A concerned Clinical Nurse Educator writes:
I have been a proud member of the nursing profession for more than 20 years. When I started, I was classed as “one of those new nurses who trained at uni and know nothing!”
It was a long time ago that university was considered a new, rubbish way to become a registered nurse. Now it is the only way to become a Registered Nurse.
And yet the same attitude that I and many others experienced still exists. And sadly, the people who espouse it are the same ones who suffered under it – my own bunch of nurses.
I am now a CNE in a public hospital. I have have a set of first year transition nurses under my support and guidance.
Sadly, they were all in tears within the first few days of being on the wards as supernumerary staff. It could be considered they were overwhelmed at the prospect of being out in the workforce. It could also be considered that the new staff felt for the first time the full impact of the responsibilities that being an RN entails.
But overwhelmingly, the reason this set of transition nurses were in tears at different times in their first few days was due to the senior nursing staff.
The rudeness these new nurses experienced was terrible. The lack of ward staff support and guidance. The lack of respect they received when asking valid questions. The accusations made about these nurses in front of patients about their supposed lack of insight. I witnessed this myself and was saddened and ashamed.
Granted, it was not all staff, but it should have been no staff.
When are we nurses going to learn that we grow our young nurses in the image we present to them?
These lovely new transition nurses have new knowledge. We oldies have a wealth of hands-on experience.
We can share, impart and teach our new generation of nurses from our wealth. In turn these new nurses can share, impart and teach us from their new knowledge.
We oldies are not outdated, just sometimes behind the times of new research and best practice. These new nurses have got it. We should be sponging from them as much new knowledge as possible, in the same way they sponge on our experience.
We need to grow up and stop eating our young!
Our profession is a very special one. We have the privilege of caring for others on their health journey. But we need to care for our young nurses on their journeys too.
We need to learn from each other, support each other and stand together with one heart, not a divided heart, for the life of our profession.
Breaking the cycle
As one of this early cohort, it was very hard for us to find acceptance. We were young. We really did not understand the magnitude of hospital-trained nurses’ angst about us. Perhaps it was fear? I couldn’t tell you.
And not only did we face animosity from the more experienced nurses, but from doctors who felt we knew nothing. We were constantly reminded of this by the nursing staff.
I can tell you that there were gaps in our hands-on experience if we hadn’t worked as AN staff whilst studying. But most of us did, because we realised that working as an AN was the only way to get the experience we needed outside of university pracs. It should not have been that way. We should have been able to suck the life out of the more experienced nurses to learn. But the opportunity was rarely offered.
Those that did offer stand out in my mind as the very best examples of what I want to be as a nurse.
We needed so much more from the experienced nurses. Just the same way the new nurses need it from us now. It pains me that people – my own group of nurses – are now doing to the new staff what was done to us.
As a CNE, I aim to support a new generation of nurses to become proud, empowered and encouraged to be the very best nurses they can be.
I aim to be the very best example of what was shown to me in kindness when I started. I aim to see nursing be a profession that loves, supports, encourages, teaches, cares and nurtures its young, to see great generations of nurses flow forward into the future.
What do you think? Are experienced nurses too hard on grads? Leave your thoughts in the comments.