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New Grad: How do I handle harsh criticism from other nurses?

Nurses   (1,407 Views | 19 Replies)
by Sunny-RN Sunny-RN (New) New Student

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On 12/14/2019 at 1:01 PM, Sunny-RN said:

Hello Everyone:

I am a brand new graduate and need some advice in dealing with harsh criticism. Specifically, criticism from my former coworker, a Med Surg RN. During nursing school, I worked as a CNA on a Med-Surg floor with this nurse. My goal was and still is to become an ICU nurse. Throughout my experience working on the unit, this nurse, in particular, has told me I would never be able to do critical care; that I wasn't cut out for the ICU. Now that I have graduated from school, she has become more harsh, stating that she hopes I can "just find a place" in nursing, implying that I'm not even good enough to be a nurse. She always says these things with a smile, and states she is "just being honest." She has called me "slow" and that I have "difficulty catching on." This is was her only basis for her opinion. My preceptor told me that Med-Surg would be a good place for me to start and that I have my "book knowledge down" and that I just needed experience. My grades in school were decent and not one of professors ever told me that I wasn't good enough to be a nurse. Rationally, I know that this is just one person's opinion, but it still hurts, especially since she has known me since before I was even accepted into nursing school. I worked hard during school and am proud of my achievement. I know that I have a place in nursing and I am going to pursue my dream of becoming an ICU nurse regardless of what she says. It's just that I can't shake this dirty feeling every time I interact with her. What do you think? How have you learned to handle hurtful RNs? I appreciate any and all advice/anecdotes.

Why do you hang around this person? Get away from her, as far as you can go. If it were me, I,would change jobs if I had to, to get away from her. Leave her in the dust. 

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WestCoastSunRN has 20 years experience as a BSN and specializes in CVICU, MICU, Burn ICU.

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This nurse is being passive-aggressive.  The reason is bc she is either too cowardly (or too smart) to be direct.  Her critical words were not delivered in a meaningful way.  Her intention is not to mentor you through weaknesses (which we all have).

My solution to this type of person is to be VERY direct.  "Ouch!  Those words felt very hurtful to me.  Was that your intent?"

This gives you the chance to respond and forces her to take some sort of responsibility, there on the spot, for her comments.  Seniority matters not in this situation.  Her actions are condescending and rude and not fit to be expressed to any one - another nurse, CNA, patient, etc.  She knows this, but perhaps has never been called on the carpet about it.  She needs someone to stand up to her and challenge her to feel uncomfortable about her own actions/verbalizations.  

That said, this is not a safe individual.  Do not expect her ever to have your back, and avoid working on her team, if at all possible.  It is often difficult for nurses to rise within the ranks of their own units - probably bc of these kinds of dynamics.  

I second the notion of not focusing on ICU right now.  You are going to grow and learn SO much in med-surg.  If you still want ICU after a year or two or more in med-surg, go for it!  But you may want something different by then.  You'll develop your passions as you develop your practice.

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Katie82 has 25 years experience and specializes in Med Surg, Tele, PH, CM.

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I agree with your preceptor that you should do some time in Med/Surg - this is where you learn your organizational skills and all the little things you didn't have the opportunity to learn in school. I have seen far more success from people who took this advice (many hospitals now insist on a term in Med/Surg) than to jump into a specialty floor with no nursing experience. I know you worked on a floor during school, but you will quickly learn that the experiences are not the same.  Your co-worker sounds a little unstable, who would say that stuff to a peer? Perhaps she has had some failures in the past.

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trixie333 has 35 years experience.

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Next time, say 'sweetly', no matter where you end up, you will always mention and credit her for being your first mentor. That will give her motivation to elevate her relationship with you.  You can defuse this gently by giving her recognition.

What worked for me, was to volunteer to fill in scheduling gaps (usually someone calls in absent). Let the shift managers know you are willing to work an occasional overtime shift to help their schedules, which always change at the last minute. Try everything at least once this first year. You may think you want ICU, but may discover your 'home' is elsewhere. My example,

, I thought I wanted pediatrics, but nursing came alive for me in the ER; my roommate was total med-surg., till she discovered Recovery room. Some nurses just love hearts, cardiac everything and anything. Etc., etc. Some want more 'science', infection control, administration, computers, too. Try different things.

You'll know when you can't wait to go back and do it again.

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92 Posts; 1,259 Profile Views

I would get into a new grad ICU residency and tell her to have a nice day 🙂

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Nicechico is a BSN and specializes in ICU.

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As someone mentioned above, stay away from people who does not give helpful advice. She's jealous and threatened by you. Dust that shoulder and keep it pushing. 

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118 Posts; 917 Profile Views

Before I started Nursing School I went to update my educational testing for accommodations in school. The fancy Neuropsychologist told me that I would never make it through Nursing School to become an RN. Every time something went array in school I would think of her. It took me awhile but I learned how to tune that out. The same goes for this RN you have to tune out the noise as she isn't helpful at all. 

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Ski0831 specializes in Lpn.

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Point blank you are in a field unfortunately of primarily catty females. Keep your head up, do not let it bother you, be strong, do your job which is what your there for...the patients.... At the end of the day, if you know you did what you were supposed to do and you set your patients as your top priority, you will go home feeling accomplished.  That catty female nursing crap will never go away unfortunately.  Just remember what you got your degree for and call it a day. 

On 12/14/2019 at 1:01 PM, Sunny-RN said:

Hello Everyone:

I am a brand new graduate and need some advice in dealing with harsh criticism. Specifically, criticism from my former coworker, a Med Surg RN. During nursing school, I worked as a CNA on a Med-Surg floor with this nurse. My goal was and still is to become an ICU nurse. Throughout my experience working on the unit, this nurse, in particular, has told me I would never be able to do critical care; that I wasn't cut out for the ICU. Now that I have graduated from school, she has become more harsh, stating that she hopes I can "just find a place" in nursing, implying that I'm not even good enough to be a nurse. She always says these things with a smile, and states she is "just being honest." She has called me "slow" and that I have "difficulty catching on." This is was her only basis for her opinion. My preceptor told me that Med-Surg would be a good place for me to start and that I have my "book knowledge down" and that I just needed experience. My grades in school were decent and not one of professors ever told me that I wasn't good enough to be a nurse. Rationally, I know that this is just one person's opinion, but it still hurts, especially since she has known me since before I was even accepted into nursing school. I worked hard during school and am proud of my achievement. I know that I have a place in nursing and I am going to pursue my dream of becoming an ICU nurse regardless of what she says. It's just that I can't shake this dirty feeling every time I interact with her. What do you think? How have you learned to handle hurtful RNs? I appreciate any and all advice/anecdotes.

 

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