No, really - what is your EMERGENCY?

This used to be the journal of a nursing student at a prestigious 4 year university that will still remain unnamed. This is now the journal of a Registered Nurse working in an Emergency Department in a major US city. All names have been changed to protect the stupid and the mean. There is no educational value in this journal, sometimes it will be downright mean and catty - this is where I come to vent!

Monday, April 18, 2005

Response to Anonymous comment

I started this as a comment and then it got too long so I made it into a post. It doesn't really have any humor to it, but it does fit the "Pissed Off-ed-ness" of this blog.

The "nurses eat their own" is rampant everywhere. I too, have made that comment after some of my clinicals. I'm not sure what the reasoning behind the phenomenon is, but I have a few theories. I think that it is a combination of "I was treated that way therefore you must be also" and some bitterness over the physician dominated hierarchy many of them work in. I have noticed that in workplaces where the nurses really run the show, the "eat their own" attitude is less prevalent. For example, I did a ride along with our EMS helos. There is a medical director (MD), but the show is run by RNs and EMTs and it was a much more friendly atmosphere. More of a mentor type attitude. I also just did a rotation at a cardiac rehab site, also run by RNs. They were nice, accommodating, and eager to teach, not belittle.

I have also seen a difference between large teaching hospitals and hospitals that don't have med students. Teaching hospitals seem to be more in the "weed them out" business than non-teaching hospitals. But again, at a teaching hospital, the attendings are treated like god by the residents and med students who in turn treat the nurses the way their attendings do which pisses off the nurses and they take it out on the next in line: students and newbies.

Finally, I think a lot of nurses are intimidated by students and new nurses because they are afraid that they will not perform up to their expectations. I have repeatedly had nurses say, "Now this was how I was taught and it might be different" before showing me a skill. It almost like they were worried that I was going to call them out on poor technique. Nurses are often creatures of habit and don't want some new person coming in and telling them there is another, potentially better, way of doing something. So, it is easier to make yourself look better by trashing someone else rather than build your own skills. Also, some just aren't good teachers and would prefer to not have students or new nurses assigned to them. But, don't take any of this the wrong way, there are many, many extremely great nurses out there! They are also overworked and students and newbies present more work for them....

Interestingly, as I have said before, I have spent some time in the Marine Corps where we have taken belittling and "tearing down" to an art form. However, no matter how many times we were told we were crap and couldn't find our ass with both hands, we still felt some kinship in that we were all Marines. There was still a certain amount of respect for the fact that you had made it through the process to earn the title. There doesn't seem to be that camaraderie in nursing.

As a student, it is really annoying. I mean, we normally feel stupid enough as it is, we don't need fellow nurses reinforcing it. I personally think that if we are ever going to beat the subservient nurse stereotype we need to have strong confident nurses and belittling students and newbies isn't going to help.


  • At 9:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Standing ovation! Well said! Evidence of critical thinking! Wish you were attending my SON.....

    Take care.


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