Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hold Your Lamp Up

"Preconceived notions are the locks on the door to wisdom"

Merry Browne

Prior to nursing, I had many different types of jobs like waitressing, accounting and sales clerk. In all of those positions, I rarely came across the types of people who don't want to encourage, nurture or teach new folks like I have in nursing. This is unfortunate because although there is plenty of theory prior to ever laying a hand on another human, so much of my kind of work is learned at the bedside.

There is a dog eat dog mentality that is pervasive in my profession. All of us in this field have heard the statement "nurses eat their young." At times in my career, I've found this to be true. Nurses, during a time of such critical shortage, should be kind to one another but often, are not. They will refuse to help another nurse or be difficult to approach. Instead of offering pearls of wisdom when asked a question, they will tell a new nurse to look it up and provide as little assistance as possible. They will gossip. They will belittle one another in a public manner. They will overburden the weak among them with the hardest assignments. Not infrequently, the recipient of this subtle, or sometimes outright hostile treatment will be a new graduate. Make no mistake, whether subtle or overt, this bullying is a form of violence in the workplace.

This type of abuse has been given the name of lateral violence. Finally, nursing professionals are beginning to band together to at least discuss this problem. My Michigan Nurse Association publication came in the mail yesterday and included the following article: "Lateral violence: Calling out the elephant in the room." It's about time. Isn't our job tough enough without being cruel to one another?

Just in case you get the idea that I'm having a rough time orienting in my new role, I'm not. When I met my preceptor at the death pronouncement of our patient Monday night, she greeted me with a hug. A welcome to the fold kind of hug. Now this is what I'm talking.

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