How to Command Respect

In an article published in 2007 by the Green Bay Press Gazette, attention was brought to a problem that doesn't seen to want to go away. Nurses continue to struggle with their working relationships with physicians and continue to identify physician abuse of nurses as a significant issue in the workplace. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

How do nurses respond when they find themselves in the disfavor of a physician? What can nurses do to command the respect of the physicians that they work with? Why is the opinion of physicians of importance?

The key words, here, are "command respect". Societal relationships and mores are an evolutionary process. The basic principles that guide our interactions are too numerous to mention. Without question, if a nurse wants to command respect and be treated like a professional, then he/she must learn to act like a professional. In many cases, this is an uphill climb. Physicians may have a history of poor experiences or have preconceived notions about nurses. Responsibility rests with nurses to sharpen their communication skills.

Nurses Need to Project Confidence:

Nurses should be aware of body language, dress, posture, facial expressions, eye contact, and tone of voice.

Exhibit a Strong Knowledge Base:

Nurses must know their patients; anticipate and study pertinent facts; communicate those facts to the physician; leave the conclusions to the physician; and stuff the urge to describe that they have a "feeling" or are "worried" about a patient. Instead, it is up to the nurse to find and collect facts/data to support a concern.

Develop Assertiveness:

Nurses should use their knowledge-base with confidence and speak to physicians as health care providers on a peer level. If a physician takes exception to a valid point that a nurse is making, the nurse should be prepared to seek clarification. It is important for the nurse to understand why a physician makes a decision that seems to be counter to the diagnosis as understood by the nurse. There may be other times that a nurse needs to object, be assertive, and defend his/her position.

Communicate Verbally and in Writing:

Nurses should be prepared; be brief, and be concise. This is how to "command respect" and is more than earning respect or gaining respect. Respect that is commanded demonstrates the recognition of the voice of authority that marks the professional. It also demonstrates the achievement of obtaining the acceptance of fellow professionals.

The delivery of safe health care rests not only on the competencies of the health care team, but it also rests on the working relationships and on the trust that they have in each other. With this in mind, nurses need to foster and nurture the trust that the physicians place in them and consciously take the necessary steps to maintain their respect.

What if there is a personality clash and a physician refuses to acknowledge the efforts of a nurse who has used these skills to no avail? During the course of a nursing career, it could happen that there will be a standoff between physician and nurse. This is an instance where actions will speak more loudly than words. Maintain objectivity. Remain calm especially if under fire. It is never appropriate to show disrespect in any way. The nurse may need to walk away, shake the dust from his/her sandals and become even more aware of the importance of fostering and nurturing the trust of the other members of the health care team.

Specializes in Pediatric.

I believe you have a very valid point. I think any nurse who has been a nurse for any length of time has had a patient like yours. We have to not only listen to the patient but to the family. If the family is telling you something is wrong or they're not acting like themselves, you had better take heed.

Good article and fantastic remarks from each of you!