Am I being too sensitive?

Nurses Safety


Hi everyone!

I'm a nursing student (graduate in December yay!!) and had my first negative experience with a nurse at clinical today. My preceptor kept losing her temper at patients and their families for very minor reasons. For example one patient asked to get on the bedside commode and my preceptor acted like this was a huge inconvenience and kept commenting to the patient that she had more important things to do than help her. She even made the patient cry twice and told the patient to "get over it" each time...

She also made a comment about wanting to give this patient "pillow therapy" while at the busy nurses station. I didn't realize that "pillow therapy" is lingo for basically smothering someone with a pillow, and I've felt pretty sick all day thinking about it. I know this was just a joke, but I feel like it went too far.

I know that nursing is extremely stressful and that it takes a lot of patience. But joking about wanting to smother a patient with a pillow just doesn't seem okay.

Am I being too sensitive about this? I know that sometimes nurses can crack jokes about certain situations, but I've NEVER heard a nurse joke about wanting to harm a patient until today. Especially when other patients/ their families are around.

I don't know if I'm just being sensitive, or if I should say something to a nurse manager or something. I've just never watched a nurse make a patient cry before over small things... and I have definitely never heard a nurse make remarks (even jokes) about harming a patient.

What are your all's thoughts on any of this?


*i also apologize for any spelling/ grammar mistakes... my brain is sleepy!

Specializes in critical care, ER,ICU, CVSURG, CCU.

bless your experience.....

Take the positive of what you learned, you don't want to become a nurse similar to that preceptor.....

Some of my best growth experience.....has resulted from a negative experience.

Wish I had been your preceptor that day....

These are definitely topics for your post-conference.

It doesn't sound like the patient interactions displayed were acceptable. Even if there were indeed a problem that needed to be addressed with the patient (such as unreasonably commandeering inordinate amounts of nursing time), that would be dealt with professionally and with a mind toward maintaining the patient's dignity.

On the other hand, when non-nurses (including students, sometimes) report negative observations, these are often colored by perceptions that, by the nature of the situation, leave out that which isn't known/understood. It's the phenomenon of perceiving something one way because one's personal experiences don't yet include the other side of the coin. Often larger context is missing.

I am not saying that is the case here, but it is for these types of reasons that it is often best if students' observations are first discussed in post-conference rather than being reported to an authority figure as "fact." In post-conference, students should be encouraged to talk things through and examine various perspectives in order to best judge a situation. But even more importantly, such discussion allows students to examine the "whys" so that when they find themselves in a similar situation in the future, they might have gained the means to understand it better and will thus have the opportunity to handle it differently. Proclaiming a judgment and reporting it to someone involves none of that.

As far as the "pillow therapy" comment - - I never ever talk that way about patients, but at the same time when I occasionally (more like rarely) overhear comments like that, it's always been in the context of attempting to lighten up a situation that is clearly frustrating; those situations that would frustrate Mother Theresa. So I generally withhold judgment other than to say "I wouldn't do it."

Specializes in Psychiatry.

You will find nurses like these on most units. Do not let them get to you, but the sliver lining is that having thick skin in incredibly useful in nursing. Experiences like these, as disappointing as they are, will help build that thick skin. Sometimes it helps to just feel bad for people like this, because most likely they are like that at home too, which is sad to think about,

Specializes in Surgical, Home Infusions, HVU, PCU, Neuro.

Utilize this experience as a learning opportunity on some things you do not want to do in your own practice. I'm sorry you had a bad experience and hope your next clinical is better.

That nurse sounds like she has some serious problems with control - both over the situation she is in and her mouth.

Nursing is extremely stressful and certainly there are patients and staff and families that try one's patience of course, but her behavior suggests she is borderline abusive and plain mean.

A few others have commented that nurses are like this on most units or similar, I politely disagree. While I have worked with some not so nice nurses, I have to say they remain professional and I have never witnessed what you did. You will find sour nurses just as you will find sour people in other areas but someone who is in a position of power so to speak, in caring for someone who is unable to care for themselves, and behaves as she did in front of you, I can only imagine what she is like when no one is watching or the patient is unable to communicate.

Specializes in Emergency Medicine.

Some people turn "mean" due to the way life or work beats them up but I think also some people are just mean. I can understand being exasperated and having a bad day but it sounds like she's crossing a line. I am a new nurse so I can't speak about burnout but in my previous career (military) I was told during basic training that I would soon lose my "sweetness" and be as mean as everyone else and I never did in my 10+ years of service... even when I had my own soldiers to lead in combat. They told me the same when I took a retail job, that I won't be so sweet to customers in a year and I'm only nice because I'm new. But I stayed me and customers appreciated me and my patience for the years I worked there. As I start this new journey I pray I stay on course. Stay true to yourself and put these experiences in your pocket to remind yourself what you don't want to turn out to be. Because we can be shaped to be good in our field through bad experiences just as effectively as through good ones. Remember how this made you feel, and you will be more conscious to do the right thing when you're in those shoes.

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