Thursday, 10 April 2008

Eating our young

There is a post from FaithWalker here about being very shabbily treated by a ward sister, the Devils Kitchen has picked it up and had a few comments. Unfortunately this is not new, when MrGrumpy was training the abuse started in training school (we didn't go to university in those days) with the head of the school telling myself and the other male students that she did not like male nurses and we always caused trouble. I watched as a tutor picked on a young student as a way of controlling the rest of us (a (very) old army trick). I was aware of a sister on a ward who would abuse any young nurse she had until it got so bad that students were removed from her ward. I watched the new head of the school of nursing (a male, but not in my opinion a man) threaten to throw 2 girls out for allegedly falsifying documents - they had left their records of instruction in the changing room of the hospital and when they went back they were gone. So, on the advice of a tutor they got a new book and tried to get as many things signed off as they could in the weekend left. I should say that if the record book was not completed you could not progress in the class. Turned out, this "mans" wife had picked up the books and given them to him and instead of passing them to the girls concerned he kept them and waited to see what they would do. So when they turned up with signed books he accused them of forgery and tried to get them sacked. I have seen pre-reg students - students who had passed their finals and were just waiting for their 3 years to finish before they got jobs - in tears because a sister had abused them. I made up my mind then that I would never be treated like that, I failed, I had some problems from management. But I learned, I learned never go to a meeting alone, always to use the magic words "Lets see what the union thinks about that" and the even more powerful magic word "No".
I am going to play devils advocate for a minute, I wonder if Faithwalker is going about this wrong, should she be asking questions of the consultants in her first year? Would she not be better asking for information from the nursing staff, after all it is a nursing degree she is doing. I'm not saying she should not ask questions, but ask the right person - no-one likes a smart arse. I do not want students who work with me running around behind my back doing things without my knowledge - in A&E this is dangerous, and on the wards can lead to things being half done or missed out. And there is always more than one side to a story.
This is a problem which is international, there are many comments on nursing forums about this very subject so it is well known. I do not think that this is the reason for the large drop out rate of student nurses but is certainly a contributing factor. I would also like to say that I have seen students who say I will never be like that, and then when they reach senior posts become exactly like that. This seems to be an institutional problem and probably should be expected with an organisation as large as the NHS. We work with doctors whose very training makes them think they are better than everyone else, I refer you to almost any post by Drs Crippen and Rant. Some doctors think it is acceptable to be aggressive physically and/or verbally to nurses (but strangely not male nurses) although this type of conduct is slowly changing it is still out there. This behaviour would not be tolerated in industry, I have seen managers in industry punched who tried it on - I am NOT advocating this (although I do have a list of people who I think would be improved by a punch). All we can do is try to care for our students and colleagues the way we care for our patients.


robinslife said...

Wow, Alot of knowledge there.. My daughter is just going to college to be a Medical Lab Technician.. She told me she will not be a nurse,even though she respects others to do so. The nurses get the most bad back at them Totally wrong..She will not take that at all.

Faith said...

Hey! I'd just like to clarify that i'm not just rocking up to the consultants and docs and asking them questions blatantly in front of the other nurses (or behind their backs) but if they happen to be standing there, I have no problem with asking them to explain something they've said to me.

Obviously, for nursing care advice i'll ask a nurse!

GrumpyRN said...

Hi Faith, thanks for commenting. Please let me make this clear, I support you 100% but I work in a supervisory position and was trying to put over the other side a bit - not defending it as it is indefensible, but trying to give a bit of balance. I think A&E Charge Nurse said it best on his comments on Dr Crippens original blog. Keep your head down. Nursing is not noted as a caring profession to its own, nurse training is devoloped to deal with 17 year old girls straight out of school - this has not changed despite what you are told. When you are on the wards you are expected to do as you are told. When I trained I was an adult, married with 2 children and found it very difficult to deal with the crap that was dished out. Please stay in nursing, each placement only lasts a few weeks, always look for the positive in each ward - they are there. Let us know if there is any comeback from the original incident.

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