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Entitled Nurses

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Could we take a lesson from those we deem entitled?

"Entitled" has become a popular label in our society today. How does this apply to nurses?

Entitled Nurses

We all know someone that we consider to be "entitled." They believe, and in many cases demand, special privileges that they have not worked to earn. Working with these people is a total drag.


What if there are instances in which being "entitled" is actually a good thing? What if, dare I say it, nurses should feel entitled to some things? What might these things be?

Yes, I've tricked you. This article is not going to be about annoying coworkers who think they are better than everyone else. It's going to be about nurses and what they are entitled to as working professionals. This article is going to challenge the "martyr" persona that nurses are expected to project. Here we go:

1. You Are Entitled to Your Lunch Break

Yes! Believe it or not, much like other people, your body requires food in order to produce energy so that you can be effective in your job. Not only do you deserve to eat, but you also deserve to eat sitting down in a place that is specifically designed for eating. Things get busy, and if you do not get to take your lunch break, you should be compensated for working through it.

I once had a co-worker who never notified the department of working through lunch. She believed that if she could at least scarf down a granola bar in some back corner of the unit then she did not need to be paid for the other 28 minutes of break that she missed. She let others know that she was not asking to be compensated for those minutes. This resulted in tension between nurses throughout the department. Why? Because some felt that they were expected to give up lunch breaks without pay. Others felt that they were made to look less "dedicated" by expecting to take a full break.

2. You Are Entitled to a Safe Assignment

I had a mentor that worked in an ICU setting. One day they were severely understaffed and, as a result, she was assigned four patients. This is not okay. She was expected to take care of double the expected patient load in an intensive care area. This very competent, capable nurse was near her breaking point by the end of that shift. When she wasn't doing patient care, she was praying that two (or three...or four...) of her patients didn't go south at the same time.

Look, we all get assignments that we don't like. Sometimes we get busy assignments (hey, that's life!). That is not the issue. The problem arises when the assignment is unsafe, or the ratio is a serious danger to the patients. As a nurse, you are putting your license on the line when you accept a dangerous assignment. You are entitled to a safe assignment. Workplaces need to be prepared to deal with understaffing. Remember, they take on the same obligation to keep patients safe. That should not depend on you turning into superman to make the impossible happen. They have a responsibility.

3. You Are Entitled to Respect

One time I observed a physician throw a piece of equipment across the room because she was upset with the nurse. Nurses experience disrespect from all directions. A frustrated physician, an angry family member, an unhappy patient, fellow nurses--you name it, a nurse has experienced it.

When someone disrespects you, your response should be professional and dignified, but that doesn't mean that you should have to accept such behavior regularly. Respond appropriately, but understand that you are entitled to work in an environment where objects will not be thrown, shouting will not tolerated, and other acts of disrespect will be dealt with by management. A workplace that allows nurses to be disrespected by their colleagues and patients is not treating them right. You are entitled to respect, just like everyone else.

All of this seems like common sense, so why do nurses sometimes tolerate these things? The problem lies with the "martyr" mentality that nurses are expected to live by. You are expected to be selfless, kind, and giving, but you will be criticized if you demand appropriate working conditions or compensation.

It's time that we challenge that idea. Nurses have families to provide for. Difficult assignments to navigate. Emotionally taxing work that must be done. You are a nurse and you are entitled to the basic things that are afforded to other working professionals.

Do you think there are some things that nurses are entitled to? Share your thoughts!

Kate_Peds is a registered nurse and the author of nursediaries.com, a career and advocacy blog for nurses. She works at a children's hospital and loves taking care of kids.

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9 Comment(s)

Here.I.Stand, BSN, RN

Specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro. Has 16 years experience.

I wish AN had a "love" button for posts like this. I could not agree more! :inlove:


Specializes in Travel, Home Health, Med-Surg. Has 20 years experience.

I don't think that nurses ask for anything different than what every other profession/employee expects and deserves. Of course like the article states, you can have a bad day in any position. But, nurses experience many many days, and usually everyday, with no breaks, not safe assignments, and disrespect from many people, and add to that the hyper-stress level of the hospital. When this becomes the norm, the rule rather than the exception, that is when it becomes a problem for both nurse and patient. Many nurses are leaving either the bedside or the profession entirely because of this. Hierarchy of needs?? Nurses don't even get their basic needs met!!

Buyer beware, BSN

Specializes in GENERAL. Has 40 years experience.

You are entitled to know that rhadomyolysis is not contagious and if asked if it is by a duly qualified RN,

you are entitled to label them a nincompoop.


Has 45+ years experience.

As a RN who finally earned her MS, worked in a variety of jobs + finally retired completely 3 months ago, I've forgotten how cruel the workplace can be. Unfortunately, since the Great Recession, employment has gotten more difficult to work, and that not only includes nursing but other professional fields, too. My husband worked in IT for a lifetime and the same conditions existed--a boss throwing a phone across a room, shouting businessmen, eating his lunch over the computer keyboard, as well as his coworkers, etc. Articles have been written on why people hate their jobs today. Well, as we fund a non-pension retirement, yes, I am not rich, but it beats the work conditions for mentioned. Today, you are required to do more, with less. Never come to the table, so to speak, without solutions. How do you solve the problem, without a nurses union? The responses could go on and on!!

Nurse Beth, MSN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

Great article :) Missing breaks is not a badge of honor, it is a violation of labor laws. Accepting abuse is not a virtue, it's a weakness. And unsafe patient assignments abound when neither nurses nor states have input into safe staffing levels.

TriciaJ, RN

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory. Has 40 years experience.

Can't "like" this article and thread enough. When will we stop considering it a badge of honour to accept disrespect and poor working conditions? Even in this century, we're still buying into the myth that we're somehow more noble beings than the rest of the populace and have to live up to that. That belonging to a union is somehow "unprofessional". That requiring appropriate compensation and working conditions is "undedicated".

Nurses should be entitled to their time outside of work. We should not be pressured into attending meetings, picking up extra shifts, or doing education on top of our normal work hours.

I agree with all of the above.. we are not asking for more than we deserve. We are entitled to these things as human beings, not just because we are nurses.


Has 1 years experience.

I completely can relate to this, and I am not even a nurse...yet. I have been a teacher for almost 7 years now and have been through most of the challenges described in the article. On average I have had 37 students to be responsible for, with never-ending assessments, tracking progress, lesson planning, PDs etc. I was expected to do more, more, and more every time my principal stepped her foot into my classroom. I would also eat through lunch, holding a lunch sandwich in my left hand while grading papers with my right one. Using the bathroom? Forget it! I would have to hold it for hours in a row, while allowing the students to use their bathroom every 5 minutes, hearing their constant complaints how bad it felt for them that they could no longer hold it! I can go on, and on about the nonsense that is abound in the teaching profession. But like other poster has noted, such nonsense exists pretty much in every profession. We need more unions, and laws across the country that will allow for safe assignments and reasonable nurse-to-patient ratios.