Friday, November 4, 2016

Nurses Eat Their Young

There's a phrase in the medical field that nurses eat their young. It's a phrase that I've heard quite often, and that I've unfortunately seen just as often. It's true, we don't completely trust new nurses. They're just starting out, and they obviously don't have the experience that it takes to run a floor. Or to get everything done.

But here's the thing. We were all, at one point, a brand new nurse starting out.

When I first became a nurse, I had no idea about the politics that happened behind the scenes. the seniority that nurses get over others was surprising. I remember, when I was still orienting with a nurse, she commented that she couldn't understand why they would put me on the difficult hall, when she'd spent so many years on the hall she's on and hasn't been able to move to the hall they assigned me.

"Oh," I said, not even realizing how this comment would come across, "They said it's because I'm an RN."

We didn't get along after that. For her, she had experience behind her. She'd worked as a nurse for decades, and she knew and had experienced so much more than me. I, on the other hand, had a higher degree than she did, which meant that management wanted me to be on the 'coveted' floor. She ate me alive, and it was terrifying. After several months, she moved on to a different position which meant that she could spend a lot more time in my area, and she took advantage of it. She would search for things I'd done wrong, and I'll admit that there were a few times when she would drive me to tears.

Apparently, this was something she'd done before. My coworkers told me about a nurse who had her master's degree, and every time she came on shift, this nurse would make her sit in the corner and wait until she was ready for report.

I couldn't understand why someone would treat another coworker that way. Especially when we're trying to take care of the same patients. It wasn't until I became older and watched new nurses start out in their career. There are times that make me flinch, but I always remember my first experience, and how I needed someone to gently lead me, not make me feel like I couldn't do the job.

We need nurses who are confident. And confidence comes from knowing that we can do what we're asked. Nurses shouldn't eat their young. They should nurture them. It not only makes for a much better environment, but it also ensures that all of the staff are competent enough to take care of their patients.

How about the rest of you? Any stories about nurses eating their young?