Shortage solution

Nurses Safety


More than a decade ago I gave birth to a stillborn 28 wk baby girl. Her twin, my son, was blue on delivery. I was 17, alone and terrified. This tiny thing came out of me and he wasn't moving. I asked my nurse, "Is he going to make it?". Her reply, "In a few seconds honey, you're not going to care.", as she pushed something into my IV. That was only the beginning of a nightmare introduction to healthcare. Doc's told me he would be profoundly retarded due to a brain bleed. They decided he couldn't go home after telling me he could. They spoke of my son as a process and acted as if I was nonexistant. Even with all that I was in awe of some of the nurses. The ones that encouraged me to read my high school homework to him over hours spent in NICU. The ones that told me I'd be a good mom.

I was one of 250 accepted to a nursing program 2 yrs later. Five yrs later I was one of 11 that made it through. Now, six years after becoming an RN I'm beginning to realize that what that nurse said to me is horribly prophetic of our profession. The nurse was concerned with everything EXCEPT my well being. I went into nursing to nurture, protect, comfort, and by the grace of God...make a difference.

I walked into the break room this morning and overheard a comment about how many good nurses we've lost. Could that be our own fault? Certainly not! It's the GHP's, poloticians, stress, pay...etc. Everything but the fact that we are a group of caring people who eat our own! My first place of employment lost a good nurse. I applied for a transfer after 5yrs of service for vent kids. I was denied that transfer (which put me less than 5 miles from work to home) because...I quote..."We can't find anyone else to put up with the house mother where you are." My drive would stay 30 miles one way. I resigned. The second, I was the only nurse to show one weekend for a nursing home of 51 patients. I called my boss. She said, "That's not my problem." The next day I made my resignation letter her problem. So here I go again. Seven months into a critical care residency. I am constantly having to prove myself to other nurses. This is good. We all need to know that our back-up is knowledgeable. But I continue to see nurses talk badly of each other behind each others backs and then smile to their faces. I hear "That's not my patient" so they don't go stop the IV from beeping. We ask the prn nurse to come do a procedure so we can go on break. The patient is left on the bedpan because his overwhelmed nurse is busy in another room and the rest are "busy" charting. We are fierce about status. I'm an RN NOT an LPN, therefore it is not my job to go clean up the incontinent patient. Well, it IS our job! Do we want more nurses? No, the new ones don't know what they're doing. We don't want to work with them. Maybe if we start talking about how wonderful it is to have the support of our peers more will join us. I would feel more welcome as a goldfish in a tank of baracudas. I persist because when I walk in a patient room my peers fade and it's just the patient, me and my passion. I am trying, learning every day. I am there for ALL patients. I am there for all nurses. I go to rally's, meetings, and have joined the WSNA and ANA to solve our shortage but am getting absolutely nowhere. This leads me to believe that the shortage isin't due to all the causes we're looking at. I hear from all of you that we should band together and make our patients aware of the danger they're in. That is true. But maybe, just maybe, could it be due to the fact that we feel threatened by each other. Should each of us look inward and start with ourselves instead of shouting together? I emplore veteran nurses to not eat your young. If you don't like how we work TEACH US! Take us under your wing and be a mentor. Someone taught you.

My son is now 13. He is an honor role student and anything but profoundly retarded. He is a miracle brought about by our profession and medicine.


413 Posts

Bravo Cannie!

Just keep on with the attitude, keep learning and keep teaching...There will always be those who don't share your vision, who are more interested in gossip and complaining about what is wrong instead of trying to find solutions. That is human nature. BUT obviously there are those who DO have vision and keep on plugging otherwise there wouldn't be such wonderful outcomes such as your son. So keep on keepin' on, you are not alone, I too believe in plowing through the negativity and encouraging those around me to do the same even though it is a constant uphill battle.....


214 Posts

Cannie; I would consider it an honor and a priveledge to work along side of you. You have come the closest to what I believe is a truly humble position regarding the profession you have chosen...and a kind of righteous anger that is, I believe, appropriate for the subject. In these past few years I have witnessed such a change in the attitudes of nurses. 26 years ago when I graduated there was not one hint of arrogance or derisive competition between nurses as there seems to be today. Sometimes it seems to me that in the quest for recognition as scientific specialists, the real art which nursing is, is lost.

We wage battles between ourselves because we are afraid. We argue because one must be more right than the other. We don't want to be like the 'new kid on the block'. We want recognition -but it is a haughty attitude we use to get attention. Now I know that it's not ALL of us. I do know that only a few, and a very few at that, are that way. But doesn't it seem like they are everywhere!?

I believe in the unity of our Profession. I believe in parity, not credentials. I also believe that ultimately it is our patients who get lost in the nursing shuffle, not because the 'powers that be' are manipulating us, but because in our great desire to manage others, we cannot manage ourselves. Yet, the winds of change are blowing, Cannie; You keep that fire in your spirit, and you share it with others...teach it. Eventually those who have escaped being eaten will set us straight. Still, for all the bluster and blow within our ranks, I love nursing. I love what I have become as a result of my experiences. Each time I lay my hand on a patient, I recapture that wonder and deep impression that in the light of all that is, I am truly small--and in that, blessed.


60 Posts

I could not agree with you more about the senior nurses eating their young. I finally was the young being devoured yesterday by a 29 year veteran of ICU. I was there to assist and she did not like it. My first visit to this hospital and I had to ask what the pharmacy ext. was.........she did not like that. I ask her how to run the IV pump as it was different than any other.........she thought I should know.

I warned these people that I was not an ICU nurse and have never worked that hospital before.........but someone in scheduling assured me that I was needed and would be an assistant to a senior nurse.........I will never go back there again and will inform my boss to not send anyone there! That was the most intimidating nursing assigment I have ever worked. All my other assignments have ended with the managers calling my agency with nothing but praise and strong recruitment efforts........this ICU was a low blow.......but I know that I am good........Plus I heard them bad mouthing any new nurse. I am a 6 year veteran. They actually floated a 7 month new grad that was scarey.


101 Posts

Boy did it sound like you had a bad day 123! In reading your post a few things stood out...the dip in scheduling has that mentality " a nurse is a nurse"would they ask a pediatricin to fill in for a surgeon? Eating our young is never acceptable...I've been an RN 24yrs LPN before that and NA so I have been "eaten" a few times myself.One important lesson I'd like to pose...put yourself in the other persons shoes(just in your mind)ie your an experienced ICU nurse balancing critically ill patients,you need help and they send you someone who without orientation/experience/even knowing the unit.Quick mental assessment....what can you do? what will help this nurse/unit? Verbalize these thoughts..."I'm an agency nurse, I haven't been oriented but I am comfortable with---- fill in the blanks. Or just let them know briefly what you could handle ie I'm ACLS/PALS blah blah certified have managed vent patients before.As the older nurse I sometimes have no clue what someone CAN do...I just get the nurse thrown to the wolves and in my head I think great not only am I short but know I have to orient someone. Compassion goes out the window fast in our profession when you've been hammered day after day either with aquity or volume OR both.When I first floated to different areas I tried to remember what I COULD do well, in my case vital signs(I know everyone's laughing)IV's and blood work. Not alot but it helped,,,I'd offer to run around and get vitals at what ever times they usually did that(12-3-6)then someone would yell out "can you get room 8"volunteered for all blood draws, could monitor IV fluids if there was a minute or someone to show me the floor's system and could be a pair of hands to move or turn a patient. Pretty soon the shifts over and you don't go away feeling "eaten".So maybe if us older nurses try not to bite and the less experienced nurses try to bring something to the table....we could be smooth working machines/well know what I mean- harmony ....practicing in harmony. When you see this or are a part of it ....AMAZING

Jenny P

1,164 Posts

Specializes in CV-ICU.

Cannie, I like your spunk and agree with Lalaxton that you should just keep on keeping on. Lita 1857, I also like your idea. Maybe if we all did this when floating to a new place it would help. Nursing isn't easy nor for the weak at heart, but we can all make it a lot easier on ourselves if we put ourselves in the other persons' shoes and try to see the situation from the other persons viewpoint. The idea of volunteering to help by telling others what your strong points are is terrific! I'm going to use that in the future! Thanks.


60 Posts

Thanks for the insight. I always try to put myself in others shoes, but this time I didn't do it so well as you. I like your ideas and am going to make a list to share my strong points with each unit I am assigned.

Thanks :D


96 Posts

Well, well, well. Dejavu.

I have worked in critical care and the ED for a number of years. I now work as a critical care float, ICU/ED/tele. If I had a nickel for everytime I reminded someone frustrated with a new person that the new person was only going to be as good as we make them, I wouldn't have to work as a nurse anymore.

Thank goodness for the people who helped me realize that a long time ago.


34 Posts

First of all, congrats on your son. That is a wonderful, blessed story. As an ICU nurse with 10 years experience, I do agree that some of us tend to "eat" our young. I always tell new orientees that "you're going to feel downright stupid for the first year"- (I tell them this with a SMILE because even after 10 years I remember like yesterday how incredibley overwhelmed and terrified I was). It took me ATLEAST a year to feel totally comfortable with my skills and knowledge gained that I wasn't going to freak out when my patient "crashed". I constantly re-assure new nurses that it will all come together and make sense and they will see the whole picture instead focusing on little insignificant things. I had two different nurses orient me- one was very mean (and turned out to be an IV drug user who was stealing narcotics) and the other was like a drill sergeant but was full of knowledge and constantly quizzed me which really helped my critical thinking skills. Of course, it isn't always the experienced nurses' fault- I have come across many KNOW-IT-ALL new nurses with attitudes who can't handle even constructive criticism- now THAT'S frustrating... nothin' like being told "well in school we were taught to do this that way, or my instructor said that way" ----------


116 Posts

I hope that one day hospitals would make it reportable when a nurse "eats his/her young"!

The job, pressure and the hours of a nurse are already difficult. Why give a new person additional hard time? Why is this "tradition" allowed? There must be other places a nurse can go to show off his/her superiority other at the place of work! IMHO no one wins in this game. Really weird game.

Best wishes, Christina


6 Posts

WOW! Not many post have moved me like yours. You sound like a really great caring nurse. I am going to graduate (RN and have been doing really well), in 10 months & have been having slight doubts lately about nursing , after seeing the care going on in the new hospital I've been working at. There are a couple of nurses who REALLY do care, and some that just don't & I can't figure out why they ever entered the profession to begin with. I am only a secretary now, but when the "RN's" don't seem to have time to even speak to a family member who really needs just someone to talk to..I stay, after I have punched out, to talk with them. Sometimes people just need to talk & the felling I get from them..just having someone to talk to is much more than the money they could pay me! You are not alone, a lot of nurses do care. And a lot of nurses seem not to. I hope I never become on of them.


2 Posts

As my name implies I'm a worn out nurse and it's not from the work load from the residents in the nursing home that I work for, it's from the seemingly uncaring attitude that my fellow nurses have developed. I'm tired of hearing, "no one else does it so why should I," "I don't get paid to do that," and on and on. My favorite is "I don't get paid enough." Honestly who do they think does! With the nursing shortage that everyone is having it seems to me that we should be banding together not fighting against each other. We're our own worse enemies. I don't see how we can hope to bring in new nurses when all we do is complain about how horrible our jobs are to anyone that will listen. :confused:

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