Quote from NurseErica
I'm an ER nurse and I try to get along with all the students/residents. A few things that might help (at least, if you were at my hospital):
-Ask me my impression. When you come out of the room, be nice and compare your story with mine. A lot of people tell docs stuff they don't tell nurses, and vice versa.
-When I have a person who is dizzy with chest pain, and I'm working to put them on the monitor, get an IV in, and draw blood, don't get in my way. And don't tell the patient "You're probably just anxious." (True story last weekend....still steamed about that).
-Don't get upset with me when I go over your head. That CP patient needs intervention NOW, and you're doing to longest assessment EVER because you think he's just anxious.
-No flirting with me. Just because I don't wear my wedding ring doesn't mean I'm not married. And don't be overly familiar. I work with these people every day, they've earned the right to joke with me and speak more freely.
-My favorite med student ever would come out of the room, very nicely ask if I had a moment to talk (and not in the arrogant kind of way that implies "you'd better have a moment) and ask to read my chart. He said he learned a lot about the patient from reading my chart and talking with me, and didn't want to miss something.
-My personal thing....if the nurse asks if you want to order something (CXR, blood cxs, zofran) generally the answer is yes. I know as an M4 you can't really order stuff, but please dont' discount what I have to say. If I tell you I know this patient and he's only here for the Dilaudid, don't argue with me trying to make me push Dilaudid.
I think the fact that you're asking a community of nurses how to get along better is a good sign - you don't seem like an @ss!! Really though, just being nice and respectful and listening to me (again, don't try to push me to put an IV in a baby who has puked x 2 and is drooling all over herself) goes a long way.
I worked in a teaching hospital for a number of years also, and agree with all of the above. The smart med students/interns/residents (and attending physicians, for that matter) listen to the nurses. If the nurse says: "Wouldn't you like to_______" (fill in the blank here) then the answer almost always should be
"Yes, certainly!" The phrases "wouldn't you like to" and "don't you want to" should make alarm bells go off in your head. If you don't know why you should agree with the nurse, ask! He or she not only knows the patients better than you do, but also knows your residents and attendings better than you do. Those phrases are the sound of a nurse saving your behind!
I would add: don't act as if your patient is the only one the nurse is taking care of. That's definitely not the case, and on med-surg floors, the nurse probably has more to do than is reasonable.
Don't hold the chart for four hours and then come back three minutes after you finally let it go to ask if something has been done, or why it hasn't been. (This probably applies to the floor more than to the ER or ICU).
Above all, be polite and respectful. Many nurses today are old enough to be your mom or dad. Treat them that way. The younger ones also deserve respect. As do the CNAs, the unit clerks, the various techs, the housekeeping staff, etc etc.
I agree that you're on the right track. None of our advice will guarantee that every nurse will treat you well, there are difficult people in every profession, but the advice you've gotten here will go a long way toward making your life as a medical student easier. Thanks for asking, and good luck to you.