Fairly new nurse looking for advice

Nurses Relations


I worked on an adult unit prior to working in pediatrics. I've been working in pediatrics for a little over a year. It's been great to work with children. However, it's been difficult a lot of times, because there have been some nurses who have had a hostile and belittling attitude towards me. When I ask questions, some of them will reply back with a "How do you not know that?" tone. Isn't it better to ask a question than to make a mistake? I try to look things up and/or figure things out myself and only ask if I absolutely cannot come up with the answer. I've learned in nursing school that it's better to come up with a plan of action, and then run it by someone, as opposed to just asking, "What do I do?" I don't ask the same question 5 times, because that's obviously annoying.

I give what I don't always get. When people (esp. staff even newer than me) ask me questions, I answer without being snarky or condescending. I don't want to make anyone feel belittled. I can't change anyone; the only thing I have control over is how I treat other people. And yes, there are times when it is downright busy and everyone's feeling swamped. It's normal to get short with one another during those times. The thing is, most of the staff are fairly helpful, but there is this sort of patronizing undertone present. I expressed my concerns to a very experienced nurse who is supportive. She told me that if I felt this way, I could find somewhere else to work because it's not worth the heartache. This nurse recently had a preceptor student. She mentioned that the staff who were always wonderful to her, were not so nice to her student. It can be hard being new. I dread coming to work most of the time, and feel very alone and without support, but I try my best to focus on getting my job done and going home. I try really hard to think positive. I try hard to put things in perspective - I'm not saying my experience on the unit has been the worst experience of my life by any means, but it could be a lot better.

I feel like I've been doing a lot of things right, with regards to asking questions, being eager to learn, helping out my coworkers, etc. I don't feel like I've come in there with a cocky attitude. I know that pediatric nursing is a COMPLETELY different world than that of adults! Maybe I'm being a little too hard on myself, who knows. Some of the nurses on the unit told me that it took them two years to feel comfortable in pediatrics. I do feel a lot more confident than I did when I first started.

How would you handle situations like these? How would you approach another staff member when you feel they are belittling you? When people appear frustrated when I ask questions, there have been times when I say things along the lines of, "I'm asking you because I haven't done this before/haven't come across this before, etc." Is there anything else I should be doing? Things like this happen all the time in nursing, and I just need to find strategies on dealing with it. I'd rather find out now, early in my career, than to be 10 years in and not know how to handle situations like this.

I would really appreciate any advice you may have!

I can't change anyone; the only thing I have control over is how I treat other people.

Ah - there's your mistake. :)

This is a very difficult lesson to learn, but there is something else you can (learn to) control, and that is how you allow others to make you feel. In fact I should change that wording to: How you allow yourself to feel about what others do.

I haven't felt belittled by coworkers very much in my career, but I've been spoken to rudely or brusquely, of course. I'm just done trying to "correct" these situations - attempting to right/correct generally doesn't lead to anything positive or free of negative consequences. If that person wants to feel whatever they're feeling that made them talk/act that way, they can have at it. Life very truly is too short. In my opinion, that's what you should learn now instead of ten years from now.

It sounds like you are doing the right things and if you've received positive feedback through official channels such as reviews or discussions with your NM, then keep going on about your business. Try very hard not to absorb others' misery.

Be kind and pleasant, try not to be reactionary. Keep learning, keep asking questions or confirming information in situations new to you. Then sleep well at night!

Thanks, JKL33, for the very helpful advice!

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

I agree with every word JKL wrote. You are putting way too much importance on how people treat you and how they "make you feel". Do they at least give you useful help and advice so you can get on with things? Then you got what you needed from them. Make sure you thank them, even if their delivery was less than gracious.

Could their condescending attitudes just be your interpretation of someone who's busy and being a bit short? Or maybe they ARE nasty. That still doesn't need to be your problem. A good day is when all your patients do well. A bad day is when someone doesn't. Fine-tune your radar to your patients' changing conditions. Your coworkers' behaviour shouldn't even register.

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