6 Ways New Nurses Can Stand Up to Bullying
Don’t become a victim of those who “eat their young”
Wen was looking forward to a second career in nursing. She already had a biology degree and had spent six years working in a lab. While at the hospital with her mother, who was recovering from a stroke, Wen was deeply impressed by the nurses and decided to enroll in nursing school. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before Wen started questioning her career decision. She had become the target of bullying and hazing from the nursing professionals she had once admired. Just nine months after starting her first nursing job, Wen quit and left the profession forever.
New nurses fear two things when they start their first job: that they’ll make a mistake and that the other nurses will eat them alive!
I’ve talked with many student and graduate nurses over the years, and I have been asked the same question again and again: “What do I do if the nurses are mean?”
Sadly, these newcomers to the profession have every reason to be worried. Bullying of new nurses is still all too common, and that incivility often starts the first day on the job.
First Day Blues
I once witnessed a new grad nurse arriving to start work at a small community hospital. The unit secretary, who didn’t smile or even acknowledge her presence, shouted to another nurse, “Hey, your baby nurse is here.” The other nurse looked up and declared, “Great,” in a voice dripping with sarcasm.
I still remember the crestfallen look on the new nurse’s face. What an awful way to start a job!
At a different hospital, four new grads recalled an experience they had during orientation week. When they got to their unit, two of the most seasoned nurses pointed their fingers at them and declared, “Listen here, bitches. You just took away our overtime.” Their treatment only got worse from there.
With behavior like this, it’s little wonder turnover for new nurses is high. A study published in Policy, Politics & Nursing Practice estimated that 17.5 percent of newly licensed RNs leave their first nursing job within the first year. One in three (33.5 percent) leave within two years.