"Nurses Are So Mean"

I wish the phrase "nurses eat their young" had never been coined. Thirty some years ago when I was a new grad, the phrase hadn't yet been coined. When I had problems with my co-workers, I could only look at my own behavior. I was young, fresh off the farm and totally unprepared for my new job as a nurse.

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  • Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

You are reading page 19 of "Nurses Are So Mean"


159 Posts

annmarie, age 58, NP for 15 years, nurse for over 25 years,

I agree with many of the opinions, but there does seem to be a little defensiveness in some of the comments.

Here is my take on this, as a 'seasoned nurse of age 58'. I was once a young and attractive nurse, and naive. I had a preceptor who was almost ready to retire, walked with a limp, I'm sure was in constant pain, and mercilessly tortured me. Why? I don't know. I almost quit nursing because of her. She picked on me, was rude to me, singled me out. It was the associate director of the program ( who I went to in tears when this 'sourpuss' dismissed me from clinical one day for being unprepared - notwithstanding the fact I had just had a death in the family and still showed up) that talked me into staying.

Through the years there have always been 'the young and entitled' - and this pertains to med students as well, whom I have had the privilege of herding during clinic. The young and entitled cannot do more than one thing at a time, get upset when you ask them to do a second thing - because it's just too much, or they were'nt expecting it ' like 'see another patient? but I haven't presented this first patient yet?' - but more like this will cut into their gossip session or internet surfing time.

But let's not overlook the fact that there is still serious incivility present in our academic institutions and workplace. Not only incivility - there is violence as well. Recently in the news there was a shooting in a hospital in CT where an elderly patient pulled out a gun and attempted to shoot a nurse - a male nurse, a former military man, jumped to the rescue, and was shot in the leg and disarmed the patient.

There is real violence and real incivility in our society. Bad things happen to all of us. But as professionals, we should leave it at home, and put on our professional demeanor, and NOT take it out on our patients, our co-workers, or family members.

If things are that bad, please go to EAP and sort things out. It's not ok to dump on other people. Yes, it happens, but as the saying goes, it all just trickles down. . . and creates a really bad workplace mileau.

Let's not make excuses for being 'martyrs' or being the perpetrators of incivility. I think nurses, as professionals, are much better than that.

Stiff upper lip, smile, then go to the gym. Join a kick boxing club, and kick the crap out of a bag. Not your patients, your co-workers, or your loved ones. It just won't do. And don't forget that humor is the stress reliever of all.


Amen!! :-)


14 Posts

I am a "seasoned" nurse who has been nursing now for 20 years, and I've only had 2 jobs in my nursing career, and I am here to tell you there ARE alot of mean nurses( in the coworker sense) out there, but also some great ones. I currently work with a fellow nurse (even more seasoned than I am) who makes my life torture with her rudeness and bullying, to the point that I've actually asked her to stop, then later address it with administration who basically told me to handle it myself but let her know if it continued even though I had already talked to this person, so I'm still in the same boat. This person talks about me to my coworkers, counts my meds., it's virtually harrassment. Other people complain about this nurse's behavior behind her back, but don't stand up to her because they're afraid she'll start trouble for them as well. Of course some days are better than others, but my point is, it's not the even just the new nurse who is getting bullied, but seasoned nurses do as well. I think there needs to be a "no tolerance" policy for bullying and maybe even more focus on this in nursing school...perhaps even a course focusing on this issue, then maybe it will begin to change. I also feel that employers need to actually care about this issue as well. It's sad that people who are in the art of caring would treat eachother this way. So, I'm not trying to be a "whiner", just telling you my experience.

What is wrong with management that they can not control this sort of thing? It is infuriating. I keep to myself now totally. I help my co-workers but you will never hear me chatting or ever speaking about anything besides the patients and their needs and our work. Of course...THIS behavior has started a whole new round of gossip about me. "why isn't she social, why doesn't she chat with us, she only talks to the docs.... etc"...(yes, because the physicians don't play this stupid game).

I look forward to moving away from the med-surg environment into ICU world. I hear there is much less of this there. It is too bad, because I really like med-surg. There are not a lot of RNs who like med-surg; I could have been a great asset if my nasty co-workers could have overlooked my good looking a$$. The med-surg world has just lost a great nurse because of their MEAN culture. Hello...ICU!!!!


42 Posts

Has 5 years experience.

im 28 and a very experienced nurse with a masters degree. Some really SNOTTY stuck up nurses can be just catty and uncalled for.

Specializes in Med-Surg. Has 42 years experience.

I love your article!! I feel the same way & wish co-workers would not "take it personally ", but they do. Nursing can be very stressful & I understand that & don't take it personal when I clearly know it's not you personally, just the stress of the job. Good read!! Thanks.


47 Posts

It's not much better online, you show one ounce of being a human being and you get criticized and ridiculed and/or have rude comments about your actions.

I have tried multiple times to get advice from people on this site and every time most the time its ignored or I'm treated like I don't know what I'm doing...