Is the cynicism inevitable? - page 2

by lvnlrn

6,339 Views | 30 Comments

I'm sure this topic has been hashed and beaten to death, but it's new to me, and definitely not something i can vent about to Facebook or even my family (non-medical)...I started working in the ER setting in January, in the... Read More


  1. 5
    I've never met an ER nurse who wasn't cynical/jaded. It comes with the territory.
    However, almost all the med/surg nurses I know with more than 5 yrs experience, are also jaded.
    We get with the program too, it just takes us longer.
    SamHill, jrsRN07, turnforthenurseRN, and 2 others like this.
  2. 2
    the medical field is an odd one.

    a headache could mean brain cancer or meningitis. or it could just be a headache. the very vast majority of the time it is a headache.

    you never ever want to dumb down a symptom only to hear the next morning that night shift indeed called the dr and your pt was transported to icu for the very same symptom you merely mentioned during report.

    at the same time, i have gone gung ho! calling drs, NPs, pa s and whoever over a patient that is complaining that SHE CANNOT BREATHE....PEOPLE ARE YOU LISTENING, SHE IS VERBALLY TELLING ME THAT SHE CAN'T BREATHE! (note the silliness) only to have a PA ask me " um well, have her sit up in the chair and watch her, put her on a venti if you really want to. if she gets worse then call a rapid."

    DERP!
    jrsRN07 and jtsRN like this.
  3. 1
    It's up to you to judge where the line is between *realism* and *cynicism*.
    jrsRN07 likes this.
  4. 2
    If you aren't cynical and jaded, you aren't payig attention.
    jrsRN07 and canoehead like this.
  5. 4
    The only inoculation I know is regularly scheduled breaks from life in the er.

    Full on vacations that leave you remembering that there were moments when you learned how precious life is, when you watched people be heroic or graceful, when you learned that a team of people can be a room full of heroes for a reason bigger than a paycheck, when you saw a miraculous resuscitation, and a death that shouldn't have happened but did anyway. Its those moments that make you feel lucky to have become an ER nurse.

    For the record, I consider myself completely jaded. Ha ha
    jrsRN07, NO50FRANNY, sabrn2006, and 1 other like this.
  6. 1
    I'm getting jaded and I don't care.

    I've even told pts who complain that "it takes all those doctors and nurses to work on one person", yes, it does. And if you were actively dying or one of your family members you would want everyone to work on you to save your life". This usually get me a dirty look and I don't care.

    I've had pts follow me into a sick pt's room asking for a blanket and I've told them that's not the priority, we have a SICK person here I have to tend to FIRST and you will get your blanket once I'm done dealing with this EMERGENCY. I say this as I'm walking right past them with the airway cart/crash cart/hand full of supplies.

    But that one pt that really is sick, that we've worked on to get to the cath lab/OR and WALKS out the hospital 10 days later makes it all worth it.
    jrsRN07 likes this.
  7. 2
    I have been working on and off in the ER since January but I just officially transferred recently...and I'm already jaded. Do I love the ER? Absolutely. But some of the things patients come in with are absolutely ridiculous. Mom brings in her 2 week old because "she felt hot." Didn't take the infant's temp at home. Infant did not have a fever. The other night I had an elderly patient come in complaining of constipation. That's it. At 0300. VSS, no other complaints, just constipation. And trying to get the provider to refill a prescription for honestly something that wasn't necessary at the time and could have waited until they could see their PCP in a few hours. It's things like that that are in my opinion a total waste of time.

    It's the adrenaline rush I love and stabilizing TRULY SICK individuals that I love. I also have an amazing team of nurses, techs and docs that I work with that make a world of a difference.
    jrsRN07 and canoehead like this.
  8. 4
    I found that I went through a period of "all patients are entitled drug seekers" but that fades away to something more tempered. I feel like compassion returns after a while. Na´vetÚ? Of course not, but compassion definitely.
  9. 4
    Yes, the fact of cynicism in the ER environment is certainly an interesting one. I have been there for 4 years now and there are moments that I truly wonder about my view on the lives of others, but there are other moments that bring me back to the reality of people actually having souls and caring about the life of others. Does it sound like we are jaded, cold, or heartless? It certainly does at times. But, taking vacations away from the environment and relishing in family time is important! My wife and I recently took a medical mission trip and this helped resecure my thoughts in the human race. Once again, the cynicism that arises, I believe, is mostly from the environment of the ER. I am very involved in my church and I believe that it is my belief in God that has kept me sane.
    GundeRN, jrsRN07, Altra, and 1 other like this.
  10. 4
    I started out in the ER all bright and shiny with stars in my eyes. I knew that not all the patients I would see would be truly ill but I had the impression that it would be the "man-flu" over reaction types. There certainly are many of these patients, but then there are the liars, the drug seekers and those who truly don't give a darn that they aren't sick, they want immediate treatment for their (admittedly minor) problems. There are the patients who could have prevented their visit with some different life choices, but take no ownership of this. There are people who will treat you like garbage no matter how kindly you behave to them.

    It hardens you, or it breaks you. Many people choose to leave the specialty for this reason. I have discussed it with my peers and many say "I won't last." I often am not proud of the way I react internally to patients, although I am proud that I am able to continue to provide the same care to them as I do to others.

    Every once and awhile I will have a moment when I know I am not too far gone. I recently had a patient in with no urgent medical complaint. Instead this person was suffering from one of the most horrific family crises I can recall. I discharged her and the went and cried like my heart was breaking in the bathroom. I can still walk a mile, but I will say that it is getting harder.

    I think the cynicism is a defense mechanism, and a functional one. If I ever find it that I cannot treat a certain patients with some compassion it will be time for me to pack it in.


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