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.

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Music in My Heart

2 Articles; 4,102 Posts

Specializes in being a Credible Source. Has 13 years experience.

Personally, I will not tolerate bullying in my presence.

We should hold ourselves accountable to speak up against the bullying mentality that some nurses choose to perpetrate on the newer and/or younger members of their staffs.


9 Posts

Great article! The first time I heard this phrase I got really intimidated but thinking that, I shouldn't have to feel that way. I knew from being in past clinicals that that are amazing nurses and some that won't give you the time of day. I think that it is important to be confident in your skills as a nurse because I think that is what helps new nurses not feel intimidated. As long as you're confident and strong. and as long as you know that asking questions doesnt mean you're can show how great you are. It sucks because those nurses were once students cmon!

I was the victim of just the opposite.

I was given a new nurse to be preceptor for, and let me tell you, it was pure hell! This girl was something else. She had the arrogance to stand at the nurses station and make comments such as "well, maybe you older nurses should retire, your skills are SOOOO out of date with the newest technologies and nursing thoughts". This girl had graduated with her RN only weeks before, no clinical experience to speak of, but BOY the attitude! The worst of it was, most of her graduating class had the same attitude.

The school they attend really pushes the GPA and "book learning". They teach the RN's all the latest "technologies". Problem was, none of these graduates had a lick of common sense, compassion, or understanding of human interaction.

We all breathed a collective breath, went to our mental "happy place", and tried our best to instill a little bit of wisdom into these new nurses. We were kind, patient, very professional and open to the new nurses. We continually let them know if they had any questions, or insights to share with us, we were more than open. We were treated with disdain and outright hositility in some cases.

It was 6 weeks of hell. Every attempt the senior nurses made at teaching them a common sense approach or skill (you know, the little "tricks of the trade") was scoffed at, sneered at, or outright laughed at.

I'm not sure if it was a product of their generation, or the product of their particular nursing school they attended. Needless to say, I will not again mentor another nursing student from that school.

By the end of the 6 weeks, the morale of our staff was at an all time low. We were made to feel inferior, out of date, used up and obsolete.

The new nurses missed a wonderful opportunity to learn a few things, teach a few things, and gain knowledge from the "old timers" who paved the way for them to be there in the first place. Us "battle axes" (yes we were actually called that by many of the new nurses), could have also learned some new skills from the nurses, had they the forsight to teach us. They were too busy scoffing, sneering, and laughing.

Their loss. Unfortunately, our loss also.


37 Posts

Specializes in med/surg and adult critical care. Has 18 years experience.


Those new nurses have what I call "Nursitis,"....bigger than life egos in their roles as nurses. When the **** hits the fan...these nurses have no clue what to do and guess what they have to run to us "old battleaxes." I have precepted new nurses who act like the ones you write about in your post. My mentality is that these close interactions with this new, smart*** nurses is brief...only a few weeks.... I also agree with you that some of the attitudes come from a generation that does not have any respect for tradition, experience, or authority...makes for a bad combination if this goes on long term....


20,964 Posts

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 26 years experience.

I learn much both from "older" nurses who have 20 or more years on me AND new nurses, who DO bring in new, fresh ideas and perspective. A little respect on both sides goes a LONG way. EVERYONE has something to teach us. Including our patients.

---deb an "in between" nurse of 13 years' experience


6,011 Posts

Specializes in ORTHOPAEDICS-CERTIFIED SINCE 89. Has 30 years experience.

I love students and new grads. I can think of only a few who got under my skin: the one girl who said someone else would have to give her baths because the water was irritating her hands and besides she was an RN (I guess I wasn't?) And one girl who'd never worked as an RN though she had had her license several years. We had a man who was a street person in with some illness. I told him he couldn't have his pain medicine yet as it was not time. She got all over me that he deserved medication, he couldn't help he was an alcoholic etc.....all I had said was it wasn't time and he said he understood.

Otherwise I had pretty good experiences over 35 years with coworkers. Now managers........hmmmm. Another tale for another day.

PS I am from the South and all females of southern persuasion are girls to me....I am a girl at 65, so there.


1,024 Posts

Specializes in Peds Medical Floor. Has 12 years experience.

HockeyMom -

Nooo it's not a generational thing. (I'm assuming it was recent so I'd be a part of that generation...) Too bad you would have been risking your patients and couldn't just toss them in a scary situation. Someone like that would probably charge ahead instead of asking for help when they need it.


62 Posts

Hockeymom, I would like to see those type of girls being precepted by the experienced really mean nurses to see the outcome of that!!


11 Posts

Thank You! This was so perfectly written & is so much the truth! Ever one of us should embrace this!


9 Posts

Specializes in hospice, pediatric oncology.

From my experience in nursing (10 years), nurses have been their own worst enemies and nothing is changing. For the most part, I found that the longer a person had been a nurse, the colder and more judgemental they became. Sitting at the nurses' station gossiping and talking behind the newer nurses' backs was common when I worked at one of the best known hospitals in the world in pediatric oncology. When a child died, I cried as a nurse, mother, and human being. I was told to "pull myself together" by the hardened nurses who had been there too long. You don't have to cry to show you care, but it seems to me that it's a natural response to the loss of a promising young life and the agony of the family. There was never a family member who was upset about seeing genuine emotion. I had to finally leave that job because of the people I worked with, my fellow nurses, not the patients I loved so dearly, their parents, or the doctors. Later working in home hospice, it was the nurses that made my job difficult. When a patient was having difficulty, my supervisor told me more than once to "go put a pillow over his face". The jerks in the office thought that was hilarious. Nursing is largely a female dominated profession, and it is sad to see that back-biting, nonconstructive criticism, competitive natures, and superiority complexes are the nature of the atmosphere. You are told that if you care you will "burn out". I'll take my chances because as a mother of five children and the daughter and granddaughter of elderly people, when my family needs help, I want one of my kind of nurses, not theirs. I want a nurse who is up to date on best care practices, cares about all aspects of care - physical, emotional, spiritual, family/caregiver involvement, and concern. I want what I should, the BEST! Nurses are trained to give it, but it fades in most cases. I'm sick of hearing that the resources to train new grads aren't available in this failing economy or that (as in my case), they don't have the staff to train a returning nurse. New grads have more recent education and training. Returning nurses take RN refresher courses. I did, and it was horrendous trying to learn 2,500 pages of nursing practice and A & P review in a semester, but I did and scored 98% on the final exam. I was praised by the nurses I shadowed, each for one day. Their hospital has no openings and a reference for one day is not going to help. I worked in 10 different units. I know what I can do, but I can't get a chance to do it. When it comes down to it, I could probably train some of the nurses who don't have the time to "show me the ropes". What we, who seek to work as nurses and do what we struggled through tough courses to become good at, need is to be shown where the resources are, what your names are, our password on the computer, where to park, how to put in for vacation, etc. The patient care part, the medication administration, dressing changes, health teaching, etc. I'm confident about. I'll put myself up against any nurse out there in a one on one Jeopardy type game about diseases, treatments, medication, and psychosocial issues in nursing, and probably win. I can't get my foot in the door because I stayed home for 13 years to raise 5 children and don't have/can't get RECENT EXPERIENCE! The ultimate irony has been that the OVER 450 jobs I've applied for since October, most of which I was never contacted about except for a computer generated response, "We received your application...", have netted 5 interviews. Every job I have not been chosen for was a decision made by a nurse. I'm trying to not give up but my kids need to eat.

Carol Cowan


2 Posts

This article meant a lot to me when I was studying to return to nursing. The bullying is one reason I left. I work on a palliative unit and one LPN tried to make my life hell, while everyone else was team focused and patient centred. She was moved to a less critical area. My head nurse has told me she appreciates how I nurture students and new nurses. Thanks for making me feel that I wasn't all alone.


24 Posts

Specializes in ED, Critical Care, Peds & Nursery.

Great points and it is bas as it fact the profession has often joked that nurses eat their young, as if it is a positive thing, a badge of strength and power. I agree that there is a fear component to this behavior and often the nurses that are guilty of being mean and unsupportive are insecure or lack confidence in their practice and a new fresh perspective threatens their reality. Do these nurses truly advocate for their patients? Do they promote clinical excellence and evidence-based practice? Do they work collaboratively with all healthcare members to ensure the best possible outcomes? I think experienced nurses are in a great position to grow and cultivate nursing practice and professionalism with new and even seasoned nurses. Unfortunately it is not only nurses that suffer, but patients also.