What makes a bad nurse?

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Ruby Vee, BSN

47 Articles; 14,024 Posts

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.

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!


283 Posts

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.


78 Posts

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

47 Articles; 14,024 Posts

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.
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!


27 Posts

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:


26 Posts

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.


47 Posts

yeah i agree with these comments. the worst nurse(or any medical personnel for that matter) who doesn't show or display empathy to patients at all i consider to be a poor nurse and wish they could all be fired and replaced by caring ones... just makes me wonder who in their right mind would hire that type of person? but never fails, there's always at least one..

Horseshoe, BSN, RN

5,879 Posts

Nurses who are lazy or refuse to believe they are ever wrong are the worst-because those qualities make them very dangerous.

Specializes in Thoracic Cardiovasc ICU Med-Surg.


allnurses Guide

Hygiene Queen

2,232 Posts

A bad nurse does not listen to what their nurse's aides are trying to tell them.

The aides usually know the patients (especially the residents in LTC) far better than the nurses do.

If your aide tells you, "Mrs. X looks funny... she isn't acting right", then it behooves you to check it out!

I have seen nurses (rarely, thank goodness!) who turn up their noses and scoff because the aide is "only an uneducated aide" who may not even know the proper terminology for what it is they are trying to convey.

How pompous!

A good nurse knows the aide is their eyes, ears and nose.


272 Posts

A dumb nurse.

allnurses Guide

Hygiene Queen

2,232 Posts

A dumb nurse.

Well, I think you summed that up in a nutshell!

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