I have 6 shifts left and they are all pretty close together. Real talk, I’ve never been the type to like or even tolerate 3 shifts in a row in my career. By the 3rd night, I’m grouchy and mean. My brain and body are a discordant mess of exhausted and anxious. But that’s not important.
Over the course of my career, including my stint in education, I’ve tracked the collective behavior of nurses. My conclusion? For a caring profession, we are ugly to each other and God don’t like ugliness.
10 years and for all the care we give to other people we eat each other alive. Nurses don’t just eat their young, they go after their new, old, and anyone in between. Lateral violence in nursing is a real thing. It may not end in visible wounds, but it certainly produces peers who continue the vicious cycle of treating others poorly. And don’t give me the argument that it strengthens you or it’s part of what it means to grow in nursing. Only plants grow when manure is dumped on them, people just turn bitter and start to stink.
I’ve talked about my first year out often. I was scared out of my mind. What if I killed someone? Add to that feeling like a burden because no one wanted to answer my questions and I didn’t feel like I contributed to the field in any meaningful way. I was told to stop asking so many questions and often found myself floundering because my education and training hadn’t prepared me for taking care of 4 high acuity patients at a time.
Then I became a labor nurse. Night and day. From a burden to a colleague. From not feeling like I contributed to a meaningful interaction with patients and coworkers. I went from feeling outside of nursing to feeling like I belonged. My coworkers were amazing and I love many of them to this day for how inclusive they were/are. I adopted the mindset of striving to help every new person survive because I know what it was like to feel like you were drowning.
Is there a solution to this attitude and behavior? I’m sure there is, but as you know this blog isn’t brimming with solutions. No, I’m here to ask a bunch of questions and get you riled up. Should’ve been a politician instead, huh?
But my general idea is that we should be doing more mentor-like things with baby nurses, newer nurses, new to your facility nurses, and anyone with an RN after their name. Offering to debrief after a code that went well and one that went poorly, checking in on each other in real genuine ways, going out to dinner together regularly, having parties. Anything that reinforces that idea that we’re in this together, the new nurse isn’t hopeless, and one day they’ll be the old head on the floor. Also, standing up for each other when the on going nurse is being a butthead or when the doctor is tearing someone apart.
It happens but not enough. We turn into crazy beasts at work because of the weight of everything going on around us. Time to check that mess before we implode collectivity.
In essence: stop treating each other like manure.
I’ll have to outline my ideal new nurse program if I haven’t done that in a previous post. We need to do better by our new grads so they don’t become nitpicking, bitter hags, who make people cry. If you’re a nurse wondering who does that, you may be the problem. 👀
To digging our profession out of the 💩
Travel on, road warriors