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How to deal with negative nurses.

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Mae2014 Mae2014 (New) New

I am a student nurse and will graduate soon. I have worked both in clinical and as a CNA with so many negative nurses. It is difficult to take report when all they have to say are hurtful things about the patient. How can I, as a new graduate, combat this behavior without sounding like a know-it-all and offending the nurses with more experience?

I think it comes from compassion fatigue a lot of the time. When I first started nursing I would try to have compassion-- that people had made poor choices because of lack of education, life circumstances, etc. Or maybe they were just being not-smart but how sad that now they were suffering. After awhile you get tired of seeing the same stories and start to get angry or shake your head, or feel helpless that you may have helped this patient but there will be a line of others just like them who you will also take care of. Because our society/system/whatever is broken. It really wears on you.

I try very hard to stay positive at work, but I am have been abused by patients' families (I work peds so usually the kid is fine and the parents are the nuts) and treated like a servant and waiter. I can try to understand they are tired, exhausted, worried, etc. but sometimes I just am tired of seeing it or being used as the punching bag for their behavior.

Vacation is so very important to have as a nurse, and trying to leave work at work. I struggle with this sometimes and then I get more stressed out that my work feelings are encroaching on my personal life and happiness with my family.

Would love to hear other comments about this.

And just wanted to add that I still feel very sorry for the ones who are sick because of bad luck. I never judge or talk badly about those patients but even then, sometimes the parents can be nutso and make a stressful night for everyone who is trying to care for the patient. I might be nutso too, if I had a child who was suffering like that. So we do pass on that the parent has some psycho-social issues but sometimes it's not put that delicately, because after a 12 hour shift with said parent, your patience has worn thin.

redhead_NURSE98!, ADN, BSN

Specializes in Med/surg, Quality & Risk. Has 9 years experience.

My apologies on behalf of those nurses. I hated those people too and never understood, and thought if their job sucked that bad they should get a new one. But it didn't take me long to catch myself doing the same thing. I apologized to the student that I did it to. But soon enough you will understand. It really doesn't take long. It doesn't mean you hate your job, or that you hate your patients or anything; you just get tired of seeing the same thing over and over again, and like the other person said, people who created their own situation and want to do nothing to fix it or improve their health at all. You feel like you're beating your head against the wall sometimes. But don't let that get you down. Just try to be the best nurse you can be and don't worry about how anyone else acts!!

DedHedRN

Specializes in Medical Surgical. Has 6 years experience.

I also found myself doing this. What made me change my ways was a super compassionate nurse who had been working for 20+ years. I would give her report with my usual negative quips, and she would chime in every time with a very compassionate statement about what may be going on with the pt. It made me see what I was doing and strive to be more like her.

How can I, as a new graduate, combat this behavior without sounding like a know-it-all and offending the nurses with more experience?
The single best way to combat this and most other negative behavior is to consistently communicate and conduct yourself with the high level of respect and professionalism you expect from yourself and desire to see in others. It is truly amazing how effective this can be. Most people will rise to meet you there.

I am a student nurse and will graduate soon. I have worked both in clinical and as a CNA with so many negative nurses. It is difficult to take report when all they have to say are hurtful things about the patient. How can I, as a new graduate, combat this behavior without sounding like a know-it-all and offending the nurses with more experience?

Hi Mae2014,

Welcome to nursing:) As one of my fav nursing instructors would say! Anon456 is spot on. When I worked in the hospital is not uncommon to get report from nurses who would say some very judgmental, mean things about the pt. and the pt's family. And you are very wise to ask how to address this without seeming like you are the better nurse by not feeling the same or commiserating with your fellow nurse.

So how I personally handled report from a nurse who was obviously burned out and saying very negative things about the pt., family, shift, etc.(because we all feel that way at times...believe me ALL nurses will feel in some way like that at times) is to validate your coworker's feelings 1st. For example:

In report Betsy, RN stated that pt.xyz has been a pain all shift and his family is getting on my nerves...I would come back with something like.."yeah it seems that way at times" but then I would also add "well I know it's tough for staff and pt's and family when they are in the hospital".

Something to that effect. I don't want to pile on about the pt but I also don't want to come across as "aww that's not right to say that" nurse. I can understand what the nurse is feeling and also a pt that is labeled difficult usually just feels out of control in the hospital setting and is lashing out some way.

A little understand all around goes a long way in nursing:) Good luck to you!

Mj

Edited by 4give&4getoften
wrong word

Mae2014,

can I add on also that someday when you do come across that pt and or a pt's family that seems extremely angry or "difficult"....and you you will know it! Not only from your fellow nurses who had the past shift but when you walk in the room, you could cut the tension with a knife. Please try and ask your pt is everything ok or is there something they need. Believe me, some pts and family staff will never be able to resolve all of the issues or make them happy but if you really try to understand where a pt. is coming from that also goes along way instead of automatically labeling them as "difficult".

An example: pt and family(lots of family) in room when pt was admitted on our unit. The hospital I worked for at the time; small community hospital out in the suburbs. Pt and family not familiar with the hospital or community felt like they were getting some attitude about certain things. I walk in to do admission...WOW it felt like a very hostile environment upon my entering.

I smiled cautiously and walked directly to the pt introduced my self to the pt and to his family. I knew that the pt and his family felt because of his dx and some other things that their was judgment from the staff(I really don't know if this was the actual case BUT it was this pt/family's PERCEPTION and you know what the saying is about perception?!)

I put my pt and his family at ease eventually by talking about some of the things that bothered them. They were pretty forthcoming and I was glad! I never want any pts/families thinking that they will get a substandard of care from me for any reason!

Am I rambling on?lol my point is...if a pt has been labeled difficult please try to find out why and help the pt as much as you can and let them know that you will everything within your power to take good care of them and their concerns. At times, being perceptive to your pt's emotional needs will be greater than their physical needs. That is why nursing is so hard and wonderful at the same time!

Nursing encompasses everything and it is damn hard at times and it will take every ounce of very being at times to be a good nurse at times and you will hate being a nurse at times and at other times you will feel proud and everything in between BUT if you are like most of us nurses you will know there is NOTHING else in life you would rather be...than a nurse!

ok sorry if I rambled...currently in my nursing career I am doing private duty and with this case I never expected the impact it would have on me; as a nurse and a human being. This case has definitely made me a better nurse, a better person.

Usually the longer that you have done the job, the more negative your attitude becomes. Healthcare in general is a hard industry to work in. There is little to none recognition, and a lot of back stabbing that goes along with it. You get a lot of blame, and more work just gets added onto your plate without any compensation.

imintrouble, BSN, RN

Specializes in LTC Rehab Med/Surg. Has 16 years experience.

For 12 hrs a day I'm at the mercy of not just one, but at least 5-7 sick, unhealthy, unhappy people. They vent their pain, frustration, and sadness, on the nursing staff. I can't defend myself. I can't ignore them. I can't avoid them. It simply wears off.

On most days I'm one of those negative nurses. I've been working on it, because I'm doing to my co-workers exactly what my pt does to me. Venting all my frustration and anger on a person that can't get away from me. Weird.

Usually the longer that you have done the job, the more negative your attitude becomes. Healthcare in general is a hard industry to work in. There is little to none recognition, and a lot of back stabbing that goes along with it. You get a lot of blame, and more work just gets added onto your plate without any compensation.
Are you a recruiter? ;)

I am a student nurse and will graduate soon. I have worked both in clinical and as a CNA with so many negative nurses. It is difficult to take report when all they have to say are hurtful things about the patient. How can I, as a new graduate, combat this behavior without sounding like a know-it-all and offending the nurses with more experience?

Ah the holier than thou new nurse syndrome, seen it many times on this board. Look, mean things are not appropriate in bedside reporting but let's face it hospitals get many of the low lifes of society or those who refuse to be advocates of their own health. After a while as a nurse you get burned out with the same types of patients over and over again where it makes you bitter even towards those who genuinely need help.

If you said something to me at reporting I would set you straight real fast so trying to combat or convert people to your nursing views is not going to help.

Nursing is one of the top burn out professions you deal with crap most people wouldn't take for 5 minutes and you can't even defend yourself. So when you have a constant whiner or a ETOH withdrawal patient who gets up every 5-10 minutes and sets the bed alarm off at 3am your patient wears thin....fast.

Edited by Dranger

Fiona59

Has 18 years experience.

Ah the holier than thou new nurse syndrome, seen it many times on this board. Look, mean things are not appropriate in bedside reporting but let's face it hospitals get many of the low lifes of society or those who refuse to be advocates of their own health. After a while as a nurse you get burned out with the same types of patients over and over again where it makes you bitter even towards those who genuinely need help.

If you said something to me at reporting I would set you straight real fast so trying to combat or convert people to your nursing views is not going to help.

Nursing is one of the top burn out professions you deal with crap most people wouldn't take for 5 minutes and you can't even defend yourself. So when you have a constant whiner or a ETOH withdrawal patient who gets up every 5-10 minutes and sets the bed alarm off at 3am your patient wears thin....fast.

Will consider becoming my bigamous husband? I think I love you

suga_junkie, BSN, RN

Has 3 years experience.

I was like you. A little over a year into being an RN has really changed my point of view! As far as I'm concerned, venting to another nurse who understands makes it 100 times easier to go back into the patients rooms with a smile on my face and act with grace and compassion despite whatever abuse the patient/family throws at me. If I didn't get to vent, I would most likely explode in front of the patient and I would burn out much much quicker. As long as the patient is not aware of the nurse's feelings, let the poor person get their frustration off their chest without judging them! You have no idea what it's like being a full time nurse yet.

1fastRN

Specializes in Emergency Nursing.

As others have said I think a lot of it is burn out. And I'll second it that it's important to take vacations and time to yourself. Also, I find if I take a lot of overtime I spread myself too thin and feel more negative. I think some of the ranting is just to blow off steam... as the ole saying goes, misery loves company.

I work with a handful of these people, and I just try to let it roll off my shoulders. I have actually seen some people who motivated me to be a better nurse... I'll look at them and say to myself, "I never want to be that type of nurse." I'm not perfect and I have my days, but I'm a firm believer in positive thinking. And it sometimes rubs off on others. I can't change the situation, so how will being negative change anything? In fact, it will probably make it worse. "Fake it til you make it" and "kill em with kindness" are two phases I try to live by. I don't care how negative you're being, I'm not going to let that person drag me down. I tend to avoid those type of co workers or try to lighten the mood with a joke or something. Sometimes people just want to rant and I get that. But confronting someone would probably just make the person defensive.

I've never been in this situation but if someone was being negative to a patient in a way that effects patient care, I might say something to management. I don't like to be a "tattle tail" either as we are ask adults, so this would have to be an extreme case. I feel like if someone was negative and rude enough that people would notice and others (even patients) would complain enough for management to take notice. But who really knows, we have some real negative nancies who have been on the unit for years. I just try to control what I can; my behavior and how I treat others. On another note, some people may not even realize they are coming across this way. Perception is everything!

1fastRN

Specializes in Emergency Nursing.

I was like you. A little over a year into being an RN has really changed my point of view! As far as I'm concerned, venting to another nurse who understands makes it 100 times easier to go back into the patients rooms with a smile on my face and act with grace and compassion despite whatever abuse the patient/family throws at me. If I didn't get to vent, I would most likely explode in front of the patient and I would burn out much much quicker. As long as the patient is not aware of the nurse's feelings, let the poor person get their frustration off their chest without judging them! You have no idea what it's like being a full time nurse yet.

I have to second you on this! I sometimes rant to friends outside of work (many are nurses elsewhere) and I've definitely tabbed to other nurses in the med room. I feel a sense of relief afterwards. Some of the greatest nurses complain so much yet are so sweet and attentive to their patients. Sometimes I come home and call my mom (also a nurse) and complain so much I think to myself, God it must sound like I hate my job! Reality is though, I like MOST parts of my job..but after a rough night it feels SO good to let it all out. :)

I

macawake, MSN

Has 12 years experience.

Whenever a patient treats me disrespectfully I’ll very calmly say something like “I understand that your situation makes you feel angry/scared/frustrated/lack control/sad/in pain/anguished but please don’t snap at/take it out on me. I’m actually here to help you. It’s the sole purpose for my being in here at this time. My goal is to alleviate your suffering. How about we focus our energy on that and see what we can accomplish together? For me this works nine times out of ten.

Since this works for me and I often feel that I’m in a partnership with the patient working towards a common goal I seldom if ever wind up feeling used or bitter. It makes me a happier and more content person. I refuse to take things personally or let other people’s poor choices regarding their health bring me down. I’m quite pragmatic. My previous career was in law enforcement. So even if my nursing career is still relatively new, I’ve spent close to twenty years meeting people who do not always exercise the best judgment or make the best choices. Their social skills and demeanour also often leave a lot to be desired. It’s a fact though that without them a lot of law enforcement officers and healthcare workers would have to find an alternate career ;) They are our bread and butter.. No use getting angry at them and let them affect your job satisfaction, emotional health and well-being. Being angry just drains you of energy. The patients are what they are. We're not likely to change that.

Nursing is tough and challenging enough as it is. There is no need to add to the burden by feeling angry, bitter and used. Refusing to feel this way is in my opinion a choice that we can actively make.

Since I don’t let “difficult” patients get to me I seldom feel the need to say something derogatory or judgmental about these patients in report. I just report the facts. I don’t have the patience to listen to a co-workers judgmental analysis of a patient’s choices either. I’m not judge and jury of someone else's life choices, neither are they. I will let my co-worker know how I feel.

If they need to vent because someone (patient, family or someone else) has treated them poorly I’ll gladly listen, commiserate and offer what support I can. Just don’t sit there and harp on or snigger in judgment of your patient’s choices, I’m not interested in your negative energy. It’s not constructive but it sure is contagious.

OP, I hope that you’ll be able to keep your attitude as you gain nursing experience.

Should you find yourself drifting into negative territory I think that red_headNURSE98!, 4give&4getoften , Krzysztof and DedHedRN all offered excellent advice.

Edited by macawake

Will consider becoming my bigamous husband? I think I love you

Haha, I am flattered!