CNE: Nurses must stop 'eating their young'

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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We oldies are not outdated, just sometimes behind the times of new research and best practice.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

Interestingly, I’ve found that the staff who give new transitioning nurses a hard time tend to be the ones who trained at university themselves.

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.

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88 COMMENTS

  1. I have great empathy for you and your new grads.
    Maybe it is the pressure of being constantly short-staffed that causes ward staff to be so abrupt. While “courtesy costs nothing,” and there is little excuse for rudeness, I think this might be something to consider. I’d be interested to interested to hear from the perspective of senior staff.

    • I agree there is no need to be abrupt but when a hospital or a ward is busy it’s all hands on deck. To me new grads in lots of cases are just not educated that they must be aware of more than one thing going on in the ward or hospital. I blame the uni lecturers for their method of preparing the grads for the real world. I have nursed for more than 40 years and have been a clinical educator at hospitals for two universities at times and nothing has really changed since uni training commenced. Students are still not educated to the fact that they are not to just spend all their time focusing on one patient. In a country situation you must be aware of your 10 to 20 patients as well as what is coming through ED at any time and that there is not a doctor at hand all the time.

        • Exactly Sahara, so new grads are “not educated”, which is frankly BS. In fact new grads are MORE educated than old nurses. New grads however are not SKILLED, therein the lies the problem. Hospitals and old nurses expect the poor grads to come out of uni with all the education AND skills, which is ridiculous. It takes years to build a skills base, but these old cranks don’t accept that, bully and berate these poor nurses, just like Old Nurse just did. It’s not the poor grad’s fault, so stop blaming them and allow them to develop those much needed skills. Oh and Old Nurse, how about dropping the ego, and actually train these nurses, as that’s what the role of a clinical educator does, instead of judging these poor grads. Honestly, with an attitude like that, is it any wonder new grads don’t stick around long.

    • I am a hospital trained nurse (yes, back in the dark ages). The attitude of “senior” nurses was the principal reason for me quitting the profession. After graduating, I tried in vain to do post-graduate education but was told “you are not experienced enough”, “it is not your turn”, “you need more time in general (nursing)”, “you need to learn more on the job”, “only top nurses do post-grad” – this was when I had worked as an RN in ICU for two years. I was told basically the same thing when I was in A&E after three years. Result, I stopped trying. Now, in a different profession I have a degree, two postgrad dips, two Masters and a docorate!

  2. I was really pleased to read this article to see that there is someone else who recognises that nurses are not given a chance to put their knowledge into skills.
    I can give the example of my daughter, who got a grad year program at a private hospital in Melbourne after completing her nursing degree with high distinctions. She had always worked hard on her clinical placements, and got very good recommendations from her clinical teachers.
    Things did not go well when she started her grad year. First of all, she was only given one day supernumerary, and afterwards she was on her own in a busy general surgical ward. She was given six patients to look after. In one of the rooms where she had two of her patients, one of the patients who were looked after by another nurse who wasn’t a grad year was in a lot of pain, and the nurse was no where to be seen. My daughter, being a new nurse and not having been shown around the ward, tried to help the patient by giving them pain medication after she got another nurse to check the drug. The patient was settled. But the patient’s relatives did not know that my daughter was not their relative’s nurse, so they went straight to the manager and complained about my daughter. My daughter was fired within 6 weeks of starting her grad year.
    The nurse educator even went out of her way to intimidate my daughter and tell her that her registration would be cancelled and she would never be able to work as nurse ever again. She even called our home telling my daughter off, until the whole family got upset and we told her to stop. Later on she said my daughter should come to the hospital and forced her to sign some papers that she was at fault and therefore they made her redundant and gave her $4000. After that she made her sign some forms to send to AHPRA that she was incompetent. My daughter collapsed as soon as she left the hospital. I saw a taxi coming home with my daughter and from there her life was never the same as this teacher had threatened my daughter so much that she couldn’t even do anything, thinking about the loss of spending so much time studying to be a nurse and now to be told you are never allowed to be one. She even said, “Good luck in life”.
    We have called AHPRA, and we were told that this should not have happened since my daughter was a new nurse, and since the orientation was poor. My daughter got the strength again to do placements. Although she is not fully working as nurse, she has moved on after meeting the wrong people at the start of her carrier.

    • I am so sorry to hear this as an older registered nurse in palliative, we are proud of the fact that we work as a team and go out of our way to include the students in all that we do so that we build their confidence.
      I think there are some bitter nurses out there that need to move on and let these younger nurses do their jobs. Your daughter is well trained and deserves the respect and guidance she needs. I hope she tries a different area of nursing because there are lots of nice places to work too.
      Many blessings,
      Julie

    • Good on your daughter for continuing. I just wonder how many great theatre nurses for instance have been lost to the profession over the years because of a rude arrogant theatre RN?

    • Trillo, I don’t believe from your description that a nurse would be going through a consequence per se. Not to the point of being reprimanded by NUMs, educator, family, employer, and eventually APHRA. There must be something more not mentioned. Incompetent must be shown.

      I am thinking there’s something very serious committed in that event. Not being the nurse caring for the patient wouldn’t be a serious issue to lead to those outcome, except I am thinking, “pain medication”, “not shown around”. Educators are responsible for these graduates. If they aren’t sure and still go ahead to do something to cause possible harm on patients, who would be held responsible?

      Then who exactly is eating who?

  3. Trillo,
    Your daughter is not alone, and it doesn’t just happen to ‘new grads.’
    It’s a common problem with male nurses (of all ages). ‘Men are just not supposed to be nursing’ is another sub-theme of the ‘Nurses Eat Their Young’ issue.
    The employer’s Code of Conduct covers absolutely everything! And it can be used and abused.
    For example, I was called to a ‘fact-finding meeting’ because it was alleged I breached the code of conduct after sending an internal email about a quality improvement issue.
    My breach? I had used a word in BLOCK letters (as such) in order to highlight a particular point. The word was ‘look’, as in “I want you to LOOK for the evidence”.
    I was cited for ‘shouting’. I told the inquiry that I personally don’t subscribe to kids stuff.
    Anyway, the point is that even RNs of more than 20 years’ experience still have to put up with this garbage. Public or private, it’s still the same. I blame the NUMs.

  4. Yes, this continues to happen. It is an embarrassment to the whole profession.
    Typical of oppressed group behaviour. Not an excuse, but an explanation.

  5. I have a lot of empathy for the other commenters, particularly Trillo’s daughter. Please excuse the novel below:

    My experiences are graduating in the late 1990s from a Queensland university as an RN. I worked as an AIN throughout my university career, worked hard at pracs, made good friends, had a wonderful time at uni. Then I started working at a large public hospital as a grad RN.

    From the start I was treated like a second class citizen. I was given a ‘preceptor’ for two weeks, who was a wonderful, 22-year-old hospital trained nurse. By preceptor I mean from day one she was given six patients and across the hall, I was given six patients, and her job was to ‘train’ me in different shifts. This was straight off the bat, and I was so stressed I’m sure that experience took years off my life (and hers probably) but I miraculously didn’t make any serious errors despite constantly worrying about errors, even while in bed at night and on my days off. Despite being constantly criticised about my performance, I was given no advice from my nurse manager or educator, I passed my performance appraisals and was often placed on shifts on public holidays and night shift where there was no support for new nurses (public hospitals always want it both ways don’t they?).

    Being treated in a condescending way, being asked bluntly by the nurse educator if it was my fault that an old lady with dementia threw her breakfast at me instead of teaching me how to deal with dementia patients (considered a specialty area now), being asked ‘why don’t you know that yet’ constantly, being belittled by nurses and some doctors when I asked relevant questions about a treatment or medication, having a nurse manager who had no idea how to deal with grads and no respect for us, was the norm. Luckily, there were a few hospital trained, experienced RNs (including my preceptor) who were great but the university grad RN’s were terrible. It was well known that they were worse than the hospital trained nurses.

    Nursing, and in fact, health systems are hugely toxic, not just on the wards but in other areas.

    Throughout my nursing career of around 14 years (10 years on the wards) I experienced behaviour similar to the above, despite trying to be a positive person and treat people as I wanted to be treated. I’ve been a preceptor many times because I genuinely enjoy it and felt proud for helping educate the next generation of nurses (something which benefits all of us!) but despite the happy times and many friends I’ve made, I often regret ticking nursing on my QTAC form all those years ago.

    One day I had enough of feeling sick at the thought of returning to work, so a few years ago I completed a master’s degree in another health occupation and left nursing behind. As sad as this made me at the time, I’ve never really looked back.

    And you know the worst thing? If I had known that just one other person was going through what I was, I would have felt better. But being nurses, we are taught (covertly) early on to hide our true feelings, never admit to being stressed or having weaknesses and to keep going even when there’s nothing left in us. Funny how an occupation which looks after a person’s mental, spiritual, physical and psychological needs often breeds people who can’t summon up an ounce of kindness towards their co-workers. Crazy hey?

    • Hi Emma, May I know your other health profession? I may follow your path one day (assuming that I will survive in my nursing course and my life’s hardship). I’m no longer in love with the girl named NURSING, so I want to divorce her – fingers crossed.

      • Apologies Calm Down, I missed this when you first posted it.

        I completed my Master of Human Services (rehabilitation counselling). I work as a case manager rehabilitating ill and injured workers back to their workplace. My nursing degree and experience was a great stepping stone.

        I did mine at Griffith – they still have the program but it’s now called a Master of Rehabilitation Counselling https://degrees.griffith.edu.au/Program/5578

        Cheers 🙂

    • Thank you Emma and all the other contributors above.
      Please note that some of the oldies may also be new nurses, at least to the ward. All you have described is also true when the new nurse is older and she “ought to know what to do”. It’s good to hear your stories. I’m still trying to process mine … my head is reeling after almost every shift and any confidence I might have developed from 4 years in aged care nursing has quickly evaporated in the hospital setting.
      Most of the animosity I’ve experienced has been from experienced ENs whose skills I admire and who obviously feel resentful of the pay difference. There’s nothing I can do about that.
      As for teaching new grads not to focus on one patient, a complaint from Old Nurse above, it takes time to develop the confidence to look up and see the broader picture. We will all develop it in time but not if there’s continual harassment and undermining.
      I’ve come to this profession late in life and I’m not ready to chuck it in yet. Well, not today anyway.

    • Said it in a nut shell Emma.While there is favouritisim,nepotisim and a judgemental negative attitude toward expression of feeling’s/emotions.This world will be alway’s chasing its tail for solution, when the answer is right under their nose the whole time.It has been taught & conditioned over many years that it is wrong to express truthfully how you feel & only share happy fun conversation’s.That’s the sad part because this is a big part of the reason for mental health problems.Really society sending the message that it is wrong to feel and people rewarded for pretending to be false.Being excepted in a group means having to be someone we are not.Being exactly like the other’s to fit in.Being real & you, could mean you are excluded & alone.My nursing experience has been lonely & heart breaking, at times staying in bed on my day’s off because of severe depression..But my passion & love for nuturing & caring for other’s keeps me going.We learn so much from challenges in life & negative is part of our growing.Hope one day soon it all changes for the better & people encourage each other instead of tearing down.Remembering having a degree does not give someone the right to make other’s feel unworhty.

  6. So sorry to hear that your beginning years were so horrible for you guys.
    I attending nursing in Canada, and the programming over there is amazing compared to what the grads go through here. It’s a shame that they don’t look at other countries’ models of nursing. When I graduated I had 560 clinical hours and was buddied with a senior RN. She was amazing and wonderful to say the least. All the staff treated me fairly and with dignity and in a non-condescending manner. I have been nursing in Australia now for four years and when I get a new grad or a student nurse I treat them with respect and dignity. These nurses are learning, and what better way for them to be a great nurse but to show them respect and help build their confidence?
    I give positive feedback and encourage them to do as much as they can while under my supervision. I also ask them if they feel comfortable prior to performing any procedure. I give them the choice to do the task as long as they have the theory and practicum behind them. If they prefer to watch then so be it. I have always believed that we all need to take away a positive experience and I give back to my students what I got from my positive experience. It is daunting enough to be thrown to the floor full on without having support from the other nurses. I also encourage them to speak up if they think they have a more productive way of doing a procedure or task, as we all are in continual learning modes. All my student have thanked me for giving them a positive experience and explaining all the reasons why I do things the way I do.
    I hope that by giving them a positive experience that one day they will show the same courtesy when they themselves become teachers.

  7. I am a former RN that was trained under the old-style hospital induction in NSW. Many years later, despite another thriving career, I tried to upgrade my skills by doing two programs, including a three-month ward employment. I must say that the abusive culture of nursing is a shocking experience that is felt right through the ranks, from top to bottom, from educator to new grad. I thought the new grads that came through the ward on orientation with their educators in tow were sometimes positive – and other times, covering insecurity and fear with an attitude that probably contributed to conflict. I think that old-school nurses were put through a very abusive, disciplined system where they were humiliated and groomed into being highly capable professionals. But I don’t think any of them think that young grads these days should go through that. Not at all. I think they like to be approached for mentoring and advice, some of them – and some of them don’t. It’s like any new job in any field to that extent. The old-school nurses had a wealth of eye-witness experiences to draw on at the age of 22. No amount of textbook learning can replace that. I think if the grads knew a bit more about the diversity in the workplace before they got there they might be able to handle it better – but I think mostly, the bullies and racists that lurk in today’s frustrated and overworked nursing units need to be dealt with by massive, deep reforms. In general I think nurses are over-educated and over-accountable.

    • Nice post.
      Hello, Please heeeellllpppp meeeee!
      I have been described as a lovely, kind, nice nurse type! And I’m proud of that and will always try to keep that within me, no matter what people say, do or think (about me).
      I am a new grad at a big, well-known hospital in Sydney.
      And although I am trying my utmost hardest I’ve been to “3 catch-up meetings” with the program facilitator, NUM and educator, depending on who’s available.
      I feel that although their intentions must be good that I am being zoned in on as the one who needs help, because they are concerned that, as one put it today, I’m “not safe”.
      Where do I begin…? Well for starters, I did respond professionally and stated how I could improve “my practice”. However, every time, it’s the same thing…”working on communication, time management, teamwork, safe practice”, over and over and over again. It’s hard enough to be in my 3rd month and have to deal with the demands of the job, then have to deal with increased “meetings”, negative feedback from overcritical nurses and extra homework type things to do out of work hours. Maybe I’m frazzled by it all today, but I swear it could drive you mad if you let it…
      I feel ashamed that I drew up 60 units of longacting insulin, just for practice, not really knowing what I was doing, but just drawing it up and waiting for a senior nurse to check it. That was the first time I had done it and the one done before was quickly done by the senior nurse and I wasn’t shown the graduation marks on the needle, nor did I “ask”… that’s their concern, I don’t ask, I don’t ask for help, I could’ve given the patient an overdose. I explained, I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but that’s why I got the CNS to have a look and she pushed it down to 8units, and said, “Omg, that’s an overdose, you do not know, no one has shown you?”. I replied, “No”… “Omg, I feel bad now”.
      Anyhow, she quickly showed me and I understood, but it quickly got back to the educator…
      Then to top it off, one of the senior nurses gave feedback that I was leaving patients unshowered all day on the weekend! I said, “That’s not true. I ask all my patients if they want a shower and sometimes they refuse because they said they had one the previous day” … You can’t win, it’s like you have to be a freakin perfect robot or something… I’m very polite and if I don’t do something/or can’t , as sometimes we can’t I try to ask for help (working on that) or handover, and the “sighs” you get if you can’t run around like an absolute nut and not do everything.. or just lie! I feel like out the door is in on the horizons for me… even though I’ve been selected from 100s to do the program! and even though all/more experienced nurses sometimes do the same things/mistakes and are imperfect, like me!
      The meetings, the extra work to do outside of work, the crappy feedback, “the concerns”, oh “the concerns……”. I don’t want to turn into a bitter, distrustful so and so…. maybe that’s what I have become, which is quiet and can come off as arrogant and uncaring…
      Any advice?

      • You don’t seem happy with the nursing profession. Maybe you can look into another career. My friends and I had the same problems within our clinical placements. Most nurses, clinical facilitators and CNEs are not smart enough to distinguish their expectations to the reality. When you have 1 year experience, you can apply anywhere you want. No need to stay in the same hospital.

      • Hi there,

        The fact that you showed another practitioners about your work, 60u of lantus instead of 8u (patient would end up with DKA and die?)

        If it’s just one-off episode, those critical comments for unsafe practice just kept popping up, would you want to compromise others’ safety?

        I don’t think they intend to bully or eat anyone. When your clinical shows sound practice, I believe none of them would approach you in anything as mentioned.

  8. Isn’t it sad that nurses are so toxic to other nurses. I retired last year after 38 years in a profession I had only ever wanted to be in. I’m only 57 but I can’t do it anymore. The lack of support from management, the bullying from colleagues just burnt me out.
    I always looked forward to having new grads and students on placement. I’m Hospital-trained but went back and did my Bachelor of Nursing so I could keep pace with those who haven’t been alive as long as I’ve been nursing. I learnt so much from students and new grads. I feel it is OUR responsibility as senior nurses to teach the younger generation. Even if it is only for our self preservation as these nurses are the ones that will be caring for us or teaching those who will be caring for us in our dotage. So isn’t it in our best interest to make sure that our new nurses have the skill and knowledge to do their job? Good luck to all new grads, it is an exciting time to be a nurse, there are so many different opportunities for you to soar.

  9. I always try to be very nice to students because I was treated SO BADLY when I was a student and I never have forgotten the experience.

  10. I sympathise with everybody here, but one of the things I’ve noticed after 25 years in the profession is that everyone points the finger at everyone else, and absolutely no-one accepts responsibility. Everyone thinks they can identify the bully but fails to see how their own complacency or (in)action contribute to the problem and sustain the culture the way it is.

    I was hospital trained, and I thought the standard of training was dreadful (I came into it from five years in the public service), and it was full of people that despised confidence, despised each other, despised the patients and most of all, had a stunning sense of entitlement. Years later, I see university training is much the same: not the best quality of lecturers and pumping out massive numbers of graduates that are just plain nasty people. Thankfully, every now and then I come across someone that restores my faith in the profession. Or at least that was how it was for a long time. Every time now I come across a graduate where I think “the profession is in good hands”, I see them in a matter of months get into the “well if I was treated like crap I’m going to treat you like crap” cycle, burn out and leave, often to go on and excel in some other profession.

    This business isn’t going to stop: I can guarantee you discussion boards will have exactly this forum again and again for the foreseeable future. I’ve always thought there was a solution, but in reality, for the last 25 years, the bar has been dropped to an extreme low for entry into the profession, and we’ve recruited a massive bunch of people that are in the profession that are in it for all the wrong reasons. Can you name any other profession where the career aim of all members is to get out of the profession?

    The problem, as I mentioned at the start, is that the profession is manifestly immature, stuck at around the social development stage of a 4 year old, and simply is unable to accept that nobody, and I mean nobody is responsible for the bullying culture of nursing but themselves, and I bet you not one of you reading this will have the balls (pardon the gender-based emphasis) to accept that it’s your fault: it is full stop. Sure as their are cats and dogs, your attitude and actions made the culture of nursing what it is today, and deny it as much as you like, the only way the bullying and this sense of self-importance the profession has is going to stop is when your own behaviour changes.

    A simple illustration of the general attitude of nurses (in NSW anyway). The HCC deals with most complaints against health care professionals by advising in the first instance, that if an error was committed, action can generally be averted if the party complained against apologises. In the case of the non-nursing professions, that was complied with at a 100% rate. But of 1100 odd complaints against nurses, not one apologised for their error.

    As for me, I’m a coward, and left the profession three years ago after teaching at University. I was simply gobsmacked at the lack of talent at the level it is most needed, with that same contempt for each other that permeates the wards directed by lecturers towards their students.

    But their is hope, and I am convinced that the Nurse Practitioners are the way to go. I have yet to meet an NP that wasn’t motivated, caring and extended professional courtesy towards their colleagues. The way to get rid of this bullying culture,I’m afraid, is raise the bar substantially to make sure only the most professional and motivated nurses remain in the profession. The rest can go off and be angry nuns or something, something that suits their innate nastiness and vitriol.

    • Thank you Dan White for succinctly putting into print what I have thought all along. Australia has made it so easy to become a Registered Nurse – they have lowered the standards to the point where pretty much anyone can get into the degree. I have seen some shockingly unintelligent people graduate from nursing and get into new grad programs. What possible good will come out of dumbing down the requirements to get into what should be a respected profession. Where will it all end?

  11. Nurses “over-educated” ??

    circa 1984 – Hospital Certificate.
    circa 1987 – Diploma of Applied Science ( Nursing ).
    circa 1992 – Bachelor of Nursing / Health Science.
    circa 2000 – ( recommended ) Grad.Cert in Nursing Specialty.
    circa 2005 – ( recommended ) Grad.Dip in Nursing Specialty.
    circa 2010 – ( recommended ) Masters in Nursing Specialty.

    Today, if you do not have a Masters degree in your Nursing Specialty, you are effectively not competitive at an interview / selection process with your contemporary peers.

    What’s next ?

    circa – 2020: Entry level Nursing = Masters by course work. Educators and CNCs will require a doctorate in nursing?

    • It’s a requirement to have a Grad.Dip in Mental Health Nursing to work in psychiatric wards in South Australia, hence the reason why I’m currently completing mine. I’m also being highly advised to complete my Masters as well, however I will not be staying on the floor as they will go to waste, due to the work that has and IS being done by ENs and even AINs.

  12. I have been reading the comments for some time and am wondering if I shouldn’t start something like this for I am not a NSW RN, my entire nursing career has been spent in Queensland. I trained in the 1960s, and was one of 40 students of whom eight finished. The attrition rate is proof of how hard the four year program was. I think for the first few years I wore a sign that said “kick me, I like it”. For I had come straight from a convent education and knew nothing and I mean nothing, but I persisted for I never wanted to be anything else and so the years passed.
    In 2009, I resigned from a Nurse Educator role, a position I loved, because of bullying. For a workaholic, time’s up when you don’t want to go to work. There is more to life than ‘being called up for trivia i.e. the tone of your voice or worse and this was certainly not trivia, I wrote an email asking why a neighbour had not been seen at the OPD. I was accused of “jumping the waiting list.” I don’t think so when the person has been waiting two years.
    In the last 15 years I split my career into 2 part time roles. One was clinical, working at a private facility and the second was education within the public hospitals. I enjoyed working with younger, less experienced colleagues immensely, especially in the clinical role, although it was said I was “inflating the ego of new grads”. Garbage. I was teaching colleagues how to care for people in crisis (CCU). I finally gave up my clinical role when an older nurse refused a patient a bottle. It had to be me, afterall, I’m older.
    So you see, it’s not just new grads, it’s the bullying culture that is all pervasive. Just recently I facilitated a group of students and was not permitted to check any drugs of any description at all, it was hospital policy. On my second day I was reported for taking a set of observations. I had finished taking the obs when the student went to help an RN. I was informed that I was not there to work, the students were there to do that. Furthermore, the role of Clinical Nurse Educator was reinforced. Now I have only been teaching in the classroom and at the bedside for 30 years, and have taught nurses of all ranks, medical students and junior medical officers and hold 5 certificates, 1 diploma and 3 degrees.
    So you see it’s not just new grads. I share these issues so you will know you are not alone. Stereotyping and bad manners is just that and is not used exclusively for the young inexperienced RN.
    Many years ago I recall reading the research on oppressed group behaviour. I truly believe that’s what is being enacted. I am sorry the bad behaviour has been so destructive to some, but it will require change from the top down. University programs were never intended to produce graduates who “hit the floor running”.
    Nursing has never been easy, and many of us have adopted the survivalist mode to get through the shift. The causes are multifaceted and no one individual or organisation is to blame. It is just that we all need to become more aware of the impact we are having on each other.

    • Hi Annie

      Perhaps a change of scenery from a traditional role would be good. Have you considered Legal Nurse Consulting? You still use your nursing knowledge but in a different setting and it could be a great part time option for you. Good Luck
      Amanda Gossman

  13. Hello CNE and all who have posted their comments.
    For myself, a hospital “trained” RN and a recent grad co-ordinator when this style of education was first implemented, I believe we have missed the point of why some nurses “eat their young”.
    Nursing is a fabulous profession when suited to it and when the student “knows” what level of knowledge is expected for the level of education received. This was very much the case under the old hospital based education and although one could be berated one could never be accused of not knowing when you could not possibly know for the level you were at. The nurse also had many colleagues at that level so support amongst your own was a great help should you come across the unhelpful nurse.
    That nurses expect a level of knowledge, especially if one is run off their feet, is not a bad thing in itself, but the real problem with this current education is the many variables that occur on a shift that you have no control over and hence the new grad or student can be viewed as another obstacle by the thoughtless, uncaring or cruel.
    I would agree with CNE, in that the hospital trained nurse displays less of this thoughtless behaviour and I believe this is predominately due to the fact that during the course of their education, if you were not suited to the role of nurse, ie, shift work not your bag, short of compassion and the ability to communicate effectively, you were unlikely to continue and graduate.
    Today, you may undergo three years education and still not be aware of the true role of the RN,or your suitability for it. This along with the advent of the AIN into the hospital setting, with the RN to oversee and then manage patients with nurses at varying levels of knowledge, is a burden that is only going to get worse as successive governments will continue to finance the AIN and put more and more pressure on the RN. This situation was not one the hospital educated nurse found herself in.
    I, along with many others, believe that the student should be employed in the hospital whilst studying. These nurses would be the AIN’s and should be identified at a level as was once.
    In this age of high technology, it is idiotic to have nurses so clinically deprived, and then to say that a nurse with five weeks or six months education can manage 99% of the RN role.
    Is it any wonder that doctors patients and nurses themselves are confused when confronted with such diversity of knowledge.

  14. From a country RN’s perspective, we usually have only one uni student at a time and never a new grad. Our area Health Service believes in runnning all the long tem nurses into the ground and never replacing them as they leave. New grads and nursing students need to be encouraged by each university to be able have their minds on more than one thing at a time. I feel most grads or students are not encouraged to have their eyes on all that is about them. In my situation it is a one RN one EN situation on evenings and nights with an additional EN on day shift this is for at least 10 to 12 patients with ED thrown in which can have triage 1,2,3’s at any time (with a busy highway through town) as well we have to cope with a Best Practice Clinic which has often 30 to 40 patients through it. No uni ever prepares students for this. it still goes back to the fact that uni lecturers are way out of touch with the real world. The lecturers need to be real life nurses not some old fuddy duddy that has been behind a desk for years. We gladly accept student nurses to our place because they learn a lot by being an extra pair of hands and learn as they help experienced nurses in a usual shift.

  15. I am a university grad from the mid 1990s. I almost quit nursing after my first 8 weeks on a busy surgical ward. Had it not been for other “uni trained” nurses on my ward, I would have for sure. They got me through those terrifying first months. Now, 20 years on, whenever we have a new grad on shift, I make sure they know they can come to me for anything! I’ve been there and I remember what’s its like.

  16. I don’t mind abrupt. I don’t mind a bit snappy. I expect to get my hands dirty, do what needs to be done. I don’t mind being shouted at when there’s an arrest or other emergency. All expected and not bullying.

    But constant demeaning put downs, not being educated (even by the educator of the unit), being inexperienced yet being expected to deal with whatever comes your way without an ounce of support, being regularly snapped at because you ask a question when you’re watching or assisting with a procedure, are destructive to the profession.

    Look, a lot of professions have changed from on-the-job-training to university degrees, it’s not ideal but that’s how it is, it won’t change. It’s up to the manager, administration and workers in that occupation to train new professionals and to set a good example … for their own benefit! To help with staffing, to assist with people staying in the profession and ultimately, have a decent workplace to work in. Back in the 1990s, being in a ‘grad program’ meant working as a fully fledged RN with little or no support and attending lectures and doing assignments. We’d already done that for 3 years! It makes no sense to me.

    All I need from work is to do my job well, have a few laughs, if I’m lucky have some friends at work to have my back and go home. Is that too much to ask? And yes, we’re all responsible but as a new person starting in a workplace with an already established culture, it’s very difficult to change that. People either start behaving like the more alpha workers in the area or they move on because they can’t handle it.

    I’ve had many good experiences and good managers, decent people I’ve worked with but unfortunately, around 40-50% of the time it was horrible. In the area I work in now, I don’t have any problems except for feeling a bit stressed on occasion at the volume of work and I’m technically at a higher level than I was and earn more money (without shift work).

    Why does there have to be so much unnecessary drama in nursing?

    • Exactly Emma, and that echoes the same experiences I had. I too was thrown in the deep end, with a greater allocation and acuity than the rest of the nurses in the ward, expected to be as skilled and experienced as the senior nurses and not once was supported, but constantly criticised and nitpicked by senior staff. I was then told ‘time management was shit’ from the CNC. Needless to say I completed my grad rotation there and will never return – in fact I’m now trying to get out of floor nursing altogether, as it is clearly toxic and simply doesn’t care for its nursing staff.

  17. I’m a young, university-trained nurse, currently off work with a back injury (not sustained at work) and I work in a great country hospital. We do have new grads, and they do get thrown right in to the thick of things, but I hope that I, along with the other nurses in my workplace, are supportive enough for these new grads, because there’s not really enough support for them. Especially in a place like ours. My own grad year was fantastic, despite some less than favourable reviews on a couple of rotations, we had grad support nurses who would work with every few weeks, study days every month where we were encouraged to say what was good and not so good.
    Even though we have a hard job that drains us physically, mentally and sometimes emotionally, we need to remember that we are probably feeling the same way as our colleagues. And to remember that yes, even when we’re swamped with requests and demands, these new nurses need our support.
    Maybe one thing we can do is find out what they are comfortable with. I remember being afraid to take a person’s blood pressure! There is so much difference in what new grads can actually do, despite being registered! We need to recognise this, and instead of pumping our fists at unis for their teaching methods or lack thereof, we can use our skills to assess new grads and help them become the nurses that some of us have become.

  18. Sad to say I have witnessed the same behaviour. How sad the short term memory of our generation of nurses. I also was one of the first groups to graduate from university, it was a battle trying to always prove yourself all the time. Shameful! We should support our young nurses, after all, they are the ones who will look after US at some stage. I will always be there for our new grads because I will never forget my experience, both good and bad.

  19. The other form of bullying occurs in the rostering, I am a new grad and have not had a weekend off for 4 months and I’m not alone; new grads are often rostered weekends and nights, I have even heard of a new grad getting split days off in her first fortnight.

    • Don’t forget unfair allocations as another form of bullying. I spent six months with the heaviest patients and one more patient than the other senior nurses every single day. I complained about this to management and was told ‘it’s a skills mix – to build skills’. No, it was taking advantage of and abusing a powerless grad. This was further reinforced where the ward nurses took a vote and ALL voted to keep the unfair allocation. The salt in the wound was being torn a new one by the NUM, stating my ‘time management was not up to par’. I’m sorry, but allocating the heaviest patients with more than the average patient load by a nurse graduate and zero support – time management is going to be terrible.

  20. I am proud to be an RN. I too have been bullied from co-workers and management. I love mentoring the students and the new-grads as I remember my first days/weeks on the wards 20 years ago when my buddy was going through a personal crisis and “left me to it”, fortunately other staff were helpful and supportive. In NSW a few years ago there was the Garling Commission of Inquiry into health. Among one of its key findings was the issue of bullying in nursing. In my early days of nursing (I was one of the first to come out of uni with a degree) we were always told not to take ward politics to the bedside, focus on the patient and have friends away from nursing as it helps to not talk shop all the time. Yes patients are demanding, the workload is hard, but some wards are just cliques that seem to thrive on bitchiness. The only way this problem is going to go away is for a change at the top and for everyone who is affected to speak up and the issue to be taken seriously by managers, AHPRA, unis.
    Those that are burnt out should leave and go and work elsewhere so as those that enjoy the work and want to come into the profession and encourage young people into the wonderful work opportunities of nursing. When I encourage school leavers how much I love nursing I am often told that I am the first person that says they love nursing. Just because you may have been bullied as a junior gives you no right to be a bully back. The cycle of bullying has to stop as it is all pervasive. It takes courage.

  21. I have worked as an RN/RM for 16 years, both in Australia and overseas. In large metropolitan hospitals and rural settings. I love being a nurse and have always said the reason there is a nursing shortage is NOT because of the money or the conditions, it is because of how other nurses treat each other! Do you ever go into a tea room full of doctors and hear them whinging about each other and running down each other? NO! Only NURSES do this to each other. I am horrified to hear how some of us so called ‘professionals’ treat and speak to each other. If we don’t all stick up for each other and support the new nurses coming up through the ranks, who will there be to look after us when we are old and sick!

  22. @PB You mention the Garling report and the issue of bullying. Has a single thing been done to address the issue? No, all that has come out of Garling is BS about gender specific rooms and mandatory per shift obs. I wouldn’t hold my breath for anything to be done soon. Too many bullies are “performance managed” into line management jobs where they are able to inflict more damage than they would as a mere employee. Makes me laugh at the NSW Health jobs site that states that all appointments are merit based.

  23. I graduated in 1987 and I thought bullying was just as rampant back then as it is now. No difference if you are hospital based or university based in your training: if you’re vulnerable and less than confident, the predatory will sense it and pounce on you.

  24. The problem is bullying is so institutionally entrenched. From the language of AHPRA communications, through to the hectoring memos generated at floor level, there is no respect for the status of employees as persons, let alone persons of education and intelligence. Nurses are treated as interchangeable units, rather than people and are thouroughly disempowered in the decision-making process. Garling is yet to be acted upon here.

  25. Being a male nurse, I have encountered so many times where other nurses either view me as a subordinate or as unable to work proficiently as a male nurse.

    After entering nursing as a mature age student and graduating at the age of 26 with one of the highest GPAs in my class, I was lucky enough to enter a theatre-only post-graduate course. Upon commencement of employment, a number of nursing educators advised me that as a male, I was required to work harder and study more if I wanted to be accepted within the nursing field.

    Since this comment I have gained five years of theatre experience over nine different specialities and six different hospitals, some of which I had worked in concurrently. I had also attained a graduate diploma of peri-operative nursing, with my GPA and practical skill marks the highest in the class. At a recent professional review session with my employer, feedback was provided to me as having “displayed an exemplary work ethic, dedication, and a high skill base allowing rostering over multiple specialities.”

    However I am still not treated as an independent professional and an equal by most of my colleagues. There are constantly nurses who look over my shoulder and try to change my technique to do what they would do in surgery and to set up the way that they would set up for a particular surgery. These colleagues don’t seem to realise that if I do something a particular way, it is because of education, experience and the viewing of multiple techniques. And for me to ignore my education and training to do things how ‘they would do it’ only introduces an element of uncertainty which could result in mistakes happening. I’ve even had nurses yell at me during surgery for not folding a pack correctly on the scrub trolley, as well as not attaching instrument tracking stickers on the paperwork in a perfectly straight line.

    These same colleagues constantly ask ‘have you done abc’, and ‘don’t forget to do xyz’. My usual answer of ‘yes, it has been done’ is now shifting to ‘I’ve been doing this for five years now and I haven’t forgotten it yet’. It is my belief that the reason I get constantly examined so closely is because I am a male and because other nurses in the theatre team like to hold a position of authority.

    Not all staff treat me as a subordinate. There are some colleagues who I work with who treat me as an equal in the surgical team. Where the focus is not gratifying a staff member’s authority, but ensuring the patients’ treatment and safety is the highest priority. And within these specific teams, where we trust and respect each other as a professional, the theatre lists progresses smoothly, efficiently and without incident.

    But after five years, I’ve reached my toll. I have decided to leave my nursing career and leave the health care system completely. I’m hoping to enter a profession where I can be treated as an equal and respected as an independent worker. Within the comments of nurse’s eating their young, I thought I might add in my experiences.

    • We need more men in nursing. I’m lucky enough to have 2 on my ward. They are just as competent as anyone else and certainly “balance out the hormones” so to speak. The more the merrier! We also have female wardspersons. I, too, had a poor experience as a new grad during my Theatre rotation and it’s not an area I desire to return to. The only person that acknowledged my existence on my first day was my preceptor. I even had a relative working there who chose to continue to ignore me when she found out who I was. The theatre staff laughed at me every time I left theatre to get some items and I even apologised to a CNS for not being born a theatre CNS like she was. All because I couldn’t find an item in a few seconds. Never again! Having said all that, the rest of my Grad year was fantastic. I still remember what it was like to be a new nurse so I try now, as CNE, to be like the nice nurses I had. I’m probably too soft.

    • Misandry is rampant in nursing and I’ve been told to my face that my gender is inferior, as well as been taken advantage of due to the perception that males are to be utilised for strength and ALL the heavy activities. My work too was micromanaged and scrutinised because I was considered, and I quote, a ‘useless male’. I too am planning to leave the floor and this is one of the many reasons for that. Male nurses will continue to be generally viewed as inferior and perceived as unsuitable for nursing until this reverse sexism is stamped out.

  26. Hello ‘Male Nurse’, I totally sympathise … I’ve been in your situation as well.

    Would love to move into something else, but I’m too old! If I can stick it out for another two years, I can pull all my Super out and start up my own business.

    Would then drop down to one shift a week or fortnight (just to keep entitlements going) and effectively regain control (over rostering / lifestyle etc. )

    Best of luck to all us ‘Male Nurses’ out there, struggling to achieve recognition in a ‘woman’s world’.

    • Gordo and Dan: I sympathise. Completely.

      I did the profession for 25 years and realised that it’s pretty consistent that if you’re a male nurse, you not only have to put up with that general culturally ingrained bullying that is widespread, but that very special brand that is reserved for male nurses as well.

      Historically, I have never known bullying to be addressed anywhere in the world even after formal reports identify it as rampant. I worked in Tassie for a long time and the state government does an employee satisfaction survey every couple of years and every year it makes the news that 60% of nurses feel bullied by colleagues and managers. And every year, nothing gets done about it. One report about the theatres of a major hospital here described ‘a culture of bullying that is so culturally ingrained that it is unlikely that any intervention can resolve it’.

      If you are still a nurse, good on you: you’re the salt of the earth, but after 25 years of being treated like, well, I don’t know what, my self esteem couldn’t handle it any more. No matter how hard I worked, it seemed staff (young and old, university and hospital trained) never stopped digging and poking. I had my own personal nervous breakdown and pulled the pin on the career. I now brew coffees in a mate’s cafe and make about a third of the money I did as a mid level manager in nursing. But man oh man, the peace I feel inside: worth the sacrifice and I should have done it 24 years sooner.

  27. Welcome to nursing. I have so little faith that I won’t be attacked because of these comments that this is not my real name. Women have always viewed male nurses as second class. Less than a year ago I was told that men should not be nurses. I will quite happily now pick a fight with these and be there in support of others who are being attacked. Anyone who thinks this doesn’t happen, get out from behind the desk and work for a living.

  28. I am so sorry to read both of these comments, it saddens me to read that we are not only doing this to new nurses but to males of the same standing. What can I say… no apologises will change how you both feel about how you have been treated.

  29. I’m saddened to read all these comments, we are so much still a ‘them and us’, instead of just us. Hospital based training, like it or not, is well and truly over, so get over it. We should be sharing our knowledge, not dividing the profession further.

  30. I’m a first year student nurse and have just had my first short hospital placement. I’m finding all of your comments really interesting because in the course of my studies I have been informed about the high prevalence of lateral bullying in the nursing workplace and first heard the phrase that ‘nurses eat their young’. Although I had a good experience on my placement it was obvious that I had encountered a culture where RNs feel over-worked and under-appreciated – as well as having a huge burden of responsibility. Also, I had the thought that it would be extremely difficult to become a well respected professional with clear pathways for career progression in such an environment. I finished my placement yesterday and today I made an appointment with a student adviser with a view to transferring off the Bachelor of Nursing into another health discipline. Honestly, it’s a shame as I may have made a good nurse but I can’t see how I could thrive in such a setting.

  31. Yes we used to eat the young but now we can’t afford to. Now the profession gets rid of the older ones. I experienced this. I was a CNC and if anyone tried to fight for her young it’s me lol. To see me yell at a VMO for being rude to a nurse is to see me in flight. However, I dont work in a public hospital now as I got swallowed up. Managers who can’t manage, systems that can’t handle mental illness. I hope it changes but I stopped chomping on young nurses years ago. (smile)

  32. I was glad to see the article revisiting the ‘nurses eating their young’ theme. It is an old and well worn theme… I experienced the negativity of older nurses’ prejudice as a young hospital apprentice/student nurse from 1981-1984. I was amazed to see the masses of replies to this article, it’s been a ‘problem’ for the past 30 years in my own personal experience as a clinician and now as an educator it’s the ‘elephant on the table’ when we educators try to sell nursing as a rewarding career. It would be interesting to get some form of Australia-wide response to nurses’ experiences of bullying and horizontal violance, let’s expose this nursing hall of shame, ‘Bullying, it stops with me…

  33. I can truly relate to all you have written. As a more mature student (45+), I missed out on many opportunities during my University years. The majority of applicable practicals were given to the younger students. Acute care, Surgical & Medical practicals spent in Community Nursing, driving around with a Community nurse in Western Sydney weighing babies and changing dressings. I tried to get experience by working while I studied, but positions were hard to come by and in Western Sydney, it is not what you know that will get you a job – it is who you know.
    After graduation I moved to country NSW, lured by the promise of furthering my training and joining a “community spirited” nursing profession. How wrong could a person be.
    Country nurses are better trained than “city” nurses – they have far more access to working in the Health System – gaining knowledge as they study.
    So when I started in a Surgical ward there was an expectation that I had years of experience – after all I was an older nurse.
    I was an “outsider” and was treated like a leper. Then the “mobbing” began. When I asked for assistance – I was ignored. Asking for assistance was also seen as a sign of “weakness”. So here I was on an evening shift with 5 patients: 3 post operative (joint replacement) patients – all returning to the ward within 90 minutes of recovery, 1 Continuous Bladder Irrigation patient and 1 MRSA patient. I dared to ask the nurses sitting at the nurses station for assistance. A complaint went into the NUM, and I was placed on a “Performance Improvement Plan” for 3 months, (extended to 4 months because the NUM went on holiday). Working morning shift 5 days a week for 4 months also takes its toll.
    Meetings were held every Friday at which I would have to give a rundown of the week’s events from a daily diary. These meetings were absolute torture. Nurses continued to make hollow allegations of matters so trivial, yet they were the focus of the meeting. This took its toll on my health and mental status. Lost 8kg in weight and prior to every meeting I would be physically sick. My home life was also affected, such negativity and hostility given to a person at the end of a working week (by the NUM) meant it played on my mind all weekend and by Sunday night I could be found curled up crying at the thought of Monday morning.
    I asked for intervention by senior management and the Union, all to no avail; such was the “power” this NUM and her staff wielded – no-one would intervene.
    However I refused to give in and at the “final meeting” held with the ADON, it was recognised that I had been unfairly treated and the NUM was indeed “focusing on the week’s 1% wrongs instead of the week’s 99% rights.” The ADON’s words were like music to my ears and I was told that I would get a copy of the final report and minutes of our meeting. However, I have never received a copy of the meeting minutes and as the ADON was away on holidays the final copy of the Performance Improvement Plan filed in my record was the one written by the NUM.
    Now I am working in another ward, but the rumours, innuendos and whispers continue and when learning opportunities avail themselves – I am sent to clean the pan room.

    So it is not only older nurses who eat their young, younger nurses are just as bad.

    • Yes, older nurses get a lot of flack, I have witnessed it. I have witnessed bullying in nursing for so long and still cannot understand the “bullying in nursing is rampant because of heavy workloads, funding shortages, constant pressure” nonsense. Where does that come from? Nurses are bullies because of an imbalance of power (nurse managers with no experience and too much power). Nurses bully because they can. I have known nurse managers on wards and in the Operating Theatre that are sadists. Nursing needs a good shake up from the very top down regardless of where they were trained. It’s more than underfunding that is churning out these nasty, ignorant people.

  34. Hello all, As a new grad, I can identify with a lot of the previous comments. I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum, from lovely caring/nurturing colleagues to Cruella de Ville. Grad nursing is a hard job, made harder by some who want to maintain the hierarchy of nursing and think a baptism of fire is a good thing.

    However, I have to say I see a lot of generalisations running through this thread. Particularly groups who are considered the biggest perps of bullying within nursing (uni trained nurses vs hospital trained nurses or female nurses vs male nurses). I think individuals decide if they’re going to be a$$holes or not.

    Generalising about who is to blame isn’t going to help solve the problem and neither is blaming the victim for their supposed ‘unsuitability’ for the profession (thereby making it acceptable to bully them).

    I like the slogan of one of the above comments, ‘Bullying – it stops with me’. I may be new to this profession, but I’m not going to perpetuate the cycle and I’m not going to be a victim. Holding bullying individuals accountable and not making generalisations will help tackle the problem.

  35. The problem with nursing is the bullying and harrassment in the workplace. For such a caring and nurturing profession it is disgusting. I remember one of the hospitals I worked in, meeting the educator for the first time and her saying “nurses eat their young”. It doesn’t matter how old you are, they only respect you when they get to know you. I now work in aged care in a supervisor role and love the autonomy and respect from my colleagues. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Good luck new grads!

  36. I just have to say that as a new grad I too have seen both sides of the spectrum.
    My experiences were all during my studies, as I have yet to find employment since graduating.
    I must say I had the pleasure of meting some wonderful, encouraging, supportive nurses during my clinical placements. I valued these encounters immensely and will forever be grateful to these individuals. I am saddened though that they were far and few between…

    Unfortunately, I also had the not so great pleasure of being bullied, intimidated, insulted and looked down on during my clinical placements.

    I guess there are two sides to every coin, but one thing that was consistent throughout my time was the constant chatter around the bedside, nursing stations and tea rooms… The chatter of nurses ridiculing their colleagues, ferociously! Particularly the colleagues of different races or skill levels and worse, god forbid, a younger nurse with a higher qualification, that was like blasphemy, not something to be praised or congratulated….. “she did/didn’t do this, he said that, how dumb of her, what an idiot, what took them so long, they are always useless, who does she think she is asking me about that medication’ and so on and so on.

    As a student, you try to smile and nod, not get involved in office politics, offer assistance wherever possible and try your very hardest to gain as much knowledge as possible from your limited time at placement whilst trying not to be in the way or bothersome to anyone, because we as students see firsthand that nurses are VERY busy.
    At times though, it is difficult to do, when daily you are bombarded with the bad attitudes and snide remarks that seem so prevalent in the nursing profession.

    Personalities will clash, people will judge others on their race, gender and or skill level and it is a tormenting experience. I had nurses (my buddy/mentor) task me with bedpans for the day then avoid me and my questions all shift, insulting me for asking patients if everything was ok or could I get them anything or help them in any way, then at the end of the shift said mentor would inform my clinical coach that she had no idea what I had been spending my time doing all day, as I never seemed to be working… This was my acute placement, I envisioned, patient assessment, IDC & NGT insertions, wounds, medications administrations, all aspects of patient care, not just personal hygiene. But no matter the task given, I completed it with a smile on my face, the patients’ needs in the forefront of my mind and my mentor’s ridicule in the back of my ear.
    I had a mentor tell me specifically exactly what equipment to get and what exactly I would be doing. I, following instructions to the letter, would arrive at the bedside only to be ridiculed in front of patients, being told I’d gotten this wrong or had no idea what I was doing, when I knew completely well my task at hand. My patients tried to offer me support, but eventually would end up telling me to check everything with my mentor, even taking a temp. Being my last placement, my requirement was to care for a 5 patient load independently, my mentor was to be there for support and to report to. My tasks became difficult when my patients had no faith in me as their carer because of my nurse’s public displays of constant insult. Other RNs whom I’d worked with would come along and try to reassure my patients, saying I was highly trained and was a great nurse who would take good care of them. But their efforts were worthless when the next shift I would be back with this cruella deville criticising me unprofessionally in front of the patents again. They had no continuity of care and were never reassured when she was around. It was disheartening to say the least. I was saddened for my patients and myself.

    I’m a strong individual and I waded through the bad, but there were many of my fellow students who could not handle the treatment and accepted defeat in their nursing attempts. I had worked too hard, too long and sacrificed too much to accept defeat, I refused to let it destroy me. Even if I did spend nights crying or without sleep due to anxiety of what tomorrow would bring.

    On my first attempt at a venepuncture with a nurse who was definitely not pleased to be paired with a student, I was offered no words of advice or support but rather after 20 seconds of not receiving a flash back, did I have the butterfly snatched out of my hand and got shoved into the corner, no coaching or words of advice to assist me in my first attempt. My initial excitement for my attempt was shattered along with my confidence attempting venepuncture. No patience from my mentor in a situation where there was ample time to be an excellent learning opportunity.

    On my first time taking a patient to the toilet (1st clinical placement, early in my studies), my coach, my teacher from school, barged into the bathroom, no announcement or introduction at all, stood there and stared. When said patient was settled back in bed, I was dragged by the arm into the bathroom and had a toilet brush thrust at my face. Said coach then proceeded to lecture me, in between scrubbing the toilet bowl and continuing to thrust the faeces covered brush in my face. What did she lecture me about, you might ask? She told me, she has no conceivable idea why I or any of the other students would want to be in nursing, scrubbing other peoples s**t, her words not mine. She informed me, what a bad decision I was making to study nursing and that I should not bother… This was from my coach, the person I was supposed to go to for support and encouragement. Someone I was relying on to be a great source of knowledge and reassurance seeing as I had no previous experience in the health field 🙁
    That wasn’t her first dig at me and it certainly wasn’t her last, but I only wish to give you the lesser of her evil antics…

    But I got through it and as I am certain many others have had it worse then me, I have certainly given you all the nice version of my student clinical placements.

    I really did have some great RNs and NUMs but the bad outweighed the good unfortunately. I survived when many others did not, but after 2 years of putdowns and insults because I am only an EN not an RN and I was just in the way, my spirit falters for my future in nursing.

    I really do praise all you brave amazing nurses out there who give your students, co-workers and new grads the support they so often need. But for those of you who feel that you have to be cruel to be kind, I pity your negativity and nastiness and the poor soul who will have you as their mentor next.

    Care and compassion is and should always be the embodiment of nursing! But how can I ever feel content in others nursing my loved ones when many could not show compassion or care to me as a student or to their colleagues, their team, the people who they should be supportive of, to ensure a solid support system that acts on quality of care and patients’ best interests.

    It didn’t feel like nursing to me, it felt like I was in some cruel parliament. And it royally sucked!

    If my long story has given you anything today, please let it be that you, all of you, are helping shape the future nurses of tomorrow, please treat them as you would have them treat your family some day.

  37. That is a serious industrial issue. If you didn’t report it or document it, I strongly advise you to have it out in the open.
    TOILET BRUSH: That is abuse, verbal and physical. Do report it, as this type of issue must be stamped out. Send her name to the DON. Forget the NUM. Just act on it and get them dealt with. Do it once and see them change.

    • Thanks Ken.
      At the time I was so new to the field and desperately wanted to pass my clinicals. Her being my coach, I was terrified to report her for fear of her failing me. I did eventually discuss it with my institution but they decided that since it was in the past the best thing would be to put it down to personality clashes and leave it in the past. So I could “move forward with my studies in a more positive manner”. I was disheartened and felt like the new kid in class on all clinical placements after that. I learnt a valuable lesson, have a thicker heart and am more patient-orientated now for it.

  38. I am one of the new breed of ‘old’ nurses changing career at the later end of life to become what I always wanted to be – a nurse!

    The priveledge for myself and another first year Uni RN student was to be given a placement in a small country hospital.

    Apart from one AIN, who was I think having a couple of bad hair days (have to allow for that). And another RN who was on her postgrad year (so, as this article points out, should have been empathetic and helpful, however, may have just been TOO stressed out doing her own work as a newbie…)

    The rest of the staff were WONDERFUL. Very supportive, encouraging (neither of us had ever had to bathe someone else or change an incontinence pad). All went out of their way to make sure we were not overwhelmed and answered any and all of our questions and when they did have the odd lull went the extra yard to show us procedures we had not been exposed to.

    I would love to give them accolades here publicly, but am very aware of the “social media” horror stories.

    A hope that a lot of RNs read this article and rethink how they treat us newbies … after all, it may be us who are caring for them when they are sick and wouldn’t they want us to be the “best we possibly can be”?

  39. I am so sorry for any nurse who has been bullied. Shame on the bullies, I myself wouldnt consider them nurses. They should not be allowed in such a profession.

  40. The overwhelming behaviour of senior nurses to the vulnerable is global. All old, new, university grads, we all need to stand up in an attempt to stamp it out. We nurses have to be a catalyst to change.
    An old nurse, a victim of bullying, I have just published a book, “The Dark Side of Nursing”, an interesting read, astounding to see that the culture of nursing is in disarray because of this situation. The book is comforting, confronting, real, with solutions to managing the bully. Publisher Balboa Press.
    Website is ingridpryde.wix.com/darksideofnursing
    Thank you for the discussion, must be brought out in the open, discussed and pressure placed on governments to take heed! My heart goes out to all those who have suffered in the hands of bullying nurses!

  41. I am a mature age new grad nurse who suffered bullying in my latest rotation.
    I was at a loss as to why I was treated so inappropriately on my second night of night duty on that ward.
    A patient was suffering from elevated blood pressure. I read the blood pressure using an automated machine and then, being concerned, decided I would take a manual reading. I was having trouble hearing the blood pressure, I ask the RN in charge of the shift to please listen and for some support and reassurance. This RN flatly refused to help me and said that I would have to have the patient reviewed by the doctor on shift that evening. I was mortified and the way she treated me was disgusting.
    Then on the same shift we had a patient pass away and this RN would not even help me wash the deceased and at least help me provide some dignity to the deceased patient.
    These two incidents have completely rocked me and ripped all of my confidence away.
    I do not know what this type of behaviour is meant to display to we new nurses.

    • Tim, you sound like a caring, competent nurse. What you asked from your senior RN was not unreasonable, in fact, it was entirely appropriate considering we nurses are supposed to be working as a team (it’s drummed into us enough isn’t it?!)

      As MissT said, keep on keeping on and hopefully you’ll find a good job down the track with a good team. They are out there.

      I would suggest the next time you’re being interviewed for a job, when the time comes to ask your own questions at the end of the interview, that you enquire about the workplace culture towards new graduates or nurses and what the management style is. Observe the interviewers’ faces carefully and how they answer. They’re not just interviewing you, after all!

  42. Hi Tim,
    I am a mature-aged postgrad nurse as well. I can understand your dismay and frustration. It is incidents like this that make me understand why so many good nurses are leaving the system! Keep your spirits up. There are a lot of us out there who are supportive, have empathy and are here to help. Good luck with your next rotation.

  43. I am a student midwife and can relate to this article 100%. The level of bullying, general rudeness and bad attitudes I have experienced first hand and witnessed is dreadful. It is so draining, especially when exhausted from consecutive night shifts and mentors who are vampiric in the way they suck the life force (the little you have left) out of you by odd, inconsistent, inconsiderate, undermining behaviours.

    I am thinking of leaving as I am so stressed by the hours and awful people that my health is suffering. If people were supportive the hours would be less grim. Especially on labour ward enduring midwives denying a break before 8 hours of constant standing and being on my feet.

    Even if people qualify, a lot will leave quickly. I know already that I want to immediately study ultrasound, specialising in OBS & gynae so I can become a sonographer. That was always my plan but I was open to liking midwifery more, but now seeing what I have seen I would absolutely do my MSc as quickly as I can.

    A lot of midwives are tired, overworked, forced to mentor, insecure about competent students, have unhappy relationships and live to put students down because the job is all they have as everything else is put on hold or neglected due to the nature of the job and that gets taken out on us.

    I love the women we support. I’m honoured to be there at this precious time and 99% of women are lovely. It’s the culture of bullying and low standards of integrity I find hard to swallow. It’s a real shame.

  44. Do not go without your breaks. They are part of workplace safety. If your colleagues try to obstruct your breaks, fill in an IIMS. Escalate it to the WHS delegate in your area. Enough is enough.

  45. I agree with many of the comments here, but in nearly 3 decades of nursing, I’ve heard this same old cliche bounced around and nothing has changed. The reality is, nursing attracts a certain type of person and although a reasonable number of my colleagues are great, courteous and fine to work with, about half thrive on demeaning each other and us. By far the commonest behaviour is making you feel as if you just haven’t done enough when you give handover. A few months of this and you start to believe that you are inadequate.

    The reality is many people are attracted to nursing because they want to help those in their care. But nursing is a sheltered workshop for people who have that as a secondary concern: rather, they want to mask their own inadequacies by making everyone else around them feel as if they are somehow inadequate themselves. It used to be older nurses did this big time, but nowadays I work mostly with nurses under 28 years of age and find exactly that behaviour in about half of them.

    It’s a great profession, but somewhere along the line it’s become poisoned and I have no idea how to fix it.

    Its the only profession I know of where virtually every one of my colleagues has the career ambition of becoming an ex-nurse.

  46. I’ve been a nurse for 30 years. I’ve seen bullying in the hospital trained program and the university program. On three continents and on every type of ward. My mum was a nurse and trained in 1958, she says exactly the same about her experience. My grandmother was a nurse and trained in 1928 in the UK. She says her 50 years as a nurse were distinguished by seeing bullies everywhere she worked. Bullying is part of the nursing culture I am afraid, like the military. It’s never going to go away.

  47. In the UK, a study by their registration board last year showed 48% of nurses wanted to leave the profession. The same study showed that 60% of nurses felt they were bullied on a regular basis. Despite this, only 3% of nurses leave the profession there every year (accounted for by retirement and overseas nurses returning to their home countries). My conclusion from this is that most nurses are just whiners and most nurses actually enjoy being bullied and bullying in turn. This is nursing: you can change jobs as easy as pie and this is Australia, with more jobs available than you can poke a stick at: it’s easy to change professions. Nurses have a culture of portraying themselves as victims. It’s been like that for at least the last half century!

  48. I have recently dropped out of my graduate year after nine months. I was a (very) mature aged student who worked day and night to achieve mostly Distinctions. I was determined to know as much as possible as I viewed the role of nursing seriously and realised the responsibility. Having worked in office team environments in my previous career, acting in a professional manner was par for the course. n entering nursing I found the culture of ‘nurses eating their young’ a shock to me and couldn’t believe the unprofessional behaviour that pervades nursing and how powerless a grad can be. Worst of all, regardless of the numerous articles written on bullying and harassment, no change seems to be apparent and it is just accepted.
    I find it ironic that the word ‘professional’ is a major theme in nursing. Instead the need to show power, not being honest, inability to recognise unacceptable behaviour and retribution are prominent. The working environments of the business world and nursing are of course totally different but the mentality and behaviour of some nurses is what stands out for me. I experienced and observed a lot of behaviour that I can only equate to being childish as the above descriptions are behaviours that you see in a child and not of a mature adult.
    Why do nurses behave as they do? Is it because most nurses haven’t worked in an office environment and haven’t learnt how to treat people in a professional manner? Is it because of the stress of the responsibility? Is it because they are tired? Is it because of: their own insecurities; being unhappy with their life; having difficulty being accepted into society because of their orientation; want to have a position of power because they don’t have this sense of power outside of their workplace; hated their own clinical educator during their grad year and feel it is their right of passage or because the bully reflects on their own childish behaviour and to overcome their feelings of guilt purposefully act out more to self justify their behaviour. Or is it because I am in the mature age bracket and out of touch with how behaviour has changed over the years?
    Being a matured aged person didn’t help as I am from the era that you don’t answer back. You respected people of higher authority. Looking back I was probably my own worst enemy for not speaking up more. This only exacerbated the situation. It gave more power to those persons who enjoyed positions of power. I was an easy target to say what you wanted to as… hey, I won’t retaliate. Friends and colleagues kept telling me to complain. Finally midway through my grad year I decided to voice my complaint to a person higher up, to which I was encouraged to make an official complaint. I deliberately avoided doing this as I was hopeful that by just voicing my complaint things things would improve. It did help to voice my concerns and have them recognised by someone else higher up but things didn’t improve as I believe word got out and then retribution followed me on to the next placement. Before I went on to the second placement the message from the bully was clear, you don’t complain about someone higher up than you as you will pay.
    On my second placement things finally came to a head through being continually tested on medication rounds in which I eventually slipped up. Eight times I was tested throughout my time as a grad. As well during this shift on my eighth medication round testing, the shift was deliberately contrived in a way to set me up to fail, in that I couldn’t get everything completed in time. At the assessment meeting, claims by the clinical health educator as to my shift management were made which I could see were grossly exaggerated. I finally decided to speak up. When I asked the clinical educator to back up his claims they were swept aside and I was expected to just accept them. I was in amazement because it just doesn’t happen out in the business world. It is a serious offence and one that I could have easily later gone to the union about. I felt I was in another world and couldn’t believe the way the clinical educator was behaving.
    I realised I was in a no win situation and nothing I could say would alter the assessment and I decided inwardly to later resign. I went home and thought about the whole scenario and it confirmed to me that I could no longer work there and resigned. I was also worried about being set up for something that would end in serious repercussions as I had already been what I considered set up. The behaviour was so foreign to me. I had a background of getting along well with my working colleagues, doing my job well and no experience with bullies. There was always the odd person who was difficult but you managed. What else I was taken aback with was that my assessment was going to be based on that contrived shift alone, regardless of how I normally performed on a shift. So this experience illustrates not only how unprofessional some nurses can behave but how powerless a grad can be when someone is seeking retribution.
    I have also wondered about the ones in charge higher up. Do they find it easier to take the word of those in charge beneath them because they don’t want to get too involved and not investigate it. Are they worried about their own job? That it is easier to just see a grad leave. Or is it because they have the same attitude of tit for tat? If so, it is another example of lack of being professional in their job and I wonder if they hang their head in shame.
    So advice to nursing graduates. Bullying and harassment are not normal behaviour in workforces outside of nursing. Try to make a change by not letting this behaviour become part of how you as a professional nurse will act in the future otherwise it will never stop. If things become intolerable maybe take your problems to the union as I was always encouraged to do but failed to do. Though a word of warning, I don’t know what it will achieve because I think you will only be targeted more. I only voiced my complaint and it wasn’t worth it. I have seen what happens to other nurses who have had to take sick leave because of the process of going to a union and facing faked stacked up claims made up by the hospital. Maybe take the advice of one of my university lecturers who warned students what was to come in our graduate year “just take it and get through your grad year”. But remember after that, you can change it.

  49. If anyone is desperate to leave the profession, but just doesn’t know how to, read this book. Nursing is a great career, but not suited to everyone. This book tells you how to find the best things you have learned in nursing and re-mould them into an attractive package for prospective employers in another profession.
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PUE4GC4

  50. I’ve been teaching under- and new-grad nurses from overseas for many years, at both universities and hospitals. What I have read above, abruptness, lack of inclusion (and even bullying) as well as personal experiences is a reflection of a reality that persists. I’m hospital trained and returned to nursing 9 years ago. Went through the re-training with difficulty and was on the receiving end from both older and younger nurses who were all senior to me. The latter thought (and said) they were also superior because of their Uni degrees. The worst part was that I met some CNEs who were not good teachers, had no patience or insight into my or other new-grads’ previous experience or anything we had to contribute to our own or other’s learning experience.

    Now that I have a position as a CNE I am well aware that the undergrad and new experience during placement is essential for skills-building and confidence. It is true that the universities (and I work with 3) have different levels of support, according to their numbers, workload and demographics. I have recently just concluded a placement with a student who actually finished in December 2014 and was still doing make-up days and a placement! She still was unable to register and working in another profession in the meantime. Thankfully her University education has stood her well and she is ready to join the nursing workforce.
    We CNEs are in a privileged position, coaching and guiding these young people and assisting their professional and personal development. They are going to be looking after us one day (in the not too distant future for some of us). We all need to take a good look at our Code of Conduct, Ethics and Competency Standards, self-examine and reflect. Are we working to the standards we expect of others?
    The idea of “we should make it as hard for them as it was for us” (hospital trained) has been superceded by leadership skills training, knowledge-sharing and the strength of teamwork. Let’s all work together to see that these and other attributes I have learnt from other CNEs prevail to prepare the new generation of nurses.
    To all the nurses who have contributed to this conversation, thank you.

  51. Reading above are some unpleasant posts on bullying by “oldies against the youth”, let me share some of my observation these days.

    Over my nursing career I have worked in various teaching tertiary hospitals, in many places, and I’m a young nurse too. From first being bullied in my undergraduate, first year etc in nursing, there’s nothing new. But over the years, we read about old nurses eating the young and getting the young ones out of nursing, is that it?

    We expect the young nurses these days to be knowledgable, know the best practice, memorise code of conduct, even in their grad years, we would see some wonders that’s the best product out of uni. Perhaps that’s the thing we keep seeing “old nurses” bullying the young.

    I want us to envision our current health structure, that we have a very massive young nurses filling up nursing roles and many old nurses are leaving the workforce. There are many young ones gather together for parties, going out drinking and marrying, they speak the same tones and lingo, they backstab others just the same like anyone else. For others who don’t fit into their group, they are left out. But the old ones they don’t do this very often as they are getting aged, they become parents like mothers, they have gone through hurt from bullying and become more understanding. They have their jobs for awhile and they’re quite comfortable at their level.

    Meanwhile those who just start in the beginning of the nursing profession, they just cram from school, they may do AINs if not clinical prac as the only mean of exposure beside their lab sessions, they don’t have enough clinical experiences, let’s admit it, they may have studied about ECG but how many real cases they care for? The entry level for new nurses these days have placed nursing in a shaky position, for the whole team to work harder to keep things together.

    As I said, i too a young nurse. I too have come across “old nurses” bullying. But I hope to provide a perspective for the young ones, why is there so much agitation from the old ones? Some young ones can be so full of themselves. They think they know everything if not most of everything. Since they become registered, they earn the same rank of those with many years of experiences. But for the hand-on clinical practice, instantly we see the difference: collecting blood with wrong test tubes, inefficient with manual handling, backstabbing their superior, the list goes on. Which oldies wouldn’t hate to work with them?

    I as a young nurse somehow get embarrassed to be “university-trained”, like it’s entirely useless to graduate like one of them. When I was doing the college, I worked at the hospital too to cover my living cost, as an undergraduate nurse and wardman. I worked very hard to make sure that I passed my subjects, and became competent one day as a registered nurse. I stayed in the lab for practice, I prepared for my tutorial, I went for my clinical, I made sure I learnt as much as possible.

    Years went by and I finally passed my course and started my practice. In my first year, managers realised I was so good that they all wanted to recruit me. None of them bullied me. Senior nurses found out that I was good, they were very glad to have new nurses like me to continue nursing.

    But the same time, there were also young nurses like me, they wanted secure employment, jobs, then holiday in Europe, planning their wonderful life ahead, which none of it was bad, it’s all normal. But they’re coming in not fully prepared for the demand of health care: ambulances lining up at the front foyers, they can’t clear those beds in time, discharge meds were missing somewhere between the ground and the top floors, wrong medication given to the wrong patient, yet they’re still full of themselves. All these tax the system heavily, creating more workplace issues. And we are talking about leaving the health care unto the new generation.

    Education provides the access to a new hope, it ensures quality, we advocate for education, we don’t want to go back to bedpan training. But we nurses still clean bedpan, emptying urinal catheters, and come back to patient care with cannula insertion, running IV and defib, we should be at the peak of nursing reform. We should. But somehow we let some people who are not always abiding code of conduct, unsure with clinical protocols, to ruin the whole pot.

    When things go sour, individuals should be accountable for their practice. Of course, that’s in a perfect ideal world. Instead they blame “bullying”. There is always something to be blamed!!

  52. When I started on a graduate year two years ago, I was treated horrendously on my first rotation. There was the token clique on the ward and all were senior nurses trained through Uni, one of them was a charge nurse and the NUM allocated that person to do the rosters, they put me on weekends for three months straight, not rostering me on during the days education staff were on. I had no support from support staff and no support from the senior staff because the ward was so busy. There was another that would treat me like total trash if the workload was busy and roll their eyes at me and ignored me if I offered assistance. It was just rubbish. I felt so unwelcome to the point I was really depressed and though about crashing into a tree every time I drove to work. Thankfully I stuck through, the rotation passed and I had time to refresh and flourish.

    Nursing culture in general even towards non-grad junior nurses still looms.
    I get lectured by senior staff about various things when I witness other senior staff do stuff incorrectly, but are not lectured to the same extent as junior staff. I feel unfairly belittled, always automatically stereotyped to be the dumbest nurse on the planet, when I’m just not as experienced as senior nurses and if I do not know how to do something I will ask and learn. Wouldn’t senior nurses rather juniors ask questions and learn than just go and perform the skill on the fly? Why does the nurse who’s been on the ward for 40 years administer an IV with no gloves and it will be an uproar if I do it? Something definitely needs to change.

  53. I am an EEN in training starting Sept 2015 last year. I have been an AIN for the past 27yrs or so, I chose to stay that because I loved the hands on stuff. I have worked for private hospitals and Nursing homes as well as years of community nursing…
    Until I became PPT in the Private hospital I am at now I always loved my work, was praised continuously by patients and staff alike as I have infinite patience and great bedside manner as you would call it…
    The Private Hospital I am at now is hell. There is NO regard for AINs, there is a huge group of RNs who take it upon themselves to make me feel like human excrement! I know it’s just jealousy, the patient’s eyes light up when I come into a room and the RNs hate it… I am nothing more than a piece of crap because of this… I am now doing my EENs because I am sick of the bullying and putdowns when I have done nothing wrong… This is going to take me away from much of the real hands-on stuff which I love…
    The thought of having to dole out medications is doing my head in, I don’t want to do that… I work so hard every shift to make sure everything I have done is right and ethical and moral. I treat every patient like he/she were my own parents. I get accused of eye rolling when asked to do something. They have nothing to complain about but nothing I do is quite good enough!
    New Grads, you think you have it tough, try being just an ordinary bottom of the barrel AIN!
    I am 47, with 2 children, loads of humane experience from working with WIRES, RSPCA, Pathology, Red Cross and DOCS. Yet I am too stupid to know anything at this hospital… They have adopted the “I am an RN and you are not, so you are too stupid to know anything”, so I just do my work and watch the incompetence of younger RNs who have no bedside manner, no REAL people experience, who have absolutely no common sense and who excel at “knowing it all” and make fools of themselves in front of patients… The patients are sometimes left gobsmacked and all I can do is apologise on behalf of that RN! and you know what? some of those RNs are the older models!
    I truly commend the work you do as an RN, I will never want that responsibility, no thanks! I will complete my EENs, but unsure as to how long I will last and I will certainly be looking at something different than the horrible hospital I am working at now… The NUM and DON are fully aware of how their AINs are being treated and couldn’t give a toss, they tacked up a couple of signs about workplace bullying but nothing has been followed through… if anything, the PPT AIN’s shifts were cut back.
    AINs work harder (physically) and get paid a lot less… the strain on our bodies is enormous… being appreciated is all we ask!

  54. After many confidential discussions with my lecturers and relevant people in my nursing school, I could not overcome the bullying. The bully/clinical facilitator and my lecturers are good colleagues so they form an alliance and keep defending/covering up for each other. They made me feel that the problem came from me and also created a mental health problem (which doesn’t even exist) for me. I thought it was the culture of my small community where people know each other so well that collusion/cronyism is rampant. Unfortunately, it happens in other parts of Australia too.
    I finished the academic part of my study and only have placement to go. I don’t have a back-up plan. My parents and I can’t afford any further study, so there is no escape and I am currently on the verge of failing (I believe I will incur the bully’s reprisal soon). I’ve been thinking about my life recently, wondering why I chose nursing and whether it is the right time to give up. I don’t regret going this path, but wish that there would be more support for me. People are not in my shoes so they don’t understand what I’ve been through and tend to judge me. I am really stuck and suffering a lot.
    Anyway, I will try my best to forget about these sad events and move on. I have no choice but to be ready for the next placement and face the bully (or the whole group of bullies). I’m still hoping that a miracle happens to me. It sounds crazy, right?

  55. I initially commenced my general nurse training in the ’70s but I ‘bailed out’ due to the hierarchy system in place. It was awful and Nursing Admin took great delight in making life difficult eg ‘no nurse, you can’t access your annual leave because you fractured your leg’ as one example. I left with a Nurse Aid qualification, later converting to EN then EEN, and drifted in and out of nursing over the next 30 years. I completed my Bachelor of Nursing while working full-time and I proudly registered some 8 years ago.
    I am now Director of Nursing in a medium-sized aged care home where I lead a team of nurses to support each other and new staff and we encourage all staff to embrace our students that come from Uni, TAFEs etc. Students are welcomed, called by their first name and encouraged to identify their own learning goals. I will not tolerate an unsupportive environment. How? I reject any misuse of power; we support RNs with continuing PD opportunities and we encourage care staff to develop new skills.
    It’s not a bed of roses either. I have dismissed staff following appropriate and proper investigations; managed RN shortages because appropriate RN recruitments has not been optimal. I do not employ RNs on the basis of current registration and a heartbeat.
    In the past year, we supported a couple of newly graduated RNs with great success. Both were adequately ‘buddied’ and offered additional super-numerary shifts if required. Both were supported with senior staff & CNE and are now working in the acute sector. They gained knowledge and skills in aged care AND learned to manage staff and busy shifts – fundamental to nursing!
    The majority of nurses follow their chosen career path for the right reasons and it’s up to us to support and encourage new grad nurses to shine with support. After all, the public have the right to expect and receive the best of care in all settings.

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