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

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You are reading page 7 of Nurses Eating Their Young

Doc Lori, R.N.

6 Articles; 135 Posts

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

PCU, nursing is beyond hard work, and nurses are energetically authentic, meaning there are certain attributes which lead one to become a healer, just as there are certain attributes which lead one to be an air traffic controller, an author, an accountant. Often, in my experience with my clients in my counseling practice ( all of my clients are nurses), nurses on some level seek their own healing by way of healing others. This is as a result of childhood issues, past life issues (if one resonates with such a concept), or both. Who knows what your preceptor is experiencing internally, personally, etc. However, my opinion is that her inability or lack of desire to address her issues is not your job! New grads deserve the best start. I hope you were able to find the validation of your own truths through that experience! Best wishes on your career, PCU!


347 Posts

Specializes in Oncology&Homecare.

Congratulations PCN,RN. It sounds like you are getting a lot of support from the rest of the nursing staff. You are learning a lesson from your "absent" preceptor. You will not repeat her mistakes when it is your turn to be a mentor. I agree with Doc Lori - her issures are not your problem. In time you will learn to handle the PCTs. It takes some practice. Good luck in your nursing career.:redpinkhe


117 Posts

I know this was written a while ago, but this was great. It just helped me understand some things I was beginning to become discouraged by....thank you!

Specializes in ICU, Home health/hospice/infusion, CM.

I have used this phrase many times before myself, but I see it in another realm as well. what happens when the nurse coming on the next shift discovers you have made an error, or even you tell her/him of your error? what happens to the nurses who make mistakes, albeitly innocently? instead of an educational opportunity for enlightening the nurse usually it is a bash session and the nurse is "written up"!! oh my:rolleyes:. so many times a new nurse, whether it is in experience or just new to the job, does not get a proper orientation and they have to learn by fire. then later on the learning experience or orientation time is gone and the nurse is still behind trying to catch up to where she needs to be.

so many times I see this happen and have even been the recipient.

education is the empowerment for these nurses and we as experienced and supervisory nurses need to remember this and help them learn. we are not sharks for crying out loud and these nurses need all the help they can get in the world we practice in now.

thanks for your insights in this matter and hopefully this is more food for thought for the rest of us.



112 Posts

Its always daunting when you start a new job as a Registered Nurse. When you go to a team that is established, its like initially YOU have to try and fit in and get to know the dynamics of the team. You have to know who is approachable, who is shirker (the one who never seems to do their job), the one who is on the management side etc, all sorts of characters. As for perception of older nurses eating their young - that is NOT always true, sometimes those whom are the same age etc may eat their young. I.E more experienced vs the newly qualified who may not be confident. Also if you are friendly, polite then people wont unapproachable to you. Sometimes if people seem reluctant to help you - it could be that THEY are lacking in confidence at times. I have seen it with experienced nurses - who maybe experience a lack of confidence at times - maybe a clinical situation as exposed their weakness in that particular area etc. Its not always about not wanting to help.

Psychtrish39, BSN, RN

1 Article; 290 Posts

Specializes in MDS RNAC, LTC, Psych, LTAC.
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.

My God that is awful if it wasn't for the nurses with years of experience at my first nursing job as an RN I wouldnt have lasted a year. I learned so much and even now when i am at a crossroads in my career, I think back to those nurses at Freeman Health System in Joplin Missouri and they are one of the reasons I keep trying to look for that sense of teamwork and we are all in it together in other jobs . I have never found it again. It has been worse since working long term care but as in all things people are people but I have consistently had more responsibility and have made more money over the years and I have never bullied anyone but I have been. I have seen that in nursing students before that attitude and I have told them. Yes there is book knowledge and then there is the real world. They will find out and if they are like that they wont last because they are going to mess up major. Arrogance is the enemy in our line of work. We learn to be nurses from other nurses not the NCLEX or a book. :heartbeat


20 Posts

Sometimes people is this field are just sociopathic. I know, I had one as a teacher for classrooms/clinicals. She constantly berated me, telling me in class "I don't like your face, why don't you just quit" in front of all the other students. She put me on clinical probation (the only student in our class to be put on it) for shoes that were not white enough. Except half the other students and *her* shoes were not as white as my shoes. Often she would tell me she could just fail me out for anything because I was now on probation. She extended that probation to the end of the term, even though I followed every single thing she asked of me and it was only supposed to last for two weeks. She laughed and said she did it "just because I can, I can fail you out anytime". She kept making the tests harder and harder, eventually failing out half the class. She let me know she was disappointed I was not one of them, while delighting openly in the fact that many students left in tears. Even though I got some of the highest grades, she told me I was stupid. Constantly. Never a word of praise or encouragement. Not once.

In clinicals she was even worse, a nightmare. She would wait until I was alone with an elderly patient who could not speak, but was alert. Them she would start screaming at me in front of the patient, berating me once again for my 'failings', often to the point they would cry. I had to comfort these patients for her abuse, while minimizing how I felt inside. Other patients and staff would ask me what was her problem with me, it was that obvious. My teacher would often say "I don't understand why the patients and staff like you so much." Like the whole world should hate me because she did. She would have me wait for her for a dressing down after clinicals or class (nobody else went through this) . She would have me wait a hour, just standing in the hallway, nothing to do. She would smirk and again the "just because I can" before once again, telling me how dumb I am. I would take her 'advice', change the way I was doing something, then the next day or week she would say I was wrong and change it again, after another wait in the hall. I never did anything right for her. She would seem dismayed when I would show up day after day, even asking why do I keep coming back.

The last day of clinicals for that term, I was assigned a patient who was a retired RN. At the end of the day, after my teacher had a long private chat with her, the patient called in into her room. She whispered to me that my teacher had completely trashed me, and tried to get the patient to make up a violation to get me kicked out of the program. That wonderful patient told me in her opinion as an RN, I was a great nurse, and to do my best to stay away from my teacher, as it was obvious she couldn't stand me. I was just floored and could only mumble that I was sorry she was put in this position while she was in this hospital to heal, not to deal with drama. I was so angry at my teacher for doing this to patients.

She 'failed' me on clinicals by two points, but allowed me to go on with the program (I think because she couldn't justify failing me on the books, I received the highest grades in the comprehensive term exams). So she just said I passed anyway, even though I was terrible. She had to have that power, since she couldn't fail me in class. Most of the class couldn't stand her, she was mean to everyone, just me the worse. This unfortunately set the pace with the next teacher, who continued the abuse, but not as bad. Again, my grades and the fact "patients and staff really like you" carried me though.

But here is, as the late Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story:

After I graduated and received my license, I ran into that teacher at a public event. She took one look at me and ran as fast as she could, ran to her car and got away. I think she was terrified now that she was not in 'control' of me/the situation. (And no, I did not threaten her, but I did approach her: I was going to ask why?)

Her response to me was so odd, I knew something was wrong, so I went home and researched her on the internet. And what I found out stunned me: she was in trouble for domestic violence against her own elderly mother!!! And also some domestic violence problems for another person that I don't know the relationship with. Domestic Violence against the elderly. No wonder she would like to abuse me in front of the helpless patients (she did this with another student too). She was worse with the older students such as myself. I don't know why she still has her nursing license and how she's even allowed the teach. I also heard that the reviews our few remaining class members gave of her to the admin led to a 'talking to' and supposedly she was nicer to the next class. I still think she's a sociopathic monster, she's playing the game now, and will revert back to her real self as soon as she feel safe.

I do know that something else (besides my higher power) that got me though that horrible time was the alternative nursing clinical instructors I had, they were so nice and helpful and actually praised the work I did (yes, that was the only time I cried). That month with them was the best time I had in clinicals, I could actually ask a question and knew I wouldn't be blasted. I felt empowered as a student nurse.

But yes, some nurses seek to eat their young. Half that class failed, or had emotional breakdowns and left the program. I am just really starting to recover from that experience, it scarred me and placed serious doubts about my abilities. Finding out that teacher's criminal history has helped a lot for my recovery. It really happens, this abuse. I read about the abusive nurses and wonder about their private lives now. I am so glad there are such articles and resources available, as they have helped me to recover, and to believe I can be a good nurse.

Music in My Heart

1 Article; 4,109 Posts

Specializes in being a Credible Source.
Sometimes people is this field are just sociopathic.






You name a field and it's got its share of whack-job jerks.


16 Posts

This is a very good article and does bring to light the fundamental issues in our job. I do think the intent of the article is to bring to light the fear, the frustration and the million emotions we feel everyday on the job. They are not necessarily all negative and directed at the fresh grad. They just exist due to the nature of the job and any nurse who doesn't get this ony needs to 'keep living." In that same vein, if someone is having a bad day, help or at least leave them alone. Who hasn't had a day from hell. May I also point out that some of this empathy which we show our patients everyday needs to be directed at each other. The workplace will certainly be a better place if we showed each other a tenth of the compassion we show our patients. Finally if I hear one more time about how nurses should not be concerned about money, I'm going to jump up and down on my laptop. Nurses are not little ruby faced angels in white. We are people with families, car loans, students loans, children etc etc you get the picture. Some of us are in it for the money! Yes I just went there. There is nothing wrong with expecting an honest day's pay for an honest day's work and this does not take away anything from how well you do your job. Please lets give ourselves a break, we deserve it.


16 Posts

Sometimes people is this field are just sociopathic.

Reading this post, I have one question; What school was this again? This is clearly not a case of anyone eating their young but a lady who needed psychiatric help. Why did the faculty not see this and why did a class full of intelligent young people who will hopefully become leaders and patient advocates someday collectively accept this type of treatment??

Specializes in med/surg/tele/LTC/homecare/correctional/.

As a new grad and an experienced nurse, I have been eaten alive time and again by the preceptor. I had one nursing instructor who was a nightmare. I went on for 10 years straight , but I dont think I ever fully recovered of being stripped of my confidence time and again, put down, made to feel stupid, treated like a student after 7 years in the field, let go over minor minor issues, or simply "not being a good fit." Until this profession stops destroying itself from the inside out, it will continue to be a complete joke.

Ruby Vee, BSN

47 Articles; 14,024 Posts

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.
as a new grad and an experienced nurse, i have been eaten alive time and again by the preceptor. i had one nursing instructor who was a nightmare. i went on for 10 years straight , but i dont think i ever fully recovered of being stripped of my confidence time and again, put down, made to feel stupid, treated like a student after 7 years in the field, let go over minor minor issues, or simply "not being a good fit." until this profession stops destroying itself from the inside out, it will continue to be a complete joke.

if you've been having the same bad experience over and over again and lost multiple jobs over "minor issues" or "not being a good fit" i suspect there's more going on than "being eaten alive." please do yourself a favor and take some time for some major self-examination. in all of these experiences, the common denominator is you. until you figure out what you are contributing to the problem, it will continue to happen over and over again.

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