Experienced Nurses Should Leave Legacies to New Nurses

  1. I have been a Registered Nurse for ten years. During these years, I've worked in many areas of nursing. My last position was Director of Nursing for Private Duty. I have attempted to mentor nursing students by explaining things to them that they may not have grasped in class. I remember what it felt like being a new RN. I had a lot of book knowledge but hardly any nursing skills.

    I have seen experienced nurses refuse to help new nurses. I find this behavior appalling. I feel that we owe it to new nurses to teach them everything we know, so that our legacy of providing quality care is continued. Before I was DON, I usually was a charge nurse and preceptor. I encouraged new nurses to use the knowledge they had learned but also taught them nursing skills that they were unfamiliar or uncomfortable with.

    Nursing is not a profession. It is a calling. We are there to provide healthcare to everyone. This healthcare must be above standard. I once went to work for a facility that did not fully orientate the nurses. They allowed new nurses to provide care to patients after only two to three weeks. As the head nurse, I asked the unit manager to please place certain nurses with experienced nurses to allow them to learn. But this never occured. I had to write so many incident reports regarding the substandard care that our patients were receiving. I actually was ashamed of this facility. I understand about nursing shortages, but seriously, let's teach the new nurses good habits to inculcate into their nursing practice. Let's teach them that all patients are our patients. I dislike the words, that isn't my patient. Let's take new nurses and even student nurses under our wings and show them the joy that nursing can bring.

    As I have said, nursing is not my profession. It is my calling in life. I am tired of reading about nurses becoming burned out. If we teach them correctly the first time, they will be able to handle things.

    I was very lucky when I was in nursing school. I had two nurses that I externed with. These nurses taught me everything that they could within what the law allowed. After I became a RN, I was fortunate to shadow several nurses who taught me so many things that I didn't learn in nursing school. This is the legacy we should leave to the new nurses. Let's help them reach their full potential.

    As I look around at the open RN positions for most companies, I find it sad that nearly every ad states experience required. How can any nurse obtain experience if we do not invest in that nurse? So let's invest in the new nurses, teach them, guide them, mentor them, and let their superb nursing skills be the legacy we leave them.
    Last edit by jasnms on Jul 20, '12 : Reason: Was not through typing
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    About jasnms

    Joined: Apr '08; Posts: 6; Likes: 34
    Clinical Director for Private Duty Nursing and Agency
    Specialty: 10 year(s) of experience in ED, Peds, Ortho, Cardiac, Home Health


  3. by   fakebee
    I will respectfully disagree with you on three points. I do not feel nursing is a calling, there are many days when I feel it doesn't meet the qualifications of a profession. Burnout in nursing is NOT going tobe cured by a better orientation for new nurses, the problem is much more complex than that, and lastly put the responsibility for poor training and retention of new nurses where it belongs- on ineffective and shortsighted management that consistently under staffs, provides little to no training for preceptors, and picks the wrong nurses to be preceptors. Not everyone can or wants to teach. Nurses provide a much better learning environment for newbies when the newbie represents a chance to pass on valuable experience and not another set of challenges on top of an already unmanageable workload.
    Last edit by fakebee on Jul 20, '12
  4. by   OnlybyHisgraceRN
    OP, what a beautiful post. For me, nursing is a calling. I agree that we all need to build a good foundation in new nurses. Nurses complain so much about the new nurses but take a look at who we are being raised by....
  5. by   llg
    Quote from fakebee
    I will respectfully disagree with you on three points.
    I agree with you completely, fakebee. While I understand that some nurses feel they have a "spiritual calling" to be a nurse -- not all of us are religious and don't view our profession in that way. We should all have enough respect for other people's religious beliefs to allow room within nursing for both the religious people "called" to nursing and those of us who "chose our profession ourselves" for our own reasons.

    I also agree that it is not all about orientation. As a Nursing Professional Development Specialist, I fully appreciate the value of a good orientation. However, the problems with burn out, turnover, etc. are much more complex than that. It pains me to see employers spending millions of dollars on expesive residence with a lot of "frills" that might not be necessary ... while they ignore the major problems being experienced with their staff after the residency is over. They are throwing money into residency programs hoping to help enough so that they can continue to ignore the REAL cause of the problems.

    Finally, we need to stop bashing the staff nurses -- by blaming them for everything. Yes, some staff nurses need some attitude adjustments. But any "solutions" to our professions problems that only focus on changing the attitudes of staff nurses is not really a solution. It's called "blaming the victim" and it usually only makes matters worse.
  6. by   SHGR
    Great post, jsnms, but I disagree ont he point that "nursing is not a profession." Nursing is indeed a profession, which is why experienced nurses need to continue to support newer nurses. We should all be supporting, encouraging, mentoring each other well past orientation.
  7. by   Mcsteli
    If nurses would have proper training in their school-levels with as many clinical experiences as possible, the training periods could be only2-3 weeks once they graduated. But this doesn't mean that the experienced nurses should turn their back on them once the orientation is over!!! Nursing is a PROFESSION, we burn out because we have a shortage and inappropriate management of the staff on all units. It isn't normal to be overstuffed in medicine while being understaffed in ER or surgical units! And weekends are not an excuse for cutting staff!!
  8. by   xoemmylouox
    I think that there are a lot of things that need to be changed from education to work environment. We can try to make a difference. I am the first to teach those who may not have had all of the clinical experiences that I have. It doesn't matter if they are a new grad or if they have been in the healthcare field for years. We all can continue to learn from each other. It is tough when we are short staffed, but if a person isn't taught to do something right the first time, they will continue to make mistakes only causing more work for someone else. The education provided at some schools is not adequate, but that doesn't mean that a nurse cannot learn once they are out in the real world. It isn't always easy or fair, but it is the right thing to do.
  9. by   Been there,done that
    "As I have said, nursing is not my profession. It is my calling in life. I am tired of reading about nurses becoming burned out. If we teach them correctly the first time, they will be able to handle things."

    That is the attitude that has kept this mostly female profession from achieving the respect and monetary reward we are due.
    There is NO amount of teaching that can prepare for the brutal staffing ratios , increased responsibility and government regulations being forced down our throats.
  10. by   leslie :-D
    i'll agree that having enthusiastic and experienced preceptors would be helpful.
    but to imply that is the only real problem, is naive at best and dangerous at worst.
    if we as a profession, are ever to transcend this rut we seem to be stuck in, we need to be honest with ourselves in assessing the big picture...
    which is complex and multifactorial.
    i promise you, it goes far beyond having an experienced and willing preceptor.

    once mgmt recognizes and appreciates what we nurses bring to the table, only then will be get safer staffing, less demands, and more respect.
    having a congenial relationship with your preceptor, would be the icing on the cake.

  11. by   CrunchRN
    Hmmmm...................I wouldn't do it without pay so I guess it must not be a calling for me.....
  12. by   wooh
    Yes, once again, let's blame the staff nurses for not having the right attitude to be able to handle an insane ratio while at the same time training a new nurse (that if we aren't forever perky, will blame it on being younger, prettier, and having more sex than we are).

    Why would we ever blame the people that seem to think that staff nurses should be able to handle 24 hours worth of work in a 12 hour shift?

    And I would like to see every nurse that claims this is a calling to immediately go to their supervisor and have their salary dropped down to minimum wage. See how long you're willing to work for minimum wage to fulfill your calling.
  13. by   CrunchRN
    Ah Wooh - you are the best!
  14. by   cienurse
    I once worked for a State Hospital where we didn't get paid for 3 weeks because the budget for the new fiscal year was late being passed. And I showed up for work every day because what would the patients have done if we didn't?! I knew the retro pay would come eventually, in the meantime, I focused on going to work every day and making the best of it. And THAT, my friends, is a "calling," not a profession!
    I have now been a nurse for 36 years and I can honestly say that I would still do the same thing today. I am a DON who interviews and hires new grads and I must say that I blame the schools for the lack of experience that new nurses have upon graduation, but also for the unrealistic expectations that I've seen the new grads have, such as Monday thru Friday 7-3, no weekends, no holidays, and very high salary expectations. Before I graduated, I had to perform each clinical procedure such as dressings, catheters, etc. 3 times with my instructor. I got to follow a post-op patient in the hospital during clinical for weeks at a time. Now, with the way healthcare is, post-op is a matter of DAYS! The patient you have as a student nurse this week will more than likely be gone before you go to clinical next week. Also, the lack of qualified faculty make it even more difficult to get the very basics of clinical experience. I also paid my dues and worked 20 years as a nurse before I got weekends and holidays off-that's just the nature of the PROFESSION, people don't get sick just during the week and we don't close hospitals on weekends and holidays.
    So, whatever you consider nursing to be, either a "calling," a "profession," or both, be prepared to lead by example, never forget where you came from or what it's like to be a "newbie," and teach new nurses what they need to know-we aren't going to be around forever and someone will be left to care for our patients. We may as well teach them the right way the first time!