Do nurses eat their young? And what to do if it looks like you’re the next meal~

As a new nurse, I think I can vouch for all new nurses by saying that we have all heard that “nurses eat their young” . This implies that all older nurses treat younger nurses with disdain, are not helpful to their newer coworkers, and often let them drown in a sea of overwhelming work. In my experience thus far , I must say that this saying isn’t entirely true.

I have heard horror stories of older nurses bullying younger nurses to the point of quitting. Thankfully, I have experienced nothing but support on my floor from the older nurses but there are definitely a few things to keep in mind when facing the realities of being new to nursing.

1. You are new and still learning – this will get you eye rolls

In nursing school I remember often being told that it will take you at least a year (if not more) to become comfortable in your nursing practice. Eight months into nursing I have to agree with this. There are so many things I still don’t know how to do and there are moments when I don’t think of a solution to a problem as quickly as I wish I would . Sometimes you will ask a “dumb” question and you will see judgement thrown your way for asking that question. My advice- bite the bullet. It is way better to ask that dumb question than to practice unsafely. Plus, your journey in nursing is about YOU becoming a better nurse. What other people think of you plays no role in this.

2. Is it normal human behavior or is it bullying?

Being a little annoyed because a younger nurse asked you something “dumb” isn’t completely abnormal. We all have off days, and sometimes when I’m given a student even I get frustrated with how little they know (and it wasn’t that long ago that I was a student!). However, when faced with this I have to pause and reel that frustration back in and answer the question. I want these students to know more, just like I want to learn more from my superiors. Now, if I were to go out of my way to tell the student they should know these things or even call them names because they didn’t know, then this becomes bullying. If this happens to you I would suggest telling your manager or approaching HR about the situation. No one deserves to go to work in fear that they may be bullied . If your workplace maintains an atmosphere of bullying towards new graduates , I really would suggest finding another place to work. Incivility towards nurses of any age can distract people from work and is an accident waiting to happen.

3. Embrace the mama nurses

As often as we hear these terrible stories about older nurses being mean to the young nurses, I often find the complete opposite more frequently . Older nurses who want nothing more than for you to succeed and are always a resource on the floor do exist, and I call them mama nurses. Some of my mama nurses have given me the best advice and are always there to show me nursing skills if I am about to do something I have never done on the floor before. Seek out these nurses when you first get a new job, you won’t regret it.

In conclusion, those evil nurses that want you to fail do exist- but they are not the norm and they are bullies. You may feel powerless in facing a situation like that but you always have the ability to report these nurses. Don’t go into your first nursing job thinking this is the norm. There are plenty of mama nurses (and other nurses on the same level as you) who want to see you succeed. Focus your time and energy on these people, and remember to have a strong sense of self.

Did you work in a place where the atmosphere was toxic and filled with bullies? Do you have a favorite mama nurse/ what did he or she say to you that inspired you? Post below 🙂

5 things I wish someone told me when applying to my first nursing job ~

Thanks for joining me!  This is my story about being a new (or baby) nurse. This blog is being told nearly in real time ( maybe with a six month delay) to inspire and motivate those coming into the field. I know what anxieties and fears you must have if you are just graduating nursing school or starting your first job. The attempt of this blog is to help you not feel alone in the process. In today’s post I am going to talk about how I chose my first job out of nursing school, and how I weighed the pros and cons of every option that I had.

How very little can be done under the spirit of fear – Florence Nightingale 

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I was a nursing student in Philadelphia, and instead of studying for finals I could be found in my bedroom searching for jobs up and down the east coast. I applied to several residency programs from Connecticut all the way down to Georgia. I anxiously would check application sites to see if my status had changed. I cannot count the number of rejections I had received at first . My “full speed ahead” attitude made me want a job immediately after school- this first mistake is what now inspires me to write a list of things to keep in mind when applying to jobs.

1. The speed at which you get hired doesn’t really mean a thing

I do not wish to name the hospital that I work at; however, you can probably guess with the hints that will follow. Initially I would have loved to stay in the Philadelphia area. With names like UPenn and CHOP, it’s the ultimate city to get your start, especially in nursing. However, it took too long for these institutions to get back to me and I was ready to start the rest of my life. Immediately, a prestigious hospital in Atlanta, Georgia had gotten back to me with a job offer in my preferred field of neurology. It was a no-brainer that I take it, but looking back now I wonder what would have happened if I’d taken my time before accepting their offer.

I have many friends who waited a couple months and ended up getting their dream jobs in Philadelphia. One went on to be an OR nurse at UPenn (an impressive feat for a new grad) and another works in a peds ICU at CHOP. This all happened while I had already been working a few months. These people waited for their dream jobs in their dream locations and got it!

It goes to show- patience is a virtue, and sometimes you really can have it all .

2. Money Money Money Moneeeey

Think about your financial situation. I did not do this. I wish I did. I am a person that loves adventure and I cannot be in the same place for too long. However, when one has $60,000 of student debt looming over their head…maybe that adventure should be put on the back burner. Perhaps moving into my own apartment 13 hours away from my hometown wasn’t the greatest idea. Especially when their was an offer to live at home RENT FREE. It may be lame to live with your parents, but your wallet will be pretty tubby if you do. Even if you only live with them a year think of all that money you could save! Currently I’m living almost paycheck to paycheck because I didn’t make that decision.

If a rent free option like this isn’t available, you can still continue to be frugal and make smart decisions about the first job you take. Know that a beginning salary of $25/hr isn’t competitive, especially in a metropolitan area . Many well named hospitals will do this just because you are getting the right to put their name on your resume, and it looks good.

Also trust me on this – when you are sitting at home calculating how much you will have in bills, you are probably underestimating the amount of money that will be crudely taken away from your bank account. I usually pay $500 in taxes a pay check. I also have to pay rent, a car payment, car insurance payment, electricity, gas . The whole enchilada.

So keep in mind- a hospital name isn’t everything. Being able to afford a healthy and fun life is significantly more important in my opinion. I have a friend who works at a less than reputable hospital but gets paid $44/hr his first job in Pennsylvania- his snapchats tell me that he is having a very fun time in life right now.

3. Do what you want to do and do not settle

You want to be in labor and delivery? Then ONLY apply to those jobs. It will take two seconds for you to get burnt out in a job that you have no passion for. I wanted my nursing practice to be focused on neuro, so I accepted a job on a neurovascular floor. Sometimes we get patients who are just vascular, which is okay with me; however, I know if that was the only demographic I saw I wouldn’t feel fulfilled. Vascular just was never something that by itself interested me.

If you don’t know what you want to do then take every experience as a learning experience. It’s okay not to know! But if you do know don’t settle for a job that doesn’t offer you the experience you crave.

4. If you’re close to your friends and family maybe limit the distance you go

I may have jumped the gun when applying to jobs. I literally accepted the job that was furthest away from home, and occasionally I find myself really missing my friends and family. I look back now and almost wish I went somewhere a little bit closer to home so I would at least have the option to see my friends and family.

I’m for sure making new friends here and enjoying my time, but this is definitely something to think about if you are like me and are putting in applications at every hospital in the United States.

5. Make a Pros and Cons list

At the end of the day- this is all advice based on my experience and the experiences my friends have gone through. What is important to you? Do you need that fancy hospital name on your resume? Is money more important to you? Can you live at home?

Take time at home at write out a list of what is important to you. If you are already getting offers from hospitals factor in the pros and cons that matter to you. Nothing is better than a logical list to help you make this decision. In addition, when you tour these hospitals for the first time, ask yourself if you can see you working there.

That’s the end of my list. Is there anything you wish you were told when applying to your first job? If so leave a comment! I want this to be a safe space for new nurses and students, there’s no such thing as bad advice here! 🙂