Nurses Eating Their Young is NOT Okay

I have read a few posts stating that "nurses eat their young" is okay and part of entering the nursing profession. I disagree... whole heartedly, adamently and passionately. This is never okay. Not even a little bit.


Nurses Eating Their Young is NOT Okay

Nursing is a very challenging profession. Effective nurses who make a difference in the lives of their patients and patient families, who collaborate with other nurses and those on a team and for those who want to affect positive change within the nursing profession use every part of who they are as a person. We use our critical thinking skills through objective and subjective data, we use our tactile skills and ability to manage complex equipment. We utilize communication skills and the ability to be compassionate and kind in the face of difficult situations... toward patients, families and the nurses who work with these patients and families. After pulling all of this together, we advocate for our patients and their families and support our fellow nurses in their feat to do the same.

In what world does a person come out of nursing school with all of the abilities above. None of us. This is a difficult process that takes time to understand and is an ability that is ever-growing with each experience and reflection about our experiences.

When there is an intention to "take someone down a notch" or "show them" what it means to be a nurse, my tolerance is null. This is called bullying behavior and it is real and not exaggerated in the minds of those experiencing it.

By exhibiting these behaviors, one chooses to prevent new nurses from asking questions and building knowledge and confidence within their practice. It is wrong and it is unkind to suppress knowledge toward these nurses and send them home feeling like failures. These new nurses are not failures. They graduated from accredited programs and passed the licensing board... just like you.

They come into our practice with current evidenced-based practice knowledge and with passion and enthusiasm for the nursing profession. How dare any seasoned nurse squelch this. We can learn from new nurses while teaching what we have learned through experience.

Furthermore, many of us learn by example. Those who use bullying behaviors are showing by example that after you take a new nurse down and then build them back to your standard (not their own), they in turn, will do the same to nurses entering the profession after them.

How do you expect our profession to grow and build the respect it deserves if you hold someone to your own personal standard?

I teach in an undergraduate nursing program. I have seen nurses I have taught go fast and furious beyond what I am doing at the bedside. I have my own agenda and am on my own path. I welcome the nurses I taught and teach to do their thing and set their own expectations. I would never set those expectations for them.

New nurses... go out into the nursing world with those idealistic views learned in nursing school. Stand by your values and never follow a crowd that does not follow your heart. You are capable of anything you want to achieve. There are those that can put a bump in your road and make your journey more difficult.

So be it. YOU are in charge of your destiny. You choose what you will accomplish and do in this world. YOU have the choice to follow in the steps of a bully or make your own path. Find those beautiful mentors that support you and in time, you will emulate them and give the same to others what they gave to you.

I know this because I have had and still have those mentors and have also had contact with those that choose bullying behaviors. I choose to emulate the beautiful people. Those are the people who have unknowinly advanced my practice... and I have chosen to provide the same support to nurses entering the profession.

Lets stick together and make the nursing profession what it is supposed to be. I support every new nurse out there. You do the same as you build your practice.

Related topics...

Why do nurses eat their young?

Nurses Eating Their Young, A Different Perspective

Watch Nurses eating their young video...

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klone, MSN, RN

14,572 Posts

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership. Has 17 years experience.

It is if there is a full array of tasty condiments and sides.


914 Posts

Specializes in Emergency Room, Trauma ICU. Has 5 years experience.

I've started a drinking game, a shot for every cry of NETY!!! I'll be under the table if anyone needs me!

TriciaJ, RN

4,296 Posts

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory. Has 42 years experience.

Something I learned long ago: if you take your work more seriously than you take yourself, you will not likely be that tasty a morsel. Bottoms up!

psu_213, BSN, RN

3,878 Posts

Specializes in Emergency, Telemetry, Transplant. Has 14 years experience.
I've started a drinking game, a shot for every cry of NETY!!! I'll be under the table if anyone needs me!

We can all meet at the Search Bar and start playing…oh wait, wrong thread.

psu_213, BSN, RN

3,878 Posts

Specializes in Emergency, Telemetry, Transplant. Has 14 years experience.

To the OP: you make some very good points, and NETY is not acceptable. The problem is, it is a very overused and abused phrase. Yes, in some instances NETY does occur. The problem is, there are some instances when the experienced nurse is trying to teach the new nurse. The experienced nurse may be blunt…he/she may not mince words, may not "pretty up" the message. Sometimes this is necessary in the high stakes world of nursing. However, this is not NETY. Too many times it is NETY is claimed on here when a younger nurse just does not like the message or how it was delivered. No one likes hearing they have substandard aspects of their practice, but sometimes new nurses (experienced nurses too!) need to be told that their practice is substandard and what they need to do to improve. Some of the best nurses are the ones who are able to take this as constructive criticism and grow from it rather than just turning to cries of "NETY" and "bullying."


372 Posts

Specializes in ED; Med Surg. Has 7 years experience.

I have kept my mouth shut about NETY for years. Going to open it now. The problem is not NETY or Nursing. This happens in EVERY profession. There is always going to be someone who gets pleasure from other's pain. That is called a sadist. There are some people who just like to "bully" for lack of a better phrase. And there are always those who are sensitive to criticism and think they are being bullied when in fact they are not.

It has nothing to do with nursing! This happens in every workplace.

Now I would like to join the game if it is not too late.

Specializes in HH, Peds, Rehab, Clinical. Has 4 years experience.

Seriously, are there no fresh dead horses to beat? Other than "is this a HIPAA violation?" there is nothing else that literally (and YES, I do actually) makes me groan out loud when I see the words.

Specializes in MICU, SICU, CICU. Has 24 years experience.

I think new nurses go through a phase of thinking that people in healthcare are going to be sensitive to their needs. It is a shock for young people to realize that the world can be a cruel hard place and not everybody cares about me and that people can be insensitive when the priority is on other people, really sick people. That is not bullying. That's is not nurses eating their young. It is the reality of working in a healthcare setting with constant pressure and poor staffing. We have all been short tempered at some point and said something not very nice.

I once made a new grad cry. I was somewhat annoyed because she left for a half an hour without telling anyone. I told her you need to let me know when you leave this unit. The house supervisor was notified by someone who was consoling her and wanted to know what I said to make her cry. ????

That girl is is now an excellent nurse.

Bullies do exist, they are insecure, dysfunctional people who enjoy making people feel unsafe, causing pain and destroying careers and reputations. Avoid avoid avoid. Nothing good can come from getting involved in that.

I tell my young ones that someone being curt is not bullying, let it go. I will keep you away from the wolves.

Has 33 years experience.

Crying is never acceptable. We are NURSES... we keep other people from crying.

I also ran OUT a new grad. She was describing the patient's physical condition.

"He has edamatoes." I burst out laughing.. from the joy of realizing she meant edematous.

She was so overly sensitive.. she started to cry and never came back. I had mentored her for awhile.. she had to know I was not mean- spirited.

Must wonder where she is now.

Specializes in Pediatrics, Emergency, Trauma. Has 18 years experience.
We can all meet at the Search Bar and start playing...oh wait, wrong thread.

We can set it up here. ;)