Nursing culture


Some of the kindest people I have ever met have been nurses. However, some of the nastiest and most underhanded people I have ever met have been nurses, too. I know that backstabbing happens everywhere, but why is it so prevalent in nursing, especially hospital nursing? Is it the kind of people that are attracted to the profession or is the problem rooted in the the hospitals or management? I'm curious. Just wanted to throw this question out there.

Wise Woman RN

289 Posts

People are just people, some nice, some nasty, and that is the case wherever you go. I think that the expectations of nurses are a little bit higher, though, and maybe that is why there is the thought that there are lots of mean nurses... I really think that there are more nice ones, but the not so nice ones perhaps have a little more shock value.

leslie :-D

11,191 Posts

i think all of us (the nice and not-so-nice) respond to stress in different ways.

given the pervasively toxic work environment that many are exposed to, i truly believe this brings out the worst in some nurses.

and rather than targeting their frustration/angst against tptb (the rightful target), it is displaced and innocent victims are attacked.

most of us will conduct ourselves w/professionalism and class.

but those few who have to make it miserable for everyone, will do so...

and do so proficiently.

so much, that they are the ones who stand out, since their venom affects so many.

in summary, you're given an impossible workload.

the good guys will buck up and give their personal best.

the not-so-good guys, make it a living hell for the rest of us.

stay strong, and stay true to yourself and your values.

the not-so-nice may have won a battle, but they certainly haven't won the war.

when all is said and done, goodness prevails.


JustEnuff2BDangerous, BSN, RN

1 Article; 137 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg/Oncology. Has 2 years experience.

In my experience, mean nurses usually = burnt out nurses, if they are habitually mean.

We're human, and sometimes your one and only exposure to a certain nurse just so happens to be on the day where everything in his/her life is going wrong that day. As leslie said, people react to stress in different ways.. Some people can handle it well externally, and some people can't.

Also, nurses tend to eat their young. For some reason there is a lot of hostility from a lot of veteran nurses towards the newbies. Not sure if its an insecurity on the veteran's part or, again, they may just be burnt out.

Nurses are typically held to a higher standard (or pedestal) because of the work that we are the embodiment of. People expect all nurses to be loving, compassionate, protective souls with inexhaustible patience and limitless self-control, and if some nurse deviates even slightly from that mental vision, the nurse is knocked down significantly more rungs on the respect ladder than someone else of a different profession might be.

Just my opinions :)

Specializes in ER/ICU/Flight. Has 18 years experience.

the above posts are right. to add to it, i'd say that whenever we're working with people who are negative/not nice/downright hateful at times....that's when we have an opportunity to "kill them with kindness".

i'm not trying to be naive or suggest being sickeningly sweet, but i always go out of my way to smile, say "hey, how you doing today?" or "wow, looks like you guys had a tough shift" to EVERYBODY. especially the ones who occasionally get on people's last nerve.

i know these are things that most of us do all day/everyday, but i've personally seen it turn a lot of people around who were famous (or maybe notorious) for being rude and hateful. their attitudes definitely changed for the better and it's made all of our work environments a happier place to be.

if we have good morale then we can get through the worst times, but if our morale is low, then even the good times will beat us down.

leslie :-D

11,191 Posts

Also, nurses tend to eat their young. For some reason there is a lot of hostility from a lot of veteran nurses towards the newbies. Not sure if its an insecurity on the veteran's part or, again, they may just be burnt out.

:chuckle thank you for this.

your entire post was spot on, except for the above.

but for some reason, i could only chuckle.

maybe because my oldest boy is 19, and while not very close to 23, i could still see my son (the pretend nurse) coming home after his 1st wk on the job.

we're talking about his day when he tells me that old nurses tick him off...

that they feel insecure/jealous of the newbies, and they're all a burnt-out bunch of old, angry women.

so when i envisioned myself dopeslapping his head x 5, it made me chuckle.




1 Article; 1,905 Posts

Humanity is an interesting dichotomy of good and bad. This is not unique to nursing. I met saints of human beings in Afghanistan while in the same environment, I saw taxi drivers load their cars with explosives and blow themselves up during the morning rush hour.

locolorenzo22, BSN, RN

1 Article; 2,396 Posts

Specializes in Ortho, Neuro, Detox, Tele.

I think that it is the same in every profession where you have x hours to get the tasks done that you HAVE suck it up, get things done, or you just expect everyone else to follow and pick up ur slack.

It is a expected part of your job to have the duties you MUST do every 1-2 hours(meds, check in on patients, cover issues, double check charts, charting), plus the extra suprise things that occur.

some nurses expect that you will always get everything taken care of, because you always do, and that you NEVER have a bad night. I sometimes am perceived as "mean", because I expect fellow professionals to recognize the basics of nursing care, and give the same 100% I give. When your patient hasn't seen a nurse for 4 hours, that's a problem to me.

It happens....sometimes people are grumpy gus' and you can't do a thing about it....I always tell myself that when the bad days outweigh the good..time to move on.

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