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A Plea to Nurses Everywhere

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by SarahLeeRN SarahLeeRN, BSN (Member)

12 Articles; 32,136 Visitors; 115 Posts

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A plea for nurses everywhere that arose after a drive home reflection. Conflict is as much a part of our work environment as medication administration. Does it really have to be? We can choose our attitudes and begin to treat our coworkers like we treat our patients. With respect. You are reading page 5 of A Plea to Nurses Everywhere. If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.

12 Articles; 32,136 Visitors; 115 Posts

SarahLeeRN,

You are a gifted writer and it impresses me that you would use that gift to express this particular point of view. I have engaged in many discussions here on AN reflecting this topic and I see what you see.

As I have been integrating into the workplace after graduating from nursing school last year, I have had a few key musings of my own. Most notably, I have found that attitude really is everything. I can't control the attitudes and actions of the gruff, the disillusioned, the back-biting, self-absorbed and I don't ever hope to. But then, their behavior is not what I'm concerned with anyway. It's mine that I am concerned with. Because it is my behavior that I will ultimately be held accountable for.

I don't kill with kindness. No way. I kill with calm. I have learned from my experiences dealing with patients that most nurses dread - the irritating, the needy, the rough around the edges, gruff, accusatory, distrusting, belligerent, etc. - that when I dig my heels in and remain committed to calm, rock solid, self controlled responses, the anger, fear, and/or agitation that these patients project melts right off. Sometimes it's immediate. Sometimes, it takes most of a shift. But always, the end result is the same. They soften. They open up and become less tense. And that is the moment when a bond develops and suddenly, everyone around me is shocked that the most unruly, angry, agitated patient from their memory is polite and humble or laughing and joking. They're not on their call light every 20 minutes with some inane request. They express gratitude for the care they are receiving instead. I don't make apologies. I don't have to be a doormat. I don't hope that they like me. I don't try to be their buddy. I just maintain composure and basic human respect for them in all things said and done. I carry this same methodology over to my interactions with co-workers.

"Just be nice," might work for some who are far nicer naturally than I am. For me, "Just be calm," works well enough.

Great read. Keep fighting the good fight.

Thank you! I agree totally that "Just be calm" is also a great strategy. In fact, I think I may use that more than kindness as well now that I think about it...thanks for the perspective. "Keep calm and carry on," right? :)

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4,342 Visitors; 134 Posts

I think our work environment and the demands placed upon us foster backbiting behavior. You have to ask, why does management let this go on? Probably to keep us busy fighting ourselves instead of banding together to change our workplace into a more sustainable, safe place. Patient first? ha... Profit first.

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19,614 Visitors; 1,735 Posts

Yes i have seen this . back in the restaurant business the bartender would yell at the waiter, the chefs yelled at the waiter, the waiters yelled at the hostess because someone else FAIRLY got a bigger table, the manager yelled at everyone. sarcasm and backstabing galore. human nature. in retail the floor managers and the merchaindising managers had their tiffs. The more stressful and adversarial the enviornment the morse this gets. crabs in a barrel

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19,614 Visitors; 1,735 Posts

Sometimes the rudest behavior can be seen exchanged between close family members...just sayin

familiarity breeds contempt. i am a strong believer in that.

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19,614 Visitors; 1,735 Posts

I have also seen people being accused of being mean or rude for bogus reasons. like not smiling enough, not caring about someones bany shower, not doing other people's work because they are slow or incompetent. if you have the wrong fluids hanging and someone points it out, did not give stat meds in a timely fashion or did not report

K of 6.9 to md or hgb 7 and someone in report says it should have been done. get over it . i have seen nurses so fed up with being accused of being mean by defensive, often incompetent nurses, that many seem to let them just go on and do things incorrectly. i try to do that but will not allow a pt to suffer due to hurt feelings . so

i say things in a "by the way " manner. most appreciate it .some get too defensive Nd go crying to the manager. well ok from now on sink, and i will be emailing management every little error instead

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joyouter has 30 years experience and specializes in ICU, APHERESIS, IV THERAPY, ONCOLOGY, BC.

1 Follower; 5,343 Visitors; 108 Posts

An excellent article. describing varying symptoms seen in all areas of healthcare today. Two salient points mentioned;

1. Description of lack of knowledge around the art and science in communication. Communication is a core study subject at many levels. The lack of knowledge of how we affect ourselves and anyone around us when we inadvertently raise our voices in frustration, fatigue, overwork and being just dog-tired from trying to meet every request thrown our way and the fallout resulting in hostility, more fatigue, greater confusion and finally, discouragement and burn out is a topic overdue for students and professionals. Contrary to popular opinion, affective communication skills are not taught. In fact, it is a competence which is largely taken for granted. ie. `everyone knows how to communicate`- a belief which is very misleading. Body language, expression, raised voices and hostile tones also signify the levels of frustration and failure of the nursing profession to offer its professionals support and training around developing effective every day communication skills in the front line.

We are human beings and work in environments which are designed to give healing, hope and support to those in need. WE, as professionals are also in need of support, Nurses are not robots, in fact, this profession contains many levels of abuse and violence. Nursing leaders, academics and researchers are needed in this area more than ever.- and the starting point should be effective communication from its multiple asplects

2. Nurses eat their young.

I find this term an obnoxious and appalling statement which by right, should not exist as an excuse or reason. This statement actually allows, and even condones the rotten behaviours of nurses at all levels and is in direct violation of our professional objectives. If we can accept this as a raison d;etre, we inadvertently also condemn ourselves and perpetuate the problems of dysfunctional communication, lack of understanding, support and respect which we seemingly can supply to our clients but sadly fall short of among ourselves. The statement borders on violence and cruelty and should not be flaunted in any context. It is a sentence used repeatedly, without a valid defense..........

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brandy1017 is a ASN, RN and specializes in Critical Care.

37,241 Visitors; 2,262 Posts

Most of the interactions you describe our not old nurses attacking young ones. Most of it is most likely stress overload and lack of control over one's work environment. We are not given the option of taking time out and are expected to jump right away and quickly whether it be a new admit or phone call or family or whatever, yet when we need the rest of the hospital personnel to assist most of them act in a leisurely way and take their sweet time and don't feel that they need to jump. Why is it the aids always get their breaks, but many nurses don't? Exactly, because they feel fine saying no and taking their time, but try that as a nurse and it will lead to instant drama that you must stop what you are doing and do this now! admission now! phone call now!

If we could have some control over our work environment and not be expected to jump stress levels would come down and things would mellow. Short of that, I don't think things are going to change! I do stand up for myself and it can lead to drama, but you know what I won't be walked on and I won't accept an unfair assignment or admission if it is unfair or unsafe. I will speak up and I don't care if other people don't like me. I don't usually refuse assignments or admissions, usually I take it in stride and accept this is how the day is going to go, but if something isn't right I will speak my peace!

How wonderful it would be if we could work in an unhurried environment, take our time, not feel like we are walking into an assembly line, quick, jump, pass the meds on time, the computer is big brother. If the assembly line rat race mentality wasn't endemic in nursing stress levels would come down and people would be nicer to each other! Scolding us to be nicer isn't the answer, system change to a sane work environment is! Some things that will help is having an effective union and a safe staffing ratio like CA has!

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brandy1017 is a ASN, RN and specializes in Critical Care.

37,241 Visitors; 2,262 Posts

I'm much more childish than that. I call every oh 2-3 minutes asking if now is a good time. After a few of those, I'll call the charge nurse to try and give report, then when they ask why I'm calling them directly I will explain to the charge why this is happening. Gets them in trouble by their charge and I can have my fun out of it. Oh and I usually will send them the second I hang up so there is no down time between report and when the pt gets there.

It only ever has to happen once before the next time they are much more polite ;)

Calling every couple of minutes is rude and childish and only interrupts the nurse who is trying to get things settled with the present patients before taking another. Glad you recognize your childish behavior!

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652 Visitors; 1 Post

My last facility was notorious for nurse bullying. It is now being termed "lateral violence". It got so severe that I went into a serious depression and started questioning if I was a good nurse because so many of my coworkers put me down. I tendered my resignation and went to a new facility. It was happening there too, although not to the extent of my previous facility. In my RN-BSN I wrote numerous papers on it. I'm now in my master's, and I was able to apply theory to the issue, and by applying a borrowed theory from the social sciences, I started to see not only how widespread the problem is, but also the complexity of the variables that contribute to it. There is much research on it, and I think more people need to be aware, and not accept it as part of "normal" nursing culture.

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7,018 Visitors; 166 Posts

In fairness to SarahLeeRN, when one reflects on anything, it has the effect of putting a spotlight on that problem during the time of reflection and this spotlight can, at times, magnify the situation. I thank you for creating this thread. Judging by all of the responses, you've obviously piqued the interest of many. I was also glad to read that you enjoy your workplace even though you see room for improvement when it comes to peer communication.

I have to say I'm heartened by all of the posters who either don't see this behavior (or rarely see it). I, too, have heard of nurses eating their young and think "gosh, they were young once, too, have they forgotten??" I've taken MANY communication courses while in the business world, including communicating with people from other cultures (that seems to be a difficult one). It seems like no matter how many classes you take, you're still gonna rub someone the wrong way at least part of the time. And they'll rub you the wrong way as well.

I find I respect those who have humility, those who admit their faults, MUCH more than those who think they're perfect. I can only hope that as I admit my faults and strive to correct them that my co-workers will see this as respectable behavior and not a weakness that puts a target on my back. Perhaps members on here who find themselves in similar situations can do the same.

OR.......I may be wearing my rose colored glasses again. =)

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g8sushma specializes in Ambulatory Care.

4,567 Visitors; 146 Posts

I dont think this has anything to do with being a nurse or not. There are just some people that are mean and horrible and that is the way they choose to be. However, because we all have been tolerating it in the workplace is why this has become common place. No one is 2 years old or a dictator. And when the proper steps are taken to report such behavior it can be corrected or the person should be dismiss no one should have to tolerate such people and their horrible behavior all day. I am sure there are people out there that are qualified to do the job that will not be as nasty.

Please report people like this. They do not need to be a nurse.

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3,059 Visitors; 76 Posts

Ok, I just have got to say, I've been an RN for less than a year now and have already experienced awful behavior. As a student, I had a preceptor who was very rude to me multiple occasions and I went home crying daily and convinced and I didn't want to be a nurse if this is how it was going to be. When I graduated and began working, I had a DON write me an e-mail that brought me to tears! I then went to another job where I have gotten along with all the nurses, but there are nurses who aren't willing to help other nurses but fully expect other nurses to help them, and some of the nurses are known to get rude if you disagree with them.

I think witnessing this much violence in such a small amount of time is enough proof for me that there is way too much going on in the field. I love that there are nurses who don't have to go through this in their career, but you still need to know it's out there and needs to be corrected.

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