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Hi Bethany,

Let me clarify, I was never cruel or inappropriate with a new nurse, and I tried to give them as much help and information as I could. I was only expressing why I didn't like being forced to do it.

I never volunteered for it, the job was always just assigned to me and I don't think that is fair, but how much of hospital nursing is fair? It seemed like the better you were at your job, the more new grads you got assigned to you, whether you liked it or not.

The med/surg unit I worked on got a lot of L.P.N. students who were terrible. Sloppy uniforms, sitting in our break room doing class work instead of delivering patient care, etc. And the instructor was back there with them!!!

I don't know about others, but when I was in school you spent all of your clinical day with the patient. You only took what time was absolutely necessary to check labs and chart, away from your patient. These students wouldn't answer call lights, give baths or feed patients. It is a different world and I don't think all the students who get into nursing school should graduate, but that's the way it seems to be going. So, of course, when you get a new grad assigned to you, you automatically wonder if this was a student like them and is it worth your time trying to train them.

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Helen, that's for clarifying. Yes, I do agree. As nurses, we always seem to get forced into everything without our consent.

These days the professionalism is often absent among nursing students. We do still teach this in nursing school, but somehow it gets really lost. I think as nurses and nurse educators we need to raise our standards overall. I have taught in LPN and ADN programs and I think the nursing school admissions criteria is often set too low.

I instruct my students to spend a lot of their clinical time with patients as well. It saddens me that the LPN students you mentioned would ignore patient call lights! I am wondering if they are afraid to check on patients by themselves. This happens a lot with first term students.

Having been a clinical instructor, I have some knowledge in this area. Since the instructor-to-student ratio is often 1:10, it is difficult for the instructor to be with each student all the time. So, many times the students have to sit and wait for the instructor to become available. Also, the instructor is responsible for each student, plus that each students' patient(s). So, 10 students + 10 patients = a lot! I always try to give my students 2 patients each, but that means I have to keep track of all 30. My point is, I would often give my students assignments to work on until I was available because of the down time. I think sometimes staff perceive this as the students not being attentive to patient needs or staff needs.

On the ADN level, the students only have 2 years to develop critical thinking skills and be able to safely care for patients. I do not heavily push the bathing and bedmaking skills with them. I would rather have them creating a case study or working on complex patient care. I do not allow them to do a lot of aid work. I encourage everyone to do at least one bath and one bed. After that, they should have the critical thinking skills to perform these activities going forward. They just don't have the time to spend a great deal of time on aid work. Plus, they need to learn and practice delegation almost immediately. However, I do think that this should be different on LPN level, and perhaps even the BSN level (just because there is more time).

Another thing I have noticed is that patients get really annoyed when nursing students are constantly in the room. I remember when patients loved for students to visit with them. Now, that seems to be changing to also. The face of health care is changing...

Thanks so much for your postings.

Last edited by Nursing Editor; 01/22/09 08:17 PM.

Bethany Derricott, BSN, RN
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Originally Posted By: Helen Wharton
New nurses need to be petrified of making a mistake. Mistakes can be lethal, and that heavy responsibility needs to be in the front of their minds at all times.


I think there is a very big difference between being petrified of making a mistake (which can make you freeze up in a time of crisis and forget things) and having a healthy respect that things can easily go wrong in the medical field.

I was a surgical tech, so my experience was in the OR only, but I thrived in the trauma cases, that was where my talent seemed to lie. I was also quickly trained for the orthopedic and neuro teams because I did learn quickly and I did not crack under pressure (and the neurosurgeon we had loved to test the nerve of new recruits!)

But as far as instructors went, we always called them by their last names. Doctors and our supervisors were also called by their last names, and a few nurses that had been there for so many years that everyone was just kind of used to calling them that! But our surgical "teams" were literally that, we were teams that worked together and pulled call together so that we were completely comfortable working any surgery and knew how each other tended to think. It was made of of 1 RN and two techs, then others might be called on to float if needed.


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Michelle, great point..."I think there is a very big difference between being petrified of making a mistake (which can make you freeze up in a time of crisis and forget things) and having a healthy respect that things can easily go wrong in the medical field." As you indicated, teamwork is so important. The things we do to help patients are often critical to their health and well being. As nurses and techs, we need to not only take care of our patients, but also each other! Thanks for your input, Michelle.


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It is not uncommon to freeze up during your first code or your first trauma case, that's normal. Fear is a very healthy thing, especially in nursing. The attitude of new nurses is what drives me crazy. When I graduated, I went to work on a really tough med/surg floor. Very little time actually being precepted, 8-12 pts (on a good day). But we came together as a team, we supported each other and learned from each other. I have to honest in that, even through it was hard, I loved it and loved the people I worked with. We had certain doctors which we would speak to in only a professional manner and others who requested that we call them by there first name. The one thing that I did and that I taught new nurses, was that it is inappropiate to call a doctor by his first name in a patient's room. They thought I had 2 heads. They didn't understand the perception of professionalism that they needed to maintain. It's nice as a travel nurse, I don't precept anymore and after 13 weeks, I'm off to something different. I don't know where nursing is headed, and sometimes I don't want to think about it. Nursing schools are changing and I don't know if its for the better.

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Hi, MariRN. Thanks for your input. I think you said my point more clearly than I..."But we came together as a team, we supported each other and learned from each other." When some nurses are "eating their young," they are not usually being supportive or kind or even respectful to our new nurses. This behavior, above all else, is damaging to the profession of nursing. As nurse preceptors and educators, we can be kind and supportive, but still tough when necessary. We are always supposed to be a team, "eating our young" is not the behavior of a team player. Again, thanks for your input.


Bethany Derricott, BSN, RN
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I worry now, maybe I've upset people sometimes by calling them their first name? It seems very normal to me, and I would never mean disrespect. I am almost 40 so I have been out of school for many years, so I haven't had to deal with teachers in a long, long time. The times I'm with my doctor or with my dentist I never have to mention their name ... I suppose I would refer to them as "Doctor xxxx" if I had to. But I only see them every six months - I wonder if it would feel odd if I saw them every day and still called them by a formal title.

I guess in a way it feels to me like always referring to your husband as "Mr. Smith" like they did in the 1800s. But I also understand that traditions exist and perpetuate for a reason. Maybe it's something that non-nurses just don't get a sense for. It's probably a good thing I'm not a nurse. That and I hate needles smile


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It really is all about common sense. If you are dealing with an doctor, sir works very well or doctor so and so. If you introduce yourself and the doctor says, call me whatever then, that is acceptable behavior. I agree that "eating our young" is unacceptable behavior. I have 2 grown kids, I learned along time ago just to ignore attitude. If someone requests or needs my help, they get it. I will even try to gentle coach you if you are open to it. But, if you slam the door in my face, which I have seen new nurses do to other nurses, then I can't help you. I make a point to learn something new each day, even if its from a tech or cna. The point being that I don't know everything but I am willing to learn. I hope that new nurses learn that nursing is a team effort. If you don't work together then we all fail.

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Good point, MariRN. As much as seasoned nurses should not "eat their young," new nurses must also be open to receiving assistance and healthy, constructive critism from their nursing "elders." It certainly works both ways! Thanks for your input.


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I AM SO SORRY BUT I AM NEW AT THIS. I JUST WROTE AND SUBMITTED A RESPONSE TO THE ARTICLE ON NURSES EATING THEIR YOUNG. I THOUGHT I WAS TYPING UNDER THIS ARTICLE BUT I WAS UNDER THE SCHIP INSURANCE FOR CHILDREN ARTICLE. COULD THIS ERROR BE STRAIGHTENED OUT PLEASE?!!?

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