Nurses Eating Their Young

In homage to an allnurses member who wrote a wonderful article entitled "Nurses Are So Mean", I'd like to provide excerpts from my personal blog which I wrote not to long ago. I give enormous kudos and applause to the writer of this article, and I sincerely agree. It seriously is about taking the time to evaluate your self and your actions, and the rationales for your reactions. It is about looking inward... it is ultimately about personal growth and fulfillment. Nurses Relations Article


Nurses Eating Their Young

If you haven't read the article "Nurses Are So Mean", it is a great read.

Typically, when mammals eat their young, it is an instinct which satisfies dominance. There is a clear lack of emotional bond and attachment, so what creates their desire to dominate? The young are simply perceived as a threat, that's what. A threat to what, you ask? To the natural progression of things. To safety. To the way things 'should' be. Naturally, when referring to nurses who eat their young, they don't take a young-wet-behind-the-ears-new-graduate into the break room, season 'em up with condiments and literally ingest them. Or, shall I say, I hope not. Besides, this most probably requires the taking of a full lunch break, and who the heck has time for that.

Let's be rationale. For us human type mammals, it's safe to say that in this case, the word "eat" implies a sense of "control over", "I'll tell you a thing or two", and "who do you think you are bouncing in here all bright eyed and bushy tailed on my territory".

Guess what it really means?

In case this is your first experience reading my writing, I like to utilize the analogy of pretending we live in the stone age to get points such as these across with humor and candor.

Say you go to work your shift, and your manager indicates that perhaps they forgot to mention this to you, uh..but you are such a strong nurse that you are a new graduate's preceptor for the next 6 weeks. You are wearing a uni-shouldered Betty Rubble frock, and are armed with a club. You have a bone in your hair. You are introduced to Penelope Perky, R.N. Good grief, even her club is new and fancy. (Go figure, yours has been used a lot more). A Littman drapes around her delicate swan-like neck, worn much like the Queen's sash, having just been coronated. Her clogs, a pair of shiny white virgins never knowing the warm pleasures of vomit, MRSA, liquid stool and urine. Her new name tag doesn't even have one lousy drop of blood on it, yet. Penelope is eager, full of fresh ideas, channeling her inner Florence Nightingale, ready to change the world. HA! What does she know! Your eyes narrow into slits, your pupils are pinpoint. You raise your club in the middle of morning report, ready to pounce on the threat to all that is.

Hold it right there. Here is the time to evaluate. Because you are a cave-person, you only speak in grunts, only experience feelings viscerally. If you were to only have one word available to you to describe your reaction, what would it be? What color is it? 'Where' do you feel it?

Why is it that you feel the need to strike? You are evolved, intelligent and insightful. Go beyond the primal instinct to devour. What the heck is the problem here?

That evening when you are in Wilma's kitchen ready to make a pot of pterodactyl soup, boil this down also:

From my loving heart space to yours, I share this with you, clubs down. Fear is the basis of all outward emotion. Yes, Ms. Thang, Ms. I-can-catheterize-a-nun-in-the-dark, Ms. Go-to for all of your unit's tough blood draws, Ms. I am on first name basis with every physician who has practicing privileges within 500 miles. You are fearful. But, of what, and why?


  1. Fear of change
  2. Fear of actualizing skill sets which you need work on
  3. Fear of being perceived as something less than or inferior to who you would like to be perceived as
  4. Fear of a shift in the hierarchy of your unit
  5. Fear of having to address issues about why you respond to things in the manner which you do
  6. Fear of growth
  7. Fear of other's acceptance of and the embracing of new staff
  8. Fear of not being able to feel safe
  9. Fear of the unexpected
  10. Fear of aging

Be secure in who you are. Do self love and boundary work. Elevate your consciousness for the sake of embracing the goodness of all. Eliminate feelings of threat. Forgive past circumstances for causing you pain and heart ache. Love yourself enough to accomplish these things. You are worthy of the care which you provide to others. Be kind to new nurses. (They may have to give you an enema some day). Above all, always remember to Nurse Your Spirit!

Private practice and consulting. A healer at heart and in spirit.

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I enjoy helping our new nurses. They are eager to learn and they seem to appreciate any helpful knowledge you share. It's rewarding to see them smile after doing a procedure on their own while you observe. Train them well for they may be your nurse in the future.

Specializes in Dialysis,M/S,Home Care,LTC, Admin,Rehab.

Amen. Being with a new nurse is like looking at an old reflection of yourself in a mirror. If you stand firm in who you are, then you may be open to learning new things (about nursing), but primarily, yourself :)

Specializes in TNTM.

What a great article. We do need to examine why we would want to "eat our young." For myself I love new grads, all that enthusiasm and new knowledge seems to rub off and give new energy to everyone. I pray the eaters are in the minority as we so badly need this younger set to relieve the vast shortage.

Great article! I've seen it happen before, even while I was doing my clinical rotations. Some nurses just don't have tact or the ability to teach. Thank goodness for good/nice nurses!

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years).

"Fear is the basis of all outward emotion"

Doc Lori:

With all due respect, I beg to partially differ. One School of Thought (SOT) would say your statement is a half truth. True, in that, emotions are motivated by fear. However, emotions are also motivated by love. Basically, this SOT says that ALL emotions are motivated by love or fear. Every emotion is an extension of those two emotions.

Some may say that the opposite of love is hate. Not so, according to this SOT. Edgar Caycee said something to the effect that the basis of love and hate are both inspired by same emotion. That's a hard nut to crack, so allow me to put the concept in different terms.

Anger, for example, is due to fear of loss. Loss of control, for example. Fearing to possess control over a situation or an entity causes fear. Anything could happen without control. That fear of loss of control results in anger.

I could react in anger to your statement, express it in terms of fear, and say, "I'll not have you take away my concept of reality, bigod, Doc Lori!" I would fear that my seemingly stable perspective of reality was being challenged and vulnerable to extinction (or loss), if I can't support my premise.

Or, I could express it in terms of love by saying, "You know, as individuals, we each have our own opinion. I have a relatively good amount of self love. That self love allows me to have the energy to have empathy for you, my companion. I vicariously care for you as a human being. So, let's agree to disagree." Love is giving. I am giving of myself, in that, the important thing is not for me to be "right". The important thing is that we get along and continue our symbiotic relationship.

Just a minute. I gotta take a break. Push me into the shallow water.

I hope my premise didn't get lost in all my mumbo-jumbo. That premise was: "All emotions are a result of fear or love".

I'll be here all week, so if you have any future song requests, be sure to let me know. I can also dance.

Thank you and good night.

Specializes in Peds Medical Floor.

This sounds about right to me. I need to print this up and hang it on the bulletin board in the back of the nurses' station....Some of my coworkers like to go after the new people and I'm tired of their bullying ways. They did it to me; I was able to get past it. Some others have not.

Google the words Lateral Violence. This is a big deal in our profession and has been a pervasive factor forever. I can think of reasons why, but to remove this blight, it has to start in schools where it originates. Barinbass

Specializes in Dialysis,M/S,Home Care,LTC, Admin,Rehab.

Davey darling! Thanks for your sharing :) Now I better understand certain correspondences! :) The truth, or shall I say, my truth, is this:

There are many paths to one Truth. All paths are valid. All amounts of studying authors and figures will still only amount to your Truth. You will attract that which you need to at any moment. You will acknowledge only that which resonates with you at a particular time. Rather, a self fulfilled prophecy so to speak. You intuitively "know" something to be true, and you find authors or figures who sing to your tune, in a way, justifying your thought process. Sort of like.."ah ha! I am right"!

In my doctoral work, I read and read and read, wrote and wrote and wrote. After all of that, I learned this: I know what I know.

Yes! You could react with love or anger. At your junction on your path to Truth, you are certain enough in your "knowing" to respond in the manner in which you did.

With respect I say, I am honored that you have chosen to share yours! You know what works for you, I know what works for me. I embrace your viewpoint.

(Lori skips away, humming a strange song about cereal boxes )

Specializes in Dialysis,M/S,Home Care,LTC, Admin,Rehab.

ahaaa! You nut. I am laughing out loud like the loon that I am.