I have always told myself that if I ever wrote a book on my experiences as a nurse and nursing instructor that it would be called “Nurses really do eat their young.” I have been a nursing instructor for over a decade and what has impacted me the most, deep down to my nursing core is the amount of lateral violence that many student nurses have endured, from nurses and from their nursing instructors in the clinical setting. Over the years I have shed many tears with nursing students, as they shared their stories of the lateral violence they have experienced. It saddens me to think of countless others, that have/had no one to talk to. I wonder how these adverse clinical experiences continue to impact these individuals and their nursing practice?
Many nursing students and nurses have shared their feelings of defeat, questioning if they still have what it takes to be a nurse or worse, have left the nursing profession altogether. It saddens me to know that these individuals were robbed of their passion and dreams.
There have been many stories shared with me but one student nurse’s story sticks in my mind after all these years. In the clinical setting her nursing instructor placed her hands on the side of her head, shook her head from side to side and said, “Do you not have any brains in there?” On another clinical day, the same instructor tapped her index finger repeatedly on her forehead saying, “Do you not have any critical thinking?” This student went on for the next 6 weeks without saying a word for fear of failing the course.
Remaining silent is unfortunately what most students do in similar situations of lateral violence. They are scared to speak up, to advocate for themselves for fear of failure or repercussions. How can we expect these students to flourish and be the best student nurses when they are just trying to survive?
Experiences like this happen more often than we think. If you are reading this and this resonates with you I want you to know that you are not alone. I hope you find the courage and strength to share your story with someone or if you know of a colleague that is suffering from this please advocate for them and say something. If you have experienced lateral violence in the clinical setting, I want you to ask yourself, Is that adverse experience still impacting me? as you might not even realize that it still does. How might you know? Here is what many students and I have identified: You do not feel like yourself, that your passion in nursing is not what it used to be, you feel quite anxious in the clinical setting and going to clinical gives you anxiety and or dread. If you are feeling any of these feelings, thoughts or emotions based on adverse clinical experiences know that it is NOT your fault. Please find someone you trust to talk to about this and I hope you have the courage to advocate for yourself so you can begin to heal.
Sending you all Light and Love AND everyone Be Kind AF!