Terms of endearment

  1. After a quick scan of the various topics, I didn't see anything pertinent to this, so I'll throw it out:
    I was recently hospitalized for 11 days at the local county hospital. During the time I was there, a good 80% of the RNs, CNAs, phlebotomists, and housekeepers called me "honey" or "dearie" or "sweetheart". I was a "good girl" for holding still while a PICC was inserted.
    I didn't know any of these people from a hole in the ground, yet they felt perfectly comfortable and within their rights to speak in such a condiscending manner. Is this so I'll know who's boss? That I'll be made to realize how dependent upon them I really was
    When working, I make a special point of NOT talking down to any of my patients, regardless. I treat people the way I wish to be treated. Is this so difficult to grasp?
    I've been told that I make way too much of a stink about this, that the use of such endearments is meant to convey a caring approach, blah blah. It's still irritating
    Does anybody else feel this way?:angryfire
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  2. 37 Comments

  3. by   WashYaHands
    Mamabear, I'm in total agreement with you. I wrote a paper on this very topic in my undergrad program. The research that I read overall indicated that many patients found it to be disrespectful. You're not the only one.

    Linda
  4. by   NurseDianne
    I suppose it depends on the patient. Some patients respond to soft talk, endearments, and the like. Others want a totally professional attitude. I don't feel it's wrong in the right situation. Older people, young children, and OB patients who are crying for their mom needs the extra "loving" in your voice.
  5. by   KeniRN
    I agree with NurseDianne. I work with peds and when comforting a 5 year old I think its appropriate to call them by "endearing terms" and offer them praise such as, "you're such a big boy!" But I would not use those terms such as "sweetie" and "dear heart" when addressing an adult. Its not appropriate. It is demeaning. I think its ok to use them when its "developmentally" appropriate.
  6. by   P_RN
    I wonder if this is a regional thing? Here in the south I have heard and been addressed this way and it gave me NO offense. That's in addition to the Miz Susie and Mr. Al etc. Where are y'all from?

    I had a teacher from Kansas once who would reprimand you if you said Yes, Maam. My Daddy would have spanked me if I DIDN'T say yes maam.
  7. by   adrienurse
    I am guilty as charged.

    I have my own theories, though. I don't work with a cognatively intact population. I don't think I would do it if I did. I find it seems to put my patients at ease when I use those terms of endearment. I think they think "okay, I don't know who she is, but she sounds like she knows me and likes me, so I'll trust her".

    If people can only relate to the nurse if I act like their mother, I'll do that -- If it elicits a positive response. If the men respond better if I talk to them as if i am their wife, I'll go with whatever works.
  8. by   BadBird
    I always address the elderly as Mr. or Mrs. some say no call me Jack or whatever name they have, others have nicknames that they like to be called. I always respect their choice, one elderly lady wanted all nurses to call her grandma, what ever name is a source of comfort is what I go with, I just let the patient tell me. If it is a young patient by young I mean 20's I just call them by their first name. I have never had a problem. I do think that calling patients Honey is a regional thing, especially in the south it is not meant to be demeaning it is just cultural there. I worked with a southern travel nurse and she called everyone honey and it did piss off one lady, the nurse just couldn't understand why the patient was upset.
  9. by   Brownms46
    I do think it's a regional thing, since I have worked on the east coast, the southeast, southwest, and the northwest. I don't care what anyone calls me...as long as they call me...:chuckle. I'm sorry but "I" don't feel it's all that serious of a problem. I'd rather have someone call me "sweety"...or "honey"...and just take good care of me...period..
    Last edit by Brownms46 on Sep 2, '02
  10. by   Love-A-Nurse
    i call patients either, mr.... or ms....be it sir name or given name. there are those who do not like adding a "handle" to their name. i don't personally like to be called, baby, sweetie, dear etc, , so i tried hard not to call others by these names.
  11. by   live4today
    Being called terms of endearment never wrinkles my feathers (doesn't bother me...in other words). I even have people younger than me call me "terms of endearment"...male and female...and I don't pay it any never mind. I know they do not mean any harm by using those words, so why get my panties all in a knot over what is perfectly normal for where they grew up hearing those terms being used very comfortably.

    In nursing school, we were taught NOT to refer to patients by anything other than Mr., Mrs., Ms., or Miss.....regardless of the adult patient's age. This rule of thumb does not always apply to infants and young children, but when I worked pedi, I would always address each child by the name their parents gave them, especially if they were older than age 10...as some of them object to being called anything other than their first name, or a family nickname. And....kids WILL let you know if they don't want to be called a certain name or "term of endearment", too. :chuckle Honest little rugrats they are! :chuckle

    If any adult patients I cared for asked me to call them by their first name, or a nickname, then I would oblige them by doing so.
    It's not only respectful to do so, but courteous as well.

    The only time I will correct a male who calls me "girl, sweetie, and such" is when I know his intentions are NOT honorable towards me. Otherwise, I am not bothered by those terms.
  12. by   misti_z
    Originally posted by Brownms46
    I'd rather have someone call me "sweety"...or "honey"...and just take good care of me...period..
    I totally agree with that.

    I use Mr and Mrs/Ms most all of the time, and feel that it is most appropriate. I am uncomfortable using such endearing terms since 99.9% of my pts are older than me. When I do use terms such as sweetie I find that it is with unresponsive pts--the DNR type--even then I try to avoid it........especially with family at bedside.
  13. by   JailRN
    When I was in nursing school, I was REAMED by my DI instructor for calling a pt. "Dear"

    I never did it again.

    I think the inmates would prefer it.
  14. by   whipping girl in 07
    I guess it depends on the patient. I'm 28, but I look about 23, so a lot of the older patients (especially ladies) call ME "terms of endearment" like darlin', sweetie, chere (Cajun French for "dear"). If the patient is under 50 or so, I call them by their first name, over 50, Mr. or Mrs. So-n-so, confused Ms. or Mr. First Name. Around here the kids call their friend's parents Ms. or Mr. First Name (I'm Ms. Konni to my son's friends) so I figure it's ok for me to call Mrs. Boudreaux Ms. Thelma, especially if she's confused and thinks she's at her sister's house, not in the hospital!
    :roll

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