new grad having trouble w/ icu personalities

  1. I am a new grad icu rn in training and am finding the most challenging part to be interacting with the nurses on my unit. Granted some are nice, friendly, and helpful, but the majority of them are unfriendly, condescending, and outright mean to us. I have heard of nurses eating their young but this is ridiculous. It makes me dread going into work everyday. I have been nothing but friendly and professional and am getting glowing reviews at my evals. I am wondering if anybody else has gone through this and if these nurses are being so nasty bc i am new and on orientation. I hope this passes. I really do like all other aspects of ICU nursing.
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    About extraordinary067

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 14

    55 Comments

  3. by   oMerMero
    I am sorry this is happening to you. I have no explanation as to why nurses are so mean to the newbies. I just witnessed this on my own unit. We recently had three new grads finish orientation, and the majority of nurses rarely/never spoke with them during the orientation. But now that the new grads are on their own, the are being accepted more. I have no idea why it is that way. Just remember to keep doing a great job with your patients, ask questions if you have them no matter how stupid you think the question is, and this will pass with time. Good luck!
  4. by   cardsRN
    unfortunately many nurses treat each other this way. in my experience this behavior is more prevalent in critical care. they treat new grads, new to the unit experienced nurses, and each other this way. i think it is the stress of the job combined with some personality issues. since i have started in critical care i have met a few people with savior complexes, and a few who think they are perfection. many senior staff have been there for a long time and have a sense of ownership of the unit and a great deal of entrenched power. many of those enjoy lording that power over others. sad, sad, sad. and it makes everyone else's job that much more difficult. if you know that you are taking the best care of your patients that you possibly can, and your manager is satisfied with your work, just keep your chin up and your eyes forward. there are always other units out there if this one gets to be too much to bear.
  5. by   Ariesbsn
    ((((Extraordinary067))))

    It really sucks that you are going through that. I wish I had a solid answer for you as to why it happens. I have been trying to deal with it for 2.25 years since I graduated and it has gotten to the point that I am looking to switch units. I could feed you platitudes about the people who are mean are just miserable on the inside, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that they are making your life miserable and getting away with it.

    How does your orientation program work? Do you have someone that doesn't precept you that you can talk to? If so, go to that person with specific instances of you being mistreated and ask them how to best handle the situation.

    You are kind of between a dog and a fire hydrant if you try to handle this yourself. If you confront the people who are being nasty, you are just opening yourself up for a world of abuse. If you say nothing but smile and thank them for being a valuable resource when they are coming at you for things that just don't matter, you are perpetuating being chewed on.

    The other kind of new grad abuse is to throw you in the deep end and see if you sink or swim with your patient assignments after orientation. My first 4 months off of orientation were horrible because the PCC (shift supervisor for the unit) felt that a new nurse should have the sickest of the sick so they wouldn't be asking "basic" questions after a year. She also believed that no new nurse should ever see the light of the nurses station for anything other than a split second as they pass by.

    I hope this works out for you. It bugs me to no end that this is a known practice and nobody does anything to make it stop. Good luck and if you find something that works, let me know.
  6. by   Creamsoda
    I am not brand new, but not extremely experienced. Ive been an RN for 2 years, 1 year in ICU. Here you will meet some very strong personalities. I find its just easier to ignore it, but it depends on what they are being rude to you about. I often find some nurses will ask you questions during report to make you feel/look stupid if you dont know the answer, and they will not ask in a nice/ friendly way like I would. These people I just ignore, tell them what I can and am done with it. Theres others I have met who are just plain mean, and have no grounds for acting the way they do. If this is the case, sometimes you have to say something to them, or go to your manager if is a personality thing. Often times they have already had complaints against them and hopefully your manger will be understanding. Just dont let them walk all over you. I think it also helps if you act confident...but not overly condifent. Just dont act like a mouse who's been cornered by a cat. These people smell that a mile away. Be conscious of the way you word your questions, and try to learn quickly who you can approach for questions, and who you need to stay away from.

    Cher
  7. by   llg
    I'm not going to defend the behavior you are describing. It's simply wrong to be mean. We all know that.

    However, I am going to try to explain at least a little of it -- because some of you are wondering "why" people behave that way. As a very experienced NICU nurse who is now in staff development and teaching people about horizatal hostility and relational aggression, here are my thoughts on the "why."

    1. Experienced nurses have seen many new nurses "come and go" over the years. Many have probably precepted and mentored many new people over the years. Early in their careers, they may have been very welcoming and nice to the new people. However, over time, they have invested much of their emotional energy welcoming new people into their unit who have not stayed for one reason or another -- and not necessarily because of having been treated badly. Many leave because their husbands get transferred, or they have a baby, or they decide that the patient care is too stressful for them at this stage of their career, or they don't like the hours, or they go to grad school, or they only took the job to get the training and always planned on leaving after a year regardless, etc. etc. etc. Anyway ... after a few years, some of the experienced nurses get burned out from having invested so much of their emotional energy into the orientation of these folks year after year. So, they begin to take a "wait and see" attitude. They think, "Let's see if this person has what it takes to be successful and is going to stay a while before I invest emotionally in helping her. I can't keep giving and giving to people for whom the investment is not going to pay off." I'm not saying it's right ... I'm just saying that's part of the explanation. Don't take it personally. Once they see you are competent and are planning to stay for a while, those folks may very well start to be much more helpful and friendlier.

    2. When people are frustrated in their personal lives or in their jobs, they often don't know how to deal with that frustration productively. Rather than address the sources of their frustrations directly, they just become grouchy and crabby in general. The vulnerable people in their environment (secretaries, nursing assistants, orientees, etc.) bear the brunt of their grouchiness. Again, it's not right -- but it's nothing personal against you. As you establish your competence in the unit and develop a reputation as being a good nurse to have around, you become less vulnerable and less of a target.

    3. Many people, especially women, grew up using relationships and social interactions as a means of controling their environment and maintaining their self-esteem. By being "queen bees," they bolster their inner sense of self-worth and maintain a sense of being in control in a world in which they often feel out of control and vulnerable themselves. In many cases, it is the same behavior we see amoung 12-year olds continued on into adulthood. "If you become friends with that new girl, I won't be your best friend anymore." There are cliques, and gossip, and social climbers, and cat-fights, etc. just like in junior high. For some women, maintaining the social order in this way is the only way they know how to be in the world with other women -- because this has been their social reality since they were children. Researchers have found that even girls under the age of 5 use social relationships in this way. Little boys compete openly and directly with each other and remain friends as they compete for sports victories and social status. Little girls often use their social skills to manipulate relationships to gain status.

    As I said above, I am not justifying the bad behavior ... but maybe some people will be helped by understanding it a little better.

    Good luck to you all.
    Last edit by llg on Mar 15, '07
  8. by   extraordinary067
    great post. thank you all.
  9. by   BULLYDAWGRN
    I just think that some people think they are more important and smarter than they really are.
  10. by   Alexsys
    Quote from BULLYDAWGRN
    I just think that some people think they are more important and smarter than they really are.

    I got that from nurses that have been in the field for years when I was a new grad. Not just ICU nurses
  11. by   emmycRN
    Being new to the ICU as well I can relate. Just keep your chin up and your mind on the patients and you'll do fine. Sooner or later you will become part of the team and that is a great feeling.
  12. by   Dinith88
    Quote from llg
    horizatal hostility .
    ? Is that a fancy way of saying jackass ?
  13. by   llg
    Quote from Dinith88
    ? Is that a fancy way of saying jackass ?
    In a way ... but not really. Labeling a person as a jackass makes it a personality trait that an individual has. Horizontal hostility (also called relational aggression and bullying in some theoretical frameworks) is a complex social phenomenon that has been studied in depth and known to be more complicated than calling the person a jackass suggests.

    It's a serious problem in nursing and I think we need to acknowledge it and understand it better -- including its complexity -- in order to better deal with it and minimize it within the profession. Too many people leave nursing because of it for us to brush it off lightly as a singular personality trait. That's why I took the time to write a rather long and serious post trying to explain some of the behaviors that comprise this phenomenon. If we are going to deal with the "jackasses" productively, then we need to better understand why they act that way sometimes.
  14. by   randybayrn
    Just to add.......RN's used to have to work in med/surg for years to get to the ICU. I think some of them can be resentful of the fact that new grads can now walk into an area that they had to work hard to get to. I have heard many comments about new grads not paying their dues so to speak. If you really want to know the answer, go to forums and click on critical care, and then click on MICU/SICU and start reading. When I was trying to make a decision as to what specialty I wanted to pursue upon graduation, I started reading through all of the old posts for MICU/SICU and it helped me make my decision.

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