Hi! I recently passed the NCLEX, got my license, and will start my very first job in a couple of weeks. Aside from all the other new grad concerns (time management, etc.), I know that I will have a HUGE problem setting boundaries with difficult patients and their families. During clinicals, I even had a patient tell me, after spending pretty much the whole day harassing and insulting me, that nobody was ever going to take me seriously if I didn't quit being so nice. My response: "Well, I'm not going to be rude to you."
Anyway, I am asking for advice because I think it would be very helpful for me to already have a couple responses ready, especially at first, so I can be more confident, and don't end up getting walked on...or completely blowing up at people. I've spent a lot of time in food service, and had a pretty hard time dealing with rude people. And by hard time, I don't mean being a push over, I mean getting a really bad attitude, and occasionally exploding (luckily for me, it was almost impossible to get fired from that place). I knew this sort of behavior would be unacceptable in clinicals, and because, apparently, I have no idea how to be both firm and polite, I ended up on the opposite end of the spectrum.
SO...what do you say to people who are giving you problems? I know there will be a lot of grin-and-bear it type stuff going on, that's not what I have issues with. It's things like patients who aren't being compliant, ripping off their O2 masks, patients and families yelling. Also, for example, one of my patients (who was super sweet...and homeless) had his girlfriend (also homeless) staying with him, which is not a problem. The problem was, she was acting like she was staying in a hotel, and kept demanding that I bring her ice cream, sodas, socks, toothpaste, crackers, anything extra she could think of. If I would tell her it was for the patients or something like that, she would get so rude and combative with me, interfering with what I was trying to do for my patient, that I decided it wasn't worth the trouble, and I would just do whatever it was. Which is when a nurse told me to grow a spine, and that I'm creating more work for other people on later shifts because now, she expects that sort of treatment. I really don't want to put my coworkers in that position (and also I want them to like me!).
I'd love to grow a spine, I'm working on it. I don't have a huge aversion to conflict, I just don't know what to say! A lot of people chose to ignore ridiculous requests, or just keep acting like they "forgot," but I would rather address an issue, if possible. Also, another problem I seem to have, is I don't know what behaviors from a patient are considered crossing the line, and what behaviors I should accept from my patients and their families. I know that I will get better with practice, but I would really appreciate any sort of advice that could help me learn how to be firm and maintain my dignity when necessary, while staying polite and professional.
I had this issue the other day with the adult daughter of my elderly stroke pt. She was so passive aggressive , annoying, rude and over bearing.
She wanted me to call a code stroke overhead when he mother couldn't get a burp out after lunch. I fixed the burp situation, if u will, but she criticized me and oh so helpfully web MD educated me every moment I was in there. I am putting both shifts mildly cuz I feel a stroke coming on myself just thinking about it.
So im from Nj but now work in tx. What I would say if I was back home would not fly. Some of these old southern belles dont like the taste of their own dish when i serve it back to them, if u will.
Also passive aggressive ppl are my nemesis. I consider myself assertive most of the time.
Master the art of answering annoying people as you are heading and walking out the door and then proceed to close it for " privacy". Don't be mean. Gets you nowhere.
Don't ever say you had something along the lines of more important/ priority. She came right back at me and said " oh that's odd I didn't hear them call a code blue in this hall" GRRRR WTH. lol
I say something along the lines of " oh wow sorry that took a bit I just had 3 fires In a row I just put out! Ha-ha, how can I help you now?"
If that doesn't work and they are belittling me or rude, I call em out.
" the way you're speaking to me is unacceptable . It may look like I'm wearing pajamas to work, but I am your registered nurse and expect to be treated and spoken to like the well educated professional that I am, with the same respect I give you. so that said ,would u like to try saying that again?"
They are usually flustered and realize I won't be taken for a fool. If the problem doesn't resolve, tell your charge and or manager, document!!!! And request a different assignment next shift. My director said it is professional to acknowledge and accept when their is simply no therapeutic nurse pt relationship and the care if suffering, either that patient or your others. Some pts are rough but respond better to someone else. Sometimes it really isn't you it's them.
I hate to say it , but I handle my patients the way I envision dealing with my future children. I am firm but funny, always thinking of their safety and my time, tell them why matter of factly when they ask and always throw a splash of guilt and fear in the mix if my not so subtle joke failed to send my message.
Example ) post cabg pt refuses / ' forgets" to practice his incentive spirometer.
"Sir! No one told me what a rebellious soul u are. Why have I not seen you practice your breathing? I know it hurts but we can work through the pain easier than pneumonia.....you don't really want me to have to tell your surgeon you haven't been following his treatment plan, right? * insert comical pouty face and then quick smile and put it in their hands*
Bottom line is that humans are blessed and flawed by being autonomous . if they aren't following the plan let the DR know to see if there is an alternative instead but it isn't your job to keep someone's bipap on for 12 he's straight. You have stuff to do for people who enjoy getting well :-)
Kill em with kidness then walk away baby.
Last edit by SNB1014 on Jul 4, '13
: Reason: spelling