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Why Do Nurses Eat Their Own?

Why did I become a nurse? To help others who need it or to eat my young?

Nurses General Nursing Article   posted

Specializes in ER,ICU.

As current times have shown, we're short staffed. Administration wants to make money. So cuts are made to equipment and man power. Who has your back? Who can you rely on? Your fellow nurses? I'm not so sure anymore. Why do we as nurses eat our own when we should be teaching them and guarding them as our own. The fact is as we age our young nurses are going to be taking care of us, but there are those all too eager beavers who will in fact burn you. This is my experience. You are reading page 3 of Why Do Nurses Eat Their Own?. If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.

dzadzey, MSN, RN

Specializes in Dialysis, Hospice, Critical care.

All cliches aside, there is an element here which goes unrecognized, and that is the inability, or unwillingness of too many nurses to stand up for themselves. Hospital administrators expect the nurses at bedside to do more...with less. And, in large part, nurses quietly do so. They grumble amongst themselves, the frustrations spill over, resulting in cliques and a general unwillingness to look beyond what is immediately before us...The patients. If we can't see beyond what is in front of us, desperately important though it is, we won't be able to provide our patients the care they deserve. We must take care of ourselves by demanding as much from hospital administration as they demand from us. And we can't do this if we fall victim to the cliquishness and back-stabbing we see...all to often...among our co-workers.

To paraphrase another cliche, we must hang together or hospital administrations will cheerfully hag us separately.

This happens everywhere. Nurses just whine about it more.

(I commented only so I can follow this thread on my app. Kind of over this topic, but since it's Featured... :) )

RNdynamic

Specializes in Critical Care, Float Pool Nursing.

The topic post of this thread contains anecdotes, whose salience is implicitly in question. As many stories you can come up with of lazy young nurses who have thrown you under the bus or snuck out of the building to make out with each other, I can come up with just as many stories of gossiping, lazy, and overweight 40 and 50 something year olds who are "assignment dumping" on younger nurses and "type A" personalities talking about their "vast experience" ad nauseam. They would just as meaningless as the examples in the OP.

RNdynamic

Specializes in Critical Care, Float Pool Nursing.

By the way - I think its disgusting in general how nurses talk to one another. It's amusing how a nurse will be talk down to their coworkers, using expressions such as "Why didn't you do xxx?" or "You really should do xxx." Those same people would then turn around and talk to their patients in the sweetest voice ever and never use those expressions with them. Why? Well - because it's wrong and its unprofessional. "Why" questions and "Should" statements are supposed to be avoided: its communication 101. Their "niceness" to their patients is all an act. "

But we give ourselves a free pass to use them on each other. Disgusting.

Slhengy

Specializes in Cardiac, Ortho, Med/Surg, ICU, Quality.

Nurses do eat their young in my opinion. It's one of the reasons why I left the bedside and I see it quite often in my rounding on the units. Not sure why they do it.....I just know that it happens. My daughter told me recently that when she transferred from the Ortho floor that she was on for years to a Mom/Baby unit that the nurses were a lot more critical of each other and back stabbing. They weren't competing for any advancements....they were just mean people. I find that very sad and perhaps this thread will prompt people to think before they speak and be aware of how they treat people in general.

I'm wondering if anyone has ever worked anywhere, ever? This happens all over the place, people. It is part of the work environment. People don't always get along and warm and fuzzy and gooey and smiley and "pat me on the back, I showed up!"

Just go to work and do your job as best you can. As you work more and go through stuff with people, you will form bonds. Most people can work together if they try. They don't have to be best friends.

If the environment is truly toxic, change jobs.

This is not rocket science.

Axgrinder

Specializes in Adult MICU/SICU.

Having only recently been chastised soundly on this very site by a member for bringing up this topic in passing, I am curious to see it now a couple of weeks later, since I am still licking my owns wounds for daring to speak my mind.

Yes, I believe there is a fair amount of this in nursing, but I think nearly every profession has their fair share of it too, and nursing is no different. Perhaps (yikes - I can see the fallout and carnage from this statement on many different levels) because nursing is still mostly predominantly female? There: I said it.

My own preceptor warned me at the end of my own orientation now more than 2 decades ago, but I didn't take that warning to heart. I paid a heavy price for not doing so, and still carry the scars around in my collective psyche - it has also shaped who I am, and who I chose to be. I chose to not willfully harm others, and to give a helping hand to those who are new.

I think there are two avenues to consider here: 1) the work place has become much more competitive overall, and earning a living presently is a lot harder than it was 20-30 years ago. Having a 22 year old son whom has eschewed the college route, I can see it will be much tougher for him to earn a good wage for a choice I consider foolhardy in the extreme (the verdict on this decision is still out at this point). That being said, only the very best will get selected for jobs that pay well. On the other hand, 2) there are just some people with cut throat personalities, and it is only natural some should make their way into nursing too. There are rabble-rousers who thrive on trouble in all professions - believe me when I tell you they are alive and well in dental offices, schools, and real estate appraisal firms too.

We can chose not to be catty to one another. We don't have to pick each other part. A wagging tongue can be as sharp as a dagger, and I think it is likely we can all bring to mind someone we know whom this describes … just remember ladies and gentlemen, those fingers clicking away on keyboards can hurt just as much.

JimmyDurham9

Specializes in Ambulatory Care, LTC, OB, CCU, Occ Hth.

So many responses to this piece illustrate the OP's point. Why even bring EBP into the mix when we have a live demonstration of the snide condescending, negativity that goes on in practice settings of all types across the country everyday.

You want EBP. Participate in your professional organization, and read the ANA's official position statement on Incivility, Bullying, and Violence in Health Care and Among Nurses. You'll get all the EBP you can stand. That evidence should make most of us hang our heads in shame. Somewhere along the way, we nurses lose the part of us that makes us human. You don't like the inflammatory title, tough. Our predecessors bestowed it on us, and too many of us are still trying to play hard nose passive aggressive, and keep the cliche true. You all don't agree with the characterization or think it's blown out of proportion and unfairly assigned- come off your high horses, change it. Be kind. Stop being so critical of every little thing from grammar to opinions.

Write your own EBP articles refuting the idea of nurses eating their young. Prove all the studies wrong. Show people it doesn't really exist. I wish you luck in that endeavor. Because from my work and research on the issue for the ANA's position statement and my own personal experience in nursing, I can safely say I have never encountered a group of individuals so petty, mean-spirited, ugly, unprofessional, cruel, and down right hateful than in nursing. Nursing takes the cake for having some of the most disrespectful, passive aggressive, bad attitude individuals- from floor to administration.

I am happy to say I have had the pleasure to collaborate with some truly wonderful nurses, but they are far too rare in the field. That's why individuals are fleeing nursing. That's nursing sucks the souls from otherwise good, hard working individuals. Think about that when you are over worked on the floor.

RNdynamic said:
The topic post of this thread contains anecdotes, whose salience is implicitly in question. As many stories you can come up with of lazy young nurses who have thrown you under the bus or snuck out of the building to make out with each other, I can come up with just as many stories of gossiping, lazy, and overweight 40 and 50 something year olds who are "assignment dumping" on younger nurses and "type A" personalities talking about their "vast experience" ad nauseam. They would just as meaningless as the examples in the OP.

You do "Code Dumping", literally, and bail on your co-workers when they need you most by your own admission, so this really means not that much, ya know?

heron, ASN, RN

Specializes in Hospice.

Farawyn said:
I'm wondering if anyone has ever worked anywhere, ever? This happens all over the place, people. It is part of the work environment. People don't always get along and warm and fuzzy and gooey and smiley and "pat me on the back, I showed up!"

Just go to work and do your job as best you can. As you work more and go through stuff with people, you will form bonds. Most people can work together if they try. They don't have to be best friends.

If the environment is truly toxic, change jobs.

This is not rocket science.

Yes, and I'm pretty much done with the whining. Why I should be expected to control the behavior of my co-workers escapes me ... and that's exactly what's being demanded here. Those who are in the habit of civility will continue, those who aren't are not going to change their ways any time soon.

Personally, I think the whole meme is being perpetuated because it gets us blaming each other for the stresses of working in this healthcare system rather than the people actually in control. Pretty much the old "Evil Eve" schtick.

I would be willing to bet that those waxing most eloquent about this are the same people who contemptuously dismiss, say, university students of color, for demanding their own "safe space". Frankly, I can't take any of it very seriously. Just another riff on nurses' station character assassination, transferred onto AN.

I'll take a tongue over a dagger any day. :blink:

Slhengy

Specializes in Cardiac, Ortho, Med/Surg, ICU, Quality.

I wanted to make one more point about this being prevalent in other industries. Before I became a Nurse, I worked in the financial industry with over 1,000 employees in a fairly small work space and even though cliques were formed, I have never experienced the degree of hatefulness that I have experienced in Nursing.

I started nursing late in life - in my fifties. Prior to that I was a teacher, business woman, and did a lot of other jobs as well. A BN is my fourth degree. I have a BA, BEd, MEd as well so I'm well-educated. While it's true that nasty people are in every profession, I can tell you with certainty that nursing has the highest number of bullies and nasties, period. And by the way, any idea that nurses are well educated is ridiculous. I completed a nursing degree after my other degrees and I know that nurses are NOT well-educated or well informed by any stretch. The introductory liberal arts courses they take are usually something that they sigh about because they "have to" to take them but, "What does this have to do with nursing?" They are not typically curious or enlightened individuals, which is part of the problem. They are in a rush to be middle class, get a secure job and then stay there for life.

I also believe that a lot of Borderline Personality types are attracted to nursing because of the "angel of mercy" aura that allows them to be nasty and kind at the same time. "Borderlines" thrive on drama, are usually paranoid (need to sabotage others), and live in complete denial of their own behavior. They really do believe their own "split" persona - that is, "I'm a nurse so that proves I'm a good person." Actually, I believe that about 50% of nurses are "borderline" Borderlines, and they wreak havoc wherever and whenever they can, but hide it beneath their angel of mercy disguise, (in their own minds). Never in my life have I encountered so many nasty individuals intent on causing problems for others. Think I'm exaggerating? CK out the literature - 60% of new nurses leave their first job because of bullying from their nurse colleagues. The literature is FULL of articles about horizontal violence in nursing. Just google it and you'll get pages on it, and ck out the professional journals. People have done their doctorates on this subject.

I'm laughing because I know y'all are fuming right now since Borderlines have no insight into their own behavior.....

JimmyDurham9

Specializes in Ambulatory Care, LTC, OB, CCU, Occ Hth.

heron said:
Yes, and I'm pretty much done with the whining. Why I should be expected to control the behavior of my co-workers escapes me ... and that's exactly what's being demanded here. Those who are in the habit of civility will continue, those who aren't are not going to change their ways any time soon.

Personally, I think the whole meme is being perpetuated because it gets us blaming each other for the stresses of working in this healthcare system rather than the people actually in control. Pretty much the old "Evil Eve" schtick.

I would be willing to bet that those waxing most eloquent about this are the same people who contemptuously dismiss, say, university students of color, for demanding their own "safe space". Frankly, I can't take any of it very seriously. Just another riff on nurses' station character assassination, transferred onto AN.

See, now, you ticked me off with your use of the word "whining." No one is whining at you, and you are not expected to control the behavior of your coworkers. You are just expected to exhibit basic common respectful manners we all were taught at home. That includes not tolerating rude and bullying behavior designed to break down co workers rather than coach them and be a team player. The tides are turning. Individuals not in the habit of behaving civilly in the workplace are no longer being tolerated. There are no places for ugly, rude, and difficult coworkers.

Jcg1 said:
I started nursing late in life - in my fifties. Prior to that I was a teacher, business woman, and did a lot of other jobs as well. A BN is my fourth degree. I have a BA, BEd, MEd as well so I'm well-educated. While it's true that nasty people are in every profession, I can tell you with certainty that nursing has the highest number of bullies and nasties, period. And by the way, any idea that nurses are well educated is ridiculous. I completed a nursing degree after my other degrees and I know that nurses are NOT well-educated or well informed by any stretch. The introductory liberal arts courses they take are usually something that they sigh about because they "have to" to take them but, "What does this have to do with nursing?" They are not typically curious or enlightened individuals, which is part of the problem. They are in a rush to be middle class, get a secure job and then stay there for life.

I also believe that a lot of Borderline Personality types are attracted to nursing because of the "angel of mercy" aura that allows them to be nasty and kind at the same time. "Borderlines" thrive on drama, are usually paranoid (need to sabotage others), and live in complete denial of their own behavior. They really do believe their own "split" persona - that is, "I'm a nurse so that proves I'm a good person." Actually, I believe that about 50% of nurses are "borderline" Borderlines, and they wreak havoc wherever and whenever they can, but hide it beneath their angel of mercy disguise, (in their own minds). Never in my life have I encountered so many nasty individuals intent on causing problems for others. Think I'm exaggerating? CK out the literature - 60% of new nurses leave their first job because of bullying from their nurse colleagues. The literature is FULL of articles about horizontal violence in nursing. Just google it and you'll get pages on it, and ck out the professional journals. People have done their doctorates on this subject.

I'm laughing because I know y'all are fuming right now since Borderlines have no insight into their own behavior.....

I'm laughing, too. Projection and Google are sooooo cool!

Horizontal violence and having to "lick your wounds" because you were disagreed with on a message board 2 weeks ago are 2 totally different things, or did you not learn that in school when you were learning to diagnose people based on message board posts?

I see this is your first post, btw. Welcome to AN! Look around, there is tons of support here.

JimmyDurham9 said:
See, now, you ticked me off with your use of the word "whining." No is whining at you, and you are not expected to control the behavior of your coworkers. You are just expected to exhibit basic common respectful manners we all were taught at home. That includes not tolerating rude and bullying behavior designed to break down co workers rather than coach them and be a team player. The tides are turning. Individuals not in the habit of behaving civilly in the workplace are no longer being tolerated. There are no places for ugly, rude, and difficult coworkers.

Whining is apt.

I have seen it, too. And if the title is offensive to you it might be worth it to figure why. I have been treated so badly by RNs that I never wanted to move up from LPN.

holisticallyminded

Specializes in LTC, Medical, Rehab, Psych.

As nurses, we size people up every day (and have to) just as all humans do. Some of us are better than others at reading people, but we all come in to every interaction with personal bias and ideas of what makes a good nurse. We size others up within minutes and react according to our personal code of conduct.

Older nurses often feel threatened by younger nurses but I have also seen negative reactions based on the need to constantly "train" someone without having enough senior/experienced nurses to rely on when things get tough. This makes for some pretty negative attitude.........and can you honestly blame these folks? If you've never experienced being the only person who had worked as a nurse longer than a year (I'm at 7, and this has happened to me MANY times), you won't know what I mean. But does this excuse behavior? No, absolutely not.

As far as feeling threatened, there are many reasons for this. Aging nurses may just feel the aging process every time they look at younger folks (with more energy and positivism) coming in. Or as their pay scales max out, they may wonder how much the newbies are coming in at. They may just be plain tired (time to retire and I have met many nurses who simply can't afford that option and hold a grudge).

Then there's this story that I witnessed years ago when I did something else in healthcare:

I was working in an office with 4 women of varying ages (I was in the middle in my late 20s/early 30s). We were interviewing for a relief position. A young woman came in, cute as a button with a WONDERFUL personality, fully qualified for the position. All of us LOVED her. Except one. The oldest woman in our group had been going through a divorce, attempting to lose weight, battling depression and had a damn bad attitude (possibly menopausal to boot). As the interview proceeded, she was very flat affect and appeared angrier than usual. After the interview, we all chatted about the candidate. When this woman was asked what she thought, she initially couldn't respond, uttered something about her age and newness that the rest of us liked (she was just so damned enthusiastic- I wanted her on the spot), and finally came out with the fact that.........she was PRETTY. Yes, this bothered the woman intensely. And of course this was discussed behind her back later.........

The woman wasn't hired. Can you believe it? We got a heavy set girl instead. I'm not kidding.

And having been on other interview panels, I can tell you that things absolutely DO go this way sometimes. So what happens when you don't choose the candidates and you have to train attractive, new, young people with bright futures? Some people in ANY field hold this in and let it out in very mysterious ways.

danielle2000, MSN, RN

Specializes in Family Practice.

Eloquently stated. I always felt the reason nursing in the hospital scene is dying due to lack of solidarity. I have witness backbiting, stepping on toes, and egos to get ahead. But only to see 2 graves. The unsuspecting nurse and the shark nurse ripping the entrails of trust. I made it a rule to NEVER vow loyalty to any job only the patients I serve. Pursue educational endeavors with a back up plan, and keep my personal life personal. Hospitals reel of infested misery. I refuse to do another 10 years of it

Nurses have so much power and refuse to use it. I haven't given up on nursing just in a hospital settimg, NO MAS!

RNdynamic said:
The topic post of this thread contains anecdotes, whose salience is implicitly in question. As many stories you can come up with of lazy young nurses who have thrown you under the bus or snuck out of the building to make out with each other, I can come up with just as many stories of gossiping, lazy, and overweight 40 and 50 something year olds who are "assignment dumping" on younger nurses and "type A" personalities talking about their "vast experience" ad nauseam. They would just as meaningless as the examples in the OP.

NOT anecdotes. Very real, and very studied. There have been some anthropological/sociological research applied to the potential reasons why this happens, but if people cannot agree on whether this phenomenon even exists, how receptive can they be to the possible reasons why.

Horizontal violence among nursing students.

Stress and verbal abuse in nursing: do burned out nurses eat their young?

I would love for JimmyDurham9 to share some of his research on the topic. Perhaps, one proved that it is real, perhaps solving the problem can be the next step.

JimmyDurham9 said:
...Because from my work and research on the issue for the ANA's position statement and my own personal experience in nursing, I can safely say I have never encountered a group of individuals so petty, mean-spirited, ugly, unprofessional, cruel, and down right hateful than in nursing. Nursing takes the cake for having some of the most disrespectful, passive aggressive, bad attitude individuals- from floor to administration...
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