Share Your Nurse Ratched Moments: In the Life of a Nurse...

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Share Your Nurse Ratched Moments

We all know that a day in the life of a nurse is not always filled with warm and fuzzy moments.  Challenges and frustrations are encountered all the time - many times at the most inappropriate times.  Our co-workers, upper management, families, and even we ourselves can turn into Nurse Ratched.  Please share any Nurse Ratched Moments you've had this week as you fly over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Davey Do

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years). Has 43 years experience. 1 Article; 10,092 Posts

The closest that I could come with me behaving as a Nurse Ratched occurred back around 1988 when I inappropriately confronted a CD patient in a group setting. I was later caringly critiqued by a seasoned nurse who also sat in the group and she let me know that I could have handled the situation better.

The patient complained about my actions to the unit's director and a meeting was arranged with him, the patient, and the other nurse. I felt on the defensive and readied my argument.

The meeting turned out to be one of the most therapeutic that I had, and have had, in my career. The director opened the meeting stating that the goal was to air thoughts and feelings and see how the situation could be improved upon. The patient gave his perspective, and also complimented my past work with him! The other nurse gave me empathy and understanding.

I remember feeling almost choked with emotion, in that that I felt cared for. I admitted to my blindness, apologized for my behavior, and voice my desire to improve.

I left that meeting feeling renewed and that I was not going to be punished for any future mistakes- my mistakes were going to be stepping stones in my growth as a nurse and as an individual.

Now, if the director had been a Nurse Ratched, I would have merely received a frontal lobotomy.

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg. 155 Articles; 5,913 Posts

Has anyone had an encounter with a Nurse Ratched co-worker?

Davey Do

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years). Has 43 years experience. 1 Article; 10,092 Posts

I had a NM back in the late '80's who was an insidiously cold, calculating fish-eyed tyrant.

I mentioned in another thread how we became co-workers in the late '90's and through cosmic Carma, it was proven to me that vengeance does belong to The Lord.


Specializes in New Critical care NP, Critical care, Med-surg, LTC. Has 10 years experience. 4 Articles; 2,209 Posts

On 7/23/2021 at 12:25 PM, tnbutterfly - Mary said:

Has anyone had an encounter with a Nurse Ratched co-worker?

I don't think I work with any true Nurse Ratcheds, but being in the ICU, we attract a certain type of personality in our nurses. Many of us can be on the less than flexible side and sometimes I have coworkers approach patients with a very strong "You WILL do this" attitude, which can end up being disastrous. One of the challenges of making the morning assignment is trying to figure out which nurse is appropriate for which patient. I've seen some interactions that made me cringe, but nothing that I would truly categorize as cruel. They do have good intentions, just some VERY strong opinions on how things should be done. 

Davey Do

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years). Has 43 years experience. 1 Article; 10,092 Posts

A behavioral code was called on the adult psych unit and I found a patient and nurse yelling at each other.




I left soon after arriving.

There was no way that patient was going to take a bath and I was relatively sure the psychiatrist was  not going to write an order for a forced bath.

Besides, the patient didn't smell as bad as my home unit of geriatric psych!

Hannahbanana, BSN, MSN

Specializes in Physiology, CM, consulting, nsg edu, LNC, COB. Has 52 years experience. 1,187 Posts

I did a terrible thing in my first year out if school. Working in a big PACU when a patient’s husband knocked on the door and wanted to come in to see her. I closed the door in his face and asked my manager. She came out to talk to him and, giving me the hairy eyeball, ushered him in. He said, “I know this is against the rules and I’ll just stay a minute. I just had to see her to know she’s OK, you understand, I just had to see her.” He took her hand for a minute and then I shooed him out and he left.

A little bit later I noticed the tattooed numbers on her wrist ...

I have felt horrible about this for fifty years. ?