We all have those patients that are, well, how should I put this? A pain in the butt. But for every patient we have like this, we have five more that make us realize why we became a nurse in the first place. The patients that try our patience definitely earn our feelings of yearning to throw them under the next train.
There are some days that I wonder what I've done to deserve the utter disrespect and poor nastiness some patients are capable of. I realize it's not fun to be sick or hospitalized. But for the love of God don't these people understand that we're trying to help them and treating us so poorly isn't going to help them get better at all, let alone make me want to get them their next cup of coffee promptly?
Some of the things that come out of patient's (and family member's) mouths truly make me want to smack them upside the head. There are some things you really shouldn't say to your nurse and if you're a patient and you're reading this, please take note:
1. Don't yell "hey waitress" or "hey nurse" at me. "Who is waiting on me today?" is another evil thing to say. I am not a waitress, and I have a name. I didn't go to college for four very long, excruciating years to be referred to as your waitress. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, my job isn't to just bring you coffee, fluff your pillows and find your remote that you dropped for the 10th time.
While you may need your coffee now, please keep in mind that I truly want to help you, but I also have eight other patients that have needs. I may be trying to make sure that the patient next door to you isn't taking her last breath.
2. Don't tell me that I'm too smart to be a nurse and ask me why I didn't become a doctor. I didn't want to be a doctor! It has nothing to do with how smart I am. I dreamed of being a nurse even when I was a little girl. It's okay, nurses are smart too.
3. Please don't tell me how to do my job or advise me on ways to improve. If you (or your family) read something on Google last night, it doesn't make you an expert. I didn't just graduate from nursing school yesterday, and even if I did, I would still know more than you about every medical subject you can think of. So please give me the respect I deserve and appreciate the fact that I know how to do my job. If you let me, you'll see that I do it very well, all on my own, with no help from you.
4. Please don't ask me ask me out on a date. Even if you are the most attractive person in the world. Seeing you dressed in a hospital gown, with a Foley catheter full of urine and hospital issued sexy socks, really isn't doing it for me...sorry. So please keep your "hellooooo nurse" comments to yourself and just let me do my job.
5. "What's taking so long?" If you had any clue what nurses really do you would never ask this question. Nursing is a very stressful job and although I honestly want to help all my patients I have to put things in order of priority. By bothering me to ask me what is taking so long, you actually just add to the problem. I do have other patients, and your fourth popsicle will get there, it's just not always my priority.
6. "You're only (or just) the nurse." Or "Nurses just take orders from doctors." These are two of the most belittling things you can say to a nurse. Nurses work in collaboration with physicians, radiologist, nurses aides and other medical professional to care for you and other patients. What you may not realize is that nurses know you better than your doctor ever does. We are with you throughout you hospital stay. We study and assess every little thing about you. Doctors come in, look at your chart, write orders and leave. Those orders must be checked by a highly skilled and qualified nurse, because doctors make mistakes all the time. Often nurses are the only thing between you and a hearse.
7. "Do you only date doctors?" Um, no, wrong again. I am actually married to a nurse, but wouldn't marry a doctor if my life depended on it. Their crazy hours and highly strung nature, along with their often humongous egos is enough to turn any sane nurse off. Thanks but no thanks.
Do you have something you'd like to add to this discussion? Comment below! Happy Nursing!