Jump to content

Humble Nurses Do This

Nurses Article   (1,103 Views 11 Replies 855 Words)
by J.Adderton J.Adderton, MSN (Member) Writer Verified

J.Adderton has 20 years experience as a MSN .

7 Followers; 51 Articles; 26,985 Visitors; 259 Posts

advertisement

In nursing, humility brings great benefits. It allows you to put aside ego and appreciate what others can offer. Practicing humility helps us to listen and focus on the needs of our patients.

Humble Nurses Do This

A Time I Lacked Humility

Early in my nursing career, I worked as a home health nurse.  I took much pride in my work performance. My team leader boasted on how we formed the “A-Team” and I worked hard for this label.  Mrs. X was my patient for over a year. Mrs. X had end-stage heart failure and did not wish to visit ED for symptom management. The physician recommended hospice care.  Mrs. X did not want another nurse to visit. Her son was also concerned stating “we love you, what can the hospice nurse do that you can’t?”.

I was confident I could continue to meet the patient’s needs and she remained on home care services.  Several years later, I accepted a hospice position and realized Mrs. X didn’t have the benefit of symptom management at the end of life.  I lacked the knowledge and experience needed to provide the same level of end of life care as a hospice nurse. With all my pride and hard work, I fell short on humility.  Although I had only good intentions, I failed to acknowledge my limitations. The truth? Mrs. X’s end of life goals could have been better met with hospice.

Knowledge and Expertise is not Enough

Nurses practice professional humility when they realistically look at their strengths, weaknesses, knowledge and abilities.  Humility often comes easier for new nurses who tend to be less confident and are open to learning from others.. As we move through our nursing careers, we develop many skills and gain expertise.  Patients value nurses who are confident in their abilities. However, they also want nurses who are aware of their limitations and willing to seek assistance when needed.

When caring for Mrs. X, I truly wanted what was in her best interest.  Unfortunately, my overconfidence caused me to lose focus on the patient.  As a result, Mrs. X didn’t benefit from what another nurse could provide.

A Humble Nurse Does This

Being humble has great benefits. Humility allows you to put aside ego and appreciate what others can offer.  We learn to pay attention and listen to the patient's needs. Here are a few simple ways you can practice humility in your day to day practice:

  • Ask for assistance when needed

  • View support as an opportunity to gain new knowledge

  • Admit when you make a mistake

  • Know your weakness and work to improve them

  • Apologize when needed

  • Be open to new ideas and differing opinions

  • Treat people with respect

  • Be patient with the weaknesses of others

  • Be tolerant of your own inadequacies

  • Talk less and listen more

  • Show appreciation to others

  • Seek honest feedback and welcome constructive criticism

Whether you are a student, new nurse or have had a long career, there is always more to learn.

Avoid Jekyll and Hyde Syndrome

Do you ever reach a point when your mild-mannered and calm self morphs into an impolite, blunt and rattled alter ego?  How do you respond when a new nurse asks you to help her insert a catheter 15 minutes before shift change? Are you rude or frustrated and does it show?  These moments are opportunities to practice humility. When you do “snap” and your Hyde ego takes over, be sure to apologize once the storm has passed.

The Litmus Test of Humility

To practice humility, we need to understand how people perceive us.  A good litmus test is how your friends, co-workers and family would describe your personality.  It may even be necessary to actually ask and tell them to be open and honest. Most likely, the feedback will include both positive and negative characteristics.  Are you approachable and polite or curt and impatient? Are you irritable, grumpy and withdrawn? Understanding your Hyde alter ego will allow you to move forward by answering the question “how do I want people to perceive me?”.

Freedom From Ourselves   

Humility in nursing means to see to our limitations and weaknesses.  Nurses who are humble view their own importance as equal to others. When mistakes seem like a blow to your ego, humility provides an opportunity to improve and move on to better.  Humility allows us to grow in our relationships and benefit from the contribution of others. But most importantly, humility brings freedom by taking the attention off of ourselves.

Wadell, P. (2017).  Humility: An indispensable virtue to learn for practicing with excellence, Catholic Health Association of the United States, Sep-Oct.

Grande, D. (2018). The imperative of humble leadership, American Nurse Today, 13(3).                                 

I am an RN with over 20 years experience and enjoy writing about what I encounter in nursing. I am also a nurse in recovery and have discovered my perspective has shifted over the past few years. If you enjoyed this article, please visit my Allnurses blog https://allnurses.com/profile/1054069-jadderton/blog/

7 Followers; 51 Articles; 26,985 Visitors; 259 Posts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1,499 Visitors; 42 Posts

Two things: 1. Humility includes acknowledging that one is unable to help someone and admit that. The example of what would you do if a new nurse (or an old nurse) asked for help inserting a catheter at the end of the shift. If your 4 year old is waiting for you to pick him up or your mom is depending on you at a certain time, maybe you can't help. Maybe, you need to look selfish. That takes a lot of humility to perform one's duty and look "bad." Of course, an explanation might help, but a lot of people are very judgmental and talk behind people's backs. Being a martyr is not the same as having humility. Of course, when you make a commitment to your co-workers, they would be able to trust that you stick to your word and have the competence to manage your time. So, respect could come out of such an instance.

2. I forgot what the second point was.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

J.Adderton has 20 years experience as a MSN.

7 Followers; 51 Articles; 26,985 Visitors; 259 Posts

8 hours ago, bbyRN said:

Two things: 1. Humility includes acknowledging that one is unable to help someone and admit that. The example of what would you do if a new nurse (or an old nurse) asked for help inserting a catheter at the end of the shift. If your 4 year old is waiting for you to pick him up or your mom is depending on you at a certain time, maybe you can't help. Maybe, you need to look selfish. That takes a lot of humility to perform one's duty and look "bad." Of course, an explanation might help, but a lot of people are very judgmental and talk behind people's backs. Being a martyr is not the same as having humility. Of course, when you make a commitment to your co-workers, they would be able to trust that you stick to your word and have the competence to manage your time. So, respect could come out of such an instance.

2. I forgot what the second point was.

I agree.. setting appropriate boundaries is an act of humility.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Davey Do has 35 years experience and specializes in Psych, CD, HH, Admin, LTC, OR, ER, Med Surge.

14 Followers; 1 Article; 75,023 Visitors; 6,045 Posts

On 5/22/2019 at 8:33 AM, J.Adderton said:

A Humble Nurse Does This

848477631_humblepie.jpg.83a79be825343d8cd0b7138dbb0f398f.jpg

I drew this in my pocket journal last December,  J.Adderton, after I fell off my high horse.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

J.Adderton has 20 years experience as a MSN.

7 Followers; 51 Articles; 26,985 Visitors; 259 Posts

2 hours ago, Davey Do said:

848477631_humblepie.jpg.83a79be825343d8cd0b7138dbb0f398f.jpg

I drew this in my pocket journal last December,  J.Adderton, after I fell off my high horse. 

I love it!  I think great pic to keep on my clipboard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1 Follower; 1,792 Visitors; 193 Posts

"Nurses practice professional humility when they realistically look at their strengths, weaknesses, knowledge and abilities. "

Yes, true, and yes I do. It comes down to the Art of Nursing vs. the Skill of Nursing. Examples:

1. Know when to fly below the radar, ie, when a really important issue is going to fall on deaf ears, and some things are better left unsaid

2. Know when to fly above the radar...ahhhhh, this is the art of nursing, and usually involves being a direct care patient advocate. This is about the patient, and sometimes, a good deed never goes unpunished.

3. Knowing when to fly midline..this is when you come to work, do your job, and go home. Not stressing over the CNA that took 6 breaks instead of 2, or supplies that you wasted 30 minutes searching for and couldn't find. 

Yet, having these self actualization abilities that sharpen over time never seems to change the outcome,  does it? Ie, .. the profession itself (damned if you do, damned if you don't phenomenon) , or how/ why nurses continue to be abused, shorted, shouted down, shut down, reprimanded, set up for failure, fired and destroyed, and robbed of one's sanity and confidence. 

ie...you can do everything right, and things still go wrong. And exactly the opposite happens as well. We know its not about skill, education, self actualization, humility, #bebest, the blame game, getting out on time, perfect charting, imperfect charting. None of it matters. You work at the subjective whim of whomever had the connections to get into a management position. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

5 Followers; 93 Articles; 147,017 Visitors; 390 Posts

Good article! Thanks. Humility is not a virtue that comes easily to most of us. It's good to be reminded of how important it is to know our limitations and to set boundaries. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

J.Adderton has 20 years experience as a MSN.

7 Followers; 51 Articles; 26,985 Visitors; 259 Posts

12 hours ago, panurse9999 said:

Knowing when to fly midline..this is when you come to work, do your job, and go home. Not stressing over the CNA that took 6 breaks instead of 2, or supplies that you wasted 30 minutes searching for and couldn't find. 

I think you wrote this sentence just for me!  It is tragic that I fail to recognize how important the midline is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

CharleeFoxtrot has 7 years experience as a ADN, RN.

6,028 Visitors; 416 Posts

I loved this article! I am at the "I don't know (whatever) but I will find out and get back with you-I promise." stage of my career. Wish I had arrived here sooner for my patient's sake.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

J.Adderton has 20 years experience as a MSN.

7 Followers; 51 Articles; 26,985 Visitors; 259 Posts

I definitely think age is on my side when it comes to humility.  Although there are many young nurses with characteristics of humility, it just took me longer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

thoughtful21 has 1 years experience as a BSN, RN.

3,166 Visitors; 128 Posts

Sometimes people with humility tend to get steamrolled by the more confident people though, don't they? Aren't they looked down on and made to look worse than others, because they are asking questions, admitting mistakes, accepting criticism, and listening more than talking?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

3,569 Visitors; 101 Posts

5 hours ago, thoughtful21 said:

Sometimes people with humility tend to get steamrolled by the more confident people though, don't they? Aren't they looked down on and made to look worse than others, because they are asking questions, admitting mistakes, accepting criticism, and listening more than talking?

I actually find the opposite to be true.  I am going to have much more respect and a better working relationship with the person asking questions and taking accountability.  It is the people who cannot accept criticism or blame others for their mistakes that I have the problem with. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing 0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×