Condescending nurses - page 2

I got into it with two nurses at work today and I'm wondering if I was wrong to handle the situation the way I did. I'm not an RN, but I work as an intern at a hospital that recruits BSN candidates... Read More

  1. by   begalli
    Quote from CharmCityRN
    In a lot of cases its not that RNs prefer not to do basic/total patient care/ADLs, its just that we have so many other responsibilities that we don't have the time to do it.
    I totally understand what you are saying.

    Maybe it's just that in my experience the RN's do every bit of patient care in the ICU. I like it that way. I usually know things like - my patient has a small light brown round mole with smooth even edges on the left side of their right mid scapula. :chuckle Maybe that's just the anal cc nurse in me.

    The NA's are there to help us with things that take two or more people to do. I can't imagine sending in the aide to clean up a bm or bathe a patient without me being there.
    Last edit by begalli on Apr 1, '05
  2. by   Stitchie
    You know, Tony, I was in your position not that long ago -- I worked as a float NA in ICU at a very busy level-1 trauma center. Some nurses were nice, some were so lazy you'd wonder if they had a pulse.

    It occurred to me that the lazy ones were the ones complaining the most about how 'badly' trained the new nurses are, while the nurses who were most interested in mentoring new nurses couldn't praise them enough. You have to consider the source.

    These nurses who would be rude to me and generally hateful in many ways ended up getting their dues. One got fired after a patient in the ICU said that seeing her (again; the patient was a bounce-back to the ICU) was the most terrifying thing she could imagine. I also watched this witch drop a O2 tank on a respiratory therapists foot, causing her real pain, then having a good laugh at her expense. The RT and I reported this to the nurse manager, who just said, "Oh, B. again" and did NOTHING to reprimand her. This nurse would call me lazy, stupid, fat, sigh when I came up to the unit, yell at me across the RN station in front of other staff, including doctors, and all the while the NM is watching this and not saying a word. And this hospital is applying for Magnet status! Good luck to them!

    I wish I had stood up for myself when I was working as the only tech for 13-14 ICU patients and lots of the nurses were flirting with the resident docs. I know they were wasting time because they certainly weren't computer charting or reading heart strips, and it's hard to nurse when you're not in the room with the actual patient.

    I don't think bullying should ever be tolerated by anyone. It tends to escalate and as an RN, now, I see how much crap goes on that is totally unnecessary. Just try to keep in mind that the crap rolls downhill and it won't last forever.

    It happens in every unit, in every hospital. I would suggest that you deal with the situation one-on-one if possible, but this nurse sounds pretty scary to me. I would also document all the times she's been a pain in the butt, what she said to you, when, and who was around to witness it. The go to the NM or DON if direct confrontation with her doesn't work. Show her your notes (I'd make a copy and give them to her) and tell her to knock it off or you'll be bringing it up the food chain.

    As nurses we all have to work together and get the job done. It's one thing to assist, it's completely another to be feel so uncomfortable at work that you can't do your job effectively. Remind the NM that this is a lawsuit waiting to happen (hostile work environment) and I'll bet you see changes, although it may take some time.

    Best of luck to you!
  3. by   BETSRN
    Quote from Tony35NYC
    I got into it with two nurses at work today and I'm wondering if I was wrong to handle the situation the way I did. I'm not an RN, but I work as an intern at a hospital that recruits BSN candidates who are very near to graduation, the objective being that you will continue to work for them as an RN after you pass state boards. Being an intern is almost like being an LPN (except that we don't have a license and didn't want to be bothered with the NCLEX PN since we're already prepping for the NCLEX RN). So, we get paid less than an LPN even though we do pretty much the same things they do (under the direct supervision of an RN, of course).

    The situation is that the hospital is very short of nurses aides, and at the last unit staff meeting we were told that we have to work as a team to do total patient care on everybody until they fill all the vacant positions. I personally don't see anything wrong with that because, at least in my humble opinion, nursing is all about total patient care anyway. But there are a few nurses who think they are better than to help a patient with hygiene or toileting, or even eating. They want the aides to do EVERYTHING, and if there is no aide available some of these nurses are quite comfortable to let the patient wait for a very long time laying in feces, or vomit, or until the patient's food gets cold and nasty, until an aide becomes available to do it. I'm not talking about nurses who are genuinely busy with work, just a few lazy nurses period. Don't get me wrong, the majority of the RNs I work with are really awesome people who I believe to be among the best nurses out there, but as you know there are always a few bad ones trying to ruin things.

    Things started out real busy today but the docs came thru and gave orders for many of their patients to be moved out of intensive care to tele/step-down and med surg. By early afternoon about 2/3 of the patients were gone and we were sitting there twiddling our thumbs for hours because we hardly had any patients. The charge nurse didn't want to float any of the RNs out because a number of post-ops would be soon coming up from PACU and the ER was getting ready to send people up to us as well. I commented to one of the nurses aides that it had been a really slow day (I'm not exaggerating when I said that for a few hours most of us were sitting around with absolutely nothing to do). But before the words were even out of my mouth, one of the nurses said to me that things seem slow to us because we're only aides, and all we do is basic patient care, that we have no idea what "real nursing" is all about because of all the charting and follow-ups, and reports, etc that RNs have to do. Then she proceed to tell me that I have no idea what patient care is until I finish with school and become a "real nurse". I took offense to that because I do far more patient care on all her patients than she ever does.

    But she didn't stop there. She began talking to another nurse about how going to nursing school nowadays means nothing because of all these incompetent new nurses she's seen. Each time she opened her mouth her comments got more and more personal, until it became obvious that she was talking about me. This woman is criticizing my education even though neither herself nor her friend ever went to college! This is BS on so many levels. First of all, since when is basic patient care NOT a part of "real nursing"? And why do some RNs have to be so condescending towards nursing assistants who are helping them to take care of their patients? Wiping butts, giving baths, and feeding a patient may not be the most glamorous things about nursing, but they are just as important to the patient as taking orders from a physician or passing meds. I went off on her BIG TIME. I'm normally not the type of person who likes to make a scene anywhere but somebody was eventually going to have to assist this woman with an attitude adjustment, and since she came swinging at me, I figured that the honor was mine.
    It is very difficult to deal with nurses like that and unfortunately, you will deal with them throughout your entire career. All you can do is vow NOT to be like that.
    If it were me, I would pull her aside quietly and tell her just how you feel. be very professional: something she obviously is not. She certainly does need that attitude adjustment. It probably will not make a difference to her, but you will feel better and you will have done the right thing.
  4. by   Tweety
    Tony, from your posts I can tell you're an understanding, intelligent and compassionate nurse to be. I'm glad to hear that it wasn't a dramatic loosing of your temper and "going off" on someone. I think it was very appropriate for you to assert yourself, your education, and your feelings about nursing to this person who obviously has an inferiority complex masked as a superiority conflict. A profressional response does not mean being someone's whipping post for their negativity. Of course, we must choose our battles wisely and sometimes walking away and rising above it all is the thing to do. Or sometimes just taking a deep breath before going off. But I feel this is a situation where you did the right thing in standing up for yourself.

    I'm also glad you're taking heed of some of the good advice here.

    Good post llg as always.

    I agree with you, RN work does not just entail charting, assessments, etc. Sometimes we have to get our gloves dirty.
    Last edit by Tweety on Apr 1, '05
  5. by   llg
    Quote from Tony35NYC
    llg, I appreciate your input, and I understand what you are saying about professionalism in the workplace, but this situation was not as dramatic as you might have thought.
    I'm glad to hear that. I had visions of you "blowing up" and of there being this big, dramatic scene. I couldn't discern a lot of details from your post.

    I, too, believe that you sometimes have to stand up to bullies. However, it is important to choose the right time, place, and method of defending yourself. The nursing station is rarely the right place -- but might be ocassionally.

    It's not always enought to be "right." To be "successful," you need to learn how to handle the politics and interpersonal relationships so that you achieve the desired result. By your questioning and your apparent response to the messages that others have posted, it sounds like you are well on your way to developing those necessary skills. Your original post has stimulated good responses from people and I hope that we are all reading them thoughtfully and thinking seriously about the issues they raise. I've seen lots of people have career problems because of their inability to handle the interpersonal relationships of the workplace. Situations like the one in which you found yourself are quite complex and can require careful handling.

    Good luck,
    llg
  6. by   redshiloh
    I am so glad that you did stand up for themselves. Very often I am belittled, screamed at, made fun of by colleagues and not standing up for myself.
    I am trying to change that though...the last LVN who screamed at me I wrote up for insubordination.
    So very many people in nursing are so rude and hateful, but are excused with 'well that's the way they are'
    I can't except that excuse..there is NO excuse for rudeness.
  7. by   Dinith88
    I agree w/tweety. Most nurses/people who act like this and make these cement-headed comments have serious inferiority issues.

    However.... cleaning puke, poop, phlegm, snot, blood, bile, etc. is (i'm making this number up) ~85% of what aids/techs do...(and it's vitally important!)...and is how most <good> nurses 'make their bones' before entering the ranks.

    To nUrses, (on the other hand) this 'aspect' of patient care usually represents a much smaller (2%?--again making this up) part of their expected 'job' (varies depending on where you work, etc,).

    A personal pet peeve of mine (i'm sure shared by many others...most of whom are embarrassed to say it) is when we're accused of laziness, no comapssion, poor nurse, whatever...because we're sometimes forced to leave this aspect of care to the aids/techs, etc. (whose primary function IS hygeine related)

    many times the aid thinks 'i hate cleaning this slop...while she's away on her arse somewhere...' which may in many circumstances lead to resentment and the FALSE impression that the nurses are purposely avoiding the ugly side of patient care. An understandable reaction...and lots of times wrong.

    She was dumb for saying what she did...and your reaction a little misguided because you DONT (yet) have a true appreciation for what nurses 'jobs' entail...but you will in time. And a few years down the road you may very well find yourself face-to-face with an aid with an agenda and a chip on her shoulder
  8. by   Tweety
    Quote from Dinith88
    I agree w/tweety. Most nurses/people who act like this and make these cement-headed comments have serious inferiority issues.

    However.... cleaning puke, poop, phlegm, snot, blood, bile, etc. is (i'm making this number up) ~85% of what aids/techs do...(and it's vitally important!)...and is how most <good> nurses 'make their bones' before entering the ranks.

    To nUrses, (on the other hand) this 'aspect' of patient care usually represents a much smaller (2%?--again making this up) part of their expected 'job' (varies depending on where you work, etc,).

    A personal pet peeve of mine (i'm sure shared by many others...most of whom are embarrassed to say it) is when we're accused of laziness, no comapssion, poor nurse, whatever...because we're sometimes forced to leave this aspect of care to the aids/techs, etc. (whose primary function IS hygeine related)

    many times the aid thinks 'i hate cleaning this slop...while she's away on her arse somewhere...' which may in many circumstances lead to resentment and the FALSE impression that the nurses are purposely avoiding the ugly side of patient care. An understandable reaction...and lots of times wrong.

    She was dumb for saying what she did...and your reaction a little misguided because you DONT (yet) have a true appreciation for what nurses 'jobs' entail...but you will in time. And a few years down the road you may very well find yourself face-to-face with an aid with an agenda and a chip on her shoulder
    Good post.

    I think Tony has a good grasp of what CNA's and RNs do.

    But I would like to echo loud and clear your frustration with some people's lack of understanding of what we do. It is frustrating to be looking up labs and charting and have a CNA mouth off "why don't you do it yourself, you're not doing anything". Don't get me started.
  9. by   llg
    The same thing happens at all levels. Staff RN's complain that the "office people" don't do anything and are just lazy, uncaring, etc. when they don't help them with patient care as much as the staff would like. Such RN's don't realize how hard and time-consuming some of those office-type jobs actually are. I always smile when staff RN's are promoted into leadership -- and in a few months say things like, "I never knew all this went on!"

    People just seem to think that they know other people's jobs even though they have never done them ... and they assume the worst when someone doesn't help them as much as they would like.

    llg
  10. by   Jayla
    First of all, sorry this happened to you. Sounds like a miserable experience.

    I can offer my perspective from both sides. I worked as a CNA for 2 years while completing my prereqs for nursing school. It was physically hard, and emotionally draining. I often felt extremely under-appreciated and degraded. Some nurses really went out of their way to show thanks, and some just dumped, dumped, dumped with no gratitude. This experience taught me the importance of always thanking my CNA when I became an RN.

    However, there were CNAs I worked with who were lazy. When I became an RN, I realized how big a difference it made when you had a good CNA working with you--as opposed to a lazy CNA or NO CNA. And, you have to admit, some CNAs (or nursing student, techs, whatever) aren't worth their weight in scrubs!

    All I can say is: Maybe this nurse has just had some really bad experiences with the nursing assistants on your unit.

    On the other hand, as a new grad (about 1 year ago) I worked for several months on a med-surg floor. Several of the nurses who I worked with were just down-right mean. They had been on this unit for years and years and felt they could get away with whatever behavior they wanted--and they did! Some would take any opportunity to point out what one of us new grads did wrong, or roll their eyes and sigh during report, or gossip about us. Instead of using a mistake as a LEARNING EXPERIENCE, it was thrown in our face or used to stab us in the back. It was awful!

    My speculation is that there was some jealousy--I graduated from a very prestigous BSN program. As much as people will deny it, jealousy does exist in nursing. Some of these nurses were just all-around miserable, toxic people. They just exuded negativity, and although it was hard not to take it personal, I don't think it really was.

    Anyway, as a CNA I floated throughout the whole hospital (different hospital and state), and I can attest to the fact that some units, and even entire hospitals, are more dysfunctional than others. I decided that I was on a really dysfunctional unit as a new grad, and found a place that is 100% more supportive.

    If this unit is not one that encompasses a sense of "teamwork," find one that does. They do exist. Anyway--I feel for you! Try not to let your emotions get the best of you at work. It's truly not worth the stress and will only make things more difficult.
  11. by   mariedoreen
    Hmm. So let's fast forward a few months and assume that the OP has passed his NCLEX and has two new little letters behind his name. And let's assume he then posts a vent describing this situation in which he was treated in a rude, unprofessional, condescending way. I can't help but wonder if the replies he is now receiving might not be a little bit different. Would RNs still be jumping on him for handling the situation poorly? Would they still be implying that he should have stayed in his place, kept his mouth shut, and gone off and done some light housekeeping instead?

    I don't know OP, I'm thinking if you want to vent about how an RN was rude and condescending to you, you might want to do that in the nursing student forum. This is kind of like going to a foreign country, walking up to a group of locals and telling them how rude their countrymen are. You really think they're going to agree with you? They're more likely to tear you apart limb by limb and then deny they ever saw anyone matching your description in their village that day.
  12. by   llg
    Quote from mariedoreen
    Hmm. So let's fast forward a few months and assume that the OP has passed his NCLEX and has two new little letters behind his name. And let's assume he then posts a vent describing this situation in which he was treated in a rude, unprofessional, condescending way. I can't help but wonder if the replies he is now receiving might not be a little bit different. .
    My comments would have been the same. I would have expressed the same concern and asked him similar questions.

    llg
  13. by   live4today
    Hi Tony

    When I was a student nurse working as a nurse assistant, I remember one particular RN who was rude, condescending, and without professionalism. I did not like floating to the unit she worked on. One day I ended up talking to the evening shift supervisor about her because I had enough of her bad manners projected at the nurse assistants. So, I agee with you that some RNs think they are the cream of the crop in all the wrong ways.

    Once I became an RN, I have always made it a point of embracing student nurses, appreciating the nurse assistants, and treating them with respect. If I had a problem with a nurse assistant's attitude, I would let her know that I wanted to talk with her in private. If that didn't change her attitude for the better, I would let her know that I was going to involve the nurse manager.

    Regardless of the position held on the unit, sometimes personality conflicts will arise, and the best way to handle them is to first try talking them out in private with the person you have the problem with before involving others in the situation.

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