The Respect You Get

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    As a new grad or new colleague, the respect we get is in our own hands. We show others by our actions whether or not we are worthy of respect. Some of us earn respect while others lose it.

    The Respect You Get

    It's that time of year again. New nurses have started their first jobs and are experiencing the culture shock as they transition from student to nurse. Many of them complain that they are not getting the respect they deserve from their new colleagues. (Many of them complain about the respect they're not GETTING while being disrespectful of those same new colleagues, but that is the subject for another post.)

    When a new grad starts in our unit, most of us our looking forward to the time when they're off orientation, a full member of the team and can help relieve some of the staffing crunch. When we meet a new grad, the default is respect. Here's someone that graduated from an accredited school of nursing -- and we all know what hard work that is -- and passed the licensing exam. They've been through the interview process and impressed our management team enough to offer them a job, and they've chosen to work with us. What is not to respect?

    Almost without exception, the new grad who is not respected is one who has proven she doesn't deserve our respect. What do I mean, you ask?

    Timothy was an orientee who was passed to me because he just couldn't get along with his preceptor. He had a very high opinion of himself, and had an extremely high confidence level. Such confidence in himself was really not justified. He had already failed the rhythm test and the vasoactive drip test and because I have a reputation as a good teacher, I was asked to step in. Timothy didn't pass the exams because he wouldn't study. "I'm through with school," he said. "I don't have to do that anymore." Instead, he expected me to spoon feed him the answers to the test questions so he could pass on his third try, and he wanted me to do that during the course of our busy shift caring for patients. He had no interest in UNDERSTANDING the rhythms or the vasoactive drips. He just wanted to pass the tests so he could "rock the ICU" with his awesomeness. He was fired four months in to a six month orientation because after four months caring for CTICU patients, most of whom had Swans, he could not identify that yellow thing coming out of her neck nor describe what is was used for. Timothy lost the respect of his first preceptor on the first day on the unit, when he told her she looked old and ought to retire. He lost my respect when he told me he wasn't going to study, and he lost the respect of the CNAs when he described them as "beneath him."

    Inez started with the default level of respect. English was her second (or seventh) language, and she had some communication difficulties. Her charting was sometimes unintentionally hilarious. Our respect for her started ratcheting upward when she admitted that she was having difficulty with charting, asked for help with specific issues and began running her charting past her preceptors before putting it into the EMR. Very quickly we could see that she had a good grasp of the disease processes, the surgery involved, the drugs we used and the lab results. She learned from each mistake and never made the same one twice. Long before she finished orientation, even seasoned nurses were impressed with Inez's work and her attention to detail. When we discovered a charting blooper (the only kind of mistake she ever made), she'd laugh with us and then we'd correct the mistake together. Inez earned respect. Timothy threw it away.

    The new grad who makes an error, admits it, and then sets about to correct it or mitigate the consequences to our patient earns our respect. The new grad who won't admit to a mistake, blames others for the mistake, justifies it or covers it up loses our respect. The new grad who doesn't understand something but who works hard to figure it out earns our respect. The one who won't ask the question loses it. The new grad who cheerfully greets housekeeping each morning and knows the names of the CNA's children earns our respect. The one who doesn't want to. Wipe blood off the floor or say hello to the housekeeper or CNA because "I'm the nurse and they're below me" loses it.

    Some new nurses worked their way through school; others have never held a job. In most cases, they've never worked a REAL job before, and there may be things about the workplace and workplace relationships that they don't understand. We get that. But someone who is rude to other disciplines most likely will not be respected as much as they think they deserve. In most cases, when newbies aren't liked or aren't respected, it's not because of bullies in the workplace; it's because they have failed to understand and practice the basics of work place relationships. Many of us COBs have been in that position ourselves. AN is a wonderful place where you can bring that sort of problem to the forum and get real answers and good advice -- you just have to be willing to "hear it."
    Last edit by traumaRUs on Aug 21, '16
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    About Ruby Vee, BSN, RN

    Ruby Vee has '40' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'ICU/CCU'. From 'Snowbird, migrating on the ICW'; Joined Jun '02; Posts: 12,820; Likes: 52,947.

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    26 Comments

  3. by   TheCommuter
    Quote from Ruby Vee
    AN is a wonderful place where you can bring that sort of problem to the forum and get real answers and good advice -- you just have to be willing to "hear it."
    I concur...there's been a trend of a few newer members who seek only those replies that confirm their personal views on how the situation is unfolding. Replies that do not validate a specific course of action are dismissed. Replies that offer alternate viewpoints are marginalized.

    I believe that respect is analogous to a checking account that automatically starts with currency. I will respect a person whom I do not know well out of basic human decency because it is the right thing to do. However, his/her future actions and words determine whether the respect increases (read: deposit some earned respect into the checking account) or dwindles (read: withdraw my respect altogether).
  4. by   itsybitsy
    I agree. There should always be a level of respect at the beginning of any new encounter and that level will fluctuate as the relationship grows. But I do have to say, even with a low amount of respect for a person who has earned it, I think there should always, no matter what, be a certain level of professionalism.

    I know a couple of people have lost my respect, but if they ask me a question, I will answer to the best of my ability. If I have those types of encounters, I will be professional as best I can and go on with my day. But if they think my doing so erases my memory of their previous actions they are sorely mistaken. They need to earn my respect back two fold in future actions. I think its comical when that happens and next thing you know, they are trying to joke and have small talk with you as if nothing happened... Haha... NO!

    Not disagreeing with anything you said, just adding on on what I believe.
  5. by   Oxygenforeverybody
    Awesome post!
  6. by   Irish_Mist
    I graduate in December with my BSN. Pretty soon, I will be the new grad. Thank you for your post. It gives great perspective on being humble, willing to learn, and EARNING respect from your colleagues.
  7. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from TheCommuter
    I concur...there's been a trend of a few newer members who seek only those replies that confirm their personal views on how the situation is unfolding. Replies that do not validate a specific course of action are dismissed. Replies that offer alternate viewpoints are marginalized.

    I believe that respect is analogous to a checking account that automatically starts with currency. I will respect a person whom I do not know well out of basic human decency because it is the right thing to do. However, his/her future actions and words determine whether the respect increases (read: deposit some earned respect into the checking account) or dwindles (read: withdraw my respect altogether).
    I like the checking account analogy.

    And yes, I'm getting frustrated with newer members asking for advice or insight and then rejecting out of hand any replies that aren't what they were looking for. If you've tried it your way and things aren't working for you, perhaps listening to someone else's advice would help.

    And for pity's sake, at least be polite to the crusty old bat who figured out how to use this new fangled internet thing and took the time to laboriously type out an answer to your question.
  8. by   sevensonnets
    That's it Ruby, the problem is they don't listen to the COBs because they come in ready to rock us with their awesomeness and expect us to bow at their feet. WE aren't the ones who need to learn to get along with people! That seems to be the major issue with many posters on AN these days and it gets tiresome. Concentrate on what you need to learn instead of setting yourself up as the ICU god and LEARN from us. We already know what that yellow thing sticking out of the patient's neck is and we will share that info with you but don't pretend that you already know. By the way Ruby, I'm impressed that you were finally able to figure out the internet thing!
  9. by   Orphan RN
    Nice article Ruby Vee! Concise, accurate, and spot on.

    Unfortunately some people offend without realizing they are offensive because they are the center of the universe and all bodies are in gravitational pull with their own wonderfulness, while others are cognizant about respect for others and themselves. Still others sometimes offend without intending to - to my horror at times I seem to have a particular gift for it. But being conscientious of others is a prime factor in a happy, cohesive group in any work place. No man (or woman) is an island.
  10. by   RadiantLynneBSN
    Is this made up? Seriously.
  11. by   TheCommuter
    Quote from RadiantLynneBSN
    Is this made up? Seriously.
    Nothing about the original post seems disingenuous or made-up to me. I think it has the ring of authenticity. What is prompting you to question whether it was made up?
  12. by   RadiantLynneBSN
    Thanks for responding and I appreciate the feedback. I guess I found it hard to believe that scenario #1 with Timothy was actually real. As a newly licensed RN,BSN I found it very difficult to relate to someone actually being offered a ICU position and NOT caring to understand vital info needed to keep his pts alive. It seemed as if it was a 'lessen' fictional narrative of what kind of nurse to be...or not. I honestly am still scratching my head.
  13. by   Orphan RN
    Quote from RadiantLynneBSN
    Thanks for responding and I appreciate the feedback. I guess I found it hard to believe that scenario #1 with Timothy was actually real. As a newly licensed RN,BSN I found it very difficult to relate to someone actually being offered a ICU position and NOT caring to understand vital info needed to keep his pts alive. It seemed as if it was a 'lessen' fictional narrative of what kind of nurse to be...or not. I honestly am still scratching my head.
    I believe it, and unfortunately seen even worse. Maybe in 10 years it will seem plausible to you.
  14. by   Rose_Queen
    Quote from RadiantLynneBSN
    Thanks for responding and I appreciate the feedback. I guess I found it hard to believe that scenario #1 with Timothy was actually real. As a newly licensed RN,BSN I found it very difficult to relate to someone actually being offered a ICU position and NOT caring to understand vital info needed to keep his pts alive. It seemed as if it was a 'lessen' fictional narrative of what kind of nurse to be...or not. I honestly am still scratching my head.
    As a newly licensed RN, you don't have much work experience to judge the scenario. Unfortunately, it can be true (I'm guessing names were changed to protect the guilty) and I've seen it plenty of times.

    It's not so much the new nurse not wanting to learn; it's that they think they already know it. And that is just downright dangerous. I have more than a decade of experience, work in a very specific specialty, and I still learn new things on a regular basis.

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