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Being a new graduate nurse can be overwhelming. The hardships faced as a new graduate nurse can be detrimental. These hardships can also lead to a high turnover rate. Preceptors should be role models that new nurses strive to become one day. The sad reality is that many new nurses dread coming to work their first few months, because of the humiliation they face on a daily basis. New nurses are sometimes belittled for not knowing certain skills and it creates more insecurity in the new nurse.
Studies show that those who have reported being mistreated either quit their job or lose interest in nursing (Roberts, 2015). After reviewing literature, it is evident that bullying in nursing is affecting mental health, physical health, and affecting future care of patients. This paper focuses on bullying and how it impacts new graduate nurses, with efforts to prevent this common culture in the work place.
The saying “nurses eat their young” is a phrase that is commonly heard in the workplace.
Nurses are the heart of health care and are perceived as compassionate human beings but when it comes to preceptorship this is not always the case. Nurses at the bedside are caring towards their patients, but when it comes to precepting a new nurse it is the exact opposite (Szutenbach, 2013). Nurses have made this an acceptable pattern in the work place. Graduate nurses who have brought these matters to their managers have to deal with the fallout among their coworkers, leaving them to feel unsupported (Szutenbach, 2013).
Lateral violence is a disparaging phenomenon in the nursing workplace. Senior nurses target new graduates because they are inexperienced and do not have much to offer to the table (Weaver, 2013). Bullying the new graduate nurse can stunt their potential to grow and care for patients. This can lead to medical errors, increase cost of care, and adverse patient outcomes (Weaver, 2013).
It is a nurse’s responsibility to teach, advocate, and care for others. Senior nurses are responsible for training new nurses. Senior nurses have years of knowledge and wisdom. They have learned from their mistakes and grown to be exceptional critical thinkers. New nurses dream of reaching this point someday in their career. Nursing as a whole needs to stop this idea that new graduates are inferior compared to senior nurses. This can be prevented by adding preceptorship programs. In most cases, senior nurses are assigned to train a new graduate nurse without knowledge of the assignment prior to the shift. This sets up the new graduate for failure. A preceptorship program should consist of senior nurses who volunteer to train new graduates and who enjoy teaching. New nurses should be introduced to their preceptors beforehand. They should be provided with a short lunch to get to know each other. This is important when matching personalities and learning styles together. Preceptors and new nurses should set goals together before starting on the unit. A respectable preceptorship program should consist of training preceptors and teaching them about different learning styles. They should also be required to attend a class on lateral violence and role play to understand that demeaning new graduates can be hurtful. Senior nurses need to be reminded how it was when they first started, how afraid they were, and how much they lacked confidence in the beginning.
The “sensei” role has become common in different work places and it has allowed new nurses to transition from novice nurse to advanced beginner. A sensei is defined as a person who has been in a new graduates’ shoes before (Johnson, 2015). A senior nurse has no power over a new nurse, instead they only suggest and this helps new nurses think through problems (Johnson, 2015). By adding the sensei role program, new nurses are able to reach their full potential without being belittled and feeling incompetent. New nurses are human beings and it is expected they will make mistakes. By using a different approach, they can learn from these mistakes.
Graduating from nursing school and passing licensure are major accomplishments. New graduate nurses are eager to learn which makes them moldable. Most senior nurses believe that being tough on new nurses is acceptable. Many senior nurses call it tough love, but what most do not recognize is that this impairs a person in the long run. New graduates can fall into depression when they are constantly belittled. Anxiety is common in the new nurse and can cause the new nurse to make mistakes out of orientation. There are senior nurses that participate in horizontal violence and there are those who sit back and watch. By watching, they are allowing it to be okay. Managers need to rise up and educate their staff by providing them with powerpoints, articles, and current research that shows how common lateral violence can be.
The Florida Nurse Association should hold conferences that concern lateral violence among new graduates. All it takes is one person to make a difference. It starts with contacting someone on the board. They need to be advised to hold more preceptorship conferences. These preceptorship programs can help mold a novice nurse into a competent nurse. The common phrase “nurses eat their young” can be turned into nurses help their young.
Bullying in nursing has become so predominant that it is impacting a nurse’s professional practice. It mainly affects new graduate nurses and their transition into becoming competent nurses. New graduate nurses are already having to deal with the stress of being a new nurse. They are learning new policies, how to communicate with families, code blues, code browns, and the list goes on. They also have to deal with the stress of bullying and they should not have to. Stress is impacting their state of mind and preventing them from absorbing all these new policies and hands on training. Bullying affects these new nurses psychologically and physically; This includes disturbance in sleep, inability to concentrate at work, shame, suicidal ideation, anxiety, GI upset, and much more. (Bowllan, 2015). Nurses everywhere complain about staffing ratios and how there needs to be more nurses on the unit, however they do not want to train these new nurses. In order to prevent even more of a nursing shortage this needs to be changed. According to the Joint Commission Sentinel Alert, nurses who go through bullying have had poorer patient outcomes and more medical errors that could have been prevented (Bowllan, 2015). If nurses truly care about their patients, it needs to start with caring for new graduates as well. These sentinel events do not have to happen, it only takes one preceptor to make the difference.
The shame, the anxiety, and the fear of going into work is more common than nurses think. The effects of bullying can decrease a nurse’s ability to deliver optimal patient care. This impairs safety in the workplace. Graduate nurses should not be the new targets for bullying. Graduate nurses are the future nurses of tomorrow. Nurses impact the lives of many and need to be well trained in order to carry out this responsibility. In efforts to prevent this culture of bullying, the workplace needs to be more accepting of new nurses. This includes educating staff to prevent bullying in the work place. Health care institutions need to fight to stop bullying. It is vital to bring back a caring culture into the work place. Stand up for that new nurse and make the difference. Intervene in situations where a new nurse is the target of lateral violence. Be an upstander not a bystander of bullying.
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