Eat me.

22 June 2008

New and student nurses have all heard the assertion that nursing, despite being a most caring profession, is one where the experienced practitioners “eat their young” — that instead of taking newbies under their wings, mentoring them and helping them learn the ropes, they, well, treat them like shit, make their lives impossible, basically do what they can to ensure they suffer. Now, I can’t claim to have seen this first hand in the ED where I work, where new nurses seem to get treated well by the preceptors. But then, all the ED nurses at this hospital aren’t new grads — they have to have floor experience first.

But what I can claim to have experienced is a noticeable amount of negativity from nurses here regarding my decision to pursue the MSN/NP. I’m well aware of the clash some RNs and NPs have about the Direct-Entry-never-been-a nurse-before-becoming-an-NP-Programs, and I’m even sensitive to the fact that choosing Yale over the local schools might be seen as elitist, so to be honest, I’ve tried to keep my fall plans under the radar of the nursing staff here. But this place is Gossip et Busybody Central, so you can imagine how successful I’ve been. But I guess I wasn’t really prepared for the reactions I’ve gotten. It hasn’t all been bad, because a few nurses I would call friends have been very supportive and enthusiastic, but I would say that the majority of people who’ve commented have said something snarky. One of the ACNPs was completely unsupportive and was kind enough to wrap up her disdainful lecture with “Well, you won’t get a job since you don’t have any experience.” Gee, thanks for the warm welcome to the profession! Ditto for the RNs, who usually ask a bunch of questions only to say something discouraging in response. I even had one RN say “Well, Excuuuuse Us!” and walk off in a huff off after overhearing that I was leaving the hospital to go to Yale.

That one actually stung a bit.

The hard part about all of this is that I don’t feel like these nurses have any rhyme or reason to judge me, but they’re doing it anyway. They’re taking my career plans as a personal affront — without knowing anything about why I’ve made this choice. Most of my administrative coworkers are in their early 20s and have high school diplomas or are working toward associates degrees — so very few of the nurses know that I’m a bit of an anomaly with my age and my work/educational background: I’m 28, this is a second career for me, I already have my bachelor’s and work experience, yada yada. And as much as I actually do enjoy answering their phone calls and keeping track of their paperwork here in the ED, this wasn’t my life’s work. Oddly enough, I think that if I was going to medical school, they wouldn’t be so harsh. But my choosing NP over RN, that’s clearly insulting. Sigh.

The one truly positive conversation I had was with a staff nurse who was graduating from a local MSN program who was supportive about my not choosing to attend BC (she had precepted there and felt the program was, indeed, rushed) and who actually confessed to me that she “used to be against the direct-entry programs” UNTIL she went through an MSN/NP program herself. She said that now that she really knows what NPs do and what their training is like, she thinks people are comparing apples and oranges — that what RNs and NPs do is so different that having the RN experience really doesn’t make a difference. She said that she thinks she’ll be able to use her RN experience to bring something additional to her NP practice, but she didn’t think her classmates without it would be worse practitioners.

So that was the one exception to the rule — a nurse who was both positive about my becoming an NP and who didn’t think I was a jerk destined to be jobless for doing Direct-Entry. She made my day.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to being at Yale soon where I’ll be part of a community that’s excited about all kinds of people becoming APRNs… and that I hope that I never become a nurse who eats anything other than a vegetarian diet.


One comment

  1. I have had similar experiences with RNs almost taking it personally that I would want to go straight into my graduate work immediately after passing the NCLEX.

    But as you pointed out, we may not have a lot of nursing experience, but we do have life experience that a lot of young nurses don’t have. And I think that counts for a lot to.

    Each of us takes a different path but in the end we’ll all be taking care of people. That the most important thing. Good luck at Yale!

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