Offended by pt- how to react?

  1. this happened to me friday at work, and i still cannot figure out a way i could've reacted differently to this. i've never had anything like this happen at work, so i was stumped as to how to chide this guy and be professional in every sense of the word. here goes:

    i work fri-sun 7p-7a on a sub-acute unit. one of my patients was sitting in the common area speaking to another patient (they are both white males), when i took his pm medication to him. he then tells the other patient, "i like these black nurses. they do what they're supposed to do like good girls. they're so caring and loving; unlike those white ones." the other patient then agreed to this, stating, "yeah, some of the best nurses my son has are black" and mind you his son is one of the doctors we use most. i took offense to this, because that's a freaking generalization and i felt it basically relegated black nurses to a "mamie role"; but i was willing to let it slide. until my patient stuck his feet in his mouth and stated, "you see, what it is with these black women is that they have such sorry black men that when they see us white men, they just want to love all over us." this made me :angryfire (flaming hot mad); but i just laughed and told him, "i don't think that's what it is". i had the same patient assignment all weekend, but i had to mentally distance myself from this guy. whenever i had to do something patient care wise with/for him, i took someone else with me and i basically spaced out mentally; not the best patient care, i know. i wanted to address this with my nm and ask how to best handle situations like this, but i feel it's best if i just let it go. what do you guys think; i.e. what should i have done to let him know he was being offensive (and remain professional), and should i speak with my nm regarding this?

    thanks.
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  2. 54 Comments

  3. by   nursemike
    Quote from ldjrn
    this happened to me friday at work, and i still cannot figure out a way i could've reacted differently to this. i've never had anything like this happen at work, so i was stumped as to how to chide this guy and be professional in every sense of the word. here goes:

    i work fri-sun 7p-7a on a sub-acute unit. one of my patients was sitting in the common area speaking to another patient (they are both white males), when i took his pm medication to him. he then tells the other patient, "i like these black nurses. they do what they're supposed to do like good girls. they're so caring and loving; unlike those white ones." the other patient then agreed to this, stating, "yeah, some of the best nurses my son has are black" and mind you his son is one of the doctors we use most. i took offense to this, because that's a freaking generalization and i felt it basically relegated black nurses to a "mamie role"; but i was willing to let it slide. until my patient stuck his feet in his mouth and stated, "you see, what it is with these black women is that they have such sorry black men that when they see us white men, they just want to love all over us." this made me :angryfire (flaming hot mad); but i just laughed and told him, "i don't think that's what it is". i had the same patient assignment all weekend, but i had to mentally distance myself from this guy. whenever i had to do something patient care wise with/for him, i took someone else with me and i basically spaced out mentally; not the best patient care, i know. i wanted to address this with my nm and ask how to best handle situations like this, but i feel it's best if i just let it go. what do you guys think; i.e. what should i have done to let him know he was being offensive (and remain professional), and should i speak with my nm regarding this?

    thanks.
    i'm tempted to offer things you could have said, but the truth is, i'm aghast.
    i'm sure i'd have been speechless in your position, too. i suppose something along the lines of: "i do my job well because i'm a professional, and i will continue to do so, no matter how offensive and condescending i find your remarks..."
    as for your nm, i think it depends on the person. i could talk to mine about a problem like that and probably get some decent advice, but i'm sure there are plenty who'd prefer just to smooth it over.

    one thing i'm sure of is that it would not be professional to say, "you know, i would be very offended by remarks like that, but i'm not going to let it bother me because i know you're a crazy old coot and can't help yourself."
    but wouldn't it be loverly if we could?
  4. by   SuesquatchRN
    I'm pretty dumbfounded, myself.

    I think that you handled it the only way you could have. I mean, someone that ignorant - not just to think it, but to say it and believe you'd be complimented - is beyond education or redemption, so laughing it off and bringing someone with you - can't have you tempted to be lovin' all over him, now - was the best possible reaction.
  5. by   gitterbug
    ignorance comes in all sizes, races, sexes, and environments. I am sorry this person made such a stupid and hurtful remark.
  6. by   gr8rnpjt
    I am inclined to think that this is a very random comment (I may be wrong) and I wouldn't think that it would ever happen to you again, but I do think you handled it appropriately. I would have done the same thing. The guy was a nut.
  7. by   nurseRabbit
    I think you handled yourself very well-all things considered. I have had sexual remarks made toward me in the past, so I can understand your anger. There will always be racist and sexist pigs out there. Just remain professional when dealing with them. Hold your head high. Be proud that you are strong enough to know ignorance when it speaks. I was thinking you could get some pamphlets on racism and hand them some teaching material. That's using your nursing skills!
  8. by   banditrn
    Patients make remarks like this because they believe that nurses - white or black - are a captive audience and must put up with it.

    I found nothing complimentary in his remarks, rather they sounds demeaning and ignorant, and I would be willing to bet he meant it that way, thinking he could get away with it.

    I always liked to joke and keep things light with my patients, but I had a couple over the years that went beyond acceptable - and we straightened things out right then and there - I was a professional, there to take care of their medical problems, that didn't mean I had to listen to any garbage from any of them.
  9. by   Gennaver
    Quote from ldjrn
    this happened to me friday at work, and i still cannot figure out a way i could've reacted differently to this. i've never had anything like this happen at work, so i was stumped as to how to chide this guy and be professional in every sense of the word. here goes:
    hello,
    i do not think there would have been any "way" for you to handle this regarding chiding them for their personal views, distorted as they come across.

    sadly, it sounds like either a wierd attempt to compliment the black african-american nurses or to condescend to them. tough call.

    i am mixed cultured and look totally of european descent. i have only occasionally encountered "weirdness" from patients who treated me as if i were a house servant too. hmm, wait, more than occasionally. doesn't matter if that patient was very posh or trailer trash, i've had both treat me well and poorly.

    then again, it isn't about *me* though. this is my profession and in reality it is the patient's *life*.

    it is a tough call, do we offer a peice of our mind or just brush it off, the goal is, afterall, patient wellness. the time for educataion of our roles may not be when the person is our patient.

    gen
  10. by   luvmy3kids
    I don't have any advice to offer. I just wanted to say how sorry I am you had to deal with this person. What a jerk.
  11. by   Tweety
    I might have said something like "That's not true" or "That's a bit offensive, don't you think? Do you really think so...".

    However, as a gay man I know when to fold them too. There are certain bigots that I don't engage. They aren't worth my precious time, and not worth a brain cell's worth of concern.
  12. by   CIRQL8
    Oh boy!! I'm sorry that you had such an ignorant person to have to deal with. At the time, I;m sure that you probably handled it in the best and most professional way that you could have. It's hard to say the right thing in the passion of the moment.

    Other than what you did say, and the suggestion(s) above, the only other thing that I could think of is to tall the person(s) that you are sorry that they feel that way, because it is a broad generalization and quite biggoted and presumptive. But, there is no way to say that in a way that would not rub THEM the wrong way, possibly leading to a complaint, etc, etc, etc.

    Second though - you did the only thing taht could be done!! Is there any way that you can avoid caring for either of those "gentelmen" in the future? And as far as the physician relative of one of them - do not assume that the physician feels the same way.
  13. by   CIRQL8
    Let me add this, please... And I know that you just cannot compare male vs. female nurse prejudice to race prejudice (I am a white guy), but when I first met my neighbors, and they asked me what I do, and I replied "I'm a nurse," there was literally 30 seconds of silence before one of them (all dudes) said "There's nothing wrong with that!" To which I replied, "No, there's not."

    Mine is more of an amusing thing, while yours is disturbing.
  14. by   Kay Ciel, RN
    Quote from ldjrn
    what should i have done to let him know he was being offensive (and remain professional), and should i speak with my nm regarding this?
    well, obviously, the first thing you should've done was switched out assignments with a white nurse.

    but seriously, you handled that the best way you could have. anyone who would make a beyond crass remark like that would not have benefited from any finger-wagging or witty reply you could've come up with. and seeing a wasted retort would deflate anybody's sails more than the original insult.

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