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How to deal with surgeons that treat you like ****


I sincerely love my job, however, there are just some surgeons who are complete ***** and treat us like were second class stupid citizens. How do you deal with surgeons like this?*everyone else in my job are lovely - nurses, techs, etc..

Edited by traumaRUs

TakeTwoAspirin, MSN, RN, APRN

Specializes in Peri-op/Sub-Acute ANP.

Write them up, every time. Your employer has a responsibility to provide a professional environment, free from abuse. If this is truly abusive behavior and everyone writes it up, every time, the employer will be forced to do something or face the potential for a lawsuit.


Specializes in Cardiovascular and thoracic surgery. Has 9 years experience.

I agree with TakeTwoAspirin, write them up, report them, do more than just sit back and "take it" or complain to co-workers. They have no right to act that way and in addition to making it a hostile work environment it can hinder communication and diminish patient care and safety. Hopefully your co-workers and managers see the harassing behavior as well and will back you in writing the jerks up.

I have also tried explaining my thought process or rationale for my actions to yelling surgeons/anesthesiologists. On a few more rational docs it has worked and they apologized or at least quit their yelling but a few have just seen it as "talking back" and trying to undermine their "authority" and the harassment has just gotten worse. Just recently a surgeon yelled and me and the tech for counting sponges on a vein stripping with a saphenous vein cutdown. Granted the incision was less than 2" and superficial but our policy says we have to count rays and laps with an open incision. I explained the policy to the surgeon and the surgeon went as far as to call us idiots and then threw a lap in the trash and prohibited us from digging it out. My tech and I wrote an incident report and he is now under scrutiny from the hospital. It's just not worth it to let things like that slide in my opinion.

The OR can be tough with so many strong personalities but I love it and I'm going to fight for the career I like and am good at and for my patient's safety!! Good luck to you rncoco!

I work at a cardio thoracic unit wherein the surgeons feel like gods! They are by far the worst surgeons on all the departments that we have. I really love my job but they just make it so difficult to go to work sometimes. My personality is that I keep to myself and avoid confrontation. I know I should change but I just don't feel as if I'm experienced enough to reason out with surgeons. I'm young and have just been in the OR for a year and in the cardiac specialty for 2 mos. :(

They know I'm new and they're picking on me.

I have been a circulator for almost two years and I feel that you should be respectful to a certain point. You don't want to tell the surgeons where to go and how to get there the very first time you meet them. I try my best to do a great job but if they are rude too many times I start giving it back to them. It feels really good sometimes and if you know what you are talking about and stand up for what you believe, you may just earn some respect. But I do agree if you are uncomfortable you should call your team leader or charge nurse. Our job is to speak up.

When I worked with surgeons, most of them were residents and thus learning themselves. Most of the time they were cool and I could talk to them like human beings. Some of them (gasp!) asked me to call them by their first names! We even went out to karaoke!

I have a big mouth and am usually not afraid to use it, but if that's not your personality I wouldn't try to force a "tough" attitude.

I picked my battles with surgeons who were being asshats. The one time I yelled at one personally was when he dropped a chart and scattered the papers all over the floor. He shoved everything back in the binder and WROTE AN ORDER saying "Please put chart back in chronological order."

I called him up and schooled him about not writing stupid stuff in the chart since it's a LEGAL document, and that if he ever pulled that crap again I'd report him to the trauma chair so fast his head would spin.

He behaved after that. Like I said, though, I picked my battle.


Document, document, document. This kind of crap escalates if you don't make it known that you won't put up with it. Good luck!


Specializes in Surgery, Med/Surg/ICU, OB-Peds, Ophth.

Never let them see you sweat and I never try to be fake. I have first assisted since 1998, and I have a tough exterior while I am first working with a new surgeon. Many others have a vivacious personality that will help them get along with all surgeons, I don't. I am all about getting down to business and getting the job done. Good luck!

Call your facility's corporate compliance hotline. Facilities are supposed to have policies about this per TJC. Document well, write down dates, witnesses, etc. Don't respond in kind, but tell the surgeon that his behavior is unacceptable. If you behave like a professional, treat others the same way, and expect that you are treated professionally...the hospital has to take action.

That's just life! I use to be a High School teacher and there were clicks and some teachers thought they were better than others. Its sad because we try to teach the kids not to do this but in the break room the teachers are just as bad.

Just make sure you do the right thing and for the right reasons. It is not always what you do but your motives behind it that makes all the difference.

"From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" so whatever is in the heart will manifest it's self. That is why you find people who may not have much but people flock to them because they have a good heart. On the other hand you have people who have plenty and no one wants to be around them because of how ugly they are on the inside.

Try to let your love for what you do out weight the ignorance that you sometimes have to put up with.

Dont be a push over but also do not stoop to their level. People are masters at treating others like crap and as soon as you give them what they give you they go and tell and you find yourself in trouble. So dont get even with them just hold yourself to a higher standard and kill them with kindness.

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 15 years experience.

That's just life!

It shouldn't be.

This needs to be addressed with management. Either the nurse manager or the chief of that particular surgeon's specialty.

WOW. Now I get why I see so many OR openings. One nurse commented that of the 16 new nurses that were recruited, only 5 were still there 6 months later. Stressful environment.

I'm fortunate enough that the majority of the docs I work with are very pleasant and don't treat the staff bad. That being said, we do have a few that can be. If they get mouthy with me, I get mouthy right back. You have to stand up for yourself or you will never, ever survive in the OR. I have also gone to my boss about a doc before.

GadgetRN71, ASN, RN

Specializes in Operating Room. Has 14 years experience.

Most places around here don't tolerate surgeon bad behavior anymore. Most I've worked with have been fine. If anything it's other staff that are nasty.