Why can nurses be so mean?

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    Someone, please give me some insight. I've been an rn for 7 years. I started out on a step-down cardiac unit. I loved heart patients. I did it for 5 years. I hated the beauracracy that went along with hospital nursing and that's why I left. I side tracked into case management for the last 2+ years and have decided that I want to go back to the step-down ccu and do what i've always dreamed of doing which is transition into the ccu/open heart unit.

    my problem is that i'm scared out of my mind! my experience with hospital nursing was not the best. nurses talk about you, say mean things, criticize everything you do or don't do, get angry at report time and I feel like i have to be perfect 100% of the time and nothing less is acceptable. i remember coming home some days and being a complete basket case because of something that happened at work some days. and then there is the good part, having a patient look at you and say, thank you for being here for me, sometimes it makes it all worth it. can you offer any words of advice....i want to go back to acute care, but i'm almost frozen out of fear....
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  4. 0
    I think it has a lot to do with using up all our niceness on patients when we are understaffed and dealing with life or death issues and they ask for "a heated blanket, not a cold one"
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    Try to keep things in perspective. Is it really all the nurses you've ever come into contact with in critical care. Or maybe a few bad apples you're concentrating on. I know I can let one or two bad people or experiences ruin my day.

    If it truly is as bad as you describe, I wouldn't even consider it. Why spend you day in fear and frustration?

    What canoehead said is true.
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    Hospital nurses are some of the most tired, frustrated, powerless-feeling, stressed people in the world, I sometimes think. We all want to do not just a good job, but the best job possible for every patient under our care. The frustration of having to sometimes accept that you can only do so much in a certain amount of time is very draining, and frequently we lash out at each other. Who else are we going to lash out at? Not the patients, not their families, (though we often want to), not our managers and directors--if we want to keep our jobs. Which leaves each other, easy targets. I don't do something the way someone else thinks it should be done and boom-----at best, that person confronts me, but most often, I just get talked about. It happens to all of us.

    In my early years of nursing--all my nursing has been front-line, or direct care of patients--this bothered me a lot, and I may have done a little bit of it myself. Sometime in my 40's a lot of my attitudes changed, in my personal life which also spilled over into my work life. It's more of a live and let live, realizing that I can't control much of what goes on around me. The Serenity Prayer is a true life practice for me now, not just a nice saying on a pillow.

    This has helped me to accept what I perceive to be shortcomings in my co-workers (which are as likely to be strengths as shortcomings, for it is just my perception) and to accept my own shortcomings as well. I can only do what is before me to do, and somehow my attitude has made me more relaxed at work; I enjoy my co-workers more, and it has been a while since I felt like I was the target of someone's anger. I still see people do things that I wish they wouldn't do, but they aren't dangerous practices, just not the way I would do it. And I'm sure they see the same in me. But my unit has a great team spirit, we help each other, we work together well, we care about each others' families and personal situations, and there is a real feeling of caring for each other. We still have spats and complainers but most of us just move on, and try not to give much attention to that.

    I think a lot of this team feeling is because we don't have a manager who cares about the unit, the patients, or us. So we take care of each other, and help each other take care of the patients. I hope you can find this and feel like you can; it starts with you and your own attitude about yourself, and that just sort of spreads out among your co-workers. Good Luck pursuing your dream; it's worth it to do what you really want to do.
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    And I do have to agree with the first two posters before me. I don't think nurses as a rule are any meaner than the general public. Look at what some have had to deal with for 15, 20 or more years and then judge them as a group......

    Like said by someone more clever than I, the "milk of compassion" begins to curdle in the face of chronic short staffing, disrespect from doctors, patients, supervisors and the media, and just plain being exhausted from doling out huge doses of compassion day in and out.

    Now, If someone is picking on you specifically, it is YOUR responsibility to handle it assertively and positively. That would be true in ANY career field, believe me. I saw more aggression and bullying in the military myself, so maybe I am not too affected by what I see in nursing. And I stop it cold when someone mistakenly thinks I am their designated punching bag. That goes a long way toward reducing the "mean-ness" one is subjected to in ANY walk of life.

    Good luck and take care....hang in there. If a situation becomes untenable, then sometimes it's time to move on to one more workable. You do deserve better, but how you go about getting that is up to you.
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    Minne, I have often wondered the same thing. How can everyone be so nice on this BB, and then you go to work and deal with back stabbing, mean spirited, picky, b*tchy nurses. Man, where do they come from?

    Perhaps a lot has to do with issues others have already brought up here, but one thing I have noticed is that I much prefer working with male nurses rather than other females. In my experience, men tend to just do their work, without b*tching or talking about others.

    Makes me wonder if it isn't more to do with females working together rather than stress at work. Of course, it isn't everyone, but just that one in the bunch is enough to ruin my day. Good luck in your decision.
  9. 0
    Quote from directcare4me
    I think a lot of this team feeling is because we don't have a manager who cares about the unit, the patients, or us. So we take care of each other, and help each other take care of the patients. I hope you can find this and feel like you can; it starts with you and your own attitude about yourself, and that just sort of spreads out among your co-workers. Good Luck pursuing your dream; it's worth it to do what you really want to do.
    As a manager that does care about the unit and each and every staff member, I have to say that team building is what it is all about. Each staff member needs to know when he/she is doing a good job. As a manager i feel I should never provide a criticism unless I am prepared to first tell the person what it is he/she does right. I also encourage this with my staff. If someone comes to me with a complaint about a peer, they all know that they first must point out that persons strengths to me. They also know that any complaint offered should have a proposed solution. It was really hard to get the staff to this point, but it has been so worth it. We always talk about nurses eating thier own, and this is one of the ways we work on preventing that. I'm not saying we have the perfect unit, far from it. What i'm saying is we try to be aware of each other as fallible beings. Life is just too short to be a meanie.
    Pat
  10. 0
    Quote from Pattiecake
    As a manager that does care about the unit and each and every staff member, I have to say that team building is what it is all about. Each staff member needs to know when he/she is doing a good job. As a manager i feel I should never provide a criticism unless I am prepared to first tell the person what it is he/she does right. I also encourage this with my staff. If someone comes to me with a complaint about a peer, they all know that they first must point out that persons strengths to me. They also know that any complaint offered should have a proposed solution. It was really hard to get the staff to this point, but it has been so worth it. We always talk about nurses eating thier own, and this is one of the ways we work on preventing that. I'm not saying we have the perfect unit, far from it. What i'm saying is we try to be aware of each other as fallible beings. Life is just too short to be a meanie.
    Pat
    I would be privileged and proud to have you, or someone like you, as my manager. I have had good managers; and I don't complain about "management" lightly--I'm well aware how hard of a job that is, and well aware that I am not willing to do it. The principles that you talk about are the ones I also believe in; unfortunately, at the present time, my unit truly does not have a manager with either patients or staff as priorities; he has made it very clear how disinterested he is, and that staffing shortages are basically "our" problem, as are most other issues that have to do with patient care. His area is budget, and he refers most other issues back to us to handle.

    Again, any floor or unit would be lucky to have you for their manager.
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    Just the fact that you are able to recognise unacceptable behavior and consider the patients so rewarding and know the difference you can make is ALL THE MORE REASON to go back. Being in the hospital is a scary and sometimes life threatening predicament. Try to think of it from a patient's point of view:

    WHICH NURSE WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE?
    The caring one who feels rude behavior is obnoxios and unacceptable, who focuses more on patient care and giving back than gossip and backstabbing, and who is there for the patient not the paycheck...
    The nurse who grudgingly comes to work with a bad attitude, pays more attention to office politics than patient care, and lacks a healing positive energy...

    I think many people are scared off by the few bad apples that polute the many. It is very hard to ignore but when you stay focused on the patients, prayer, and positive attitude there is no doubt that you can and will singlehandly make a difference in someones life mentally AND/or physically.

    Another thought... Be proactive about a good attitude. While you don't sound like the type to be negative, letting it go could be completely hazardous to your mental health. Don't give people who are regularly mean a chance. First thing in the morning greet them with a big smile and a genuine how are they, etc. THen go about your business. It is very hard to continually be mean to someone who goes out of their way to make you feel good. If they can continue to be mean after that, seek help from admin or HR, cause that can border on harassment. I tried the "kill em with niceness" thing on two of my neighbors who were quite mean. Now the wife waves and says hi back, nothing mean, and the husband just ignores us instead of saying mean or harassing things. It is worth a try.
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    Quote from directcare4me
    I would be privileged and proud to have you, or someone like you, as my manager. I have had good managers; and I don't complain about "management" lightly--I'm well aware how hard of a job that is, and well aware that I am not willing to do it. The principles that you talk about are the ones I also believe in; unfortunately, at the present time, my unit truly does not have a manager with either patients or staff as priorities; he has made it very clear how disinterested he is, and that staffing shortages are basically "our" problem, as are most other issues that have to do with patient care. His area is budget, and he refers most other issues back to us to handle.

    Again, any floor or unit would be lucky to have you for their manager.
    directcare4me, thank you for your kind comments.
    Pat


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