Straighten the Cap; Don’t Destroy the Nurse

Kathy Quan RN BSN PHN

Kathy Quan RN BSN PHN

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Nurses eating their young is a phenomenon that has been plaguing the profession for centuries. The idea that seasoned nurses consume new nurses because they are inept, a nuisance, a liability, or a burden may very rarely be justified. However, more often than not, it is something that brings shame to the entire profession and causes much more harm than most any other issue in nursing. It is indeed something nurses have been trying to fix and perhaps the millennials have an answer. 

As we rapidly approach 2020 which has been designated as The Year of the Nurse, as designated by the World Health Organization, it’s time to move forward and adopt an attitude of straightening the cap and not destroying the nurse. Helping new grads assimilate is our future. Nursing is the backbone of the health care system and it must be strong. Nurses working together can make it the best it’s ever been. 

There is an immediate and dramatic need for new nurses and a host of seasoned nurses waiting for the opportunity to retire. This has been predicted to occur as a mass exodus because so many have delayed retirement due to the financial downturn in 2007-8 from which a full financial recovery has been slow. It’s more likely to be in large droves but not necessarily the entire lot of baby boomers all at once. 

The impact will be great and the knowledge base and reference point from these seasoned nurses will be diminished significantly. If there aren’t sufficient new nurses to step in, the impact and burden will be even more impactful. The need for civility and acceptance is not an option. It is a requirement moving forward. Nurses need to inspire other nurses and mentor them. This is Not a competition. Seasoned nurses have so much to share and a big torch to pass along. Working together and not against each other, this will improve the nursing profession and inspire more to become nurses. 

Nurse Blake and his colleagues at Nurse.org started a campaign called Nurses Support Their Young. The idea is to end workplace bullying and cultivate cultures of kindness, compassion and civility for all nurses. Nurses need to nurture and empower each other. Everyone you meet is fighting battles you know nothing about. Most keep them hidden until they can’t. Burnout is one of the most detrimental aspects of nursing. It can be managed if nurses practice self-care and invest in each other instead of tearing each other down.

Using nursing ceus to build strong teams and learning to educate, inspire and motivate others to be part of the positive team will help to build a stronger profession and in turn have a more positive affect on patient care and outcomes. Mentoring new nurses means being the example and showing others how to fight negativity in the workplace. Bring them in to the mix and help them assimilate to the culture of your unit or office. Don’t leave them out in the cold. Think back to your early days as a nurse scared out of your own skin and yet so hopeful to make a difference for your patients.  Pay it forward now and help new nurses find and reach their potential. Everyone benefits from that. 

Sean Dent, a well-known nurse blogger/writer has some great advice for nurses to remember where they came from and how it felt. Everyone has something to share and can make a huge difference to new nurses. Share something you know every day. Guaranteed it’s information someone doesn’t know and needs to know. Be present and work to fight bullying and all of the negativity that can tend to consume the nursing profession. 

Be the best nurse you can be. Set the bar high and be the example of how to reach that bar and conduct yourself professionally. Inspire others and empower them to do the same. A nurse may need their cap straightened today but be kind and compassionate. 

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