Being Non-judgemental

  1. Hi,
    I just wondered if some experienced nurses could give me some tips on how to handle this. I work on regular med-surg floor, and this weekend I worked 3 12hr. shifts. It seemed like the majority of my patients all 3 days were s/p MVA with ETOH intox. Now, I am a very understanding person, in my opinion, and I know the importance of being professional and nonjudgemental. I try to give the best care I can regardless. But... after the 2nd day of getting admit after admit after admit with the same scenerio, God help me, deep down I was getting irritated. I gave them the very best care I could and kept all my thoughts to myself. I didn't even talk about my feelings with my coworkers. It just irritated me deep down that someone would intentionally drive intoxicated and injure themselves and others like that. A few of them were fathers and husbands with a family, and I couldn't help but be appalled at their total disregard for their responsibilities. Maybe if it had been just one it wouldn't have bothered me so bad, but at one point I had 2 patients at one time on alcohol drips and a couple more with rib fractures and closed head injuries all with high BAC on admission. I honestly hope noone reading this feel offended or thinks badly of me. I just wanted to get this frustration out and hopefully get some advice on how to handle it. Thanks.
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  2. 14 Comments

  3. by   rn in 3 years
    I sure don't think bad of you. Drunk driving is a BIG pet peeve of mine. I think it is OK to think the way you did about these people. The key thing is you didn't care for them any differently for it.
  4. by   fergus51
    Don't beat yourself up, you're human. It's completely normal to have those thoughts as long as you cope with them and give good care regardless. I work with a fair number of mothers who drink and use drugs while pregnant. It was very hard when I was new, but now I just feel sorry for them. Once they get to me, it is too late to change what they've already done, so I just focus on now and the future. I don't even feel anger anymore. I can't explain it.
  5. by   Ruby Vee
    i used to let that sort of thing bother me a lot more 25 or 30 years ago. now i just let it roll of my back. no point in getting worked up over something you can't change. yes, it's disgusting . . . but they're your patients now, and you owe your patients the best you can give. even if they are pretty despicable as people. i think it will probably get easier for you as time goes by . . .

    good luck!

    ruby
  6. by   Jerico
    When I see someone with an ETOH problem or a drug problem come in I feel pity. Disgusted at alcohol and drugs, not at the people necessarily.

    Life is so short and they are just wasting what God has given away.

    I feel pity.

    They do not know how to grow up and say "enough" and "no".

    I also want to jump on some bandwagon to stamp out cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol!:hatparty:

    But then again, I like my Margaritas and Merlot!
  7. by   Tweety
    I was going to say that you're only human, but seems like you've already gotten good advice above.

    I work in a trauma unit, maybe similar to yours. We not only get drunk drivers, but crack addicts involved in shootings, criminals that have been shot by the police while committing crimes, and other assorted scumbags.

    It sounds like you're not letting it affect your care. You're giving the best care you can regardless of how you feel about them.

    No where is it written that you have to like your patients or their lifestyle.
  8. by   KatieBell
    This is a skill that is HUGE and takes a long time to develop. I would say though, do not be surprised at how many drunk drivers you are seeing, if you look at this board, you will find many many many people who say they have had a DUI and are now nursing. Many many people make this error in judgement.
    Still, as far as taking care of the patients...I am always professional, but I usually do mention alcohol and driving do not mix. On our discharge teaching we have sections regarding Drunk driving and it's effects. I make sure I read this section to the patient.

    It might not seem like much, but one New Years, both myself and the Doctor talked to a woman explaining to her that her driving and drinking put her and many others at risk. We got a call the next New Years Eve (oddly we were both working). That woman was calling to say she had been sober for one year, and to thank us.

    I do get frustrated, and I tend to feel better if I at least address the situation, even if it is in the most generic terms.
  9. by   Daytonite
    Well, since I've been spouting off on another thread of this forum (I'm so ashamed...) and people have been taking shots at me for being harsh I will let down my guard and expose one of the blunders of my career just so you all know that I do make mistakes.

    I make no bones about having a attitude that often needs major adjustment. I'm a lot better than I was when I was younger--wisdom and experience tend to do that to you, I guess. Anyway, my problem was with people who attempted suicide. Had no sympathy for them. Used to think what dummies they were for failing their attempts. That the world would be better off without their whining and crying that they failed to leave this world.

    You ask about being non-judgmental. I like to call it my professional face. It's that ability to look like you care and are concerned although you are seething inside with disdain or dislike for the person you are dealing with. I look at it as if I'm playing a part in a play. That is how I deal with people that I just want to walk away from or just not deal with when I have my nurses hat on.

    Enter 19 year old girl who just took a bottle of her mother's Valium and a handful of Tylenol #3s. Just admitted, to me, from ER for overnight observation in the ICU where I had been floated for the night. She was the second thing to tick me off that night. Being floated to ICU was the first. Thought she was a little twit. She did this because her boyfriend broke up with her. Wasn't even smart enough to take enough of the right stuff to do the job right. Now, those were my thoughts. Outwardly, I hovered over her all my shift, held her hand, reassured her things would look better and that in the future she would feel much differently about this whole boyfriend thing. I was so happy to get the H, E, double hockey sticks out of there at the end of my shift. Never saw the kid again, until. . .

    Fast forward to about 3 years later. I'm shopping at a local store and some clerk with gobs of makeup on her eyes comes sashaying up to me all gooey and excited repeating "I thought I recognized you. I'm so glad I have a chance to see you again. I've never forgotten you." She proceeds to tell me who she is. I got it quickly. It was the young girl who had attempted suicide and given me a miserable night at work. She wanted to thank me. She said it over and over. You were so right, she said. Things are so different now. I'm so glad I didn't die.

    I went home and cried for hours. What a crappy way to learn a lesson. I learned it well that day. The lesson is that you never know how what you say or do for someone is going to affect their life. God, or my spirits guides, must have known that I needed a kick in the butt on this issue and it was a kick well planted. We never know the whole story behind the patient and it is very hoity-toity of us to think we do. And, that is how I've learned to look at patients now. I try to find at least one good or positive thing about them to help me deal with the havoc they have caused. As nurses ministering to them in acutely ill episodes of their lives we are really very privileged to be able to see them at their very worse. The truth is that many of them are very good people at their very best. I started my hospital career working on a unit that had 4 detox beds. What patients those were! And we had frequent flyers too. Nothing is worse than working with someone having DTs. What I did experience that perhaps you have not is that when they are sobered up they are very remorseful, often don't remember what they were like when DTing, or they just don't want to deal with it. Many alcoholics actually try to commit suicide while drunk which often accounts for them being admitted after having accidents where they hit trees or other stationary objects or drove off the road and crashed. When impaired, these people really aren't thinking straight. We had to attend a bunch AA meetings as part of our training to work in detox and some of these people are absolutely amazing, sensitive, kind human beings. If you can see beyond what the drugs and alcohol do to people you can find some humanity there they may help you get through nursing them. Perhaps you'll have a former patient come up to you to thank you for saving them. You never know that the seed you plant might sprout and grow, or that the life you are saving might go on to do something incredible for the rest of the world. But, in the meantime, put on your professional face, look interested and caring, go through the motions of doing the right things a nurse is supposed to do, and then unload it all when you get home or at your next family gathering. Relatives love to hear our war stories and we can include all the attitude we want to infuse into them. We're not perfect, we just have to appear to be. We all come into our jobs with prejudices and rather than deny them, we have to at least cover them up.
  10. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Quote from Daytonite
    Well, since I've been spouting off on another thread of this forum (I'm so ashamed...) and people have been taking shots at me for being harsh I will let down my guard and expose one of the blunders of my career just so you all know that I do make mistakes.

    I make no bones about having a attitude that often needs major adjustment. I'm a lot better than I was when I was younger--wisdom and experience tend to do that to you, I guess. Anyway, my problem was with people who attempted suicide. Had no sympathy for them. Used to think what dummies they were for failing their attempts. That the world would be better off without their whining and crying that they failed to leave this world.

    You ask about being non-judgmental. I like to call it my professional face. It's that ability to look like you care and are concerned although you are seething inside with disdain or dislike for the person you are dealing with. I look at it as if I'm playing a part in a play. That is how I deal with people that I just want to walk away from or just not deal with when I have my nurses hat on.

    Enter 19 year old girl who just took a bottle of her mother's Valium and a handful of Tylenol #3s. Just admitted, to me, from ER for overnight observation in the ICU where I had been floated for the night. She was the second thing to tick me off that night. Being floated to ICU was the first. Thought she was a little twit. She did this because her boyfriend broke up with her. Wasn't even smart enough to take enough of the right stuff to do the job right. Now, those were my thoughts. Outwardly, I hovered over her all my shift, held her hand, reassured her things would look better and that in the future she would feel much differently about this whole boyfriend thing. I was so happy to get the H, E, double hockey sticks out of there at the end of my shift. Never saw the kid again, until. . .

    Fast forward to about 3 years later. I'm shopping at a local store and some clerk with gobs of makeup on her eyes comes sashaying up to me all gooey and excited repeating "I thought I recognized you. I'm so glad I have a chance to see you again. I've never forgotten you." She proceeds to tell me who she is. I got it quickly. It was the young girl who had attempted suicide and given me a miserable night at work. She wanted to thank me. She said it over and over. You were so right, she said. Things are so different now. I'm so glad I didn't die.

    I went home and cried for hours. What a crappy way to learn a lesson. I learned it well that day. The lesson is that you never know how what you say or do for someone is going to affect their life. God, or my spirits guides, must have known that I needed a kick in the butt on this issue and it was a kick well planted. We never know the whole story behind the patient and it is very hoity-toity of us to think we do. And, that is how I've learned to look at patients now. I try to find at least one good or positive thing about them to help me deal with the havoc they have caused. As nurses ministering to them in acutely ill episodes of their lives we are really very privileged to be able to see them at their very worse. The truth is that many of them are very good people at their very best. I started my hospital career working on a unit that had 4 detox beds. What patients those were! And we had frequent flyers too. Nothing is worse than working with someone having DTs. What I did experience that perhaps you have not is that when they are sobered up they are very remorseful, often don't remember what they were like when DTing, or they just don't want to deal with it. Many alcoholics actually try to commit suicide while drunk which often accounts for them being admitted after having accidents where they hit trees or other stationary objects or drove off the road and crashed. When impaired, these people really aren't thinking straight. We had to attend a bunch AA meetings as part of our training to work in detox and some of these people are absolutely amazing, sensitive, kind human beings. If you can see beyond what the drugs and alcohol do to people you can find some humanity there they may help you get through nursing them. Perhaps you'll have a former patient come up to you to thank you for saving them. You never know that the seed you plant might sprout and grow, or that the life you are saving might go on to do something incredible for the rest of the world. But, in the meantime, put on your professional face, look interested and caring, go through the motions of doing the right things a nurse is supposed to do, and then unload it all when you get home or at your next family gathering. Relatives love to hear our war stories and we can include all the attitude we want to infuse into them. We're not perfect, we just have to appear to be. We all come into our jobs with prejudices and rather than deny them, we have to at least cover them up.
    I am completely in awe and bowled over at your candor and this story. THANK YOU for reminding me, how much what we say and do, matters. We literally touch and change lives. Awesome post, Dayton.
  11. by   P_RN
    True wisdom! Thank you.
  12. by   nursemike
    Quote from Daytonite
    Well, since I've been spouting off on another thread of this forum (I'm so ashamed...) and people have been taking shots at me for being harsh I will let down my guard and expose one of the blunders of my career just so you all know that I do make mistakes.

    I make no bones about having a attitude that often needs major adjustment. I'm a lot better than I was when I was younger--wisdom and experience tend to do that to you, I guess. Anyway, my problem was with people who attempted suicide. Had no sympathy for them. Used to think what dummies they were for failing their attempts. That the world would be better off without their whining and crying that they failed to leave this world.

    You ask about being non-judgmental. I like to call it my professional face. It's that ability to look like you care and are concerned although you are seething inside with disdain or dislike for the person you are dealing with. I look at it as if I'm playing a part in a play. That is how I deal with people that I just want to walk away from or just not deal with when I have my nurses hat on.

    Enter 19 year old girl who just took a bottle of her mother's Valium and a handful of Tylenol #3s. Just admitted, to me, from ER for overnight observation in the ICU where I had been floated for the night. She was the second thing to tick me off that night. Being floated to ICU was the first. Thought she was a little twit. She did this because her boyfriend broke up with her. Wasn't even smart enough to take enough of the right stuff to do the job right. Now, those were my thoughts. Outwardly, I hovered over her all my shift, held her hand, reassured her things would look better and that in the future she would feel much differently about this whole boyfriend thing. I was so happy to get the H, E, double hockey sticks out of there at the end of my shift. Never saw the kid again, until. . .

    Fast forward to about 3 years later. I'm shopping at a local store and some clerk with gobs of makeup on her eyes comes sashaying up to me all gooey and excited repeating "I thought I recognized you. I'm so glad I have a chance to see you again. I've never forgotten you." She proceeds to tell me who she is. I got it quickly. It was the young girl who had attempted suicide and given me a miserable night at work. She wanted to thank me. She said it over and over. You were so right, she said. Things are so different now. I'm so glad I didn't die.

    I went home and cried for hours. What a crappy way to learn a lesson. I learned it well that day. The lesson is that you never know how what you say or do for someone is going to affect their life. God, or my spirits guides, must have known that I needed a kick in the butt on this issue and it was a kick well planted. We never know the whole story behind the patient and it is very hoity-toity of us to think we do. And, that is how I've learned to look at patients now. I try to find at least one good or positive thing about them to help me deal with the havoc they have caused. As nurses ministering to them in acutely ill episodes of their lives we are really very privileged to be able to see them at their very worse. The truth is that many of them are very good people at their very best. I started my hospital career working on a unit that had 4 detox beds. What patients those were! And we had frequent flyers too. Nothing is worse than working with someone having DTs. What I did experience that perhaps you have not is that when they are sobered up they are very remorseful, often don't remember what they were like when DTing, or they just don't want to deal with it. Many alcoholics actually try to commit suicide while drunk which often accounts for them being admitted after having accidents where they hit trees or other stationary objects or drove off the road and crashed. When impaired, these people really aren't thinking straight. We had to attend a bunch AA meetings as part of our training to work in detox and some of these people are absolutely amazing, sensitive, kind human beings. If you can see beyond what the drugs and alcohol do to people you can find some humanity there they may help you get through nursing them. Perhaps you'll have a former patient come up to you to thank you for saving them. You never know that the seed you plant might sprout and grow, or that the life you are saving might go on to do something incredible for the rest of the world. But, in the meantime, put on your professional face, look interested and caring, go through the motions of doing the right things a nurse is supposed to do, and then unload it all when you get home or at your next family gathering. Relatives love to hear our war stories and we can include all the attitude we want to infuse into them. We're not perfect, we just have to appear to be. We all come into our jobs with prejudices and rather than deny them, we have to at least cover them up.
    Lovely post, and to the OP, kudos for not venting to your co-workers. It's good to have a mentor you can discuss these feelings with, but too often, people just rant, and it adds to an environment of judgementalism. Blowing off steam here seems a lot more constructive, or a confidential talk with a trusted mentor would be fine, too.
    Whether you thought about it or not, you managed not to give others permission to indulge these same feelings.

    There are plenty of exceptions, of course, but if you think about it, a lot of our non-geriatric patients (and even some geriatrics) have done something unwise to wind up in the hospital. DUI or bad driving, suicide or falling out of a tree stand, poor diet, smoking--if people weren't stupid, a lot of us would be out of work. (Hang on a sec--I need to light up a smoke.)
    I think you've gone a long way toward handling the problem by recognizing it. Sad truth is, all humans are flawed critters--but hey, it pays the rent.
  13. by   Jerico
    :kiss :kiss
    Thanks very much for sharing. It is nice to know when someone listens and actually REMEMBERS some of the support we hand out.
  14. by   FroggysMom
    Quote from jamieRN
    Hi,
    I just wondered if some experienced nurses could give me some tips on how to handle this. I work on regular med-surg floor, and this weekend I worked 3 12hr. shifts. It seemed like the majority of my patients all 3 days were s/p MVA with ETOH intox. Now, I am a very understanding person, in my opinion, and I know the importance of being professional and nonjudgemental. I try to give the best care I can regardless. But... after the 2nd day of getting admit after admit after admit with the same scenerio, God help me, deep down I was getting irritated. I gave them the very best care I could and kept all my thoughts to myself. I didn't even talk about my feelings with my coworkers. It just irritated me deep down that someone would intentionally drive intoxicated and injure themselves and others like that. A few of them were fathers and husbands with a family, and I couldn't help but be appalled at their total disregard for their responsibilities. Maybe if it had been just one it wouldn't have bothered me so bad, but at one point I had 2 patients at one time on alcohol drips and a couple more with rib fractures and closed head injuries all with high BAC on admission. I honestly hope noone reading this feel offended or thinks badly of me. I just wanted to get this frustration out and hopefully get some advice on how to handle it. Thanks.

    I don't think badly of you. There is enough knowledge out there that everyone knows drunk driving is bad - including the people who do it. And I get aggravated when I think these people are driving on the same roads that my children drive, and on the same streets that my grandchildren play on.

    This is the best way to unload your frustration - right here in this forum. Good luck to you and keep giving the best care you can. You are building good Karma!

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