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When Your Patient Wants To Talk Politics

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I guess this could apply to any part of life, but just curious how everyone handles it when your patient wants to talk about politics. I typically try to redirect the subject back to the care I am providing, but sometimes you have to stay in a room for one reason or another and they just won’t stop. So does anyone have any good tactics since this is a topic that just won’t go away?

CharleeFoxtrot, BSN, RN

Has 7 years experience.

I used to lean in close (before Covid LOL) and say in a low voice "we aren't allowed to talk about this" and give them a wink and loudly change the subject.  They thought I was agreeing with them and would usually go with the re-direct.

26 minutes ago, CharleeFoxtrot said:

I used to lean in close (before Covid LOL) and say in a low voice "we aren't allowed to talk about this" and give them a wink and loudly change the subject.  They thought I was agreeing with them and would usually go with the re-direct.

I love this! Perfect way to handle it! I’m going to use this, thanks!

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 10 years medical. Has 42 years experience.

1 hour ago, CharleeFoxtrot said:

I used to lean in close (before Covid LOL) and say in a low voice "we aren't allowed to talk about this" and give them a wink 

Thanks for my first truly LOL this morning, CharleeFoxtrot!

 

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JBMmom, MSN

Specializes in Long term care; med-surg; critical care. Has 9 years experience.

Luckily I'm in the ICU so I tell them "we aren't allowed to discuss politics in here because it raises people's blood pressure, right now no one in here is stable enough for that (even the staff)." That usually just makes them laugh and I can change the subject. 

EDNURSE20, BSN

Specializes in ED, med-surg, peri op. Has 4 years experience.

Personally I let them rant on, and get on with what I need to do. Generally they talk so much, there isn’t a chance to say anything back. Once I’m done I swiftly interrupt them and leave. 

SmilingBluEyes

Has 26 years experience.

I just tell them it is against policy for staff to discuss controversial topics, to include politics. And then if they keep going (and they sometimes do), I walk away and tend to other patients.

speedynurse, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ER, Pre-Op, PACU.

I usually listen somewhat absent-mindedly for a few minutes and then change the subject and move on. I do the same with my friends and family when politics become exhausting for me 🙂

Sour Lemon

Has 9 years experience.

I usually let them rattle on while I give vague, dumb, non-committal, "I was just born yesterday" types of responses. If they insist on pushing me for an opinion, then I'll let them know it's an off limit subject. Most people just want to talk about themselves, though.

Rogue1

Specializes in Pediatrics. Has 5 years experience.

I just laugh and say "unfortunately I am way too busy working all here the time to be able to know anything about the news/politics" and change the subject to how awesome the hospital food is, LOL.

juan de la cruz, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in APRN, Adult Critical Care. Has 27 years experience.

I happen to work in an area that politically swings very liberal so much so that everyone assumes that employees and patients all share the same convictions. I see comments about current events being openly shared here.  It is actually those in the minority of opinions that I feel bad for when they become our patients because they seem apologetic about their beliefs like this one instance when an elderly female patient asked if Fox is even offered in our TV channel selections because she wanted to watch a show.  

Emergent, RN

Has 28 years experience.

I had a fun conversation with a 92 year patient today about President big mouth 😆

I wish the patient I had today wanted to talk about politics, instead of laying out a flow of polyester tacky pick-up lines.

I just told him "I'm here to do a job, thank you"

OMG that might be the only thing worse!

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 10 years medical. Has 42 years experience.

On 1/10/2021 at 12:42 PM, DesiDani said:

I wish the patient I had today wanted to talk about politics, instead of laying out a flow of polyester tacky pick-up lines.

Not to get off topic, DesiDani, but could you give an example?

Where any like, "You must be a PE because you take my breath away!"

DavidFR, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Oncology, ID, Hepatology, Occy Health. Has 35 years experience.

I think it all depends what the patient is getting at.

If somebody is just looking for an argument that's not particularly constructive and I try to veer off the subject.

I've had very interesting discussions about politics with patients, some of whom I've agreed with and some of whom I haven't. If it's done in the spirit of an intellectual discussion where you respect each other's views it can be a pleasant diversion for the patient, and give you more of an insight into their personality. I think you can judge where it's going, the same with any discussion that's not directly related on whatever topic, social, religious etc. One particluar patient who comes back to us is always reading something politically orientated and has enlightened me with his interesting views on liberalism, the economy etc.

I never give too much of my personal opinions away as it remains a professional relationship, however if the patient wants to discuss something and it's done with maturity and respect, fine by me. I will however call out racist, xenophobic, homophobic, sexist hate speech just as I would anywhere else. One patient when I worked in the UK once ranted to me about dirty foreigners and how it was them that brought all the infectious diseases possible  into the country (if he'd bothered to look at my name badge he'd  have seen my father's very un-British family name!) I told him quite politely why I disagreed with him, from a professional background having worked in infectious diseases. He actually listened and told me later on that I'd made him consider things differently. That was extremely rewarding. 

Would I get into a Macron vs. Le Pen or a Trump vs. Biden cat fight with a patient? No, never. Use your judgement and it's usually OK.

 

 

2 hours ago, Davey Do said:

Not to get off topic, DesiDani, but could you give an example?

Where any like, "You must be a PE because you take my breath away!"

I'm called to help pull up a patient that is not in my run.

Me: "Hi DesiDani I'm just going to help Soandso pull you up"

Patient: "Oh hi, what's your name?

Me: "DesiDani"

Proceed to help coworker fix up the patient's covers.

Patient in rapid fire: "What sign are you?" "Where are you from?" "Are you married?" "You look beautiful" "Can I talk to you?"

Me: "Ummm, I'm here to do my job sir. Thank You" 

Me bolting out of there

Patient was about 40ish.

Yeah, I was not impressed or amused.

I've seen this happen to female doctors as well.  A woman shouldn't have to deal with being "picked up" at work. Yet it happens. To put it into perspective let's say a woman went to get her car repaired. The mechanic happened to be a male. While the mechanic is telling her what is wrong with her car, she blatantly ignores him and proceeds to tell him cheesy pick up lines. The male mechanic tries to stay the course, because the shop is busy, they are short staffed, and customers are waiting. Never mind that, the disrespectful female  only focus is not in her car's repair estimate but to bless (sarcasm) the male mechanic with lame attempts to be cute. By the way telling such a person that you are either dating or married does not matter to them. The female customer finally "GOES AWAY"

That is just a taste of what women have to face around the world.

2 hours ago, Davey Do said:

Not to get off topic, DesiDani, but could you give an example?

Where any like, "You must be a PE because you take my breath away!"

I'm called to help pull up a patient that is not in my run.

Me: "Hi DesiDani I'm just going to help Soandso pull you up"

Patient: "Oh hi, what's your name?

Me: "DesiDani"

Proceed to help coworker fix up the patient's covers.

Patient in rapid fire: "What sign are you?" "Where are you from?" "Are you married?" "You look beautiful" "Can I talk to you?"

Me: "Ummm, I'm here to do my job sir. Thank You" 

Me bolting out of there

Patient was about 40ish.

Yeah, I was not impressed or amused.

I've seen this happen to female doctors as well.  A woman shouldn't have to deal with being "picked up" at work. Yet it happens. To put it into perspective let's say a woman went to get her car repaired. The mechanic happened to be a male. While the mechanic is telling her what is wrong with her car, she blatantly ignores him and proceeds to tell him cheesy pick up lines. The male mechanic tries to stay the course, because the shop is busy, they are short staffed, and customers are waiting. Never mind that, the disrespectful female  only focus is not in her car's repair estimate but to bless (sarcasm) the male mechanic with lame attempts to be cute. By the way telling such a person that you are either dating or married does not matter to them. The female customer finally "GOES AWAY"

That is just a taste of what women have to face around the world.

Now men are getting a taste of it too, thanks to a few overly flirty homosexual male patients. We had to reassign males because this one patient would not let up. From what I was told the patient was pretty crass only towards male staff.  

A male being sexually harassed by another male is still sexual harassment. Still in a devilish way I couldn't help to think "Finally men, get a taste of what women deal"