I think nurses share some of the blame for the nursing shortage.

Nurses General Nursing


I read recently that only 12% of all nurses are under the age of 30. Being a new graduate BSN and practicing nursing for 18 months, I found that statistic pretty horrifying. I have been visiting this site for about three months now and various nurses are trying to find out solutions to the nursing shortage and who to blame.

First off I think nurses need to share some of that blame. Like I said am a new nurse that graduated with my BSN and also with a Business degree. So I am keen to pick up on why things do not work. First off our normal nursing class size usually max out at thirty-five students. Our class started out with 27 students because the program did not receive enough applications to fill the class. During my last two years we lost 5 students out of the program not because of low grade or they failed out, most were top of our class, mostly because of lack of respect they received from nursing instructors and nursing staff at the local hospitals where we did our clinical.

LPN's and Rn's alike would ridicule most of the students. They would openly complain about us to the patients and to staff members alike. During report we would hear the RN's say "al my gosh we have students today, today would be a good day to call in sick". Don't get me wrong there was some educators that did a good gob and greeted us with open arms, but a majority of the time the staff was very disrespectful from RN's to Nursing Assistant's. Most of the teaching came from physicians if we had the opportunity to rounds with.

After graduation I passed my boards on the first try and took a job on a Medical Surgical floor. The first night was highly anticipated and was looking forward to my new career. I reported to the charge nurse who did not expect me and did not know who to put me with. Eventually they put me with a LVN who was very intolerable to teaching others and I seemed like a burden to her. Eventually I just left and told the charge nurse I was very disappointed by the way things was run here and left in middle of my shift.

Eventually I did land a job that did really well in teaching me the ins and outs of nursing. I would actually check on my fellow graduates after a year of last seeing them. One of my fellow students informed me that four other nurses got out of nursing they did not feel safe with the patient load given to them and very little mentoring from senior nurses.

I am 26 years of age, kind of old for a new graduate. I worked in other professions such and engineering as a drafter and sales. Never have I worked in a profession that fellow professionals were so rude and uncaring to each other. I have several friends who are physicians that talked me to going back to school and finish my classes to apply to Medical School, they openly joke about how nurses are very disrespectfully to each other and how senior nurses eat their young.

If the nursing profession were such a great career as most of you described, there would not be a shortage. I agree that that the aging baby boomer poses a challenge and is one of the reasons but I think we need to look in the mirror and accept some of the blame.

So in closing if you get a new graduated in the floor, accept them with open arms instead of treating them like a burden.

suni, BSN, RN

477 Posts

Specializes in med surg.

you know i thought about not replying to this thread and then i thought what the heck, i would agree that some nurses should not precept but to start with the staff development department should alert the staff of a new hire coming to the floor and let someone know your orientation schedule. if you just show up and no one knows you are coming sure they shouldnt take it out on you but you also have to be in a mind set that you know you are precepting. most of the nurses i know are happy when anyone is hired it means less mandatory overtime for us we try to get you oriented and up to speed as soon as possible. we don't rush it though because we know in the long run if you have a good preceptorship period it will be better for you and us, if you want a strong building you need to start with a good foundation. will i take my share of the blame, sure, but when you start a new job you should ask for an orietation schedule , ask for the name of the person you arel looking for when you hit the unit, ask to see the unit so you know how to get there and maybe meet your preceptor then at the very least meet the nurse manager of that unit. nurses are overworked, overwhelmed and under respected, the brightest, most organized, humorous people i know are nurses .


167 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care, Emergency, Infusion.

I truly find this amazing whenever I hear new RNs speak of experiencing what you just described in your post.

I have been an RN for seven years. As a nursing student, my clinicals were spread out between four different hospitals (in a major Midwest city) and so many different units. At that time (mid 90s), the morale of the nursing staff in each hospital was very low. One hospital was closing a floor and those nurses were losing their jobs. I was then sent to the floor that was taking over the care of the closed floor's patients, and they were not adding any nurses to their staffing. I was later in a pediatric hosp where they layed off the RTs and then hired care partners (req HS diploma or GED) to do all the breathing treatments under the supervision of the RNs (meaning if the CPs screwed up, it was the RNs license that was in jeopardy!) At a huge trauma center, it was common to be working with all agency nurses with only one actual RN employed by the hosp acting as charge nurse who also had her own patient load. You could feel the stress and tension in the air at all times. I tell you all of this because I can honestly say I was never treated rudely or unwanted at any time by any nurse. The way our clinicals were set up, my instructor took ten patients out of the matrix and they became her total responsibility. She assigned each of us a patient and we took over their total care while we were on that floor, giving report to the RN when we left. The last semester, we were assigned 2 pts apiece so that made for 20 pts. out of the matrix. I kind of felt that the RNs were always grateful to have us there. They were great about telling us when they were doing something we would find interesting so we could watch or help. Or letting us place their NGs or foleys.

When I started as a new grad, I also had the best preceptors. I was never made to feel bad in any way. Today, if I float to a floor with students, I always try to be helpful, promote nursing, etc. And so does everyone else. We love our nursing students. They are so earnest and energetic. There have been stressful moments, but I honestly can say I have never witnessed a 'senior nurse eating the young.'

I am 42 yrs old. and a mom of three teenage daughters. I had many jobs before nursing and worked with all sorts of people. I do not look at life thru rose-colored glasses. I have met many nurses in my 7yrs as an RN who should have chosen a new profession many moons ago. But I am still amazed to read your post. And I know it happens, because so many have complained of the same. Maybe it's just where I live, people are nicer or something. I don't know. I am sorry for your experience. Just know, it's not like that everywhere.

Good luck in med school.

Your pal,



405 Posts

Unfortunately what you point out here is quite true. One only has to go looking for threads regarding nurse to nurse abuse to find it. It is so prevelant that there are theories regarding the reasons as well as theories on how to eliminate it. But none of it ever seems to pick up steam. In my opinion it is something that definately contributes to the nursing shortage, people will only take being treated poorly for so long. It has been 11 years since I graduated nursing school, but I still have many ill feelings towards certain instructors who behaved with the manners of ill trained dogs.

I now work in a unit in which this type of behavior is not tolerated. Period. Doesn't matter who it is from, and that includes physicians. It is amazing to hear from salespeople who routinely comment on how different our facility seems from others. Last week I was working with an Apligraf rep who made the comment that every time she comes to our unit it amazes her how busy we are yet the atmosphere is relaxed, she noted that the physicians and the nurses banter back and forth and that it is obvious that there was a professional give and take between us. She wondered to me what it was about our unit that made such a difference. I told her I believed it was because it was what was encouraged and expected, that when we have hired people who could not make that mind shift of burying the new nurses and that conflict does not have to happen, they don't last long with us. And they aren't fired either, they just seem to leave.

I have always believed the idea of nurses eating their young starts in nursing school with instructors who seem to find great pleasure in washing out those who can't handle that type of behavior, as if it is a hazing you must be able to pass in order to be one the elite who makes it through. Too many nurses then get out of school to perpetuate the behaviors. Sad. But if change is going to come it must come from within, then we will be able to tackle the outside forces. Without that united front stopping what is happening will be very difficult.

Sweet "T"

2 Posts

The Shortage of nurses right now is a pretty serious issue right now and I think the Nurse educator and Hospital employees are starting to recognize this in our area. I sure it is a different situation with each area, but the Med. school I now attend now has a nursing class of 108. That is the largest class they have had in a long while. Furthermore, the only reason we are all still here after a semester is because of the generous help from the educators and clinical staff. They are very open to answering question and appear to want us there. The only problems I have had so far is with the Senior Students. I get the sense that they are intimidated by us. They constantly make statements that demean our abilities and knowledge.


6,620 Posts

Nursing isn't for everyone and unfortunately those who are unhappy seem to take it out on others. I am sorry that you couldn't find a good place to work (they are out there) but hope that the experience you have gained will help you in medical school and in your future career.

I have to say I do believe there are nurses who eat their young, old and everything in between, but they are in the minority. I think it generally stems from unhappiness related to unsafe staffing, mandatory OT, BS from physicians and patients and their families, lack of control over the workplace, lack of respect, etc. Some people let stress get the better of them and take it out on others. I have experienced it and found the best solution was to confront the person doing it if it was serious and let it roll off my back if it wasn't. Nursing isn't perfect, but there is still nothing else I want to do (especially medicine!:))


2 Posts

Well I was just browsing and I saw something about the shortage of nurses. That's the only thing that is brought up in conversation when I mention I want to go into nursing as a full time career. This concerns me. Still being a rather younger pioneer of this highly recommended profession, I would like to think that there wouldn't have to be a shortage for someone like me to be interested. Not to say the only reason for me being interested in nursing is because of the shortage, but because of my personal beliefs and having the inspiration of my mother being a License Practical Nurse herself. She was before I was born and decided to become a stay at home mom. She used her knowledge and insight to take care of my sister and me.

Well...I'm looking forward to working at the nursing home i'm applying to now and hope I can do anything and everything to benefit the people of my community.

Sweet "T"

2 Posts


I totally agree with everything you said. Although, you mentioned that Nursing isn't perfect and you are totally right. However, we all need to realize that no matter what career you enter there are always going to be problems. There may be problems with co-workers, the environment, or the work schedules. I personally know it is hard to do, but if it is a job that you truely enjoy doing, then you should be able to concentrate on doing what you love and ignore that harsh comments that others make.


6,620 Posts

Definitely with you there Sweet T!


487 Posts

I had a wonderful clinical experience when I was training (not that long ago either as I graduated in 99)

not all of the nurses were as kind and nurturing as I figured all nurses should be, but they did provide me with the reality that we all have different personalities and that we all have to get along in the workplace regardless.

its a shame when nurses get frustrated or make snide remarks about having a student. I heard the occasional sarcastic comment while doing my clinical rotations but I found that we were paired up with nurses who enjoyed teaching and who were organized enough to be able to precept properly.

I agree that instructors and nurses in the hospital who help to train students or even new nurses should be more accepting and accomodating

however, as the good old cliche goes - there are 2 sides (if not 3 or 4 that is) to every story.

many times the nurses on the floor are not informed in advance that they will have a student, I've seen this on my unit personaly ,and many times the patient acuity and staffing are just so out of proportion that its hard to be the nurturing florence nightengale incarnate that you want to always be.

I dont think that the nurses or students you speak of left just because of the way they were treated by nurses on the floor or instructors. that may very well be a part of why they left , but not the whole reason. Its far easier to blame your choices on other peoples behaviour than it might be to be honest with people.

nursing isnt a cake walk , people may not understand that when they sign up for it but its brutal,hands on , grueling and TOUGH

you are gonna encounter people who are not supportive in any area you study or any career you choose, human nature quite literally is a B*tch sometimes.

before we play the blame game we should consider that many of these nurses have been placed in horrible working conditions with unsafe patient assignments. They have a license to protect, a license that they worked incredibly hard to achieve and a license that they are going to have to work even harder to maintain.

so I say yes, embrace students and new grads with open arms, share your wisdom with them, try to show them the positives about the profession (of which there are TONS I might add) and keep doing what youre doing!

to the students/new grads I would say, look with your eyes and understand with your brain all the while feeling with your heart.Understand that the superhero nurses you see on tv or hear about are a myth, and that the everyday hero nurses are allowed to have a day where they dont love their profession 100%!

dont let a few snide comments drag you down, I'm not justifying any of that kind of behaviour , but it shouldnt be the end of your career aspirations , if nursing is what you really want to do , youre gonna do it regardless, plain and simple.

None of us do this crazy three ring circus we call nursing just for a job, its far more than that.

even if all the nurses were permasmile, fake happy all the time there would still be a nursing shortage, sure more people would be encouraged to go into the profession but it would be a disaster of a different kind , a surplus if you will of nurses who cannot get the jobs they want because they are all taken (thats not too encouraging either is it?)

when playing the numbers game we will never get it bang on , when you play the blame game there is more than enough to go around to just about everyone, instead of doing that, lets try to figure this all out to keep nurses happy and nursing a satisfying job for all involved in this wonderful profession.

nightingale, RN

2,404 Posts

I am glad this post got so many thought filled responses. When I first read it, I wanted to hammar something out to encourage the poster. But in her area, with the way she was treated, obviously, that is the way it is. I am glad to read of the many positive responses in the other experiences of my colleagues.

My experiences have been quite mixed. I have worked so many jobs in the 4 years of nursing (Agency Nursing for 2 years). I am glad to say the good experiences far out way the bad. The good is what I cling to, fortunately, I am now in a position that I can truly choose where I work and I do not go back to places that treat me badly.

I believe, it trickles down from management what is tolerated. I choose, as a nurse professional to not condone or tolerate bad behavior. I always treat my colleagues and fellow students with respect; that is all I can be responsible for.

I wish you wel in Med School.


Jenny P

1,164 Posts

Specializes in CV-ICU.

I had a young nurse tell me recently how the educators at her school of nursing were so tough on students that a fair number dropped out even in their senior year in a 4 year program. I'm not sure if nurses feel that they MUST eat their young because of their education or what. However, there are many nurses out there that nuture and mentor younger nurses. Do we hear of these very often? No, we mainly hear about the ones who eat their young. I know that 2 or 3 b***** nurses can ruin a work environment for 80 to 100 good nurses. It is too bad that the 77-97 nurses don't speak up and tell the b***** ones off.

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