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Nurse Relationships
Why Nurses Eat Their Young…
A look at nurse-to-nurse hostility and why it occurs.

A man walked past a few kids with a bucket of sea crabs. One of the crabs was crawling to the top of the bucket, so the man told the boys to get a lid. “Mister, you don’t know anything about crabs,” the boys said. “As soon as that crab gets to the top, the others will pull him right back down. Never fails.”

The expression “nurses eat their young” comes from this story, and it isn’t all that far from the truth. It might sound like your unit—where you feel constantly pulled down by your peers’ cutting remarks, backstabbing, and eyebrow-raising. Kathleen Bartholomew, RN, MN, author of Ending Nurse-to-Nurse Hostility: Why Nurses Eat Their Young and Each Other, speaks on why nurses can’t seem to help each other rise to the top.

RealityRN: What is the theory behind nurse-to-nurse hostility?
Kathleen Bartholomew: It’s called horizontal hostility, which is aggressive behavior (bullying, verbal abuse, and violence) directed at co-workers who are on the same power level. And it’s born out of a sense of powerlessness.

Studies show that nurses are typically seen as unequal in power to doctors—they are “oppressed,” so to speak. It’s called Oppression Theory. Nursing has never been considered an empowering profession. Since its inception, nurses have been considered handmaidens to the physicians in a male-dominated society. As a result, nurses assume the label and become unprofessional--cliquey, catty, mean-spirited, and intimidating, especially toward new nurses.

Why do nurses work against each other, rather than work together to improve their position?
Nurses remain silent because they are a powerless group without a voice, and they don’t feel safe. Ironically, this is why nurses eat their young. Seasoned nurses stick close together, and they keep everyone who’s different outside of the group. So new nurses show up, and the group doesn’t want to let them in. It’s a way for seasoned nurses to find power in a powerless position.

Also, when a nurse does speak up, she’s pushed out. I’m standing outside organizations because according to the theory, any oppressed group is going to kick out the person who draws attention to the group, even if their motives are good.

Why isn’t nursing recognized as an empowering profession?
Intellectuals and professionals don’t gossip. Smart people don’t sit around and talk about who did what. Doctors think that nurses are gossipy—and that reinforces that nurses are substandard.

Do the institutions where nurses work add to the problem?
Yes. In institutional situations, the voices that matter are usually from the top. This leaves nurses with very little power. Sure, there is the illusion of a union for many; however, the unions don’t have the same goals that we do. Their goal is power, and our goal is quality care.

If a union empowered nurses, educated the public about what nurses do, and did all those things that raise the self-esteem of individual nurses in the profession, unions would go out of business. So it becomes counterproductive for the unions to empower their nurses. Yet, here and now, unions still serve a purpose because nurses do not have the time or energy to come together, and even when nurses try to speak up (and few actually do), they are not being heard.

Where’s the hope?
The good news is that out of the chaos, there’s a chance to form something new. That’s what my work is about. Let’s look at the chaos, sift out what we want, choose our role and how we want our relationships to be, and next time we walk on the floor, let’s become that.

And if people on your unit refuse to change, you can refuse to work there. You don’t ever have to put yourself in a position where you don’t feel valued, recognized, or appreciated for all the gifts and talents you bring everyday to the floor.

Kathleen Bartholomew, RN, MN served as the manager of a 57-bed orthopedic and spine unit in a tertiary hospital in Seattle, Washington, for more than six years and has just recently ended her position to begin work in consulting. A registered nurse and counselor, Bartholomew brings to light the challenges and issues facing nurses today through the use of story. For more information, go to .

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109 Responses to “Why Nurses Eat Their Young…”

  1. Anne Says:

    Where I work Nurses are not powerless. We call the shots. We are there with the patients 24 hours a day and the doctors look to us to make decisions and inform them of things we think the patients need. To say nursing is a powerless profession is absurd.
    The only experience I have had with “nurses eating their young,” is with overconfident new grads who think they know everything, when in fact they have very little experience. Being an expert nurse comes with experience. There is so much to learn post graduation. I think to avoid getting “eaten” is to just act like a clean slate and really listen to what your experienced collegues say and learn from them. They have been around the block and back and can dazzle you with the information stored in their brains.

  2. Charles Says:

    I think that it is a male/female thing overall. As a male nurse, I did not experience this syndrome. Nurses lack the ability to be confident about their decision and feel a put down makes them smart. What is smart is to build peers and show how being catty isn’t necessary to get the message across. Female physicians do the same thing and the results are the same.

    Stand up for what you know is right. Be confident and make sure making your point does not include intentional putting down another person(nurse). What goes around will come around and you will be on the receiving end soon.

  3. Ian Furst Says:

    As a surgeon and husband of a nurse I can only say that these same sentiments are repeated in every work place I’ve been in. I know of one hospital where it was the managements stated goal to be 100% digital. All the provides could say is that the goal of a hospital (or clinic) is to have low infection rates, mortality, morbidity, etc… If digitizing helps – great but as a stated goal it moves the institutions focus in the wrong direction. Being on a unit where you feel valued and respected is often the only reason you want to get up in the morning. Wait Times Blog

  4. Gigi Says:

    Recently I started at a nursing home as a charge nurse. I really embraced the new administrators visions for what she was going for to turn this facility down. She seemed like was smart at business and smart about people. I liked the assist Adm and the DON. I believed her vision and I had thier back. Large turnaround in staff, and many new staff that had worked with the Administration before. Reassured CNA’s NA that change is hard, but we could see the difference. In the meantime, not even to myself, could I process the almost immediate non-value I felt. It was gradual, but clear today. The “old nurses” are great, but alot of them quit or got fired. I didn’t really know them. One of the nurses is a RN not in a department head position, and she is setting me up. I didn’t believe it at first, but several sabatoge type incidents have happened, like we have DCN in a Narc box and it was missing and I couldn’t give it to my re in the 6am pass because I couldn’t find it. One of the MT came and said this RN just “gave her” the bubble packs. No one wants to get in her path. The new admin needs a RN. I have 5 more classes, one year to finish my RN. I really became a nurse because I wanted to be a geriatric nurse. I’m interested in wound care. This past week and the meeting today they sayd they were holding our paychecks until the MARS where signed off. I had 40 hours overtime this past payperiod. I started clocking out and working off the clock because I didn’t want to get in looked down upon or in trouble because I couldn’t get my work done. I have 50 plus res nocs. Two aids if I’m lucky. I care about my residents and put patient care before charting, so I am always hours behind charting when the shift is over. They have books to cover thier books. The thing i I think my Admistration is trying to turn this facility around and I think they can do it, until this check holding thing. Its a public insult and I demanded my check. I got it that day. Today they said they are going to hold checks again if Mars etc aren’t signed off. We have CNA and NA’s on mandatory hold over to the next shift if someone doesn’t show up. Because of fire code etc and just needing NA to help care for these people. I see improvements, but this holding the pay check, is a public insult. I thought it was patient care over charting, charting last. Now if you are good at your job you should be able to get your work done and get the charting in your shift. 50 plus people. They make the assumption there are few treatments on the nocs shift, because the seasoned nurses say they are able to do it. I open tx that haven’t been used or the aids do it. My administration wants that changed. I change and do it and don’t match the seasoned nurses who are either trying to help me survive by short cuts, or the other is trying to do me in because I am doing, now stuff has to be ordered–blah, blah. I love the residents, but today I am thinking who is gonna take care of them if the people who care quit, and I can’t do this anymore. She lost my confidence when the check holding thing started. Its just wrong.

  5. Angie Says:

    I really felt this when I went from a progressive teaching hospital to a semi-rural hospital in my hometown. I ended up quitting to raise my kids instead of trying to keep the pediatric ward open. I’m back at my refresher course now and hoping to keep this hopeful attitude. Unfortunately it may mean not working in the hospital but in the community.

  6. Michael Says:

    I’ve wondered about the “horizontal aggression” since I was an aid, before I went to school. Wondered why so many nurses were in such a hurry to tear down their peers. At times I felt like I was back in highschool……instead of report being about who needed turned and repositioned, it was all “An so and so showed up late again then didnt get this and that done.”
    Then when I went into school, I was turned off by the way “Nursing is a profession” ruled the theory lectures. Go into any other profession, and they dont talk about that in school Yet, nursings books always have a chapter on “We are professionals because….blah blah blah.” Go into accounting or computer science and you wont find this. Seems to me, instead of writting papers on why nursing is so great, we would have been better served by studying pathophysiology and how to anticipate pt. needs.
    Three years as an RN now, and my opinion of nursing as a profession has changed for the worse, if thats possible. I look at the nursing administration and have to deep breate the ward off nausea. The leaders of the nursing profession are people with inferiority complexes who have been granted a title and now think they have arrived. To them, nursing is a mere title, no a profession. To them, nursing is more about how you dress and talking down to others or being critical of your coworkers……has nothing to do with pt. care.
    Nursing is not a profession, because the people who are the face of nursing are adolesents with an inferiority complex. The only way they know how to climb the corporate ladder is to criticize and belittle coworkers…… sense of teamwork whatsoever. Nursing will reamin this way until its focus moves away from a popularity contest to pt. care.

  7. IUnursegrad Says:

    To the ones who feel that the new grads “think they know everything”, this is the root of the hostility that the article is talking about!!! As a student about to graduate with my BSN, I feel that some more experienced nurses either don’t give us credit for what we know how to do, or push us down so that we feel completely unconfident in our knowledge. My class and I have taught nurses many things: about ARDS, the unsafe practice of dorsal gluteal injections, the unsafe practice of using the same syringe to flush an IV after a med, etc. We’ve done many research projects and have contributed to our units many times. We do know a lot, and for the nurses who have been on the unit for 25 years and never read a research article or took a class, we’re an asset. We have the current knowledge and know the best practice, because our knowledge is the most up to date. This is not to say that experienced nurses aren’t incredibly intelligent with loads of experiential knowledge under their belts, but please give us credit for working our lives away in college for the last 4-6 years.

  8. freshpeach Says:

    Ugh! I am facing this so much right now. I’m at the end of my orientation. During school I was told to be more confident, more confident, more confident. I thought I was just being confident in the things I knew and asking lots of questions. The secure nurses don’t seem to have a problem with me…but I seriously feel like I’ve been hazed. Last night was just the worst. I’m very very frustrated right now.

  9. Chris Says:

    At the level of patient:nurse interaction-Certainly nurses have some power and appear to exert control over outcomes.That is our role. However, little power is exerted in the healthcare system as a whole.To exertpower we need a unified voice.Identifying ourselves as professionals is required, if we want to be heard. This means our attire needs to change-no more juvinile scrubs. Also need to cross authority gradients by communicating effectively. Healthcare, by innovation alone, is changing-We have a say in how the change occurs and it begins with each of us behaving in a professional manner.

  10. Susan Says:

    Yes, not all nurses eat their young, but there are definitely some stinkers out there who behave in what can only be characterized as an outrageous manner with new nurses. I have experienced this first hand as a new nurse. I have never encountered adults I could not get along with, and I have worked many public jobs in my life and came to nursing in my 40s, so I have enough life experience to put this in some kind of perspective. However, on my unit there are two nurses, fairly young but with 5-6 years experience, who are so poisonous to new recruits that they are the sole reason two of them recently left after several months of training. What an incredible waste of time and resources! These new recruits were definitely not idiots and worked their butts off, but could not deal with these negative personalities.

    Blowing these prima-donnas in to management may be perceived as whining or gossiping, which I can’t abide. Also, management knows darn well what these people are like and turn a blind eye, since we are short-staffed to begin with. I suspect that one is bipolar and either unmedicated or meds are not well controlled, that’s how bad it is. My work environment is otherwise very good, except when I have to interact with one of these two nurses.

    I have never seen adults behave like this in my life, so moody and unpredictable. I’m at a loss as to what to do about it, and I don’t know how much more I am willing to put up with it. I have tried talking with one of them, but she was so unwilling to open a dialouge with me and just that I don’t know what to do next. I get along just fine with everyone else on the unit and the teamwork is otherwise very good. Any suggestions on how to deal with the moodiness?

  11. ex-bsnstudent Says:

    Personal experience: I was a BSN student 3 months from graduating with honors, who had maintained the dean’s list throughout my 4 years. I was an older student (older than most of my instructors) who experienced first hand the ignorance, hostility and proverbial felt the teeth of the the “nurses eating their young”. My very last clinical experience, I had the “good” fortune of getting assigned to a clinical instructor who was a very powerful person in the hospital, a director of a department who thought she would try her hand at being a clinical instructor.

    I still am unsure of the how or why, but she decided to chew me up and spit me out, everything from a nurse being in a horrible mood while her giving me report being my fault and failure because “I didn’t write down the info fast enough”, to my being a failure because the glucometer wasn’t reading correctly, therefore it was because I wasn’t “holding it correctly”, to a failure for a patient’s room being a pig stye because an aide had left two clean towels neatly folded and lying on a chair in the patient’s room.

    Although I had been successful for 3 and 3/4 years academically and through every other clinical, I was failed. Although I talked my way up the political ladder in the college, I was failed. The college being a private college, through the hospital system may have had something to do with it.

    But here I am $60,000 in debt with nothing to show for it but a very poor experience and an opinion that nursing certainly does not present itself as a profession that I personally would want to associate myself with.

    What happened to intelligence, compassion and caring? As a student nurse, all I ever wanted was to learn. As much as I am interested in caring for people, I think I will head more towards the social work direction.

    I thought I could make a difference in the profession by my professional practice in it, but I think the whole thing just may implode, unfortunately in the long run it is the patient who suffers.

  12. n00bienurse Says:

    I’ve been on my floor for a little over six months. Last night I was on night shift and didn’t realize that I needed to get bloodwork on my patient or start some paperwork before she could go for her tubal ligation. I had made sure that she had stayed NPO, but had never had a pt who needed bloodwork and no one had ever started that paperwork for me when I worked day shift.

    When I gave my report on this patient, the nurse who was taking over for me ripped me a new one. And this isn’t the first time she’s done it. She’s constantly making me doubt my own abilities and criticizing me in front of others.

    I’m sick of it and now I get to go back to work tonight and pick back up my patients from her. Yay.

  13. n00bienurse Says:

    BTW, the patient was scheduled for “morning collection” bloodwork to be done by the lab and it was done before she went for her tubal.

  14. BikerNurse Says:

    Every position I have held in acute care is exactly as you described. I have also experienced how unions can be counter-productive and they seem more interested in fear mongering than improving health care.

    Rather than to continue working in the acute care setting, I have educated myself and now work at a university teaching student nurses. Academics are in the persuit of knowledge and passing their skills and experiences to the new nurses. The academic setting is truly a place were we do not eat the young. Even as new faculty, I have found plenty of instructors to mentor me and I have grown substanially. I won’t go back to the acute care environment if you paid me double my wages.

  15. SB Says:

    I love Kathy Bartholomew. She hit the nail right on the head for me. One year on a med-surge floor made me want to quit nursing all together with all the hazing a bullies. One nurse would call me at 3am to harass me because I didn’t do a simple dressing change. So…this drove me out into community health…into a sort of Siberia of nursing for the past 5 years.

    Honestly I’m thinking someone should study the prevalence of borderline personality disorder among nurses. I think people who are disempowered in general seek maladaptive ways to gain power…developing borderline traits is one example of this. Think about it the whole “virtue script” nursing culture in general subscribes to: “Put others before me, emotion, sacrifice”…sounds kind of like the waif borderline doesn’t it? If anyone knows any research on this it’d be groundbreaking…

  16. Anne Says:

    I’ve been a nurse for 27 years and I’ve seen it over and over and over.
    I worked as an LPN in a small pediatric rehab facility.(I took the exam as a third year BSN student) I suggested we write some care plans at night. We had plenty of time for that. I was shot down in my review and my supervisor told me “if we once start that they will expect it all the time.”
    First job in nursing as an RN, back in 1983. Preceptor told me that she “hated BSN new grads” and she considered it her duty to “take BSN grads down a notch”. She was hideous to me.
    Switched to another floor hoping for something better; and it was better — at least my preceptor was kind to me — but there was an LPN who talked about me behind my back, did RN procedures in rooms with the doors closed, blamed me for her mistakes. Head nurse had friends on the floor, and if you were her friend you got away with breaking the rules; her non-friends would take the blame.
    Finally switched to another hospital, spent 10 years there, thankfully it was a good environment. Decided to start teaching nursing.
    First job as a clinical nursing instructor. Given one day of orientation, then on the floor with students. Asked a few questions like “where is the insulin” and “how do you use this device” — contract not renewed because they “questioned my competance.”
    Worked in public health, lasted 3 months, quit because the boss mocked me for asking questions (like “where do you keep reference materials”, turns out they didn’t have any and she thought I was trying to make her look bad.)

    In nursing, if you ask questions, they think you’re dumb. You have to prove yourself over and over. There are levels in nursing (nurse’s aide, LPN, RN, head nurse, supervisor) and you have to play the levels — it’s a skill and it’s one of the most important of skills, not taught in nursing school. You have to prove that you respect the levels below you, and you have to be humble to the levels above. If you get it wrong, you’re sunk.

    If I had it to do over, I would absolutley not become a nurse.

  17. Kathy Says:

    Wow, what an incredible collection of personal experiences you all have shared. I am currently updating some of my nursing education and have elected to write a paper on horizontal violence (bullying etc.) within the profession. I thought I would focus on the student nurse impacted by the phenomenon. The research has been incredibly insightful. I believe what I am reading, but as a professional I feel I am a part of the solution. I have been nursing for 20 years, 5 as an LPN and have also stepped in as an aide. In this experience I have only felt “part of the team” in one job (I have had about about 15, no never fired, just personal life changes). The difference with this cohesive group is that all the nurses had healthy lives away from work and good attitudes about what they were doing at work. The environment was supportive and allowed for a fair amount of autonomy. The manager respected all we did and intervened whenever there were concerns brought to her… That was a great place… During the research I am doing, I have learned of a new initiave by the health care stakeholders to activly work on transforming negative work environments. The summit is in Washington DC June 23 and 24, and offers what I see as concrete actions for positive nurse to nurse interactions. Hopefully, the stakeholders will help us (and provide the needed resources)to break the cycle that was created around the profession. The recruitment and retention issues are having massive impact on the overall industry therefore change must happen… I encourage you all to hit the google search engine etc. and learn more about the phenomenon. We owe it to ourselves to be healthy and to work in a supportive and caring environment. When we understand what we are feeling regarding negative behaviours of our own workmates, we will be better equipped to either sort it out or find a new workplace. I wish you all the strength and courage to investigate the issues and to be good to yourselves so you can be good to your patients.

  18. Kathy Says:

    Sorry, I should have included the Summit 2008 information… LEAD Center for American Nurses. I did see Tim Porter-O’Grady up here in Canada. He is a brilliant speaker and brings good energy to the places he comes to.
    I just wanted to also say that oftentimes I have been literally “on the very edge” as a result of the horizontal violence I have experienced over the years… Despite this I am more determined than ever to show them that they will never get me that far down again.

  19. Roberta Says:

    I just attended the LEAD Summit 2008 in Washington DC, after which I also attended the American Nurses Association House of Delegates. Tim Porter-O’Grady was wonderful, as were all of the speakers. While the funding for the Center from the ANA contract has expired, I am hopeful that the Center will continue. They produce a great brochure about horizontal violence. The ANA also has a very strongly worded position statement on the subject, available on their website.

    I am a new grad, BSN (May, 2007), and 46 years old with experience working in many work environments. I have almost reached my one year anniversary (I didn’t begin work until Sept. 2007). Because of many factors including horizontal violence at my present workplace, and the fact that it is a union hospital, I will be leaving and beginning travel nursing. I will be joining the agency that a classmate is using that is a good one. My one year anniversary can’t arrive soon enough.

    The union (California Nurses Assoc, not to be confused with ANA/CA, the ANA chapter) makes it so that bad nurses cannot be fired. One nurse on my unit actually punched a float a few weeks ago, was arrested, and now is back at work as if nothing happened. Another nurse is clearly mentally ill, has a venomous tongue, and thinks and says the worst of everyone. She actually had the nerve to call me at home one day while I was sleeping (of course I am on nightshift) to say that I had lied to her about charting on soft restraints for a patient. I DID chart it, but it turned out that there were two places it needed to be documented, and that was not clear on the protocol that I took the time to look up. It was good to be notifed so I could chart in the 2nd location that night, but I had to make it clear that I was not to be called at home. A note on my locker would have sufficed. The union is taking $33 per paycheck in dues: $858 a year!!!!!

    As far as the experienced nurses go: most are actually incompetent. Why? Because they have not read or studied any of the massive changes in nursing and patient care since they graduated…uh, how many years ago? One is awesome; he (yes, he) always keeps up on everything and is a great resource. The others couldn’t even pass the basic EKG test now required on our unit. I passed with a 97% and the administrator was so impressed that she emailed me congratulations. It was an easy test after a well taught class. I am not a rocket scientist, although I was a very good student.

    At first I thought that the other nurses could teach me things and it seemed that they could, however I just realized that often they have either taught me the wrong way altogether on an intervention or they have left out important things. I have never had an attitude that I know everything, and certainly never have said any such thing. I always have asked lots of questions. However, I now have my up-to-date clinical manual in my locker. I will check it whenever I need a review, or before asking another nurse to guide me in doing a procedure that I have not done previously. That way I will have enough background to know what they are either doing wrong or leaving out.

    The other thing that the nightshift senior nurses do is to demand easy patients from the day shift charge. They actually call ahead to make sure they will have an easy night. And if they arrive and find things not to their liking, they throw a fit and the pt assignments are rearranaged. Guess who gets all the difficult or demanding patients? For the first few months I thought that I was running all night without a break because I hadn’t learned how to prioritize, worked too slow, etc. Then I realized that I am actually extremely good at organizing and prioritizing; I just have the worst/hardest patients. One night four of my patients had PICC lines, three of these needed nurse draws for am labs, and the other had Q6 PTT lab draws (Heparin drip.) I prepared everything ahead of time, and my bags with tubes, etc. were all lined up in the med room. They would have looked pretty funny to me except that they represented a lot of work. As you must imagine, these patients required a lot of other care as well. Two nights ago I had the maximum # pts after getting an admit, and another nurse had one patient. I am not kidding. This is standard for me. Almost everytime we have a float or registry nurse they ask me, “Is this your unit?!” because I am treated like I am a float; dumped on. It’s a not-funny joke-on me.

    While my experienced nurse cohorts have their potlucks, 2 hour meals and gossip breaks, sleep, and surf the internet, I WORK. I told my supervisor I was looking at leaving, and so the good male nurse last night took me aside to educate me on how to manipulate things like they do so that I don’t get stuck with all the hard patients. Hmmm. I know he means well, but I am SO GONE.

  20. bobbisrn Says:

    I noticed horizontal violence when I decided to move from general care to cardiovascular intensive care. I was warned about the theory that nurses eat their young and that it was rumored that the unit that I was hired to work on had one of the worst reputations for this behavior in the hospital. However, I also experienced this behavior in nursing school from my instructors so I guess I was well prepared for the brutality early on. I am a stubborn person and have encountered many nurses and nursing instructors who have predicted my failure and I have always said we will see who is right in this equation. I was chewed up and spit out in my first year of ICU but I knew in my heart that I could rise above and become a really good ICU nurse and I have been their almost 5 years now. I am occasionally asked to train new staff and new staff always come to me with questions. I have been told that I am easier to approach than a lot of the senior staff on my unit because of my philosophy that no question is a stupid question and the only stupidity to come from a question is if it isn’t asked. It took me a good year and a half on that unit to gain respect from my nurse manager but now she knows the grit I have and that I am willing to stand up to any challenge, I think she is mildly humbled for her misbehavior in the beginning.

  21. MCR Says:

    I am so saddened by some of the comments about good nurses leaving the profession because of tolerated poor behavior. Finally, this has been brought to light. I have been nursing for the past 15 years. I was a “Non-traditional” nursing student, having spent a number of years in various different service professions before I was exposed to this phenomenon. My first job as a nurse was on a med-surg floor and I can say I was treated quite well as a new BSN grad. However, we re-located to another state and I started working in a medical ICU in a large metropolitan hospital. I did not realize that grown adults could act so mean and spiteful. My first preceptor was very mean and nasty. Luckily, the unit manager realized that we did not get along and I went another preceptor that was a bit nicer but still pretty nasty.
    I moved on to another ICU in a regional hospital and felt a lot better because I decided in the beginning that I would not let anyone intimidate me the way I had been in the past. I spent a number of years there before I started working as a nurse educator. I have come across this same nasty behavior again. It is not directed towards me but towards the students. I cannot believe how nurse educators will speak so poorly about and to their students. There are a few instructors that are downright beastly to their students. I had decided many years ago that I would never treat another person this way and would do what ever I could to change the face of nursing. I try to instill in my students a sense of personal pride in their care. I think this will help them to understand that they are valuable and we need all the great nurses to stay in nursing.
    There is a wonderful book, “How Full is Your Bucket?” written by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton, that I reccomend to my students (and anyone who will listen) that gives strategies to help your self-confidence and others. It’s a quick read and well worth it.

  22. Stephanie Says:

    As a current student I’ve personally experienced nurses chewing my head off. When it first happened, I was a secretary on a med/surg unit at MGH in Boston. 90% of the nurses were at least 5 year post-grad and they knew I was a freshman nursing student. I always had questions about everything they were doing and looked up to them- until I got it. I felt despised and like I was in the way, which I wasn’t, I was just curious. The attitudes I witnessed and experienced were so bad I began thinking that if that what nursing was, then I didn’t want to be a part of it, and almost changed my major. Luckily for me I didn’t. I realized it was a culture on that unit for everyone to work against each other and to eat their own, and was the reason they had a problem retaining new nurses. Due to that experience, I would never work on that unit and always remember how to NOT be to a student- we’ve all been one!

  23. Melissa Says:

    As a pre-nursing student with one prereq left, I can honestly say this thread is the most depressng, discouraging this I have come across since I’ve chosen nusing as my future career.

  24. Roberta Says:


    Please don’t quit! I know I my post paints a bad picture but it is about only this one unit. And there are some good, friendly nurses here. I have also learned a great deal and just been told that I am now one of the best nurses here, I am sure because I had to push myself so hard to handle all those acute patients. So it worked out for the best. Nursing gives you so many options. Hey, with one year acute care experience you can work just about anywhere else, and you can also do travel nursing like I am about to start. There are pitfalls with traveling, too, but once you find the right agency (best done through a referral from someone you know), then it can be awesome. I am also applying to Vanderbilt University’s online MSN program soon and will be able to work in administration after I complete my next degree. With so many options in nursing it is the best profession around. Good luck.

  25. anne Says:

    As a read all of these, I have become so thankful for the job I have. I work as a RN on a telemetry/medsurg floor-37 bed unit and I love my co-workers! (unfortunately that is about all i like) My CC’s are awesome, they work right along side with us with patients and everything. Our aides are good, everyone respects each other! it is amazing and with out my co-workers I never would have made it through. Occcassionally there is a nurse here or there who acts like they are SO busy and that there work load is so much harder and unfair-but it never lasts because other nurses help out-with out being asked to keep everything going. it is great teamwork. I do find that occassionaly there is some bullying between 2 floors in particular, but as long as you can do your job-they shut up. maybe it makes a difference being at a smaller hosptial-theres only 207 beds total, i’m not sure but i plan on staying there for a long time!

  26. Siberia Nurse Says:

    It’s funny that we all have our own perceptions of what is right or wrong or good or bad about the nursing profession. (and I beg to differ with those who do not consider it a profession)
    While I totally empathize with the stories of mistreatment from older and/or more experienced nurses, (I experienced it myself as a young nurse in the hospital setting) I am very disappointed to see an apparent lack of respect for those nurses who do community health nursing.
    (cases in point) SB says: So…this drove me out into community health…into a sort of Siberia of nursing for the past 5 years.
    Angie says: Unfortunately it may mean not working in the hospital but in the community.
    Having been in this “Siberia” sector of nursing for the past 15 years, in both “home health” and “hospice”, I feel obligated to comment that it is never a “bad” thing for a good nurse to go into community nursing. Never is a good nurse needed more than in a home where a patient (and their family) are either seeking recovery or dealing with the fact that there is no recovery possible. And never is a good nurse more appreciated. The job satisfaction is amazing when you really care and do it right.

  27. Almost there! Says:

    I was asked to do a project in my last semester of RN so I googled “verbal abuse by physicians and coworkers” and ended up at this site.
    Wow, a lot of good stories….sad, but true! I’m blessed to work in a hospital with caring coworkers that leave their problems at home. I’m so thankful for them…they are willing to help out a newbie!!

  28. Karina Says:

    I am a new grad and started on my ward 6 weeks ago.

    Every single shift is a battle for me to match what the more experienced nurses do. I am told over and over that I am being to hard on myself, and that I’m only new and people dont expect me to know everything or run everything perfectly; this comes with experience and even experienced nurses stuggle sometimes.

    Yet I see the same people who reassure me with this advice, raise their eyebrows at me, or snigger at me behind my back when they think I can’t hear them or see them. People I thought I could look to for guidance, I no longer trust. I trust no-one on my ward.

    Every day is a struggle. I accept the humiliating remarks and bite my tongue; on wrong word to the wrong person and my life would be even more miserable then it is now.

    Disheartened is an understatement for what I feel. Complete betrayal would be more accurate.

    For some reason I thought women were nurturing, and that the sisterhood of nursing would help me to grow and reach my potential. Instead I find myself dying a little more inside every day I wake up and realise I have to go to work. I feel more alone now then ever before.

    The only way I am surviving is through my patients. It is for them that I am there.

  29. bobby Says:

    it sounds like you are a caring new nurse who takes the job serious. Unfortuneatly, these hipocritical people do exist, and will always be around. If you feel you can not trust certain people for advise or encouragement through a diffult time, such as starting your new nursing career, seek out help through other avenues and express your concerns to your manager or director. If you are met with resistance try another floor, because there are actually good nursing mentors out there. Just starting out can be hard, but it can be even harder if you don’t have moral support and helpfulness of the people you work with. Don’t feel like you have to be dumped on just because you are starting out. Asking questions is always good, and you are not alone. keep your head up, most nurses have and do experience similar circumstances throughout their career. Some people just have big egos with large appetities.

  30. SB Says:

    Hi, Siberia Nurse, thanks so much for writing in response to a comment I made :). Interestingly, I didn’t mean that “the Siberia of nursing” (i.e. community health nursing) is a negative choice. But you are right it is PERCEIVED as negative. There’s a lot going around about ER/ICU nurses being the smartest and most “hardcore” and community/mental health/public health nurses as less intelligent or even lazy. It’s pretty sad. I remain passionate about my Siberia (public health nursing)…and think about it…Siberia (and I’ve actually been there) was a place where great intellecutals, artists, and bright politicians were banished because they threatened the mainstream. 🙂

    I think the other nurses should join us out in Siberia and then we ban together and change the whole dang nursing system to be more healthy, nurturing, holisitc, and inclusive for young and elder!

  31. Karina Says:

    Thank you Bobby for your words of wisdom. Every day is still a battle, but the difference is that now I feel like it is a battle I can win and a battle I can learn from. Thank you!

  32. notanadultnurseanymore Says:

    good grief! you guys have awful working environments!!! Why on EARTH do you stay there? I have never worked in a place as hostile as the ones you describe… and i’m in my third unit in a 4 year period! I worked surgery with the best group of nurses I’ve ever met… hard working, dedicated, willing to invest in new staff, always asking “do you need help?” before sitting down. I worked in NICU at a smaller hospital and found the team nursing there phenomenal. they were all eager to help me learn and answer my questions and were really welcoming! My new NICU at a tertiary care hospital is more independant nursing but you know that there’s people you can lean on when your kid starts going down the toilet and no one would ever get mad at you for asking a “stupid” question. Maybe it’s because I work in Canada? maybe our system is more empowering? I certainly would have left if I worked in any of the environments you guys describe. You don’t owe them anything and you should really leave if your mental health is suffering and you hate going to work that much! Come and work with me!

  33. lidsrn Says:

    That’s why I’m leaving the nursing profession and going into speech language pathology! I’m in my last year of grad school and can’t wait! Nursing school was torture, classmates were catty…school for me now is so much better, most of my classmates are also females and we all help each other out. I hope nursing becomes a positive experience for more people, because it wasn’t for me.

  34. cjmiller29 Says:

    I wouldn’t say where I work we “eat our young” because of our “powerless” feeling. I work in a critical care unit and as I tell my students in the clinicals I teach, we are rabid dogs in protecting our patients. That is where we expect a new nurse to prove their smarts because we don’t want to pick up the mistake done to the patient. Of course, all 3 of my units I’ve worked in over the past 15 years had put a lot of thought and effort in training a new nurse to the unit so they are NOT left hanging. I guess I’m trying to point out the different focus on protection of the patient rather than powerless to a doctor. I’ve saved too many of their behinds to feel inferior to them. The new nurses I have been a little harder on are the ones who cannot admit when they don’t know what they are doing. They are very easy to spot and will harm a patient if not shown very quickly that it’s not about pride its about learning and safety.

  35. Charl1egirl Says:

    I have been lucky that everywhere I have worked I have had seasoned nurses embrace me!!! I am thankful for that and know that there are other’s that have not had the same experience and for them I feel sorry. I have ususally had good experiences with most nurses/charge nurses that they realize we are all human. We All make mistakes and it is ok. If you never make a mistake you are not a true nurse. I love being a nurse an No I do not eat my young!!!

  36. canniary Says:

    That’s the point. is sounds like too many new nurses are being left to fend for themselves, because they did not receive the appropriate guidance and moral support from fellow nurses with more experience and new nurses are leaving because of it. Fellow nurses and mentors need to open their eyes. This one may actually come back to bite you it butt. This is Not a good idea, remember that whole nursing shortage thing, and not only how it effects patient care and saftey, but also the rest of the poor souls having to pick up the extra patient loads d/t this unfortunate circumstance. Most new nurses are leaving not necessarily because they are not smart enough or do not have the ability of recognizing when a patient may be crashing and when to call for help, although I am sure there are some out there, just note I am not generalizing. Some fellow nurses out there in this profession can be just be unwilling to help a fellow less experienced nurse, or better yet give advise when it features them in a high and mighty and self uplifting role, and FYI late advice is never appreciated, so just go back to your magazine and get over yourself while your at it. I am speaking for those nurses who do seek out advice or help and are unable to attain it. I don’t care how long you have been in nursing, if your not willng to care about your fellow nurses, especially the new ones, you’re pretty much worthless. MOST nurses went into the profession to help people, that does not just include patients, hence the word ” people”. Please don’t be ignorant, remember and reevaluate why it was you actually decided to become a nurse. I know there are alot of good nursing mentors out there, I know, but sometimes it’s far and few between. I just think it is sad. My advice to new nurses: know who to go to for advice and those to whom you should avoid, and always go with your gut. peace.

  37. brickwall Says:

    I wonder if some nurses suffer from PTSD as a result of their job. I wonder because what nurses witness and endure over the years most people will barely witness in a life time, deaths, having to manage acute medical emergencies, sometimes on a daily basis, as well as psychotic break down of pts and sometimes family members, expressing frustration and irrational aggrestion to staff, and not to mention the unfair staffing ratios imposed on the profession that is one of such importance forcing their nurses to the breaking point. Jeesh, No wonder nurses can come off as bitter.

  38. rnsocal76 Says:

    I’ve been a male NICU RN for 6 years in Los Angeles. I’ve only heard the term that NICU nurses (specifically), eat their young. I never really experienced that on the west coast. After moving east, to Louisiana, I really discovered that it is true. Male RN’s in the NICU in the deep south are a true rarity. I recently experienced blatant miss-management after arriving to my travel destination facility, here, in New Orleans. I absolutely experienced some PTDS from that (combined, of course with my arrival just 4 days before being evacuated for Hurricane Gustav). Things are all good, now, though. I’ve decided to switch tracks. Tulane U. Med. Center hired me to learn E.R. I wonder how quickly E.R. nurses eat their young? At least I have a thicker skin, now!

  39. sistervashti Says:

    I had never heard that NICU nurses specifically eat their young, but I’ve worked NICU most of my career and there is a lot of backbiting that goes on in there. My theory is that we are pretty much locked in for our whole shift, and we work on top of each other. We can’t escape even for a moment when the tension is getting to us, so we take it out on each other. I almost wish they would do a compatability test like an online dating service before they make us all work together.
    However, you need ALL types in a critical care area. You never know which personality will be needed for a crisis. We need the OCD, the type A, and the ones who think outside the box too.
    what we don’t need is gossip, and that seems to be everywhere.

  40. Toxic Avenger Says:

    If we had more male nurses, this topic wouldn’t be problem, and it also goes for nursing school, where the witches await their next victims.

  41. marathonRN Says:

    When I first graduated nursing school 25 yrs ago I started out on an adult Med/Surg unit. I worked as a nurse aide during school in the float pool, so I knew many of the nurses on that floor to begin with. However, by the time I started there was a different nurse manager (back then “head nurse”) and some newer faces.
    The head nurse was one of those power hungry, self-important people who was using her position as a stepping stone, not to improve the unit. There was one nurse who was maybe 6 months out of school before me who seemed to be charming and welcoming – at first. As time went by in those early months the head nurse was demanding and would dress you down in front of everyone if you didn’t step up your game. It’s kind of difficult to do that when you are the least experienced person on the team with the most difficult assignment on the floor! But, she left for another department and our next head nurse was a great advocate for our team and made many positive changes. I felt I grew as a nurse & a person with her at the helm. Unfortunately, she left after having a child and another head nurse came on board.
    The next head nurse was a nice person, was a year ahead of me in nursing school and everyone liked her. However, she was NOT management material. She would pander to both sides of the fence (her staff and her superiors). I did not feel supported or encouraged and found it difficult to have any respect for this person in her position.
    As for the “little darling” that was on the floor when I got there – yeah, sure, she was fun and exciting and pretty darn smart. But watch out – it you out-shined her in any capacity – you had to watch your back. She was the one who got all the rich patients, barely showed up in the poor patients’ rooms, and was the master at back-biting and sabotage. She got me one time by calling me hours after my shift to let me know that I did not take any care of a person all day that was on my assignment. I could swear that person was not on my assignment. When I got in the next day I looked at the assignment sheet (done by hand in pencil) and, sure enough, the assignment had been altered and that patient’s room number was under my name. Hmmmm….
    When that person left to go to an outpatient department, and her little shadows went to other facilities or departments, things brightened. I was told I was one of the best nurses on the floor, was sought out to preceptor senior student nurses, assisted w/ administrative stuff, and mentored new staff/agency workers. My confidence soared. But, it was painfully obvious in that facility that the only way to better your position was to be someone’s pet or leave all together. It wasn’t what you knew, it was WHO you knew that got you a place in another department. Unfortunately, I left that facility because I cried when I got up to go to work, cried when I was at work, and cried when I got home. I was no longer effective. I now work for a major health insurance company where nurses are seen as a valuable commodity and opportunity abounds.
    And as for nursing being a “profession” – it is a profession. It’s just dragged down by those that act in an unprofessional manner. I wish they’d grow up and get a clue!

  42. MK Says:

    Hey Marathon,

    So tell us how to score the job with an insurance company.

    I’ve done both hospital and home health for years, I hate it all. Home health nurses are about as overworked as the hospital; but it’s not quite as stressful. (The paperwork will kill you, however).

    If I could do it over again, Nursing most definately would’nt be on my list of possible career options. Nursing is good for those martyrs who like being maxed out with stress, abused by their employers, and treated like crap by patients, family and staff alike. Did I mention underpaid? I’ve always felt used and abused on the job, and have rarely found much job satisfaction being a nurse.

    I’m no martyr, I’ve had about all the BS I can stand; I won’t work under horrible conditions anymore, and I won’t put up with nasty biotches. I fight back…. if it gets me fired, so be it, because I’m better off elsewhere. The biotches can stay there happily basking in their own poopoo; with one less staff on hand. (I never could understand that…I’m always more than happy for all the staff and help possible. Why would the stupid biotches want to run off the help?)

  43. BLS Says:

    Can honestly say, after reading this, that I feel blessed to be where I am. I havn’t been in nursing more than 6 months, and have had nothing but support from my coworkers. My preceptor was an experienced nurse with 20 years under her belt who divulged many pieces of knowledge to me. She made me want to learn more about my profession, not shy away from it. On top of that, I have always been told to never drown and always ask for help. Everytime I’ve needed them, they’ve been there.

    I guess I’m lucky. But more than that, it depends on how you respond to a situation. I won’t stay in a place where I feel degraded and I won’t let one bad experience spoil my career. I had previously intereviewed at one hospital where I was told by the nurse manager that I wouldn’t make it as a nurse (I was still a student applying as a student nurse tech). He made a bet, in front of me, with the other interviewer that in five years I would be out of nursing. I cried, it hurt me, but looking back I think it was the best thing that ever happened. I moved on to another hospital (my backup choice) and can’t imagine being happier. Meanwhile, the manager was forced to leave after poor nurse turnover rates.

    My advice out of all of this is to stay motivated. Nurses are needed everywhere. And not every coworker will eat you!

  44. LiliaBSN Says:

    I would have to agree that MOST of the nurses out there that interact either with new grads as preceptors or with students in clinical are wonderful people who just want to share their knowledge with a new generation of nurses. However. There is also a very dedicated and hard-core group of nurses who do “eat their young”. I ended up having to delay my graduation an entire year because of one single experience with a nurse who had absolutely no business having a student or even working on a peds oncology unit where I was doing a clinical. I had no problem with the nurse I was working with for the first half of the shift, but when shift change came around, I must have descended into hell. Nothing I did was correct, I mixed the medications wrong, I administered MS04 too quickly (.5mg/min), and apparently, I was snide. That woman told my instructor (and to this day I don’t know what she told her), who then decided to remove me from the class.

    That woman also had four other students, five total, removed from that class who had never had a single complaint against them in clinical, and all held decent GPA’s and had good clinical eval’s.

    To those seasoned nurses who view every student or new grad with a groan or an eye roll, or who intentionally try to find fault with each and everything they do, remember this: you were a student at one time too, no matter how long ago. You counted on another person to help you learn, not to tear you down. Trust me when I say that new grads are more than open to learning; they just spent the last 4-5 years doing just that. But when you approach with the sole purpose of making them so very aware of how much they don’t know and how much you do, you are the nurse that “eats their young”. When you do that, you don’t have patient care in mind. You have yourself in mind. And that is what makes nurses seem unprofessional. We tend to be a selfish profession. At my facility, we are currently making a major change in management to reflect nursing as it’s own profession, and not just the helping hand of allopathic medicine. And it is working. When nurses know how to communicate professionally and assertively, and when nurses know without a doubt that no gossip is tolerated what so ever, it makes a huge difference.

  45. Debbie Says:

    to all of the new nurses and nursing students who happen to read this: Please please do not give up. I have been in the nursing field for 17 years. I have experienced all of the above nasty behaviors, backstabbing, horrible co-workers, horrible charge nurses, horrible patient assignments . . . but, every once in a while, you have a patient that makes it worthwhile. Try to find something that helps you de-stress, and for God’s sake and your own, never ever take these people and their nasty remarks and behavior personally, as we tend to do because of our caring nature. The nasty nurses, co-workers, and doctors are nasty no matter what! De-stress and do not take these people to heart, because you are doing something that takes a SPECIAL kind of person to do.
    Hang in there, please. We as a profession need you.

  46. Lanietwostepper Says:

    I hate to read such ugly stories, but I am almost happy to see them. That means I am not alone. I graduated nursing school in Canada, and then married and moved to the deep south of the USA. I am a very proud RPN! Unfortunately for me, my state board does not recognize any license from outside the USA. What a pickle huh? Well, my love for the nursing profession was strong, so I decided to endure another bought of me VS nursing school. One of my teachers, a 2 year diploma nurse with 25+ years of nursing experience (17 of those as an LPN teacher) tried to explain the “eat their young” theory to the class. She stated it was to weed out the weak and undesirables. What I found out was it was more to weed out those that had morals, character and a good work ethic! Student nurses, or Nurelettes as we were nicknamed, are on the bottom of the floor’s food chain. We are abused by the nurse extenders, and looked down upon by most of the RN’s and LPN’s. Now don’t get me wrong. Not ALL nurses are like that. But too many are. My class was faced with seasoned nurses refusing to accept students to shadow them, or worse, sat around all shift and drove their student nurse ragged. They DEMANDED students do things that were not part of their scope of practice, and even used foul language to address them and their patients. Sorry, tired, unprofessional nurses, and teachers with the same mentality make it a horrible learning environment to which many of my classmates said NO to and left. For those of us that did graduate, I being top of my class, we come into the work force with apprehension and doubt. The floors where we were treated so badly remain understaffed, as not one student would apply to work in such a hell hole. All I could tell my younger classmates was; If you do not like the system, it is up to you to change it! Be an advocate for your patient, and your profession. Do you work to the best of your ability each and every shift, and remember those nurses who turned your stomachs. Work with them, not like them, and they will either be shamed into doing better, or you will have your fill and move onward and upward. There are always multiple opportunities for great nurses, and very limited ones for the rest. One of my instructors said there was a difference between a good nurse and a great nurse. One can do the job, and the other excels in the art of nursing. It is your choice. Be a good nurse, or be known as a great nurse. If you are being eaten, shame the ones taking bites, but if are the one eating, then shame on you!

  47. mecCRNA Says:

    I read the theories presented and I disagree. Nurses eat their young b/c nursing is a female-dominated profession: most nurses are codependent, i.e. I became a nurse to help others because I can’t help myself, and most females are catty bitches. You do the math.
    Spoken from an ex-codependent female CRNA.

  48. NicuNurse Says:

    This article is retarded. Nurses eating their young has nothing to do with powerlessness. It has to do with a female dominated profession and females tend to be a bit bitchier than men.
    Im pretty sure you can go into other professions such as fire fighters or police department and they also treat their rookies like shit also even with all their power.
    And since when does gossiping mean you lack intelligence? Much of our history is based on something someone else said…man dont get me started.

  49. Heather Says:

    I am very dissapointed by this entire “blog!” All of you that have posted this garbage should be ashamed, especially if you are a nurse. GET A CLUE- nurses have issues as do all Professions- yet since we are female dominated we just tend to be more vocal about it unlike physicians and other male dominated professions that keep it behind closed doors! Believe me MD’s torture med students and interns and residents all the way up the chain- it makes you stronger and guess what you are a novice and we work in HEALTHCARE -one of the most intense and stressful jobs on this earth- so yes sometimes people get upset- here is an idea spend less time bitching about it and more time doing something about it- its not our profession thats powerless its you ridiculous fools writting this mess about nurses! Get educated and get your act together!

  50. Jennifer Says:

    As a nursing student I have heard of Nurses eating their young and I know from talking to some of my instructors that it does happen. Thankfully everywhere that I have done clinical rotations the nurses have been absolutely wonderful. They have taken the time to explain things and any questions that I may have they are more than happy to explain and make sure that I understand. Maybe this is just a really good hospital or it could also be because it is just a small town. I am not sure but I haven’t personally experienced any of the nurses being rude or crude. But after I have thought about it a little biy maybe it wouldn’t hurt to have someone “challenge” you. I think that this can only help you as long as you don’t take it to heart and just turn it into something that is going to motivate you to be the best that you can be. I also think that you have to keep in mind that your number one priority is that patient, not making sure that all the other nurses are happy. I think that nursing is a great career and like some others have said it is going to have its downfalls and problems just like any other profession. I am still looking forwad to graduation and starting my life as a Nurse.

  51. BSNstudent Says:

    I am a nursing student and after reading these comments I wonder if I want to stick with my career choice. A lot of these comments remind me of high school and all the catty gossip and backstabbing that I got so sick of. I am currently working at a hospital as a transporter. I basically just transport patients to and from tests and things like that. In order to take a patient to a test I have to have a piece of paper called a passport that has to be signed by the nurse. Over sixty percent of the time when I ask a nurse to sign the passport it’s like I spat in their face. I guess they feel like I’m taking up too much of their time by asking them to sign the piece of paper. I know they are busy, but I have to have the paper or else I can’t take the patient to their test. I don’t know if its because I’m a mere transporter or if they are like that to everyone but if this is the way it’s going to be when I get out of school then I’m really worried that I got into the wrong field. A majority of nurses at this hospital just seem so mean. The same goes for the secretaries too. This has got me so worried.

  52. Laura Says:

    I also read this blog with dismay and disgust. No one has to take workplace abuse such as has been described. It reminds me of sorority hazing. Nursing will always be regarded as a pink collar job, not as a profession until nurses start acting like true professionals. The new nursing students, particularly those in the BSN programs understand this, and as for the vets who don’t, well lawsuits for assault (“assault” by definition is a verbal threat), discrimination, etc. can always be filed by the victim and formal complaint with the nursing board. It’s time for the victims of this ridiculous behavior to stand up and fight back.

  53. Cathy Says:

    Wow…I was trying to make the decision to become a nurse at fifty. It has always been a dream, but after reading this blog. Why would I want to go through all the training, stress, and deal with nurses that will eat us up?? It’s earning those strips in any job. Politics/Power stuggles and being on top!! Management must step in, and do something/problem solve, help all these stressed out nurses, to help release the great amounts of stress.
    How about weekly group destress meetings for the nurses. Try something new like, dinners out, massage days, fun days, sounds like this would help the grouchy nurses. If it’s about the mighty dollar, it’s better than losing all the nurses. Your probably all laughing, but If nothing is done, the same o same continues. Nurses feeling bad, and many more lost nurses. Hopefully, the best can demand the brightest colors for you all someday.

  54. Zoey BN Says:

    I have worked in healthcare for 31 years. HCA, LPN and now a BN. My current job is in intensive care. Although I get along well I see the drama of staff with backstabbing,insults and verbal accusations. I am sure that I too am a target when out of ears reach. I have never seen it quite this bad. For all new grads and those entering nursing, always remember that there is good and bad in every profession. Remember what made you enter this career and advocate both for your patients and yourself.

  55. Diana Says:

    Good grief. There are losers in every profession and nursing is not excluded. People need to believe in themselves, realize that good nursing means supporting each other through team work and mentoring. All the badness listed in these posts just makes the people doing it look small, petty and angry. Stomping people down does not make you bigger better or smarter- it makes you a loser. People respect people who want their peers and people they are precepting to succeed- their success is somewhat a reflection upon you- their failure in the OJT type job–because you know it’s OJT you don’t get it all in school- in any program- their failure means you suck at your job.

  56. Gina Says:

    I’m a new nurse for about 4 months. I’ve had nurses mistreat me and family members chew me out in front of the whole staff. I try not to acknowledge the gossip and bullying. I heard one nurse go around and belittle me. I’ve had to directly confront one nurse. A couple of nurses stopped this behavior and are actually nice to me because they see that I don’t acknowledge their behavior and it doesn’t phase me when I actually go home and sometimes cry and punch my pillow. It’s like this behavior stops when they she that it doesn’t phase me and it’s not fun anymore for them to harrass me. I’ve learned to grow thick skin. Though I may not get the acknowlegement so far from my peers but it’s very rewarding when pts have asked if I’m coming back the next day and appreciate me! 🙂

  57. Elizabeth Says:

    I also think that nurses eat their old ones too!After many years as a nurse, I am tired of being treated as a moron by younger nurses and being bossed about but I am going back to school and that has given me the confidence to move ahead.

  58. Alexandria Says:

    I agree with the many who think this blog is retarded. I feel it’s outdated. Nurses eat their young and old alike. From what I see, good nurses simply can’t stand lazy crappy nurses who talk a lot but get nothing done. I am a new nurse and I have been completely taken in by the very experienced amazing nurses, why is that? It’s because I am smart enough to know that there is a whole lot I don’t know and I am not afraid to ask questions or admit that I don’t know something. Experiencd nurses can’t stand the new grads who waltz in acting like they know everything because they passed the damn NCLEX or graduated top of the class. And as far as powerlessness, couldn’t be further from the truth. Nurses save doctors asses ALL THE TIME. Nurses are the core and backbone of healthcare. Bottom line. This is a hard field, very stressful and if you’re sensitive and can’t handle some heat, you need to get the hell out of the kitchen. Lick your wounds and move on.

  59. DianeJ Says:

    I have been a nurse since 1977 and I don’t think the blog is retarded and it is not outdated. It is a sad fact of life “Nurses Do Eat Their Young”.
    Why? no clue but it happens. They eat you up and spit you out with a smile on their face. Not all nurses are like that but it does happen over and over again.

  60. Marla Says:

    To many places treat you like a lightbulb. If you burn out, no big deal, they just screw in another one. I am a DON now and I not only take new nurses under my wing, but encourage all my staff to do the same thing. I often say, ‘the day off you save may be your own.” Besides, we are all here for the residents, and if you’re not here for them, well, there is the door. Thanks for playing.

  61. Sylvia Foley Says:

    I’m struck by the fact that the comments come from across the spectrum on this one. There is good research out there on bullying among nurses and its effects; it certainly exists, but people often don’t know how to address it effectively. Cheryl Dellasega, a professor at Penn State University and an expert in bullying, published an article last January in the American Journal of Nursing (I was the editor). She surveyed the literature and has talked to a lot of nurses; the article offers a sample survey and provides some concrete recommendations for dealing with nurse-nurse bullying. If anyone’s interested, here’s the link: (open the PDF for the cleanest read).

  62. Susie Says:

    I am a new nurse. I have been woking my first nursing job at a long term care facility. I have been there 9 months. I had wanted to be a nurse all my life. I did not get the opportunity until I was in my forties. Talk about nurses eating there young!! I am currently looking for other employment and at this point, I’ll take any job with any pay and I don’t care if it is even in nursing. I have one nurse who has been harassing me since the beginning. She literally brags about herself being a “Bitch”. She smarts off to me for any mistake I make, There are times I speak to her or ask her a question and she will look thru me and totally ignore me, she takes great pleasure in pointing out any mistake I make, with the nastiest attitude. She talks behind my back, spreading rumors and lies. I worked with her the other night and we never spoke two words to each other all night. I had not worked her floor for a few days, so there was nothing for her to jump me about. We never spoke that whole evening. Yet, the next night she comes to work she is telling everyone how she told me off about how I talked to a resident the night her and I worked together. She told them that I was talking to him like a baby and in a very demeaning manner. I do not speak to my resident that way and I have since spoken to the resident’s wife and she does not think that I speak to him in that manner. This nurse had nothing to bitch at me for, so she just made something up. If she would lie about that, what else has she or will she lie about to make me look bad? How does someone continue to work with a person you can no longer respect or trust? I have reported her behavior to management many times. Other staff members have gone to management in my defense. All we ever get from the Administrator and DON is: “Yes, she has been told and told about this, she apologizes and just keeps doing it. Just try to ignore it”. ” We will be hiring someone else, then she will probably take her focus off of you and concentrate on the new girl”. “Yes, Tracey is a bitch, Susie is just going to have to get used to it”. ” 3-11 would have no trouble telling Susie to F*** off, she needs to tell them to F*** off”. These are mostly comments made by the DON. How does any of these comments and suggestions help the situation? I can not believe that someone who is a professional and in a managerial position would even make these comments. None of this solves the problem and would only help it to continue or worsen. Also, I am not the first nurse that this girl has done this to. I had the opportunity to meet the last girl who quit because of this nurse. What she told me is exactly what I am going thru. She said she went right into the Administrators office and told her that she was quiting because of this nurse’s behavior. Family members have even begun to comment on how this nurse treats me. They hear how she talks to me and see how she behaves to me while they are visiting their loved ones. Management has done nothing to correct this situation and it appears they never will. I can not continue to go on like this. The stress and anxiety I feel over all this is taking its toll on me. I am so depressed and I am tired of dreading going to work. I love taking care of the residents in my charge. I am fond of each and everyone of them. I hate to leave them, but I can’t go on this way. If I had wanted to have my self esteem and self confidence beaten down on a regular basis, wanted smarted off to daily, to be given the silent treatment and to be ignored, and to basically made to feel as though I am less than nothing; I would have stayed with my alcoholic and abusive ex-husband and never have bothered going to nursing school. I wish there was some legal action I could take. No one should have to endure this behavior in the workplace. I feel so helpless.

  63. Sharon Says:

    As a 20-year corporate executive who chose to become a nurse practitioner at age 50, I was stunned, appalled and outraged by the bullying and intimidation directed at me and other “older” students by nursing school instructors at the University of Pennsylvania as well as staff nurses at the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. With classes and clinical rotations designed to make confident, successful women fearful and paranoid, Penn’s nursing program reflects everything other commenters have written. After leaving that place ASAP and switching to a “less prestigious” school, I have learned the trade and will graduate with MSN/nurse practitioner degree in May 2010. I will NEVER work as a hospital staff nurse and wish my former tormentors the worst of health and luck as they live out what’s left of their miserable, small-minded lives.

  64. Mary Says:

    I also am an older new grad. I had a successful career in IT before going to nursing school. I went because I always wanted to be a nurse. I graduated first in my class. I also was an extern for 1 year before graduating. When I graduated I took a position on a Tele floor at a different hospital and from the first day of orientation have noticed how the learning environment is punitive. I have been off orientation for about a month and have experienced both the helpful and vindictive nurses. The nurse educator spends a large part of her time threatening us about completing assignments on time. I feel that I have no one to ask about decisions that I made on the floor. Because of the threat of being written up for any mistake that you make this is a real limiting factor for learning. I want to be an excellent nurse, but nursing schools and the preceptor orientation time covers about 10% of the situations that you encounter on the floor. You cannot possibly ask your fellow nurses about every situation. I try to make a judgement and ask about the ones that I feel are most critical but there is so much backstabbing and pettiness. I consider it a good day if I am not crying in the car on the way home. I have almost overwhelming anxiety and fear about causing harm to my patients. I really need a more experienced nurse that I can talk to about decisions I made on the floor and what I could have done better without the fear of being reported and written up. I have had long work history and have NEVER experienced anything like this before.

  65. Gina Says:

    To all you nurses who insist that it’s normal for “nurses eat their young,” you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Take your displaced anger and frustration out on someone or something else. I don’t care what college program you went to, nursing school teaches all about the importance of treating all people with the respect and dignity we deserve as human beings. This goes back to your first nursing class. You wouldn’t treat your family, children, friends, or pets the way you treat new grads or nursing students. Then, you wonder why you’re operating short-staffed??? Think about it. If someone sh_t in your wheaties, don’t take it out on the weakest link because “you could.” Let’s put it another way. Suppose your daughter or son came home and told you what happened and how they were treated at work that day. Wouldn’t it ruffle your feathers a bit that someone would treat your “baby” like that? Remember what your parents taught you. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” “It doesn’t cost anything to smile.” “Show your elders respect.” “Turn the other cheek.” “Don’t throw stones at glass houses.” “What Jesus would do?” You all are going to have to answer to your maker one day, and you had better have a good answer for treating a nurse like cr_p for no good reason when she/he is just trying to learn the job and be the nurse they always wanted to be 🙂

  66. angela Says:

    I must agree with Gina, it’s a hard enough job anyway…it doesn’t help when you have the angry nurse whose been there for 20-30 years, hate the point that your so happy to be a nurse…I think a lot of them should have retired many years ago. These are women who hate their lives so much they try to make us feel unworthy of even having our jobs. They’ve mostly ran off their husband and children and we are the last ones standing for them to pick on.

  67. SM Says:

    Gosh, I’m kind of dreading going to LPN school now.
    I am so glad I read this thread entirely. Now I will be more aware of the way I will more than likely be treated as a new grad.
    As a CNA, working in a long term care facility in the past, I did experience back stabbing among each other throughout the whole place, but it was nothing like the horror stories I’ve read here. I am the type of person who can’t function under negative circumstances for very long, to me it’s a sign that it’s not for me, and it’s time to move on, but I also know life is full of this kind of stuff.
    I hope my classmates are mature but I somehow doubt they will be, and I hope my first job will be a pleasant learning experience. Thanks for this thread, it’s been an eye opener.
    Also, any pointers on a new grad asking questions to a grouch nurse like I’m gona have to do will be very helpful. I’ll appreciate any help i can get here. Thanks!

  68. tom Says:

    I’m a guy graduatng from a 2 year RN program next month. My instructors and preceptors have been great!! But I have noticed RN’s at clinical who weren’t very nice to me. I got thick skin but one thing is for sure, I refuse to put up with it on the job,,i WILL quit and get another job.
    Nursing is in high demand, no reason to put up with BS from egomaniacs.
    After my preceptorship my precept encouraged me to put in a job application, I simply told her “i dont think so lolol” Then told her WHY without giving any names, but she knew who the nurses were.
    I just told her that i wouldnt mind working at that hospital,,,but flat out REFUSE to work on that floor!
    The best way to fight against all this is just to quit and get a new job, life IS too short!
    Or maybe just do travel nursing, that way you only have to work with the idiots for 8weeks and move on! lolol
    p.s. fight fire with fire,,throw it back at em!
    a person can only take so much!! MEAN PEOPLE SUCK!!!!!

  69. Rachel Says:

    I am a new nurse. I’ve been working for a year in the ER and I don’t understand the reason why nurses can’t be professional toward one another. Last night, a nurse reprimanded me in front of a patient and another nurse because I forgot to tell the doctor that the pt’s blood pressure was low. I know I should have told the doctor, but I really did forget. However, She could have pulled me aside and talked to me about it instead of rolling her eyes at me and explaining how I was wrong in front of a patient.
    What makes it worse is that that nurse was a classmate of mine in nursing school! The working environment in the hospital could be so much better if we really work together. What do you guys think?

  70. Denisse Cureau Says:

    I really liked this write-up. Put into digg as well as saved the url to read again later on! Appreciate it!

  71. nancy nurse Says:

    I have been an R.N. for more than a quarter of a century; do I feel old and weary. I’ve read these comments, all of them and I can relate to each and every one of them. I too have my tales of woe. Sometimes I wonder is it “worth it” anymore. Despite remaining in the profession for as long as I have for the fact of benefiting patients, I am ashamed for those who would deem themselves professionals then acting in the manner that I have observed. “We are the compationate ones,” eh? I do think that many should and need to ask themselves, “so why did you choose nursing?; then and also, “would I want to be treated that way?” That would require introspection that most would never consider; considering they act/speak without thinking about their effects on others.

  72. nursing1st Says:

    I love this blog. I am an RN, I am proud to be called an RN. I am not better than or above anyone. I worked my butt off to get this degree. I have cryed, weeped, etc. on many shoulders to get to be a nurse. I can just about bet there isn’t a nurse out there that hasn’t cried over some situation or come home with a heavy heart many times. Nursing school almost killed my marriage, but God love my precious husband. He listens, he wants the best for me no matter what the problem. I wish we could all look deeper than skin deep at our fellow nurses. Listen to them, their faces will tell a story. Sometimes the harsh nurse may just need lifting up. A new nurse needs to know we have all been in their shoes. We expect alot out of seasoned nurses. We expect alot out of new nurses. When it all comes together the bottom line is “taking care of our patients”. We start the day to do no harm, we end the day to go home feeling we have done our best. I love all you hard working nurses, new or old, we will let the people we serve know we are “great nurses with integrity”.

  73. Shawna Says:

    I have found this blog to be immensly valuable to me. I have felt so alone in my job, wondering so often: what is wrong with me? I could have written so many of these entries. I have been a nurse for 3 years, 1 year as an LPN/RNstudent, 2years as an RN. Today I feel more like a new graduate than ever. I have always felt I was an articulate, assertive, but compassionate person. I feel like I have lost it all but the compassion for my patient. I am continuously sabotaged, talked about, and alienated, from 3 peers who are younger than me, but are seasoned nurses. I feel like I have lost all the confidence I had gained with my first year of working nights with a great group of nurturing nurses.

    I don’t however, feel that I am experiencing any degredation from the practitioners. They are very respectful, and listen to and act on our ideas about a patient’s condition and treatment. It is all from RNs. Our hospital has recently adopted a zero-tolerance stance against bullying, but so much of what I and others experience is so subtle, it’s nearly impossible to isolate events.

    I love being a nurse. I love my job, when the pt to nurse ratio is manageable, and the 3 bullys are not there. I do not want to leave this hospital, which is in a very rural setting. I am determined to learn adaptive techniques through classes and self-help books, to help me to be more confident, assertive, and to provide support to other nurses/aides experiencing the same dilemma I am.

    To all of you who have shared on this blog: thank you, I no longer feel alone.

  74. Eileen Says:

    Bullying takes many forms. As a new grad, I was ignored. No one talked to me, showed me things, offered to help me. One Sunday, all the other RNs went to lunch at the same time, leaving me as the only RN with 3 months of experience alone to care for 54 med/surg pts.(day shift) This was worse than being ignored, this jeopardized pt. safety. I left that hospital 2 months later and never looked back.

  75. Nunurse Says:

    Thanks for all the posts. I am a new nurse in my forties, but I feel like I am back in high school. I have been working as a nurse for 3 months and although there have been some good nurses for me to go to for guidance, they are mostly new nurses also. I think there should be a meeting for new nurses at our hospital that would allow us to vent our frustrations and problems. Maybe I’ll suggest that to management.

  76. Carolyn1621 Says:

    I put “nasty nurses” into google and came up with this site! We have experienced so much of what is said here at our developmental disabilities center! Hiding things from other nurses, flat out lying about management, sneaky methods for an “easy shift.” It is just appalling and I am so tired of this. I work in Nursing Education in this facility and yet, cannot encourage anyone to get a nursing degree! I believe it is not borderline personality disorder, as noted by another post, but codependency brought to its most sick point. I now tell people, “Wanna be a nurse? Enter a 12 step program first.”

  77. ElaineLPN Says:

    I have been a LPN/LVN for nearly 7 yrs now and at first felt like a valued member of the staff, but lately with the change in the hospitals to go all RN and even so far to go all BSN, I am feeling like the whipping boy of the unit. I also feel there is a LPN vs RN issue also. Seen it way too many times where you hear RN’s say that LPN’s “useless”, “stupid”, “uneducated”. If anything goes wrong it seems to be my head on the chopping block. The ill treatment that nurses inflict on each other is also called lateral violence. It is more passive aggressive that overt. I have seen nurses instead of helping each other tattle on the most trivial things, or just set that nurse up to fail.
    For example a nurse forgot to complete an order
    and left a bed alarm off. It was nothing for me to complete the order and then walk over and set the alarm. No harm and I just let that nurse know what I did and she thanked me and nothing more came from it. I did the same thing, but another nurse decided to email the boss and tell her about the order and that I forgot a bed alarm and I got written up for it. Mind you, I was still on duty at the time. I was working late finishing up my charting, but that nurse did it right when I was sitting behind her. That is the kind of passive aggressive behaviour nurses pull on each other all day every day. Needless to say, I no longer work there anymore. I don’t know why some nurses feel the need to tattle on and hurt other nurses to make themselves feel better. The ONLY time I had to alert the boss is when a staff member was abusing and neglecting patients.
    My mum who is a retired RN said that things will be better when I get my BSN and have the opportunity to get out of bedside/unit nursing and perhaps go into teaching, or administration. I hope so, but for now I work in a nursing home where I have my halls to take care of and the other nurses have theirs and I just do my double weekends and go home.
    I sometimes wonder if we are in the most cutthroat occupation. I think in regards to healthcare we are the worst of that kind. Do I like being a nurse, yes. Do I want to get my RN yes, but can I tolerate working as one in these constant conditions…maybe not.

  78. Oldgirl Says:

    My dear colleagues, my heart cries for you all who have had rotten experiences. I love nursing, love teaching and mentoring new nurses, I love everything about it…still…after more than a quarter century of it. When I was new, I was warned about the phenomenon of what we now call lateral violence. I was pretty lucky, didn’t find much of it at all, or I was too stupid to notice, doesn’t matter. What I say to you now, is know that you are better than the person who is heaping abuse on you, for make no mistake, it is abusive behavior. be loud and verbal in the right places, up the chain of command. Keep your sight on your patients, and if you can;t fight for yourself, fight for them. As you are abused, your care to the patients will suffer. Be Brave, help those of us who are the real nurses stop this scourge. There is NO EXCUSE, EVER, not to be nurturing and nourishing to each other. I wish for you all that I have had in my career. I came upon this site by accident, while I was researching for a paper I have to write so I can get a higher degree so I can teach….
    Let us be the change we envision! ( apologies to Ghandi)

  79. Vickie Says:

    Thanks! to you all for helping me not feel so alone. I too am a new nurse, I did not go back to school until age 51. I worked in the health care field in many cappacities for many years and worked very hard to fullfill my dream of being a nurse. I have never had the attitude that I know it all, in fact I realize how very much I still need to learn. I have been in my position about 6 months. During orientation everyone seemed helpful and encouraging, but once on my own that all changed. I was then expected to know how to do it all and make no mistakes. I would love constructive critizims but everthing is always reported to my manager behind my back, who then makes me feel I am the dumbest person on earth. I did have one great co-worker a seasoned nurse of 30 years say to me “no one who makes it through nursing school is a dummy”. If only everyone were like her. As a new nurse no one is harder on us than we are on our selves, my greatest fear is to cause injury to a patient because of something I did or did’nt do. One of the great things about nursing is that we have many options of places to work. Whatever the reason people choose to act this way, and it is a choice. I hope that I always remember where I came from and treat those new nurses coming up with kindness and respect.

  80. kate Says:

    I am a nurse of 26 years, the nurses on night shift for the most part are wonderful and we work as a team. we work at a childrens hospital with very complex patients. We deal with a lot of stress and some difficult parents too. The Nurses on dayshift were always favored by the unit manager and anyone they complianed about for any trivial reason , if the manager didnt like you, was written up and the write up goes in your HR file.After 8 years se terminated my employment as she finally could site enough write ups. Most of the write ups were for things I wasnt even responsibe for but if you said that you were accused of making excuses. These Nurses on dayshift along with the Manager target the ones they dont like. The Manager was a prior nurse on dayshift also and therefore is not objective. I was bullied out of a job and I am devastated. i dont even want to continue in this career but I dont know what else I can do that would pay enough.
    This is all Ive ever done. This kind of behavior should be illegal.

  81. RN Beefy Says:

    Well Gee,didn’t you know that it’s all “you?” I mean ALL the professional nurse exerts say that there is no such thing as nurses “eating their young.” And why does that statement stop with young? Opportunistic people that are nurses eat and suck the life out of anyone that doesn’t fit into their agendas.

    Screwing with people’s income and livelihood should be illegal, but it’s not. It’s called “At-Will-Employment” that allows people to get so terribly screwed over. Sure some people may need to go, but there are hosts of nurses that have been weeded out of their positions b/c of sheer and utter BS. This hasn’t changed in over 20 years. Honestly, I don’t expect it to change. Nurses will continue to get screwed over, and in turn, they will self-protect or just plain ole get a power kick off of screwing over others. I can practically smell these people a mile away. I can feel their aura–and their nonverbal and can almost always tell who is going to be an instigator–and nowadays, it’s all usually done on the slide.

    People are freaking amazing. Nurses should work until some form of reasonable contract, and b/c they don’t, they continue to get screwed.

    About insecure, catty females. . .I don’t know what to say. They are everywhere and in every field. And there are a lot of insecure, catty males as well.

    I have loved so much in nursing, but so much of the BS and unfairness is enough to make me puke my organs out. I am taking this rant as an opportunity to say that I will be truly thankful when I am completely done with this field. This is not b/c of the patients, families, or what I do. It is due to the ridiculous amount of BS, unfairness, backstabbing, just idiotic insanity that comes out of a “caring profession.”


  82. La’Shawn Says:

    I am not a nurse, I work for a hospital system as the director of a nurse scholarship program for low income community residents in NYC…as part of the city’s anti-poverty initiative.

    We have two programs – LPN certification and a RN/BSN degree track. In an effort to address the nursing shortage, the goal is to recruit, train and employ graduates. The program has been running since 2007, and we’ve graduated 3 LPN classes so far. I began to hear the horror stories in 2008 after our first group graduated. A few quit and 2 were fired. The slew of calls for help came rolling in…essentially with the same cause for distress… the other nurses and managers. I’ve intervened once or twice, pretty much to no avail…another administrator suggested that I offer training to the graduates to help “them” develop coping skills. OUTRAGEOUS! I’m happy to say, as of last week, I finally spoke with the chief nurse exec, and made my plea on the LPNs behalf..and told her that in order to achieve better employee satisfaction, she had to address the issues with her senior staff. She said she would and that she would also have a meeting with the LPNs to “listen” to their issues. I am hopeful that this is the start of a culture change.

  83. sad in Washington Says:

    Someone Please help me! I am a fairly new but older nurse…. I just had my 6 month eval at a hospital where I work (med/oncology). I have had to take a lot of baloney and I am pretty good at letting it go – but reading my eval made me cry…. it was NOT me at all! It was a horrible evaluation full of falsehoods. I have never had a poor eval in any position, ever! I work so very hard and I am a very caring, loving person. What can I do – I hated signing it; the RN supervisor that wrote it up is someone I hardly know – the Manager read it to me. Please give me an idea about whats up! Thanks

  84. totally intimidated Says:

    I’ve been a nurse for 7 years (3.5 years in Med surg floor and 3.5 years in CHF floor). I recently transferred to SICU. In my old unit, I was a go-to person, confident and excellent nurse. When I transferred to SICU, on my 3rd week of orientation, my preceptor told me that I will end up going back to my old floor. From then on, I’ve been terrified-afraid of making mistakes. Sad to say that, that one statement affected my confidence as a nurse. On my 2 months of orientation, my nurse manager asked me if I still want to continue working in SICU because he can see that I am having hard time adjusting-think critically, panicking a lot, and very anxious. I do not know what happened to me. I am a totally different person now. Terrified!

  85. AmandaG Says:

    I have had several years of experience in the SICU as a staff nurse and a preceptor. It can be a very challenging place, with challenging co-workers. I have precepted many nurses that came from “the floor”, and I will say that ICU-experienced nurses can sometimes read the fear and anxiety that comes from the nurses from the floor. It IS, afterall a different way of thinking about priorities and your patient. Don’t be scared…..communication is the key, especially in the high-acute environment of the SICU. Find that group of “go-to” people on your unit, utilize them, and explain yourself. What I mean essentially is that you need to explain your thought process to people, keep your eyes/ears open for learning opportunities, and TRY to keep a positive attitude. Dont be afraid to ask people, including your manager, how you can improve….ask for specifics…people will tell you AND they will respect you for asking!!! My one take-home piece for the SICU….try not to be terrified and scared….we were all “newbies” in the SICU at one time or another (some nurses just forget that they were) 🙂

  86. Ruby McBride Says:

    I have been a nurse (RN-MSN)for over 40 years, and I have been on the receiving end of being ate up by other nurses, but I have also done it to other nurses, both young and old. I don’t think it is just a “nurse” thing, I think it occurs in all professions with women, or so I have been told. I am not sure why females do this to each other, but they do. But, I also had very good experiences with seasoned nurses, I think you just have to be humble, keep quiet, and watch what they do. If they are doing a new procedure, ask them if you can go watch how they do it. Afterall, we do not learn everything in school. The seasoned nurse would appreciate you asking to watch them. If not, shame on them. I have never been sorry that I became an RN, and there are many nurses in my family, back 3 generations, so it is in my blood so to speak.

  87. John Says:

    Nursing school was the start of the problem. Many of the professors, especially my pediatrics professor, were intent on making you feel bad. My pediatrics professor, a UVa grad and very intelligent woman, would ask questions on exams that were word for word out of her power points. She would mark your answer wrong. When we questioned and showed her her very own power points presentations, she would still look us in the face and tell us we were wrong. It was crap.
    Finally graduating, I thought I was finished with hell and ready to learn and practice. I went to a public hospital, level 1 trauma center, and began my career in the SICU/Trauma unit. My preceptor was the angriest woman I have ever met. She would leave me for 1-2 hours at a time, have someone else watch me without my knowing, then come back and criticize me. She was not there to teach, but for the enjoyment of making people feel bad. The girl who had my preceptor before me quit after a few weeks, because she could not take the hostility. I thought about switching preceptors, but I was afraid that would make me look week. So I decided that I was going to change my attitude from one of fear and despair, and just give it straight back to her. There were days when I would catch her off guard and she would back off, and there were days that we would get in to it. It was horrible.
    After my last day with her on orientation, she looked at me and said, “good luck being a nurse”. Then she went behind my back and told the staff that I didn’t get her a gift for being my preceptor. WHY WOULD I GIVE HER A GIFT?? She pretty much turned me off to nursing.
    Then I changed hospitals, my nurse manager offered me a day shift position on the CCU. The week I started orientation, she tells me that she “forgot” that she hired somebody the week before me and no longer had a day position available. Then it was nights for 8 weeks, then another 4-5 months. I quit. This manager, a former employer for Joint Commission also had “spies” on the unit to tattle on nurses. It was childish.
    Nurses make nurses look dumb and childish. When they decide to grow up, get the chip off their shoulder, and get serious, maybe others around them will take them seriously.
    As for me, I quit in october 2011, and I am going to CRNA school to get out of nursing! Nursing pay sucks, the hours suck, and the staff, in general, suck. Why would you want to be a nurse???

  88. divi Says:

    This idea of gifting preceptors, whether they deserve it or not, is a ridiculous tradition that just serves to reinforce the infanticide. I give gifts to preceptors who have actually supported me and taught me something, and those gifts are from the heart, not out of an outdated obligation.

  89. Enough is Enough Says:

    This post is in response to “totally intimidated”. I too was on “the floor” in intermediate care for approximately three years and am now on SICU for almost three months. I was told, up until a week ago , that my progress was fine and I just needed to pick up the pace.Now I’m being told that nurses are talking and it seems as if I don’t even have the basics, when in reality, some of the nurses there are so intimidating, that they stand over me as if I’m still in clinical.So yeah, I would make mistakes I normally wouldn’t. Although I also felt intimidated and I knew people were talking about me, I’ve decided that no one tells me who I am. YOU listen to me, there is nothing wrong with asking questions, and if you feel uncomfortable with who is precepting you, tell your manager. This is your orientation, your livelihood and remember, whatever you do, always remind yourself of why you became a nurse. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are. Find solace in caring for those who make it possible for you to do what you love(the patients). And if you haven’t already, purchase books, materials on critical care so that you can keep yourself informed. Don’t totally rely on their knowledge. Your preceptor wasn’t with you when you took NCLEX. You did that!!! All on your own!!! Keep your head up!!! I plan to do the same!!!

  90. Sara Says:

    Thank you for all of these opinions/posts even though some are from years ago…much of this is relevant. Thank you “Enough is Enough” since that is the most recent post.

    I am totally intimidated as a new graduate nurse. I was lucky to be hired on an intermediate care floor where I did some clinicals during nursing school. So, at least I am familiar with the hospital and aware of the hospital’s culture…

    I am pleasantly surprised and relieved that my preceptor is positively amazing. Not all of the nurses on the floor are going to hold my hand–but I don’t want that. They are busy, but they are willing to answer my questions. And, I have a LOT of questions.

    And when I remind myself that nursing is NOT about Me, it is about my patient, I ask questions. Because I am new, and I don’t feel like I know much. I have a LOT to learn. If I just “go with it” and make a decision I’m not sure about, because I am afraid to ask…my patient could suffer because of my mistake.

    I am so thankful to have a mentor/preceptor and manager that seem open and willing to ask questions. Yes, I will ask “stupid” questions (regardless or not if you think they exist!) but I have to know for myself that I am doing the right thing.

    I am horrified of nursing, and horrified at some of the attitudes I have encountered of nurses who are catty, rude, or completely ignore me because of my new grad status. But, it is not about me. Yes, I want co-workers that I can trust. And I think I have enough.

    I refuse to get sucked up into gossip…it isn’t just nursing. I have been a CNA forever and that some culture of gossip exists…in so many workplaces…and I have made the mistake of being stuck in the middle of that.

  91. Hmm Says:

    I find that instructors are required to produce so many assignments that they spend so much time grading the assignments, and it seems they also quietly spend a lot of time documenting every little human fault you have, that they are overwhelmed themselves. Unlike a job where you get paid and have periodic evaluations, these school employees you are paying to teach you fail you with out previous evaluations. In the end you’re given a list of petty faults, and not so petty faults that one might have. The petty faults are what get me, it’s as if they really need to create bulk errors on you so they can really cover their butts, but also reduce you and degrade you to nothing. What is wrong with our schools, especially in nursing!!!! I paid a lot of money to have these instructors to work for me and teach me.
    Woman in power still have an inferiority thing going on. Time and time again I have witnessed women in power and they are tough to the point of no forgiving or reevaluation, and they are mean about it, or others don’t do anything at all and don’t care if one fails or not. They don’t care about the outcome on another individual – yet they are supposed to be caring individuals? Of course there are women who are diplomatic in handling situations that arise.
    I often wondered why I never took a “mans” technical job, or worked road construction or something like that, they make almost as much or more than a nurse with a BSN, and you don’t have to deal with the “cattiness” (as some women I have met say who work in fields that are predominantly men).
    I also don’t understand why there is a nursing shortage; nursing schools have extensive waiting lists to get in. Could it be there is a push to flood the market so hospitals have more leverage to lower wages? I believe nurses, unless they have planned well for retirement, are going to hang on to their jobs as long as they can – especially in todays world. I had an instructor who was forgetful, yet I was blamed for being forgetful my very first couple times on acute care. Acute care is not an easy beast to master, as I think many would agree. The ER is easier.
    I agree with May 3, 2008 and May 23.2008 2:37pm and many others in this blog.

  92. Tara Daniel Says:

    Mean people suck and especially mean nurses! With that said, I am an RN who has experienced these very same things: hostility, and toxic work environments. Get a clue biotches-you were new once too( I have been an RN for 13 yrs). You put your pants on the same way everyone else does and you are no better than anyone else. New graduates-make no mistake-lateral violence and bullying is very real and does exist. Buyer Beware!

  93. Sara Says:

    In response to Hmmm: You generalize “women” in power as having an inferiority complex. The unfortunate thing is that you are talking about a woman, or several woman, not “women” in general. That is how sexism occurs…and how it is justified. Not all women are catty, men can also be catty (but it is not called “cattiness” it is called rudeness or pride or some other euphemism, since unfortunately being “catty” seems a term reserved only for women, and unjustly so…)

    Please re-consider when making false generalizations about all women. It is damaging and it makes others defensive…thus, perpetuating a vicious and violent cycle of workplace abuse, stereotypes, and hatred.

    Every job has its obstacles and it isn’t just rude “co-workers” it is rude people and you find them in all walks of life…doesn’t make it right.

    And I totally agree with you that acute care/med-surg is very difficult…ER is not only easier in many ways, it is more fun! (For me, at least). 😉

  94. Nikki Says:

    I have to agree. I graduated in June of 2011. I started out in the NICU at a small hospital and loved working with the babies, but I was so sick of hearing “Nikki said…” or “Nikki did..”. It finally ended after about 4 months. I recently changed jobs and went to an OR because of the stability of the hospital. I have a very strong personality and I love to talk. Well apparently, experienced nurses do not want to hear what you have to say. It all boils down to the fact that they just want you to sit back and watch while your orienting. I like to get in and help. I get knocked down when an more experienced nurse has trouble doing something she doesn’t do often and I suggest doing it how I have seen another nurse do something. It turns into well you need to sit back and not say anything and not talk because you look like a know it all. I have made it very clear that I am not a know it all, that I have no experience in the OR. I just don’t understand why it is such a big deal for senior nurses to take suggestions from a new nurse. It’s not like I said you have to do it this way. Guess it’s a good thing I have a strong personality because I am the least likely person to be run off because others don’t like it. I love the nursing profession but it really sucks to have to go through this again.

  95. TMS Says:

    I have been an RN for 21 years. I have ALWAYS been embarrased by the term “Nurses Eat Their Young”. I was green and totally unprepared for the way in which certain nurses horribly treat eachother. Fortunatley, I had enough sense, to leave “Toxic” environments for my own sanity and knowledege building. As you grow older and wiser, and more confident, you will realize that you do not have to put up with poor behavior. You can bring attention to these “witches”, by telling your manager and requesting change.Be the change agent. If that does not work, go up the chain of command. You will be surprised that most times, you will get results. Feel empowered to do so.Sometimes the next person up the command, is unaware, and will be willing to do something about it. Remember, they have had experiences too, and you may have just touched their “hot button”. It costs hospitals and facilities alot of money to recruit and retain personnel. The people that spend all their energies doing this, are infuriated when these things happen. If you do not get results, you may need to change environments. Negative and toxic cultures do get built! I am older and wiser now. I consider myself a professional, but also a private contractor. It empowers me to look at the situation objectively, and ask myself if this environment is meeting my needs and do I want to be associated with it. The question I always ask myself, “what is this facility doing to keep me?” I know my worth, and I define myself. Part of this is getting older, and knowing one’s self. YOu will not always be “green”. WHen you are in a position to teach and mentor, do it gracefully and be the “one” that the student never forgets, due to your kindness, patience, and nuturing, that you project and display. Model the behavior you respect. Be a part of the changes for the better. DO NOT allow anyone to sway you to give up a degree that you worked so hard for. DO NOt let any one de-value you. And above all else, learn your own worth and bask in your accomplishments, both small and large! This field is hard, but worth fighting for! Be fearless!!!

  96. New BSN grad at 49 yrs old Says:

    I’ve wanted to do nursing my entire life so after our girls got through college, I decided to go and fulfill my passion. I had this wonderful vision of how I would go to work each day and do what I’ve dreamed of. Unfortunately, my preceptor made me such a nervous wreck that I appeared that I didn’t learn a thing in school. I did things and responded to questions that I would later ask myself “why the heck did I do that??? I knew the correct way and correct answers but I went braindead because she stripped me of my confidence. She enjoyed the intimidation that she sensed I was feeling and her power over me…..and my powerlessness! So to all the new grads – give yourself a pep talk each day and tell yourself that you deserve to be there and that you are a steller nurse!!!

  97. rondodondo Says:

    Nurses eat their young simply because they are ground into dust by EVERYONE on a daily basis. Management, pt’s, family’s, Dr’s all have the convenient “whipping boy/girl” to fall back on with something you either did or didn’t do even though there may not be an order for any given situation. Hence, nurses tend to lash out at each other because they have no one else to take their frustrations out on. The system is designed with built in lateral violence. Is it right, of course not, but until we are willing to confront the real problems of nursing: over worked, under paid, stressed out and burned out the cycle will continue. Here’s a tip from me though; NEVER NEVER NEVER start off a phone call to a Dr. with the words “I’m sorry for calling you”. You have nothing to be sorry for and he/she is at home watching Bravo TV while you are the one dealing with the immediate situation

  98. rachael Says:

    Um, intellectuals and professionals don’t gossip? Really?

  99. Jen Says:

    I am an LPN working in a RN type setting. I find that over the years I see more and more burnout. Nurses tell stories about each other trying to make someone else look bad to make themselves look better. I find that there is jealousy and revenge plans that get carried out on the floor. Total unprofessionalism! Not only that, I end up with more work load because those in charge take the easy route. Yes, I agree WHY WORK IN THAT?

  100. Jen Says:

    Also, I think this has to do with management training. The issues on the floor can range from patients that are needy because they are sick and wanting some situation control. Family members can become upset. Instead of fighting each other and unloading on the underdog, some intervention training would be helpful. We have so many personality types to accomodate. There’s books on management and mastering communication. I choose to not be a RN people eater.

  101. Lezlie Says:

    The fact is we must start documenting these behaviors and actions that are detrimental to our psychological well being. Document witnesses.I would even buy spy ware to acquire evidence against abusive co-workers. Sounds crazy but is necessary with the hostile climate of nursing. Nurses will lie and sabotage. We need to protect ourselves in anyway.The government spies on us with cameras on highways etc. Why shouldn’t we be able to use tools to protect ourselves? Then hit a bully or troublemaker where it counts..the pocket. SUE!

  102. Angela Says:

    I am a Brand new nurse!! I recently took a position on a skilled geriatric floor. I’ve literally worked 13 days. During my time off last week, a nurse that worked at this facility for 10 years was fired.Today I get a phone call from one of the administrators demanding that I write a statement against this nurse stating that she never told me about a resident needing a shower! This is crazy to me. I feel like i’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. If I write this statement, every nurse that has worked with this girl is really going to have a problem with me. I am ready to quit this position all together!

  103. Maureen Says:

    I have been an RN for 32 years now. I have an AD and did start a BAN program in my 30’s because I wanted to do counseling which you could do in those days. I didn’t finish because of children but I did get a taste of what you get with a bachelor’s degree which is a lot of “theory” that doesn’t translate well into real life floor nursing. I looked at your background and I see that you have a business background. I never think that that translates well into real nursing either because nursing is not a business. Hospitals are a business. My current nurse manager has a business background and she came in with no OB experience to head an acute OB unit at a major university in the midwest. Within the first year or so she decided that our “culture” was toxic and made all of us attend a workshop on horizontal violence. Now, anyone who has worked in nursing has seen this phenomonen. It occurs wherever you work. It even occurs in non nursing jobs whenever as you point out there is no real power in the position. Of course this workshop was viewed with scorn because at the time management was making huge changes to the way that the hospital was run and staff including doctors were very unhappy with these changes. Rather than acknowledging the fact that these changes were taking place the onus of bad behavior was placed soley on the nurses heads and the feeling was if we just could understand about horizontal negative behavior it would stop. I spoke up in the meeting that I attended stating that there was so much pressure from above pushing down on us that the stress was leaking out horizontally since we could not push back. I don’t think this comment was well received by management although my co-workers heartily agreed.
    A year later I have quit after working there for 20 years because I can’t live with the values the hospital is projecting like getting rid of all non-professianals (LPNs?), making 50 and 60 year old secretaries become aids, hiring 9 new grads at a time into a busy OB unit (suicide), and having older experienced (expensive) nurses let go for minor infractions. You know it is true that the nurses have no real power yet we have so much responsibility and save so many lives. It is a hard position to be in and so often there is no recognition or thanks because there is just one crisis after another. How can we possibly build each other up when we are downtrodden as a group? Management controls everything but they are so far and away from what is actually going on they have to depend on quarterly reports and Icares and physician complaints giving them a skewed picture of what is really going on. I tell you that since I have finally given up and quit I am sleeping a lot better. I have not decided what I am going to do next but I question working in a hospital environment again if it is just going to keep getting worse. It is a loss for the hospitals when experienced nurses quit because we are very good at picking up little things and alerting the doctors and advocating for the patients. We are the best nurses to have in a crisis and offer the best comfort and understanding. What is to become of nursing?

  104. Karen Says:

    I have been in nursing since 1993, came from a state with unions to a state without. The difference is amazing. You have protection when you have a union, management can’t say whatever they feel. With that said, being without a union can be a danger to you. The right-to-work, gives management the right to bullying, threaten, intimidate, relatiate, discriminate and just plain hate and there’s nothing you can do about it. I agree with Maureen, we’re push down on and we can’t push back so we push out! When things go wrong, it falls on the head and shoulders of the nurse.

    Working in some environment/outpatient clinics, you loose any and all skills you may have acquired. Soon nurses won’t be needed because we no longer push meds., we push papers. We fight so hard for our patients and there’s no one to fight for us. The stress is literally killing most of us. We are killing ourselves and each other….nursing will live on, it’s the nurse that doesn’t have a chance.

    There has got to be a way for such a large educated group of people to acquire the respect they deserve and the power to control what they do as professionals.

  105. stephanie Says:

    I completley get the Nurses eat their young. I Have been nursing for eight years in an acute setting. The first three years were hard as there was also a strong bullying culture from the nursing assistants below who seemed to be in charge and resented any nurse who prioritised patient care. I escaped from there to an extemely busy large ward where one leaves physically and mentally exhausted every shift, but the staff work very together well as a team and we do a good job which makes the job bearable. I want to leave as I feel the work load is killing me, but I know what it can be like out there..I just feel women are their own worst enemy. In a male work force they would not put up with the work conditions and expectations put upon us everyday or worse still the expectations we as women put on ourselves.Women have a very poor habit in that if they have survived some amazing feat of challenges instead of thinking “this is not acceptable” they go on to think “well I managed, if you struggled there must be something wrong with you?” It is a form of inverted boasting and I feel this is what holds us back

  106. jane Says:

    I have just completed my first year as a new graduate nurse and the last two months have been awful. I have asked for help and some nurses turn their back and walk off! Some of them sleep at the desk all night! while their patients bells are left unanswered. It all started when I complained about not being considered when they were sorting out breaks. I am leaving to go to a new job and I have gone off sick with back pain.. caused by struggling alone for god knows how long. Now someone told me that the nurse who took over from my last shift is saying she found an insulin needle in my patients bed. Downright spite and lies as I know I put the lid on and back in the fridge. The level some of these nurses sink to is beyond me and we should be worried that if they do that to each other what are they doing to vulnerable patients when no one is watching. Anyway I’m outta there and I’m sure by the time I’ve written this comment they will have found their next target.

  107. ChoirLoft Says:

    I would have to agree that the cat fighting is a female thing. Women have a problem with competition (or faux competition as the case may be). Generally speaking, they don’t know how to work as a team of equals when a legitimate pecking order has not been established – or even when it has. The fact can be argued or denied, but the truth is that politics in the work place cannot be denied. Patient care suffers as a result and nurses get a bad rep from their own coworkers.

  108. Upper Management Knows Says:

    I have been working on a Rehab unit for 7 months now and I have experienced so much abuse. I have fought some of it and some of it I have ignored. In order to get through my shift I have to block some of it out as I will make a mistake involving my patient care. I have not done this thankfully but I have come close a time or too. I usually go in the bathroom and say some prayers, then I continue on working. Well there is this wilder-beast charge RN that has bullied every nurse and even the secretaries. She said something nasty to me once in front of the nursing chief officer and the nursing chief officer just looked on and said nothing about it. I ended up reporting this charge nurse to my boss and something was said to the nurse because she yelled at me really loud about not assessing a patient and letting the patient just get the pain meds and go for their appt. Whether I was wrong or right, there was no reason for her to yell at me so loudly and in a nasty tone of voice in front of others. Well during are monthly meeting, the boss said to everyone that bullying will not be tolerated and to apologize if you are disrespectful to the co-worker. The charge changed some but not all together so I told my boss to schedule me opposite her schedule. I only have to work with this lady maybe once or twice a week which I can handle. She usually puts me on the opposite side of the building and gives me the hardest patients but I can handle that only 1 or 2 times a month. Bottom line is sometimes if you can’t push a wall done, you must learn to climb it to get around it. I refuse to be ran off. I just got accepted into an online BSN program and I will take the tuition reimbursement from this place, I will leave when I am freaking ready.

  109. Survivor (Barely) Says:

    I was in ICu for 3 days after my Triple CABG with a single nurse caring for just me (on shift rotation of course) – and I was flabbergasted at the variance in professionalism and demeanour. I had 1 great nurse, 1 good nurse and 3 absolute monsters of human beings. When I got sent back to Ward the split was about 50/50 good/bad. I purposely went out of my way not to bother them or ask for frivolous requests and yet I was constantly bombarded with passive aggressive behaviour – the only person who even tried to make a human connection with me was the only male nurse on the ward. After talking we realised any work situation that is predominantly female will be a continuation of HIgh School Mean Girls Cliques. Most women simply cannot control their emotions and they gossip and bitch. Great Minds discuss Ideas, average minds discuss events and small minds discuss people. Women are their own worst enemies because they treat life as a zero sum game. My relatives thought I was being paranoid and delusional and wouldn’t believe the stories I told them of what the nurses were up to. One of the nurses would refuse to give me my pain meds even though they were listed by the doctor. Another kept moving my possessions out of my reach. Some would belittle me with each other just outside my room so I could hear. THey even sent a cleaning lady in to my ICU room who had a cold and was coughing and sniffing. THey laughed about sending ‘lethal lisa’ into patients rooms hoping we would actually die. There’s something really off about ICU nurses. And I probably don’t need to mention all the other cases around the world where Nurses have deliberately killed patients either because they thought they were doing a mercy killing or simply because they were pyschopaths. THe Nurse Entry criteria should call for detailed mental examinations

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