Do people expect you to act a certain way because of your chosen profession?

Posted

Ever since I got accepted into nursing school, people seem to think it's their job to tell me how to behave. I'll do or say something and I'll get a response usually resembling "you can't do that if you're going to be a nurse", like crying uncontrollably when I witness suffering or laughing when someone gets injured in a funny way (I can't be the only one laughing at AFV clips of people getting hit on the head). Obviously, if I'm face to face with an injured person I'm treating I'm not going to make light of their situation. But I'm annoyed when anyone thinks it's my job to behave the way people want me to, when I thought my job was to give them medical treatment. Would I be getting these comments if I was going to be a surgeon or a doctor? Does anyone else experience this?

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 16 years experience. 226 Articles; 27,608 Posts

Mostly, I deal with the occasional person who is surprised when they perceive that I am not as altruistic or caring as they'd envisioned nurses would be.

I care when I am at work, but the nurse hat definitely comes off during my personal time. Nursing is what I do; it is not who I am.

Occasionally when I hear new stories about horrible things people will do to animals or something like that, I'll make a comment such as "Ugh, I hate people." Then, if there's someone standing around who doesn't know me very well, they'll generally look at me kind of sideways and go, "...but you're a nurse, right?" *sigh* First, don't take me so literally, person I don't know very well. Second, just because I'm a nurse doesn't mean I'm Mother Freakin' Theresa. Yes, I'm a caring, compassionate person, but that has its limits, and those limits are often met and, sometimes exceeded.

Also, I second what Commuter said. It's what I do, not the very essence of who I am.

The very essence of who I am is sarcasm, coffee, and a touch of tequila, in case anyone was wondering.

roser13

roser13, ASN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho, ASC. Has 17 years experience. 6,504 Posts

Do people expect you to act a certain way because of your chosen profession?

If they do, it is entirely my choice to disregard their "expectations." You can either choose a standard comeback such as a sincere "oh! I didn't realize you were a nurse and know the rules!" or a blank stare. If the former, you must ooze sincerity as you say it. If the latter, you must stare blankly, then change the subject.

At any rate, you must also practice not giving a hoot what others say, think or perceive of your life choices.

SleeepyRN

SleeepyRN

1,076 Posts

Do people expect you to act a certain way because of your chosen profession?

If they do, it is entirely my choice to disregard their "expectations." You can either choose a standard comeback such as a sincere "oh! I didn't realize you were a nurse and know the rules!" or a blank stare. If the former, you must ooze sincerity as you say it. If the latter, you must stare blankly, then change the subject.

At any rate, you must also practice not giving a hoot what others say, think or perceive of your life choices.

While you are correct that we all have a choice in how we react to any situation, I found the comment less useful than understanding. I mean, this is the right place to come to to vent such things. Otherwise, the responses to the majority of posts would be, "Just don't care what people think or do."

I'm saying that while it's on me if I take something too personally, I should be able to still vent to others who would understand, because I'm certainly not unloading that on a patient or the person next to me in a grocery store.

SleeepyRN

SleeepyRN

1,076 Posts

In response to OP. Yes. Absolutely. You're a nurse, you shouldn't eat that. You're a nurse, you shouldn't speed, you know what can happen (SO DOES THE GENERAL PUBLIC!!!) You're a nurse, you should sacrifice your entire life and cry your days away for other people.... Yeah, its annoying.

quazar

quazar

Has 20 years experience. 603 Posts

All. the. time. The whole "Florence Nightengale/Mother Theresa" image has GOT to go. Like the PP said, a nurse is what I DO, not who I AM. I'm allowed to have thoughts and opinions that make people blush, gasp, and clutch their pearls, but some people didn't get that memo.

WheresMyPen

WheresMyPen

129 Posts

Yes and no. On one hand, I get told a lot of things like, "I can see why you became a nurse!" I have this weird aura or something that attracts injured people. I've pulled over because a diabetic was sleeping in his car at a traffic light, I've had kids fall off bikes in front of my house and ran out with my nursing bag, and many random situations like that.

on the other hand I do laugh uncontrollably when my friends stumble or bump their heads (then I help them!)

i also make a lot of innapproriate jokes and people who don't know me well are shocked. (They don't know i work noc shift. That in itself makes me looney by nature)

quiltynurse56, LPN, LVN

Specializes in LTC and Pediatrics. Has 3 years experience. 953 Posts

I act professional when I am at work. When I come home, I am me. That includes my grouchiness, fatigue, sarcasm and sometimes language. I am also an introvert, but the people I work with and take care of would not know that about me. I have learned that if people don't like that, that is their problem, not mine. There are so many preconceived ideas of how people act in whatever role they are in at any moment.

I also use the example of my son. When he is in any of his Army uniforms, he is all Army. When that uniform comes off, he is the kid he always had been, but maybe with a bit more maturity than that of others his age.

You continue being you and shrug off the others. Or you can have a conversation with them about professionalism and being you.