Why do mean/crabby people become nurses??

  1. 4
    I work in a large busy ED so I have many co-workers, many of whom I love and some who just make me feel like my head is going to explode. There are a handful who are downright nasty people, and it just makes me wonder why a person like that would become a nurse! Does being rude and obnoxious to patients and co-workers make them feel good?? Do they go home at night and count the amount of people they brought to tears and feel good about that? I can't help feeling bad for their families, I have to wonder if they are rude to their families as well...

    One particular nurse really gets under my skin not only for her rudeness, but she is so hypocritical. She can do no wrong, but she will look for any reason to pick on another nurse. She literally picks apart charts and asks a hundred million questions during report i.e. "this patient's sodium is 146! What are we going to do about this?? Did you talk to the doctor???" When she takes AM report, she will not let the night nurse go until every single order has been completed.

    She once made me stay until a pt's AM fingerstick had been done regardless of the fact that there was not a single other outstanding order, and the pt was NPO so would not have gotten coverage anyway, but when she gives PM report she leaves outstanding orders to do and says "well, I'm done, I'm going home, I've been here all day, you will have to do that now" The other day one pt had repeat labs due 2 hours previously to check potassium - he had come in with a K+ of 2.4, which she had never mentioned to me during report. When I pointed out that she had not done those labs, she said "oh, well you will have to ask a PCA to do that" Eventually I got the labs done, and the lab called me with a critical result of K+ 2.5. I got really nervous, since she had never told me it was low initially, and I had to start sifting trough charts only to discover it had been low the whole time...

    Then yesterday, she gave me report and says "oh, I was told this pt's urine was sent, but I see the lab has not run the tests. You will have to follow up with lab, or resend the specimen" So I tried to give her a dose her of her own treatment, and I responded that she would have to do it, since the urine tests were ordered 3 hrs ago. She got so huffy and started in on how rude I am, and do we want to take this up to management?? I said, "no, I don't see a need to involve management, this is something you should have done and it wasn't done"

    Luckily, just then the tests showed up as "received" by lab in the computer, so the situation didn't escalate, but she made sure to stop by before leaving and tell me again how rude she thinks I am, and how she didn't appreciate my speaking to her that way. I have been so bothered by this, her behavior is so childish and silly, it's all about her and I even pointed out to her that she had done the exact same thing to me with the fingerstick I had not done, but she was too blind to see her own hypocracy.

    Anyway, that is my vent. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest!! Do you work with similar types of people?
    Last edit by TheCommuter on Jun 13, '12 : Reason: reformatting

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  2. 54 Comments...

  3. 17
    Compared to the other educated professions, nursing is one of the more oppressed groups.

    I have previously mentioned that the nursing profession has attracted a number of people with self-esteem issues. People with low self-esteems, especially females, feel marginalized. Oppressed groups of people generally lash out on each other because, for some reason, they feel empowered while ripping apart one of 'their own' members.

    Just think about the conditions of many bedside nurses. They deal with crap from patients, families, doctors, coworkers, and other entities. There's no personal office or cubicle to go hide from the madness. You must make time for meal periods, breaks, and using the restroom or these basic rights will never materialize. We deal with life and death frequently.

    Other professionals do not have these dreary working conditions. It is enough to crush the soul of the most reasonable person and replace it with a mean attitude.
    Last edit by TheCommuter on Jun 13, '12
    juzme, shay-shay, OCNRN63, and 14 others like this.
  4. 8
    I used to work with a couple of nurses who weren't the sweetest people to work with.
    Years later, as an experienced nurse I began to see them differently.
    Now I can see how they were trying to teach me the expected norms of the nursing floor. As a new grad with shaky confidence, I would take the advice about not leaving almost-empty IV bags for the next shift as a personal attack on myself rather than the useful advice it was.
    These nurses maybe had an abrasive manner sometimes, and if I went back I could probably not be the least bothered by them now that I have skills, experience and a thicker skin.
    GrnTea, loriangel14, wooh, and 5 others like this.
  5. 2
    Quote from TheCommuter
    Compared to the other educated professions, nursing is one of the more oppressed groups.

    I have previously mentioned that the nursing profession has attracted a number of people with self-esteem issues. People with low self-esteems, especially females, feel marginalized. Oppressed groups of people generally lash out on each other because, for some reason, they feel empowered while ripping apart one of 'their own' members.

    Just think about the conditions of many bedside nurses. They deal with crap from patients, families, doctors, coworkers, and other entities. There's no personal office or cubicle to go hide from the madness. You must make time for meal periods, breaks, and using the restroom or these basic rights will never materialize. We deal with life and death frequently.

    Other professionals do not have these dreary working conditions. It is enough to crush the soul of the most reasonable person and replace it with a mean attitude.
    Thanks for the response, it definitely sheds a different perspective on these nurses. I can definitely understand where you are coming from, but to an extent. Yes, nursing is very difficult, and emotionally draining. However, it is wrong to take out your frustrations on helpless patients and family members, and your own co-workers that you have to work with every day. I also work with many very experienced nurses who have been doing this job for 15-20+ years and are so caring and sweet and approachable, and want to work as a team and help their co-workers. And they have experienced those horrors as well. So it really is not a blanket excuse...
    One of the things I love about nursing is how broad it is. If one area doesn't work for you, you can always try something else. I get that the burnout rate is high, so in that case a nurse like this needs to find a job behind a computer doing chart review, or something with minimal patient interaction, if she cannot be civil.
    I juts hope to God that if I ever begin to behave that way, I recognize it immediately and move on.
    shay-shay and sapphire18 like this.
  6. 6
    The nurse you describe sounds like a bully to me. If everyone stands up to her and holds her accountable then she has to change her ways. One can't demand something from others without holding themselves to the same standard. I would have loved to take her up on that opportunity to speak with management: Why yes, nurse Ratchet, let's do go to the manager so we can also discuss your omission of critical lab values on a severely hypokalemic patient during shift report and while we're talking with the manager we can also discuss the daily expectations where orders are concerned at shift change.

    I hate a bully
    juzme, Been there,done that, Flare, and 3 others like this.
  7. 17
    I have found that the more self-confidence I gain over the years, the more irritated I am with nursing.

    I was taught to "suck it up!"

    You got hit?
    It's part of the job, only wienies complain!

    You got yelled at?
    It's part of the job, only wienies complain!

    You didn't get to pee all shift?
    It's part of the job, only wienies complain!

    You missed lunch?
    It's part of the job, only wienies complain!

    You hurt your back?
    It's part of the job, only wienies complain!

    You got talked to like a piece o' poop?
    It's part of the job, only wienies complain!

    You got an unsafe assignment?
    It's part of the job, only wienies complain!

    You gotta do housekeeping, maintenance and kitchen duties?
    It's part of the job, only wienies complain!

    Lord!

    It was like a badge of honor how much abuse you could take and not complain!

    Nowadays...
    Not so darn much.

    Now I view it as positively dysfunctional and possibly masochistic.
    Why the heck would I want that?
    Why the heck would anyone want that?
    Why would I let someone treat me like crap?

    I totally agree about the self-esteem aspect.

    I also try to have a sense of humor and crack a lot of jokes to cope, but I don't blame anyone for being crabby.
    Lyn914, anotherone, LaneyB, and 14 others like this.
  8. 1
    Not a nurse...yet.

    But...maybe years spent on the job made them that way. By the same token, they've let the job suck the life out of them. They're jaded.

    I've always believed and seen for myself that you can't judge an individual from their work persona. After a while, I hated the military. Couldn't wait to leave. After awhile, I kept to myself. Quiet. I could only manage a smile for my pts. Coworkers were duly regarded. LOL. They were the source of my stress, believe it or not! LOL

    When I was involved in other activities and coworkers saw me away from work? They were shocked.
    I was the belle of the ball. I looked happy.
    I've seen plenty like this...and plenty more in the medical field. It ain't just nursing. I'd go as far as saying it's hospital/medical culture, by varying degrees.

    When you go to a place that doesn't fulfilll you, it shows.
    Why don't they leave? Who knows? Maybe they can't.

    This nurse, in particular? Seems like she acts as she does because no one -- besides you, it seems -- calls her on it. I don't have a problem helping out, but someone 'half-assing' it then trying to thrust their work on me to handle, is a problem.

    I would say that she's trying to take advantage, but you seem to have a little bite in you. LOL So, maybe not. Maybe shes so self-involved that she can't see beyond herself? How her attitude affects things?

    "...pt had repeat labs due 2 hours previously to check potassium - he had come in with a K+ of 2.4, which she had never mentioned to me during report. When I pointed out that she had not done those labs, she said "oh, well you will have to ask a PCA to do that" Eventually I got the labs done, and the lab called me with a critical result of K+ 2.5. I got really nervous, since she had never told me it was low initially, and I had to start sifting trough charts only to discover it had been low the whole time...."

    This is ridiculous.
    Maybe she's over it, but she still needs to get it together.
    You handled it well, but you should've taken her up on her offer to go to management WITH lab values/charts in tow...
    anotherone likes this.
  9. 5
    I thought AM fingersticks were done by the day shift--as if the person needs coverage, you then have to act on what you find. So that means overtime for you. Is she your supervisor? How can she "make" you stay? How can she make anyone stay? This needs to be brought up with the NM, as if you all are getting overtime, I am sure she will question as to why. And "because nurse so and so said I had to" is probably not a good enough reason (and you may find you are asked "is nurse so and so your supervisor???) So if asked again to do something that seemingly needs to be done or completed on the day shift, I would say "I have reported off to you. It is the end of my shift. Last I checked you do not approve overtime, nor am I required to do same" and don't get into a pi**ing contest about it, state it as fact, and leave. (even if you have to chart "report given to oncoming RN, RN verbalized awareness of MD orders". You need to CYA not hers.
    As an aside, never assume that just because someone is NPO they will not need insulin coverage......
  10. 5
    Just to add a little so called humor into your original question which was " why do mean/crabby people become nurses"... well, they werent hiring clowns at the carnival! In all seriousness, EVERYONE has good and bad days, and even weeks. You never know what that nurse is dealing with "off the clock". Maybe she found out her only grandchild has terminal cancer, or maybe she is losing her house to foreclosure or going thru a tough time. When we make the decision to "become a nurse", we all have our rose colored glasses on. Sometimes life gets in the way. We may snap at a co-worker, but we do not at a patient. In our hearts we love our CHOSEN profession, but as I said, sometimes life gets in the way...
    anotherone, GrnTea, aknottedyarn, and 2 others like this.
  11. 5
    Quote from jadelpn
    Is she your supervisor? How can she "make" you stay? How can she make anyone stay? This needs to be brought up with the NM, as if you all are getting overtime, I am sure she will question as to why. And "because nurse so and so said I had to" is probably not a good enough reason (and you may find you are asked "is nurse so and so your supervisor???) So if asked again to do something that seemingly needs to be done or completed on the day shift, I would say "I have reported off to you. It is the end of my shift. Last I checked you do not approve overtime, nor am I required to do same" and don't get into a pi**ing contest about it, state it as fact, and leave. (even if you have to chart "report given to oncoming RN, RN verbalized awareness of MD orders". You need to CYA not hers.
    As an aside, never assume that just because someone is NPO they will not need insulin coverage......
    Thank you.

    This nurse is not "making" anyone do anything.
    jadelpn, TLCfromSC, VICEDRN, and 2 others like this.


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