Those Gossipy Nurses

Some curious if somewhat standard nursing boilerplate here from a nurse manager on why nurses eat their young.* Horizontal violence — check. Group dynamics among the powerless — check. Compulsive, gratuitous and irrelevant union bashing — check check.**

And then we get this old chestnut:

Why isn’t nursing recognized as an empowering profession?

Intellectuals and professionals don’t gossip. Smart people don’t sit around and talk about who did what. Doctors think that nurses are gossipy—and that reinforces that nurses are substandard.


Leaving aside the very dubious proposition that “smart people” — those “intellectuals and professionals” — don’t gossip, where did the author get this information? Is there a peer reviewed study somewhere that correlates the frequency of incidents of physician disrespect to nurses to the gossipiness of the nurses? Have physicians come up to her and said, “You know, speaking as a member of a profession that never, ever gossips, your nurses gossip and therefore are substandard”?

Or maybe she’s just prone to slandering and stereotyping nurses as gossips because she doesn’t like gossiping. I don’t like it either, but I do recognize that it’s a pretty universal human characteristic, and not restricted to nurses.

Who knows. But it seems to me if you’re writing an article the subtext of which is nursing empowerment, maybe rehashing a tired stereotype is not the way to go about it.

And more to the point, since when do empowered and confident nurses get their validation as professionals from physicians? You’d almost think the covert message from this manager is that we nurses need and desire approval from real professionals.

I can imagine what the author thinks goes on between staff RNs and the docs. Like something out of Marcus Welby, MD, maybe.

MD: You know, Judy, I think of you as a true professional. Your manager asked me to tell you that. You are always there with a friendly, helping hand. And you don’t gossip.

Judy:[gushing] Oh thank you Dr. Handsome! You make me feel so special, like a real nurse! And a real woman. . . [stammers] Is it, is it.  .  .

MD: [patiently] Yes Judy?

Judy: Do you think it’s possible some nurses project their own inadequacies and insecurities on the profession as a whole? [mutters to herself] Jackass! [Exits]


*Is it me, or is this behaviour far less common than it was in the past?

**The author is a nurse-manager, so maybe an allowance can be made for special pleading.

But then, we don’t hear about quality of nursing work life (or lack thereof), the trivialization and exploitation of nurses, and the encouragement of powerlessness and infighting by management and managers in the author’s laundry list of why nurses turn on each other — but of course, that never happens.


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  1. #1 by Cherie on Wednesday 02 December 2009 - 0025

    Hello, I’m searching for nursing related blogs like mine and I stumbled your site, nice blog!. I hope you could also include me in your blogroll.

    By the way, you have a very good writing skills here. Keep up the good work.

  2. #2 by Cherie on Sunday 03 January 2010 - 2205

    Thank you for letting me in here. Please let me know what should I put in for your anchor text in my site. We are on the process now of building a huge nursing directory list and I wanted your site to be included.

    Shameless plug: We will be posting the November 2009 nursing board exam result in our website. Please let your Filipino visitors know about it. CIAO!

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