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Nurses go clique-ety clique

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Heard at the lunch table on campus the other day, “I sometimes miss working in the mill”.

This spawned quite the conversation, I must tell you. The conversation topic involved the ‘pulse’ of the nursing profession and its  sometimes palpable cut-throat atmosphere. I think you’ve heard it before. Nurses can be ‘catty’, and cliques seem to be a very common occurrence on nursing units.

“We need more men in nursing”

(I must say I wasn’t expecting this statement). When I inquired as to why we need more men in nursing, the response was not what I expected (or hoped).

“Most men confront you when there is conflict. They tell you how they feel right to your face. They speak their business and move on.” “Women do just the opposite”

Catty: Subtly cruel or malicious; spiteful (Free Dictionary)

As you can tell this was quite the venting session amongst a small group of nurses. It seems that a lot of nurses feel that the majority of nurses are following a horrible stereotype. Apparently most women can be quite mean?

As you can see I’m writing this blog post with a lot of question marks. I’m wondering just how true these opinions really are. Or should I say, how common are these feelings outside of my lil’ world of nursing?

I have to bashfully admit something though. I found great humor in this conversation. Mostly because I’ve heard this before. But more specifically, I found it highly entertaining that I was the only man in this conversation.

I for one think that there is a shred of truth to these thoughts, but I’m not so convinced that they are gender specific. I’ve met a lot of cruel men and women in my professional career thus far. I don’t think the ‘meanness’ trait has some strange exclusivity to the X chromosome. But it sure makes you wonder.

So folks, what do you think?

Are most nurses catty?

If they are, why? And what the heck can we do about it?

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Sean Dent

Sean Dent is a second-degree nurse who has worked in telemetry, orthopedics, surgical services, oncology and at times as a travel nurse. He is a CCRN certified critical care nurse where he's worked in cardiac, surgical as well as trauma intensive care nursing. After five years practicing as an RN, Sean pursued and attained his Masters of Science in Nursing. Sean currently practices as a Board Certified Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP-BC) in a Shock Trauma urban teaching hospital. He has been in healthcare for almost 20 years. He originally received a bachelor's degree in Exercise and Sport Science where he worked as a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC).
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5 Responses to Nurses go clique-ety clique

  1. Pingback: Nurses? Catty? « My Strong Medicine

  2. gigi23

    Right now I work as a nursing assistant on a hospital unit. I was feeling concerned that I wasn’t really connecting to staff, because I just do my work and go home. What I have found is that if you put your business out there, then the other nurses will take the opportunity to talk about you behind your back, the good and bad. Sometimes the general atmosphere itself makes me wonder if I should cut my loses and go into another field. I like working with the patients, it’s everything else that makes the work more complicated.

    • Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

      @gigi23 so sorry you feel that way. I do hope your opinion of your coworkers does not tarnish your attitude towards this great profession.

  3. mk0312

    It’s funny that you wrote about this. I work in a fairly busy emergency department in New England and we recently had a conversation about this. We have 4 sections within the department and many times myself and another male nurse try to get on the same team. A few of the charges nurses say that like to put the guy nurses together because they get things done and don’t “back talk” or become “catty” with them. I do notice that the majority of the guys I work with just come in, get the job done and leave the politics out.

    Just my 2 cents.

  4. Belasko RN

    I think that this can be very true. Women by nature (in my experience) tend to be more catty than men. This applies in every walk of life, not just nursing. I think it’s more noticeable in nursing since it is still a female dominated career. All that being said I’ve also seen women get in someones face and tell them flat out how they feel and what the problem is that they have with someone. Likewise I’ve seen men be catty at times as well. Although both are not as common. As for changing it I think you would really have to change the entire societal culture, not just the nursing culture.