I recently took care of the absolute sweetest patient ever. He was pretty sick, which was why he landed in ICU, but even with tubes hanging out of him this patient managed to be simply charming. And his wife! She was so perfect I wanted to fold her up, put her in my pocket, and take her home with me. It was a wonderful day.
You see, wonderful days are a necessity in nursing. You have to throw at least a couple of them in there every now and then to make up for the really horrible days. And great patients are needed too. They make up for the interactions with difficult people. Basically difficult people make a nurse’s day go downhill quick, and certain episodes may leave a nurse fatigued, disheartened, and downright disgruntled about the act of providing care.
No one wants a disgruntled nurse, but here are four things that will do just that.
1. Cussing out your nurse. Any nurse that has been in the field long has probably been cursed at, and we completely understand when it comes from confused patients. Those don’t count. No, it’s when we are cussed out by the angry ones that really hurts. That’s right; it hurts. As professionals we completely understand the stress of injury and illness, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t wound us when we’re talked down to like a dog. Heck, worse than a dog.
The thing is we’re doing our best, and we’re doing our best for our patients; so if we miss an IV stick on the first try for a squirming, dehydrated patient we’re not worthless. And we’re certainly not deserving of foul language directed at our person. It’s disrespectful, unjust, and personally hurts my feelings when it happens. I typically try to build up a pretty thick wall to insult in my profession, but occasionally your ugly words cut me.
2. Demean your nurse. You don’t have to drop four-letter words to be demeaning to your nurse. While it is very frustrating to be talked to poorly as a professional, it’s just awful period to be treated like less than a human being. Whether it’s your waitress at the restaurant, the person changing your oil, or even your nurse, it’s never decent to speak to people like they owe you something. While you may be paying for services you are not paying enough to treat someone like a servant or slave that deserves a tongue-lashing when they don’t perform fast enough in your eyes.
It’s degrading, and it leads to a disgruntled person who only desired to help you.
3. Set unrealistic expectations. The role of Supernurse are tough shoes to fill, and nothing brings a nurse down like feeling that they have fallen short in their duties. Nurses are often working in a stressful, demanding environment where staffing resources may be short. They are expected to hold a large amount of knowledge in regards to their field, and be without mistake when carrying out their duties.
I’m trying to say that the expectations on nursing are huge to begin with, but pile on top of that unrealistic ones, and it’s just too much.
Nurses have to eat, they must use the bathroom occasionally, and they can only be in one place at one time. They cannot control what’s going on in another patient room, or how that may keep them from their other patient’s presence. They can only carry out orders that they are given, and cannot magically make pain go away. They get tired, sick, and depressed. Sadly they cannot always do things in a timely manner that is pleasing to everyone.
When people get upset at situations outside of a nurse’s control it’s beyond frustrating. It’s exhausting, and the unfair reactions often crush a nurse’s spirit.
4. Forget nurses are human. I’ve seen nurses labeled as many wonderful things. Angels. Heroes. Lifesavers. I am humbled by those descriptions, and we certainly do try to be all those things, but at the end of the day we are only human.
Our feelings get hurt, and we even grieve too. Sometimes we lose our tempers, and sometimes we use too harsh of a tone. We even make mistakes on occasion. Some days we may feel like all we’re doing is making mistakes.
Sometimes we become frustrated, and often times we feel unjustly treated in a very difficult profession. After all, it’s not always easy making everyone happy all the time, but especially in the face of serious illness. Occasionally, following repeated insult in the process of trying so very hard we may even become disgruntled. Sigh.
But the thing is that no one hates disgruntled nurses more than the disgruntled nurse. This is because we actually like what we do. In fact, we love it. We want to be all smiles and rainbows. And nothing brings a smile to a nurse’s face more than a well-placed “thank you,” a sincere compliment, or even just an air of understanding that is present during the hectic times.
After a shift with a pleasant patient, even if it was crazy, busy, I always leave with a lifted spirit, encouraged sense of self, and determination to be an even better nurse for those I serve.