Old Attitude, New Ideas

I love nursing students and brand new nurses.


All that positive energy, nursing knowledge practically spilling out of their brains, and their overwhelming desire to please everyone, including themselves. Brand new nurses are always ready to jump in, use all the skills they learned in school, and lend a helping hand.

What usually happens?

Some old, crotchety, should-have-retired-ten-years-ago nurse bites that very same hand.

I have never understood this phenomenon.

We have all heard that adage that nurses ‘eat their young’, and while I have pretty much avoided the practice, we all know that it happens. We see it every day. We come in to work to see that brand new staff nurse/traveler/nursing student/extern looking around for the person who will be precepting them for the day.

We all remember how it felt, and how we looked. Their expression mimics our own.

Suddenly, swooping in at the last possible minute, here comes the preceptor. She doesn’t know she’s about to be ‘saddled’ with another nurse for the shift. As soon as she’s told, we see it coming.

Sigh. “I didn’t know I was getting a STUDENT/ORIENTEE today!”

More sighing. More grumbling. More words muttered under breath.

I’m using this blog post to ask a favor.

When  YOU see this occurring, do me a favor. Do your fellow nurses a favor, and most of all, do the new nurse a favor.

Befriend them. Go out of your way to make them comfortable. Introduce yourself. Smile. Don’t allow that preceptor’s negative attitude to paint this new nurse’s first picture of the very unit in which they will work. It’s not fair to anyone, least of all this new nurse. I will never understand this behavior, and more importantly, I won’t engage in it. It’s illogical, unncessary, unfair, and just fucking stupid.

This nurse that you are treating like shit, may very well perpetuate this ridiculous, unnecessary behavior because he/she may actually think that’s just ‘how it goes’, or that it’s some sort of stupid hazing ritual or rite of nursing passage.


It’s fodder for creating a bad reputation in a stereotypical world of nursing cliches.

Instead of belittling, try building up someone new. Give them some confidence, a feeling of safety, that they have someone they can come to for advice and questions. A safe haven in a storm filled with grumpy doctors, crazy families, scattered residents, and nitpicky bosses. And, remember, no matter how old you are, you can always learn something new. Even old, seasoned nurses can benefit from the new crop that walks through our doors every single day. A new way to approach something or someone, a new way to organize notes, or a new way to see things.

Play nice in the sandbox, because that very same new nurse that you are busy berating may be the very same nurse who comes to your aid during a code.

Now, have a good shift.



One thought on “Old Attitude, New Ideas

  1. We as nurses need to have more compassion for new nurses.I personally love to show newbies ‘how its done’.My mantra is, nursing is not rocket science,show the juniors how to apply there knowledge in a practical setting.Don’t forget how you felt as a junior nurse in the wards!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s