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Why Do Nurses Eat Their Own?

Nurses Article   (94,080 Views 293 Replies 634 Words)
by nrsgofold nrsgofold, RN (New Member) New Member

nrsgofold has 20 years experience as a RN and specializes in ER,ICU.

1 Article; 1,553 Visitors; 2 Posts

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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.

emtb2rn has 21 years experience as a BSN, RN, EMT-B and specializes in Emergency.

28,622 Visitors; 2,599 Posts

As many folks have already said, this is not relegated to nursing. Try moving up through the management ranks in the corporate world. There's a technique called "the velvet knife" in which you undermine a colleague with what appears to be a compliment - "i can't believe john makes it into the office on time every day with the amount he drinks."

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Hollybobs has 5 years experience and specializes in ICU.

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Replies like this highlight the ops point....mean spirited and nasty....and reading on through many nasty posts continue....why even bother to reply with a snarky negative post....wait I know.....you are nurses....attempting to make yourselves look like you are all that while trying to minimize the credibility of the OP....Unreal

How can you read the replies and see mean-spirited, nasty negativity? Read them again... we have an explanation that older nurses like to mentor and guide, empathy and wishes for more positive experiences in future, explanations of why people can be mean in the workplace and how to deal with it. There is sympathy about how it "can suck" and advice about being more assertive and that is just page 2.

I also agree that effort should be put into spelling and grammar out of respect for readers, that much more back-stabbing and meanness is found in other professions and that overall there are no kinder and more helpful colleagues than in nursing. Like the OP, you see what you look for sometimes.

Also, Florence was a pretty tough old bird by all accounts and could be quite critical of other women- she is sometimes inaccurately cited as some sort of rosy-cheeked, angel-winged symbol of fluffiness and hand-holding.

And "underling"? No-one is an underling.

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calivianya is a BSN, RN and specializes in ICU.

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Do you think there are online discussion boards for other occupations that are full of threads about "Why do realtors eat their own?", "Why do secretaries eat their own?", "Why do personal trainers eat their own?", "Why do advertising executives eat their own?", etc., etc., etc.? Or is this just confined to nursing? (I mean the preoccupation with whether or not you've been mistreated by a colleague, not the actual phenomenon, which, as we should all know, is by no means a special feature of nursing.)

I suspect it's unique to nursing.

I worked a variety of customer service jobs prior to nursing and ran into lots of people stepping on each other. We'd all complain about the worst offenders, but it's not like it surprised or horrified us in some moral way. It was just human nature and not surprising at all. I have also been trained for customer service jobs by people who didn't particularly want to train me and/or weren't particularly nice, but I wasn't morally offended and screaming, "Customer service people eat their young!!!" either - once again, human nature.

I don't know what it is about nursing that makes us such drama queens about this topic.

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13,409 Visitors; 1,403 Posts

About a million years ago I worked in an office where I started as a trainee and the person training me was well-placed in the unit/group, like the unofficial Lead. I like the job and liked learning and it wasn't long before she had taught me everything she was going to teach me to do the job well, and I did it well. So then I got offered a promotion, and it put me ahead of my Trainer in terms of standing. I wasn't her boss at all, just got a better gig and a bit more pay, and was given a better title and so on. I was thrilled! But the person who trained me did not find it so thrilling and she gave me the cold shoulder for what seemed like forever, she was blaming me for taking her promotion when in fact it was never her promotion, it just was a spot that opened up and it was given to me because I was the best person for the job.

I'm sure she would tell you I backstabbed her to get that job but the fact is I was just better than her at what the job required! Sometimes people really will backstab you, but sometimes they rise above you because they are good or better promotion choices. One thing I do know lol is that since it wasn't a nursing job no one who complained ever said anyone ate their young lol!

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Wrench Party has 3 years experience and specializes in Cardiology, Cardiothoracic Surgical.

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All this being said, I never had the opportunity to undermine my preceptors and mentors as a younger nurse, because they promptly moved on to other positions (maybe I was the orientee that made them want to quit? :sarcastic:)

I can concur with the general opinion that this "chewing and eating your young" concept is not relegated to nursing. I come from the world of academic research, and I have witnessed:

1) professors (PIs) screaming and throwing equipment AT their employees and grad students when they do not get the results they wanted

2) tenured professors hit on grad students under their mentorship

3) undergrads and grad students attempt to sleep with their superiors to gain better recommendations and favor

4) my own female boss, a complete b---- and sexist to any and all women, bring a female post-doc to tears, and turn around and praise our male colleague for the SAME experiment and results

5) labs lose funding because their PIs do not 'play the game'

My experience was overall so distasteful, that I declined the opportunity to go to grad school after being encouraged by several PIs, got my nursing degree, and hear I am.

Even the worst, catty behavior in nursing does not even approach what I've been privy to in research.

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CarryThatWeight has 5 years experience and specializes in Oncology, Mental Health.

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Just because this issue isn't unique to nursing, does that mean there isn't a problem? Other people do it too. So what? It's still an issue.

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Sensibility has 17 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Pediatrics.

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Excellent post. I could not have said it better. What the writer identified is so common place that it is scary. I have only met a handful of young nurses who come to night shift for their first position in nursing that really embrace the whole concept of what it is to be a nurse. They immediately enroll in a college for their MSN degree. We had several openings for day shift. I was not asked by upper management if I wanted this. But these nurses who have been there for a year or two were. I do believe they gossip and bad mouth the very people that invested their lives into them to make them successful. I won't say all but many of them do. They want to get out of bedside nursing as quickly as they possibly can. Most of the ones I have met are not as ruthless as the one mentioned above. The scenario of doing something personal while others work is also commonplace. It is one thing if there is some downtime for everyone. No problem. It is another thing if they could so easily take some of the burden off of others but instead without conscience sit there while others are working their b-hinds off.

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Brenda F. Johnson has 25 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Gastrointestinal Nursing.

5 Followers; 73 Articles; 104,535 Visitors; 251 Posts

I personally have not seen a lot of the "climbers". There have been a few, and those are easy to spot right off the bat. I don't care if they want to do management, go for it. I would rather not lose my bedside skills and I like working with patients. They don't need to walk all over me, I will step aside and let them create their own bed of hell. I have worked with some great groups who help each other. I am sorry that you have not experienced that.

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Ruby Vee has 40 years experience as a BSN and specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.

11 Followers; 65 Articles; 170,455 Visitors; 13,938 Posts

Excellent post. I could not have said it better. What the writer identified is so common place that it is scary. I have only met a handful of young nurses who come to night shift for their first position in nursing that really embrace the whole concept of what it is to be a nurse. They immediately enroll in a college for their MSN degree. We had several openings for day shift. I was not asked by upper management if I wanted this. But these nurses who have been there for a year or two were. I do believe they gossip and bad mouth the very people that invested their lives into them to make them successful. I won't say all but many of them do. They want to get out of bedside nursing as quickly as they possibly can. Most of the ones I have met are not as ruthless as the one mentioned above. The scenario of doing something personal while others work is also commonplace. It is one thing if there is some downtime for everyone. No problem. It is another thing if they could so easily take some of the burden off of others but instead without conscience sit there while others are working their b-hinds off.

In the past several years, it seems that most of the new grads who are hired into the ICU aren't there because they want to take care of the patients or actually work in the ICU. They're there because it will look good on a resume when they go to anesthesia school or NP school. Which they plan to do just as soon as they can get into school. We had one new grad who was having a lot of difficulty -- we nurses her along and provided an unprecedented nine months of orientation . . . Only to have her resign one week after her prolonged orientation ended so she could go to anesthesia school. That girl was scary! I'm surprised she even made it off orientation -- no common sense. And she's probably passing gas somewhere.

I don't mind someone going on to improve themselves, follow their dream, get more education after they've mastered the basics. But please master the basics before you start planning to leave!

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Sensibility has 17 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Pediatrics.

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What is really sad is that these young nurses are exalted in the eyes of the leadership. The leadership goes so overboard to try and get these people to stay. I am not asking for people to be treated disrespectfully. I am asking for those same people to notice what's going on and do something about it. Oh, and did I mention that these girls get nurse of the year for doing absolutely nothing over and above the call of duty? People such as myself who are no longer cute or young but do many extras get not even a thank you note. LOL. The system is definitely flawed. All those kudos do not change the fact that many of the young people that get into nursing are not inclined to bedside nursing. They are prima donnas who thought that taking care of poop and vomit would be glamorous and lucrative. It is hard to have to make up the difference to give the best nursing care in that environment. You would not believe the standard that I am held to. :yes:

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Conqueror+ has 22 years experience.

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...Because they sprinkle themselves with Old Bay and lay on the plate with white paper socks on.

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3 Articles; 34,990 Visitors; 2,107 Posts

I was hoping for something different, maybe some EBP about lateral violence.

This is another inflammatory article that seems designed to make nursing and nurses look foolish and catty. I don't think the premier peer to peer nursing website should promote this view.

I'm not negating the OP's experiences. I'm sorry you had to go through that. It was obviously traumatic for you.

But you may want to adjust your perspective. Calling a colleague an underling tells me that you may not have an unbiased view of what happened in that situation.

My opinion is that this piece sounds more like sour grapes than anything.

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