new grad

Mean Nurse

There are things we never forget. Those things seem to fall on the far end of the spectrum. You know, those super happy moments, incredibly romantic times, broken-hearted instances, or caught-off-guard encounters. One thing is for sure; moments don’t have to be special to be memorable. Brooklyn remembers a time that we were almost run off the road by an enraged driver. She was about six, Jaron about three and Caden was probably close to a year old. We were coming home from Brooklyn’s dance class when a red Chevy truck sped up to get around us, switched lanes to get back in front of us and then slammed on his brakes. The driver definitely wanted to express that it wasn’t a coincidence because he repeated the cycle. It was obvious enough that even the little girl in the back took note of the situation and was experiencing very real feelings of fear. So much that she remembers it to this day.

Those are things I don’t understand. Why be so outraged against someone? Who knows? I’m not the best driver, to say the least. Maybe I cut him off. Maybe I slammed on my brakes and didn’t realize he was behind me. It’s most definitely a possibility considering I had three small children in the car, one of them a baby who could have been fussing, resulting in a distracted mother. Regardless of the probable mistake, there was no need for such a situation.

You may be thinking, “I can’t believe that guy! What a jerk!” But we see these things all the time, and not just on the Broken Arrow Expressway. It’s so unfortunate, but it can even come from a profession of people that is so uncharacteristic of the profession itself. Nurses.

One of the most notable characteristics of the nursing profession is compassion, and yet there’s the saying that “nurses eat their young.” It’s not just a funny notion; no, it’s a for real disheartening reality. I don’t understand the purpose. I suppose there is some sense of initiation that accompanies such behavior. Or maybe the belief that the newcomer will “prove themselves.” Whatever the idea, it for sure compromises patient safety and threatens positive outcomes. I mean, who wants to ask questions of someone who is mean to you? The result? Some don’t ask. They wing it or go with a hunch.

I’ve read that the nursing profession is anticipated to grow by leaps and bounds due to an aging baby boomer generation in combination with the changes to our current health care system. This means that nurses can expect a continual trend of orienting new employees, mostly consisting of new graduates with no nursing experience. Yes, this is taxing on nurses, but responding to new grads or students with curt expressions and abrasiveness won’t stop the growth, but it will change the culture and endanger the population we work so strongly to help; our patients.

Rather than look at students and new grads as a nuisance, maybe we should take a lesson from Elijah and Elisha. Elijah signified Elisha as his successor in I Kings 19:19 when he put his cloak around him. Then in II Kings 2:9, as Elijah’s ministry was coming to an end, Elijah asks his apprentice what he can do for his apprentice, a truly selfless concern. And in much wisdom, Elisha replies, “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit.”

Isn’t that awesome?! How would it be if we were more concerned about the people we are training than about what is happening to us? Maybe we could pass on far greater things than we could accomplish had we chose to go without the hassle, inconvenience and burden of teaching, instructing and mentoring. The nurse who oriented me in my job as a neonatal nurse was an Elijah in my life. She encompassed everything I hope to be as a nurse; kind, compassionate, knowledgeable, a critical thinker, calm, organized, efficient; the list truly could go on. I desire to be like her one day, and give back to new nurses as she so graciously gave to me.

Everyone benefits when we give more than we take; even us. Let’s change the reputation of nurses eating their young, and start anticipating a double portion yield out of the investments we make into others. God can multiply it if we offer it!

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