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What makes a bad nurse?

cpo_one cpo_one (New) New

Hi there. Kind of a brutal question... I'm looking into nursing, but not sure if it's for me. I've read about the good qualities to have, what about the not-so-good ones?

chevyv, BSN, RN

Specializes in Gero Psych, Ortho Rebab, LTC, Psych. Has 20 years experience.

Hmmm, not so good qualities might be lack of empathy, poor communicator, people hater, someone who may not be good under pressure........ This will be an interesting thread.

Somebody who doesn't care about other people, someone with little or no patience, lack of analytical abilities, somebody that doesn't like problem solving or working independently. Somebody with poor time management skills, someone who can't work with all types of people (meaning race, religion, social, educational and economic status, health status, etc.)

Also, and I know I will probably be treading on thin ice with this comment, but, if you're ONLY in it for the money... yes, we all want a paycheck and we all want it to be a nice amount, but if you are only there because it pays fairly well but you HATE the work, then you're probably not going to be a very good nurse. You have to care at least a little bit about what you're doing, but that's just my opinion.

I'm with the lack of empathy crowd. In addition lack of commone sense is another one. You don't have to be a rocket scientist, but you did need to have good commone sense.

Someone who takes shortcuts and thinks they know everything!!

Meriwhen, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

You WILL have to deal with poop and vomit and sputum and all sorts of disgusting things, and you're not always going to be able to fob the "dirty" work off on a CNA or someone else.

If you aren't willing to deal with that...well, you might not end up being a bad nurse, but you probably won't be a very good nurse.

That Guy, BSN, RN, EMT-B

Specializes in Emergency/Cath Lab. Has 6 years experience.

Know it all attitude is my least favorite i see.

i think the top thing that makes a bad nurse is not being able to handle stressful situations or working under pressure.

when my step sister mentioned that she was thinking about nursing i laughed bc she freaks out over the smallest things

flightnurse2b, LPN

Specializes in EMS, ER, GI, PCU/Telemetry.

my biggest issue would probably be people who are unwilling to work as a team.

be it the "it's not my job" nurses, "i didn't go to nursing school to clean poop" nurses, the sit at the desk and watch others work nurses, the nurses who purposely leave things for other shifts bc they don't think they do as much on days/nights, the nurses who look at other nurses/aides/techs/etc with less education as them as below them.......

willing to work on a team. total necessity of being a good nurse is being a team player.


Specializes in ER, ICU, Education. Has 15 years experience.

Arrogance- annoying in any profession, dangerous/deadly in this one. If you don't know, ask. It's not possible to know everything in this field, you are always learning.

Laziness/lack of motivation- if you don't want to learn, and prefer to expend as little energy as possible, this is not for you. Not the kind of job you can do well if your idea of vigorous activity is rolling your chair a few feet in either direction, lol.

I have to agree, know-it-all attitude, laziness, the slacker mentality (I have a few of those in my clinical group), "it's not my job" person, lack of caring, inability to put your morals aside for the good of the patient. (I know I have certain strong views on things, but I don't even think about that while I'm in clinical.) I was fearful, I'd puke all over my patients when it came to poop, blood, infected wounds and that I'd be totally embarassed with all the nakedness, but I can pull a foley, assist with a birth (nasty looking thing placenta-the first time I thought I was really going to-but it turns out it was the antiseptic fumes in the biohazard closet! LOL) change peri-pads, and look at a fully naked person without embarassment or throwing up.

i think the top thing that makes a bad nurse is unwilling to work as a team,working under pressure,attitude,lack of motivation & lack of commone sense.who can improve top thing they can be a good nurse.

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

nobody thinks they're a bad nurse, and i doubt very much anyone goes into nursing school thinking they're going to be a bad nurse. but some of the consistent qualities that i see in poor nurses are:

lack of empathy (or the ability to fake it).

laziness. i swear to the deity that some nurses spend more time trying to rationalize, delay and otherwise get out of work than actually doing the work would take. time managment skills can be learned, but a work ethic seems to be pretty much ingrained. those that were lazy cnas when they worked on our unit during nursing school are lazy rns now that they're through school!

lack of common sense. common sense really isn't that common! i've seen some awfully smart people who can wax poetic on the causes and effects of portal hypertension or the exact mechanism of action of some anti-psychotic drug i've never heard of all the while either ignoring or not noticing that their patient's cordis became disconnected and he's not getting his drips while exsanguinating.

arrogance. (people who think they know everything annoy the hell out of those of us who actually do know everything!) just kidding. seriously, though, it's hard to teach someone anything when they think they already know everything!

lack of flexibility. you may need to drop your assignment and pick up another on a moment's notice and whining and ******** about it isn't going to make it any easier for anyone!

what a great thread!

I'd like to throw dishonesty into the hat. If a nurse can't be honest with herself, her coworkers and her patients, then she/he should not be a nurse.

Those that take pix of their patient's x-rays and post them on their Facebook pages.:down: (Did you see that article posted recently? Those two idiots sure fit the bill.)

Seriously, any nurse that lacks empathy, is short-tempered and fails to treat patients and their families with care and respect are those that fall into my bad nurse category.

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

i'd like to throw dishonesty into the hat. if a nurse can't be honest with herself, her coworkers and her patients, then she/he should not be a nurse.

you're absolutely right! wish i'd thought of it myself!


Specializes in Med surg.

As a new nurse, I would say a "bad" nurse who be one who does all the things a good nurse would NEVER do. From my experience, think of a time you got lousy service while in public. A bar, a restaurant even a clothing store, now take that experience and put that into a medical environment and taa-daaa....a "bad nurse"

I once overheard a nurse say to another she was going to make me wait ( as a patient) because my crying was ******* her off. Crying quietly b/c I was in pain.:crying2:

I would say a bad nurse is one who doesn't really care about patients but is there for a job and to do as little as possible.

That and RNs that think care partners or LPNs are below them and treat them badly. That care partner works harder for her paycheck and gets paid half if lucky than the RN. Please treat the people doing most of the real work with respect. Sorry if that offends anyone but it is true and that is from an RN.

Nurses that are annoyed with patients asking for pain relief and label everyone on pain medication as an addict. It's a hospital since they are patients maybe they really are sick and hurting.

Nurses that delegate everything except their signature that it was done and take credit for things they had nothing to do with.

Nurses that consider their patients a pain to care for and do as little as possible for them. Maybe nursing really was not a good career choice for them.

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