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Nurses 'Eat their Young?!'

First Year   (2,579 Views | 13 Replies)
by HMendee HMendee (New) New

201 Profile Views; 2 Posts

I'm preparing to graduate nursing school and move into the workforce as a professional nurse. I'm so excited but the closer it gets the more nervous I become. I've heard the phrase 'Nurses eat their young.' A lot lately. The phrase implying that the more experienced nurses aren't helping and like watching the new nurses struggle. I've also heard the first year of nursing is very difficult. Help! Any advice or tips/tricks on surviving the first year as an RN would be super helpful. Thank you!

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Tweety has 28 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

3 Followers; 28,999 Posts; 48,505 Profile Views

It's a vile phrase that has been out there for decades and is largely a myth.

There is a movement spearheaded by Nurse Blake that perpetuates this myth but also is calling on experienced nurses to be more supportive. So this might be why you are hearing it more these days.

Sign The Pledge: Nurses Support Their Young | Nurse.org

Nursing is a tough and demanding profession and that first year is indeed tough, especially in hospitals. When orientation is over, it's over, and it's time to put on your big person clothes and bite the bullet and get out there and work. Nurses are deep in their own heavy patient loads and often don't have the time to be helpful and supportive. Don't take this to mean that they enjoy watching you sink.

Yes, there are some bad nurses out there and sensitive new grads come across one bad moment and then say "nurses eat their young!!!" which brands every single nurse, and the profession, and that's not fair.

Work hard, ask for help when you need it as busy floor nurses can't read your mind and know when you are drowning and need help, but they aren't going to do your work for you or hold your hand.

Good luck!!

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dianah has 45 years experience as a ADN and specializes in Cath Lab/Radiology.

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As Tweety states, this phrase has been around a long time.

We have many threads referring to it here at allnurses.com.

I did a search and found at least three.

You may be able to pick up some tips from them on making the transition from new grad to more-seasoned nurse:

https://allnurses.com/nurse-colleague-patient/why-do-nurses-986752.html

https://allnurses.com/general-nursing-discussion/define-nurses-eating-118257.html

https://allnurses.com/general-nursing-discussion/nurses-that-eat-1008659.html

A lot has to do with your attitude and also with the climate/culture in which you are working.

Wishing you all the best in this learning curve (it's different than book learning!).

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4 Followers; 1,485 Posts; 7,736 Profile Views

Not at all a myth, very true in my experience.

If you get in with bullies, my suggestion is to not be at all intimidated and leave as soon as you can.

One tip I do have. Never accept any vague criticism. If someone has something negative to say about you, be calm and keep asking questions about the specific behavior that they observed. Do not settle for statements like "You don't know your nursing process" or " you didn't handle Mr Jones correctly". That won't help you at all.

You may find the person criticising has some genuinely useful information, and if that is the case, thank them.

Or maybe they don't, at which point your questions will make them squirm.

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Emergent has 25 years experience.

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I think that the perpetuation of this stereotype is harmful. It causes people to see bullying under every rock. Every sigh or slightly critical remark by an older nurse is interpreted as eating young.

Bullying can go in both directions in nursing. I've also seen young nurses form cliques that are very disrespectful of older nurses.

So much depends on the culture of the unit. There are definitely some toxic ones.

Good luck with your career!

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KelRN215 has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Pedi.

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I think that the perpetuation of this stereotype is harmful. It causes people to see bullying under every rock. Every sigh or slightly critical remark by an older nurse is interpreted as eating young.

Yes, this. Any kind of criticism is not "bullying."

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Julius Seizure specializes in Pediatric Critical Care.

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In general, nurses are like the rest of humankind. Some are friendly, some are not. No different than any other field that you might enter.

There are many helpful and supportive "veteran" nurses out there. Set yourself up for success by showing that you value their experience and want to learn from them.

Also, YES the first year is hard! But you can make it through (If I can, anybody can!) Persevere. And try your best to bloom where you are planted (AKA stay at least a year), even if it isn't your dream job.

Edited by Julius Seizure

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380 Posts; 3,445 Profile Views

I personally like my young lightly roasted and sprinkled with salt before eating them personally

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kbrn2002 has 25 years experience as a ADN, RN and specializes in Geriatrics.

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Entry level nursing is a beast, that first year or so often has a brutal learning curve. I've noticed recently that more new nurses are entering the workforce woefully unprepared for the realities of real world nursing than used to be the case. Just the simple fact that a new nurse needs a lot more on the job training than in the past can cause strain on the senior staff that need to help the newer nurse thrive. Not all those senior nurses are able to cheerfully accomplish that task. I don't think that the intention at all is to "eat their young" but it might seem that way when a new nurse is getting pushed harder and faster than they are prepared for.

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Julius Seizure specializes in Pediatric Critical Care.

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Triddin said:
I personally like my young lightly roasted and sprinkled with salt before eating them personally

If you decide to eat your old, too, I suggest marinating them overnight first to help tenderize the crusty parts.

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TriciaJ has 39 years experience as a RN and specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

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kbrn2002 said:
Entry level nursing is a beast, that first year or so often has a brutal learning curve. I've noticed recently that more new nurses are entering the workforce woefully unprepared for the realities of real world nursing than used to be the case. Just the simple fact that a new nurse needs a lot more on the job training than in the past can cause strain on the senior staff that need to help the newer nurse thrive. Not all those senior nurses are able to cheerfully accomplish that task. I don't think that the intention at all is to "eat their young" but it might seem that way when a new nurse is getting pushed harder and faster than they are prepared for.

I agree with this. There seems to be a bigger disconnect between nursing school and actual nursing. It makes for a brutal first year or two out of school and it's easy to blame the people who are in closest proximity - your new coworkers. The blame really lies with nursing schools who don't adequately prepare their graduates for the realities of the work place and with hospital administrators who want to squeeze every erg out of every nurse.

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39 Posts; 651 Profile Views

"Stay out of drama" is the best advice I was ever given by a seasoned nurse!

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