We've all heard it. Heck, many of us have survived it: Nurses eat their young. I honestly detest this phrase. I heard it all throughout my first undergraduate clinical rotation -- from the nurses precepting me and my peers. They used it as a supporting argument for me to leave nursing school and the profession altogether.
At the time, I was aghast at these conversations. Looking back, I still am. I imagine that unit had high turnover, a lackluster manager, low nursing and patient satisfaction scores -- maybe all of the above. I vowed never to be like that. I promised myself I would encourage nursing students and others around me.
And then I became a true-blue registered nurse. I endured the negative experiences, and I relished the awesome moments -- I still do. Maybe I've been shielded from this "nurses eat their young" thing over the last eight years. Sure, I've had some not-so-great experiences with other nurses, but I've never had a moment where I felt chewed up and spit out.
On the contrary, my nursing career has been filled with mentor after mentor, nurses in all levels of leadership and educational background and specialty pouring into me, giving me their time and energy, safeguarding me beneath their experience-beaten wings until I've been ready to leave the proverbial nest or even pushed out when I thought I wasn't ready. My list of mentors is expansive, and it expands beyond the nursing profession. They have each given me something different in my career. So, now I'm only doing what I learned in nursing school.
Now that I've had the privilege to experience career-building, empowering nursing mentorship, I'm paying it forward through mentoring others as well as teaching others how they can do the same. Nurses don't have to have the reputation for devouring our new team members. We can change that culture -- nurse by nurse. So, whether you've had fabulous mentors or have barely survived nurse feasts, join me in mentoring younger or less-experienced nurses.
Mentorship can be formal via precepting students at all levels of nursing education, or it can be informal by coming alongside younger or less-experienced nurses to help them learn how to more easily manage that ostomy they can't seem to get the hang of, develop their first real resumé , or simply speak positive words and encourage them in their daily work.
What are your nursing mentorship experiences? What do you think about mentoring within our profession -- is this "nurses eat their young" sentiment outdated, or do you think with all of our workplace bullying and incivility issues that it still continues throughout nursing?