julie kertesz/ via flickr creative common

julie kertesz/ via flickr creative common

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

Last month, we highlighted on Facebook a blog post I had written in 2010, “New Nurses Face Reality Shock in Hospital Settings – So What Else is New?” (It seemed timely in terms of all the June graduations.)

I wrote that original post in response to a study that had just been published in Nursing Outlook (here’s the abstract) describing the experiences of new nurses. Generally, these newbies felt harried, unprepared, overworked, and unsupported—all similar concerns voiced by nurses in Marlene Kramer’s 1974 book, Reality Shock: Why Nurses Leave Nursing. (Here’s AJN’s 1975 review of the book. It will be free for a month; note that you have to click the PDF link at the article landing page to read it.)

My post back in 2009 noted how nothing much seemed to have changed since the publication of Kramer’s book. Now, once again, this post has generated many comments, a number of them on our Facebook page as well as on the original blog post.

Here are a few. I’ll start with Facebook:

I’m almost a 20yr RN and have experienced [this] in a new job. I’ve developed skills to deal with this over the course of my career, so it doesn’t impact me like it did as a new nurse…but to new nurses out there: just know that bullies have some personality disorder that extend[s] beyond the workplace (even if you never get to see it). Learn, be happy, and go on your way. It’s them, not you.

It’s up to nursing leaders at all levels to set the expectations and role model professional behavior.

The real problem is that we will no longer want to work as nurses . . . it has become so difficult for so many reasons. So at the end of a long shift you wonder, “Is it worth it? Is it?”

And some comments from the blog:

Nurses represent the largest group in the medical profession. Just think about the things we could change (for the better), if WE ALL stood together!?

I left my first nursing job at the 8-month mark due to bullying and lack of support. The stress was so severe I would dry heave in my car before my shift. After [I’d voiced] my concerns about job stress, many of my co-workers stated this was the norm . . . either ride it out or take anti-depressants (many of the nurses I worked with did).

I had great clinical and no unrealistic expectations leaving my BSN program in 1981 . . . by senior year, no one should be unaware of the work load and clinical experiences should be adjusted to help with this expectation. We worked 32 hours a week side by side with a nurse our last semester . . . with gradually increasing responsibility. The transition to work was no shock. If you don’t want to work hard, miss some meals, work weekends and holidays . . . then do not pick nursing as your career. Its damn hard work but incredibly rewarding and often quite fun.

It is the responsibility of experienced nurses to prepare the nurses of the future. We should all remember that we were new grads at one point and welcome the opportunity to build excellence in the profession.

So what do you think? There’s been a lot of research and recent attention given to bullying and health work environments—is it making a difference? What do you see where you work?

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