I am a new grad nurse, having worked for a couple of months, and only a short while on my own in a busy medical/surgical unit. I am a gentle soul, soft-spoken, and have manners ingrained in me from childhood. I strive to be respectful and professional, particularly at work.
As a nurse, I am not surprised to be the "whipping boy." From HUCs sniping at me when I ask to a question, to PCAs rolling their eyes at me when asked to do something, to other nurses being blatantly rude to me if I have a question, to doctors chewing me out on the phone ... I knew this was coming and I know it is something that I need to get used to.
My unit is not bad compared to what I have read here. But when working with people, each day, I know that some negative encounters are bound to happen. However I am very sensitive and it effects me. Mostly takes me aback and makes me upset. With the stress of the job, today I was almost in tears after a particularly rough afternoon. I do not want to be a blubbering mess at work. I can't seem to stand up for myself. What can I do to be more assertive in these kinds of situations?
Some scenarios --
Ask HUC a question, didn't realize she was on the phone, HUC snaps at me and basically tells me to shut up.
PCA tells me she is leaving a patient's tab alarm off because she feels he doesn't need it. I tell her I think it is still necessary and to put it back on, and she walks away rolling her eyes at me and avoids me the rest of the day.
Patient's daughter is a zooligist and is ranting on the phone at me because she thinks the patient needs X, Y, and Z treatment.
Doctor yells at me because I called and asked for an order that was already placed. (my fault, it was during a rapid response)
Oct 3, '12
by Davey Do, ASN, RN
I empathize with Your Plight, sagremus. Quiet, Even-Keeled People are often seen by Bullies to be Fodder for Fanforonade, and you've recieved Some Good Advice and Perspectives from the Other Posters.
I have no trouble being Assertive and Calmly and Objectively Confronting anyone on their Inappropriate Behavior. However, My Lady Belinda tends to be more like yourself, sagremus. She worked with a Doctors Group for 17 years before going into Med/Surg Floor Nursing. She flowed with her Previous Place of Employment but was being somewhat Bullied by Some of the Staff in the Hospital Unit.
I worked with her for Quite a While before she could be Assertive, yet be Herself, when Confronting Inappropriate Behavior from Supervisors, Peers, and Co-Workers.
Belinda and I would discuss a Particular Scenerio, examine the OP's Behavior, Her Thoughts and Feelings on the Matter, and Brainstorm Ideas for Different approaches.
In One Instance, when Belinda knew she was going to be Called on the Carpet by her Supervisor for an Incident she was present for on her Unit. We practised some Role Playing, with me Playing the Part of Her Supervisor. Being somewhat familar with Belinda's Supervisor's Behavior, I approached Belinda in a Similar Manner that I believe Her Supervisor would. Belinda and I worked on Her Answers.
For example, I encouraged Belinda not to start a Statement with "I feel as though..." since Feelings are based on Emotions and Beliefs are based on Facts. If something is A Fact, a Belief, then state Your Belief as though it were A Fact. So, instead of saying something like, "I feel as though the Nurse did what she could in this Situation", Belinda rephrased her statement to say something like, "The Nurse acted according to Policy and Procedure in dealing with this Situation".
Belinda and I worked on Different Questions and Possible Retorts in Our Role Playing Session, almost like a Lawyer and a Client. By the time Belinda had her meeting with her Supervisor, her Anxiety had decreased, she felt more Self-Assurred, and went through the Interrogation Process well.
Some of Us are Naturals when it comes to Difficult Interactions. Most of Us are Uncomfortable with any Sort of Conflict. Until I learned a Few Techniques and actually put Those Techniques into Practise, I, too, was uncomfortable with Difficult Interactions. Now, after dealing with Aberrant Behaviors for the Majority of My Life and Creer, I feel much more comfortable. It took Practise, Trial and Error, Studying People and Their Behaviors, and finally, knowing that I was Correct in My Judgement before I could OBJECTIVELY approach an Individual and Confront Them on Their Inappropriate Behavior.
Now, I don't Go Looking for a Fight and I Prioritize where I will Expend My Energies. Some Circumstances ARE best Left Alone. However, if Another's Behavior can Tick Off a Saint, then That Behavior needs to be deal with. And the Culprit needs to HAVE to deal with The Natural Ramifications of Their Actions.
The Very Best to You, sagremus. Good Luck in Growing a Thick Skin without loosing any of Your Sensitivities. We need People like you as a Point of Reference for the Rest of Us.
Last edit by Davey Do on Oct 3, '12
Oct 4, '12
by Wild Irish LPN
What a timely posting OP....I feel you, I really do....I too am that same gentle soul, well mannered and respectful of my fellow nurses....well everyone I come in contact with to be honest...when I started my first nursing gig out of school I found my self nursing in Corrections, and people thought I had lost my mind for making this choice...it was no secret that my new peers thought I would be chewed up and spit out by the inmates, and by them....I was told my "politeness and manners" will only set me up for manipulation by these inmates, and that my days will be few if I didn't "toughen up"....but something interesting happened along the way, I was treated with nothing but the same kindness and respect that I gave out, to the inmates as well as my fellow nurses....point is, I didn't change a damn thing, I stayed true to myself and my own convictions....and so should you....you are a rarity in my eyes, and nursing needs more of you....I am willing to bet that you're positive mojo will end up winning the day, maybe not today, but down the line....people cannot help but respect others that follow these principals, they may not show it, and in fact they may strike out against it....but that is only because they admire it, and they do not practice it themselves....stay strong, stay who you are....because honestly, you sound pretty damn good to me....
Btw, at my jail where I work I have been assigned to the "Max" floor, and this was done because of my effect on some of the worst of the worst offenders....yes, they are criminals but my role as a nurse is to care for these people...not to pass my own judgement upon them, that has already been done by the justice system....so I treat these people with the same amount of respect and dignity that I expect from others, and I get it back in buckets....being that I am the only male nurse on staff I think that these inmates are shocked that this is coming from a man, but they appreciate it and it makes my job much easier....
Stay strong and never let them tell you that you
need to toughen up....you already are....Peace....
Last edit by Wild Irish LPN on Oct 4, '12
: Reason: spelling...lol