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"Nurses Eat Their Young"

Nurses   (1,491 Views | 20 Replies)

MBar1 is a RN and specializes in Med/Surg.

2 Articles; 997 Profile Views; 19 Posts

"Nurses eat their young".

I read this phrase in utter disappointment. I feel disappointment towards the destructive nature of this very sentiment. The idea that experienced nurses and their behavior towards students or novice nurses shape succeeding generations of front line nursing staff. We are, in this instance, the very people who hold the key to the fate of the profession. By "fate", I am not referring to its survival, but rather its vitality. 

Imagine going to work everyday with the expectation that the very last bit of self-confidence you had had would somehow, in someway be stripped away by a snarky comment or backhanded compliment. Now, dig a bit deeper and tack this onto the responsibilities of the job, the stresses that it brings, and the collaborative obligation you have to operate around others, who, according to your negative experiences, do not appear to want anything to do with you. Then, consider anyone in their right mind and the quality or quantity of motivation that they have to get up in the morning and do their job. Its a system waiting to fail. A bomb about to implode. Perhaps a nurse ready to give up and move on from the negativity. 

The origin of this phenomenon would be interesting to dissect in terms of its conception into the practice of nursing and how it was first perceived. But more importantly, the motivation that lies beneath this behavior is even more interesting. In my estimation the motivation can either be obligatory in nature or an unjust reality. Nurses can choose to behave less than optimally towards those with fewer miles under their belt purely due to the culture that has developed surrounding the "student" & "master" ideology. Perhaps the idea that "experience" trumps "knowledge" or weighs more heavily in favor of time spent in practice is what sparks the fire (so to speak) in response to an underlying fear of powerlessness by way of the knowledge that the novice brings. I suspect that its a bit of both. A little bit of influence from nursing culture and a hint of our own fear apparently makes for a poor or sub-optimal experience for those who will proceed the next generation of nurses. But I digress. 

What is more troubling to me is that in a very nonsensical way we are contributing to the degradation of the profession. In other words, we are being our own worst enemies. Allowing the unnecessary torment of the novice nurse will lead to burnout, resignation, poor mental health (confidence, self image, etc), and a level of vitality that continues to suffer one jaded nurse at a time. 

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Orion81RN has 7 years experience.

816 Posts; 8,178 Profile Views

I don't think the topic is really as deep as you think it is. I believe nurse bullies would be bullies in any career they chose. I didn't really agree with this before, but I now do believe this happens in every career path. Looking back, when I worked in a non healthcare office setting, I worked with some of the witchiest people ever with seniority complexes. I also remember working 3 days at a movie theater at 18 where the manager, a 40+ year old man, was truly a bully. My 3rd night there, I left my shift saying thank you to him, for helping train me that day. (I didn't truly mean it. I was just being nice. He was an arse and didn't teach me squat.) His response? "You don't thank me. I thank you." Trying to put me in my place. Yeah, I told him, this isn't going to work out, and quit.

It occurs in every career path. It does not, however, occur in every job setting, bc good managers actually exist and don't allow for that type of toxic environment.

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klone has 14 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Women's Health/OB Leadership.

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Yep. There are toxic people everywhere. IME, it doesn't happen any more frequently in nursing than any other profession. Most people, in my experience, are nice.

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7 Followers; 3,345 Posts; 23,327 Profile Views

Yeah, I wish we could retire this old saw and call it what it really is, “lots of people suck and you might end up working with them”.

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Jedrnurse has 25 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in school nurse.

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"Imagine going to work everyday with the expectation that the very last bit of self-confidence you had had would somehow, in someway be stripped away by a snarky comment or backhanded compliment."

Yeah, there are sure some nasty ones in nursing. And for some reason they not only stay but thrive in their places of employment.

BUT...in some cases, it's not NETY, it's people with fragile egos (see your quote above) and snowflake-lack of internal fortitude who conflate anything not presented in a sweetness and light manner as bullying.

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JadedCPN has 13 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Pediatrics, Pediatric Float, PICU, NICU.

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2 hours ago, Wuzzie said:

Yeah, I wish we could retire this old saw and call it what it really is, “lots of people suck and you might end up working with them”.

If this was the title of a book, it would be on the New York Time's Best Seller's list.

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CharleeFoxtrot has 7 years experience as a ADN, RN.

582 Posts; 6,728 Profile Views

22 hours ago, Wuzzie said:

Yeah, I wish we could retire this old saw and call it what it really is, “lots of people suck and you might end up working with them”.

20 hours ago, JadedCPN said:

If this was the title of a book, it would be on the New York Time's Best Seller's list.

I think it needs to be on a T shirt too. I've had more than a few careers and I've encountered bullies in each and every one of them. "What does not kill us makes us stronger" was my motto for decades. I do think there is more light on the subject now, which is a good thing.

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Tenebrae has 8 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Mental Health, Gerontology, Palliative.

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I like mine with aoli or tomato sauce

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Tenebrae has 8 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Mental Health, Gerontology, Palliative.

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People are ********, IMO, the best way we can counter that ************* is by being kind, and building people up rather than tearing them down

But this happens in any area in society not necesarily just in nursing

Be kind. 

Not rocket science and IMO takes way less effort than being an ***

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1,703 Posts; 17,760 Profile Views

Why do you believe this is true?

Any reason to think bullying is more prevalent in nursing than anywhere else?

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AceOfHearts<3 specializes in Critical care.

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I’ve worked on a couple units in a couple hospitals and there has been no eating of the young in any of the places. I’m in critical care where we have very opinionated type A personality nurses, where I feel like eating the young would be more prevalent if it were an issue, and it isn’t. 

I agree with the above posters- some people just suck and sometimes we unfortunately work with them. It happens in every field/profession/job. 

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780 Posts; 12,927 Profile Views

I am in my 40th year of nursing and have never witnessed such a phenomenon as nurses eating their young (a grotesque term). I am manager of a large CVICU/ open heart unit responsible for a number of nurses, many of whom have years of critical care experience and several younger ones just starting out. I'm not responsible for sparking anyone's fire or for their self image. In the adult world of nursing nobody has time to hold your hand and wipe your tears every time somebody looks at you wrong.  Nurses who come in every day looking for bullies and expecting to be "eaten" usually weed themselves out, no need for intervention on our part. 

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