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Another viewpoint on Medscape’s “Incivility In Nursing” piece

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This topic in Medscape has stirred up a real hornet’s nest since two researchers published it in April 2011. It is a huge and VERY volatile issue and, like Pandora’s Box, once you open the lid…

The latter posts (since the authors “reset” the conversation due to the very large number of responses) are more of the opinion that women in the workplace generally cause the problem and that it crosses ALL professions.

Many nurses, both old and young, have experienced abuse at the hands of other nurses.

In spite of all of the advances that women have made, the problem appears to be getting worse instead of better. Perhaps it is simple biology, in which the females in the lion pride vie for top status and bite, scratch, and even kill others to achieve Alpha Female status.

Another possibility is that it’s a side effect of the overall deterioration of behavioral norms and work ethics in the post Baby Boomer generations. “Failure to parent” and “spoiling the child” have been cited as causative factors

Researchers have noted a general decline in basic manners, disregard for others and a strong sense of entitlement in the children and grandchildren of the Boomers.

Nursing education programs have changed significantly from the two- and three-year associate and diploma programs to the bachelor’s degree for licensure. A great many of nursing’s most revered traditions and expectations fell by the wayside in the process.

And very few people who have a four-year university degree want to do basic nursing care (i.e. cleaning up poop!). Many feel that their BSN entitles them to a “more important level” of nursing than bedside clinician, regardless of their lack of experience or expertise in the work environment.

A British study published in 2009 reflects this attitude and is entitled “Too Posh to Wash”(“Nursing Times,” November 2009).

Fair warning: The Brits are not nearly as politically correct as Americans are!

The British report was quite condemning and very pointedly described comments made by students and their attitude toward basic nursing tasks. It even described the modern nursing student thus:

Nowadays, they get up at 11am from a drunken stupor and, on the rare occasions that they can be bothered to go to work, demand a lift from their long-suffering parents and show up in hotpants and leather boots.

A gross exaggeration? Perhaps. But the attitude of superiority is still there, just under the surface. We have all seen these people as new grads. Unfortunately, many of today’s young nurses are going back to obtain master’s degrees and move into positions which are far beyond their level of experience and knowledge to get away from basic patient care.

The danger lies in patients being subjected to advanced caregivers who have more ego than ability, but who will aggressively push their way to the top because they believe that they are superior to other, more experienced nurses.

This is, of course, one way to view the issue. Blogger Sean Dent also offers his thoughts on this topic.

What are the answers? If there are any?

What started as a whisper, slowly turned in to a scream. Searching for an answer where the question is unseen (Ben Harper).

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Nurse Rene

Nurse Rene has been an RN since 1978; CCRN since 1989 and attained a BSN in 2010. She has worked in virtually every specialty from Neonatology to Neurosurgery and is a Member of Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society with a particular interest in helping students and new grads develop to their full potential. She's been married for 33 years and has a keen interest in history and in current issues as nursing continues to develop as a Real Profession. When not spoiling the grandchildren, she enjoys sewing, cooking, kayaking, camping and travel. She likes all music which does not hurt her ears, watching NCIS, Leverage, Top Gear and Criminal Minds and reads books written by Clive Cussler, Miss Manners, Erma Bombeck and Tom Clancy. She enjoys collecting Quotations for use in her writings.

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3 Responses to Another viewpoint on Medscape’s “Incivility In Nursing” piece

  1. transyrn RN

    I don’t know how it is in other areas, but here in order to get into a BSN program at many of the Universities you must take a CNA course. How can we expect our BSN grads to think that some of the basics (cleaning, turning, bathing) are important if they can’t be bothered to teach them as part of the nursing program itself?

  2. aylmeri RN

    I personally think nursing and nurses and indeed institutions make too many excuses for ‘incivility’, ‘lateral violence’ or bullying as its known to the rest of the world. New nurses may not want to wipe bottoms, although thats far from my personal experience, and APRNs may want to move away from the bedside, they did work hard for a new skill set, or maybe women are too thin skinned or too vicious or maybe our ‘mommies’ didn’t hug us enough…. its all irrelevant because until there is zero tolerance for aggressive and bullying behavior in nursing it will continue. I don’t know if its better or worse now, but I do know we need to stop it given that it is so often a cited reason for new grads leaving the job.
    The article cited for your piece, is an op ed, not a study, although I take on board what is said. At the end of the day we need new nurses to have a more realistic view of what it is to be in the work place, I know I ‘thought’ I was well prepared by my clinical heavy program! And we need ‘difficult’ nurses to be offered some training to manage their perceptions and behavior, or my personal favorite…name and shame! Lets start making our profession, one by which professional standards are measured.

  3. bdarst

    I believe I was well mentored at all of my jobs over my 30+ years. I do believe women can be very hard on each other though, everyone has to learn to take care of themselves but mostly those of us in management need to be sure the focus stays on taking care of patients and not on eating our young!