novice in the relationship, that the novice realizes that it is okay to make mistakes and ask questions. Its even okay to ask the rationale behind the answer. However...it is a learning experience - that is why the institution pays BOTH the preceptor and orientee. The novice learns and hopefully doesn't repeat mistakes. However, it does sometimes take criticism or a negative encounter to understand that the novice doesn't come to the playing field an experienced RN. So...to make mistakes in the new role is okay...no reason to get defensive...no one expects the novice to have the knowledge level of the experienced preceptor.
  9. by   medsurgnights
    I used to think I had been very lucky to escape the so-called "toxic" work atmosphere outlined in these threads. My preceptors were brilliant nurses, I like my manager, I like our ratios, the schedule seems fair and so on. I'd worked at this hospital for 7 months when one of the more experienced nurses asked our newest nurse, 2 months or so out of orientation, how things were going. She went on this complete tirade about how everything she had been told about nursing was a "scam", how our scheduling is completely unfair, how too many of the nurses are "harsh", and best of all - how she is assigned so many patients that she doesn't have enough time to do her job. I work at a federal hospital, where nurses very rarely have more than 5 patients, unless working with an LPN. We often have 4. This particular nurse usually has 3. It amazed me how completely differently we view our environment. There are aspects of med-surg nursing that are very hard for me, and I come home tired; however, in my opinion, the other nurses have been far more helpful than toxic. I like correction and advice, particularly when done with a patient attitude. Need to learn this stuff somehow.
  10. by   moongirl
    well, I am still a student, almost ready to graduate, and from what I have seen is - IT IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT-.

    I have had fellow students complain and complain about a certain nurse here or there, or a certain floor and then I go there, same floor or same nurse and not have a speck of trouble. Yes, I could see that the general attiude of that floor was " we work harder than any other floor" or the attiude of the certain nurse- to put it kindly- was hyperactive scatter brained, but i just smile, roll with it, work my tail off, learn every tidbit I can and be the best ME I can be.

    This has gotten me rave reviews from nurses, docs and pts, I am always
    "cheerful and energetic and willing to help/learn". yes, i could be a complainer but I decide its up to ME to deal with what i am handed.
    guess I am a glass half full kinda gal, and honestly I have YET to see any nurse "eat" anybody .. maybe those who complain all the time need to take a look within themselves before pointing the finger.
  11. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Precepting is a tough enough job without being accused of being evil everytime you try to help someone to do better! Being a new person is difficult, too -- but please try to look at what YOU contribute to the problem rather than just blaming the seasoned nurses you work with!
  12. by   MarySunshine
    Wow, my unit is over half new nurses and that behavior would NOT fly. Totally inappropriate. I predict that person will not do well at all in nursing -- they won't last long. And I am sick of whining, too.
  13. by   TazziRN
    Well said, Ruby!!
  14. by   adrienurse
    When I was a nursing student I just couldn't fathom why a nurse would want to mess with my "learning experience" by not being enthousiastic about working with me. Nowadays students and new orientees give me the heebiejeebies. We just get inundated with them and just don't get the time to do a proper job and give them the attention and supervision they need with the recent push to graduate as many nurses as possible. If I had the time and energy to teach 1:1 it wouldn't be a problem, but I can see how my stress can be interpreted as hostililty.