How do I deal with “nurses eating their young?”


courageSenior nurses or physicians can seem big, scary, and intimidating when you’re new to this gig. But I learned early that you need to be strong, especially with the nurses who are notorious for “eating their young.” I’ll share why in my own “head butt” story.
It was my first patient death…I had to fill out all the paperwork by myself. Which I am sure, no matter which county or state you are from, is about two inches thick! I had never done it before and I was terrified I would do something wrong and end up in the manager’s office. I looked up and down the hallway, left, right, and all around. There was no friendly face. But there was a very experienced face—although to me she was very, very scary.

So I figured I had two choices: 1) Be scared and refuse to ask for help, then end up in the manager’s office or 2) “Head butt” the scary nurse and fill out the paperwork correctly. I surmised (correctly I assume since I still have a job) that the manager was scarier than this nurse, so I should just pull up my compression stocking straps and ask.

Gingerly, timidly, I asked for help. It was hard for her to hide her annoyance, but you know what? She sat down with me and helped me line by line. As the months went by, I valued her more and she tolerated me more and we became closer colleagues. She would give me advice on nursing and life, and I, in turn, would make her laugh and bribe her with lattes.

We don’t work together anymore but I sure am glad I decided to brave the bullmastiff…so ladies and gents, get out there and face those things which frighten you—you might be surprised how well they turn out!

Rebekah Child
Rebekah Child attended the University of Southern California for her bachelor's in nursing and decided to brave the academic waters and return for her master's in nursing education, graduating in 2003 from Mount St. Mary's. Rebekah has also taught nursing clinical and theory at numerous Southern California nursing schools and has been an emergency nurse since 2002. She is currently one of the clinical educators for an emergency department in Southern California and a student (again!) in the doctoral program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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