I got the urge to write this after our new nurse just had her first shift and she group-texted us to see if anyone could call her so she could ask questions, and the entire team said they were ready. It warmed my heart that we were all so willing to jump in and help our fellow nurse. We talked about it later and she said how grateful she was to be part of a truly supportive group of nurses because she knows it's not like that in many places. We had a conversation about why it might be a rare occurrence in nursing because isn't she the one that is taking shifts so we don't have to, and don't other nurses want someone competent to do the job? What a concept!
In nursing school, we did have some discussion about dealing with the pitfalls of being the newbie nurse on the job, whether experienced and brand spanking new. I never understood why this was an issue. I mean, wouldn't we want to be supportive and train our colleagues well. That newbie could be the one that saves your butt when you are drowning and thanks to you, has the ability to do so. They could be that nurse that takes your shifts when you need a much-deserved vacation, and you don't have worry about the care they will deliver because he/she was trained well and is confident in their skills. They can prevent you from getting burnt out and hating your job.
I have 8 years of nursing under my belt. I've been a caregiver, LPN, RN, charge nurse, lead nurse, and nurse supervisor. In all of my jobs, I've ended up being the main preceptor/mentor. Why, because I love it. I love training the new generation of nurses. I've had a couple of wonderful mentors and I wanted to be that for others. You would be amazed at how much even little interactions can affect a new nurse. Give them some easy way to remember something and they may remember it for the rest of their career and pass it onto to others.
We are essentially creating those nurses we want to work with while creating a long-lasting supportive nurse culture, which is why I find it so puzzling that bullying is so prevalent in nursing and in medical teams in general. A negative nurse culture can have long-lasting effects on the entire medical system. The way a nurse was trained or exposed to said culture can affect everyone else he/she interacts with. For instance, if a nurse was not supported at first, they can be unduly stressed, leading to burnout and "whoops we just lost another one", they can become negative about nursing and perpetuate the bullying themselves, and pass that onto the next generation of new nurses, going round and round until we have a larger culture of negativity. This can affect not only the entire medical team but can dangerously affect our patients as well. This culture is not conducive to stable, knowledgeable, and supportive nurses.
I experienced these issues firsthand from multiple nurses, and it actually took a lot of work on my part not to become a negative person. When I asked for some pointers from my seasoned nurses, I was treated like I was stupid or threatened with "well, you better figure it out or you're not going to make it." There wasn't much training going on, it felt more like a trial by fire. It made me feel unsupported, stressed, and scared to be on my own knowing that I would have no one to turn to. This was on my first-week training. This was also a place where nurses got into screaming matches, no one helped each other, and everyone was in a battle to write each other up. I was treated better when I worked at a pizza restaurant.
I finally decided that I wouldn't let it get me down and instead of dwelling on the negativity I had an innate drive to change it for other nurses, even if it's only in my little neck of the woods. I quit that job and others that had the same culture while trying to remain a positive force wherever I worked. Finally, I had an opportunity to start my own nurse team at a brand new facility. I made it my mission to be that positive, supportive, patient nurse that other nurses would want to learn from, and hopefully pass on to those they train. Then, to my not so surprise, I was able to build a great nursing team, full of happy, competent, solid nurses. You know, the nurses you want to work with. We also have great supportive providers and support staff because, just like negativity is contagious, so is positivity.
I want to hear from you. Please tell us what you are doing to make the next and current generation of nurses better?