My Reply, To A Reply, On My Nurse Rant

I recently posted a blog entry “Here I Go On A Nurse Rant, Again“, about the horrible attitude of some nurses. I received the following comment on the post and I decided to share this particular nurse’s take on nurses being nice with everyone, and give my response.

From “Sean”:

“I guess the short answer is that we aren’t paid to be nice. We’re paid to provide professional cares to humanity, whether they are irksome, pleasant or unconscious. Our education consists of training specific to the safe and effective delivery of healthcare. There is no component of nurse training that is dedicated to being ‘nice’. You want to be treated like a valued customer: go to a jewellery store. You want professional healthcare: see a nurse. Whether nurses ‘care’ or not is actually beside the point. Do you ever ask whether your surgeon ‘cares’ or your post delivery person ‘cares’? Nurses ‘care’ insofar as they deliver professional health behaviours. If they actually really cared about you they would make you soup and tuck you in at night. There’s a name for that person: your mother. This doesn’t excuse rude, demeaning or unprofessional behaviours, but it might help to clarify what this professional body of clinicians is paid to do. That’s my special message to you.”

There is so much I want to write in response to this comment. It evokes so many feelings; shock, disbelief, anger, frustration. However, there is a simple response to this comment, and that is, no one is paid, or needs to be, or should be paid extra salary to be nice, in any profession or circumstance in life. Being nice is a natural, human interaction, an interaction of genuine compassion and caring for your fellow human beings. To believe that one needs to paid to be nice only demonstrates a disconnection between themself and their humanity, a signal that their emotional soul is in debt, a broken and hurt psyche. All I can do, rather than argue with Sean, for obviously this is their inherent belief system, is to wish them love and sincere peace. Hopefully they will once again be able to find their humanity, and be able to be nice, if not to others around, then at least to themself.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. sean parker says:

    It seems you did not understand my position. If you read the second last line i make a specific point about ‘rude, demeaning and unprofessional behaviour’. My position is that what you can expect from a Nurse is professional caring behaviours and it’s all you should expect.
    You should not expect genuine caring or transference of emotion (actual caring) as you won’t get this much of the time and to be honest a nurse spending 5 minutes fluffing up your pillow and chatting is pretty rare. You may get this and, in my experience, every nurse exhibits this to a greater or lesser degree every day; but it’s a personal quality not a professional behaviour.
    Nurses deal with up to 20 patients a day in varying degrees of pain and distress. Sometimes you will be lucky and have a nurse who has the time or inclination to do a little extra and sometimes you will luck out and get the bossy officious one. Usually it’s not personal if a nurse is rude or impatient with you and it is probably a factor of a busy, overworked health system.
    Maybe you should invest your energies into developing strategies to cope with people who are brutally honest or just doing what they’re paid to do every day to the best of their abilities.
    If it’s any consolation, if you have a cardiac arrest it is the bossy officious ones that’ll save your ass every time.


  2. Basil Rene says:

    You and I can go back and forth about this and never agree as you obviously believe that in order to do your job you must avoid being a pleasant person, and must conform to a hard exterior that will allow you to detach from any feelings at all. Some points on your comments:
    > “Usually it’s not personal if a nurse is rude or impatient with you and it is probably a factor of a busy, overworked health system.”, and I do agree and understand that we are all human, but under no circumstance in any profession does that justify a person to be rude and abusive. If you’re having a hard day, stop for a minute, take a deep breath and adjust your attitude. Would you tollerate going to a restaurant and a waiter slamming down your food in front of you? They have hard days, but that does not give them the right to be rude. In both instance I am paying for a service, and I at least expect it to be done professionally and with respect. It takes a lot less muscles to smile at some one than to curl your lip at them in disgust. Being “nice” does not mean fluffing a pillow. Nice is a natural human to human contact. All it takes is a simple smile.I have come across many a nurse that are obviously overwhelmed and over worked, but still they were not rude as you seem to allow the justification for such behavior.
    > “Maybe you should invest your energies into developing strategies to cope with people who are brutally honest or just doing what they’re paid to do every day to the best of their abilities.” What do nurses have to be BRUTALLY honest about? They are not there to diagnose or prognose. How can you be BRUTAL in telling someone their vitals? I don’t need to adjust my way of thinking to permit rude and brutal behavior. If i want to be treated brutally, I’ll go to a wrestling match or sit front row at a comedy club.
    > “If it’s any consolation, if you have a cardiac arrest it is the bossy officious ones that’ll save your ass every time.” Really? I would think that it would be the nurse that is properly trained that would be the one that would save my ass every time, which by the way all nurses are supposed to be.
    The bottom line is, you are obviously not a “people” person. You believe that you are there to do a job, which you are, and you are not paid to smile or be nice or be human. I get that. I realize that there are some people in the world like you and although I do have to understand that, I don’t have to allow it. That is why, when I go to a doctor’s office and I come across a person with your attitude, I inform the doctor and the office manager that I am not to be tended to by that nurse anymore. I had cause to do this more than once, and the office is happy to oblige. I would not trust being attended to by someone who is incapable of controlling their emotions, and obviously thinks it is okay to take their bad day out on patients. A nurse that is incapable of seperating their personal anger, disgust, and general feeling of being overwhelmed from their work is obviously more inclined to make mistakes, and thus a danger to the medical society.


  3. denise pena says:

    The last thing someone not feeling good wants to deal with is a rude nurse. If people who work with the public can’t be nice they should find another profession


  4. sean parker says:

    OK, last rant at the anti-nurse rant… then I promise I’ll leave you in peace. If you read my comments closely I have at no time said that nurses should not be nice or pleasant or kind. These are behaviours that are of course the ideal in any human interaction. Most nurses I work with exhibit a pleasant and welcoming affect. I personally exhibit a friendly and kind approach to my patients. My point is that as a patient you have no right to expect this. You have a right to receive professional behaviour such as courtesy and to have your dignity respected. You do not have the right to be treated as a valued customer, you are one of may patients; some of which are far sicker than you. You have the right to complain if your treatment is unprofessional (ie not treated with dignity, not had consent requested for treatment, not had treatments communicated to you etc). You may of course ask for preferential treatments and may decline to be treated but you should respect the expertise of those treating you (for example if a nurse wants to use a 19 gauge needle to take blood it’s because he/she wants to avoid hemolysing a sample not because they enjoy giving you pain).
    Nurses should not be rude to their patients, as I have explained already, but nurses are people… and when you’re at the ED the nurse who treats you may have been kicked that shift by a patient, they may have been bitten, they may have seen a child die, they may have dealt with a family who are making unreasonable demands… and then they see you. They may be rude to you, that’s unprofessional but in the context still unforgiveable but maybe understandable.
    They are most likely to be cool, professional, matter of fact and concerned with treating you and moving on to the next patient who may be a 80 year old with acute pulmomnary oedema or a child with a fracture. If you expect to be treated like a valued customer in a jewellery store at this time you will be sorely disappointed. And that is your problem because all you should expect is professional behaviours, which does not include ‘nice’ but does include ‘civil’, see the difference?
    What you might get, if you’re really lucky, is one of those rare nurses who can rise above it all, above the abusive patients she has been dealing with, above the time pressures of an insane working environment and still patiently and cheerfully deal with you and be genuinely a nice person.
    Thank you for the passive/aggressive comment about nurses being vital signs takers, I appreciate your honesty. Luckily most of my cohort of professionals can act on what they observe in patent interaction (including what you perceive as a low value skill) and intervene to prevent deterioration or stop a junior doctor doing the wrong thing or act independantly to provide life saving treatments.
    In regards to being brutally honest…. mmmm…. I work in an environment where I routinely explain to families that there loved one is dying or i educate patients that their behaviours will shorten their life, I explain to patients who are rude that they are being rude, I explain to patients that their expectations are unrealistic, I explain to patients the course of their disease and their treatments because the doctors can’t or won’t. i also really enjoy my job and take great pleasure in dealing with patients. I now train junior nurses and I always explain to them that the patient does not need you to be servile or ‘nice’, they need you to be calm, skilled, professional, courteous, honest and in a busy environment: skilled at prioritising.
    I have dealt with rude nurses as a patient and as a colleague and it is unprofessional and shouldn’t happen, but it does because the world is not perfect. I deal with rude patients and families and colleagues constantly… I don’t have the luxury of complaining about the rude patients, however.
    My comment on ‘developing strategies’ I believe is very pertinent. You appear to be deeply wounded whoby the odd nurse being rude. Well, ‘man-up’ and stop beating on the le profession because you can’t cope with the odd rude nurse. Tell them they are being rude, have you tried that? It works. If you can’t or won’t do this you’re not cut out to be a patient.
    All I have attempted is to show you how it on the other side, and how you need to separate your perception of nursing and the actual profession. I won’t sit by and see my profession denigrated because you have overreacted to some uncomfortable situations. By the way it’s a very well presented site and it looks very good on the ipad. I have taken the liberty of commenting on the doctor’s room cleanliness post, by the way just to clear up some misperceptions. Good luck with managing your sarcoidosis.


    1. Basil Rene says:

      Okay, I do apologize for the quip about nurses being vital sign takers. I was more referring to nurses in a private doctors office who are only doing that at the time. I am fully aware that nurses are very well trained and in a lot of cases are more in tuned and aware than many of the doctors that they must follow orders from. I fully understand where you are coming from, but you are not quite able to see it from a patient’s perspective. I think the fact of the matter is that nurses see some patients as needing to be babied and patients see some nurses as mean. It is the way of the world, and I guess, as you say, call a nurse out on it of she is rude. I am not into having the last word, and I will leave it as we both agree to disagree. Thanks for the heated and interesting debate. I think you have managed to piss off a few patients as I have managed to piss off a few nurses! ;). Now if Presidential debates could be this interesting! Thanks for the feed back on the lay out and for the well wishes. I wish you all the best.


  5. Becks says:

    Wow… Thankyou Sean.
    I’m sorry basil you have had a bad experience, but please don’t tie us all with the same brush!
    Thankyou again Sean. You are one of the reasons why I love working as a nurse, I have the privilege of working along side people like you.


    1. Basil Rene says:

      Never said all nurses were like this …


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