Responding To Situations Where Your Best Isn’t Good Enough

The emotional reward of helping others is likely the reason you decided to become a nurse.  As you entered this profession, you tucked away accounts of difficult situations in the workplace and set your sights on making patients well.  Yet, despite your optimism, these situations inevitably surface, stifling the enthusiasm and self-pride you initially brought to the table.

What are these difficult situations and how can you boost your emotional intelligence to deal with them effectively?  Take a look.

Nursing is Extremely Demanding

Putting your scientific training and experience into practice every second of your shift is intensely satisfying albeit mind-boggling.  The job requires sound judgement, quick-thinking, accurate assessments, and loads of multi-tasking.  Here are a few examples:

  • You must make life and death decisions for patients based on a 5-minute shift report.
  • You just reviewed obscure lab results and must decide whether you should wake your patient’s doctor at 3 AM to interpret the findings so that you can take critical action if necessary.
  • You get floated to an area of the hospital where you have zero training yet are expected to carry the load of a nurse who has worked the unit for 20 years.
  • A physician prescribes the wrong medication for one of your patients and you must deal with the repercussions—which include reversing your patient’s severe and potentially-life threatening drug reaction and being blamed for the mishap.

No Matter How Overwhelmed You Feel, Here’s What You Need to Keep in Mind

  • Remember your purpose and don’t feel compelled to please others. Job satisfaction comes from believing that you have worked hard to learn and apply a set of skills that will sharpen overtime and ultimately save many lives.
  • See your challenges as opportunities to gain new skills and more confidence.
  • Develop your assertive armor so that you can best handle your mistakes (and those of your co-workers) without fearing blame.
  • Ask questions and state your concerns. Don’t worry that you will look incompetent. Providing input shows your commitment to patient safety and well-being—which is why you chose nursing in the first place.
  • See yourself as a valuable member of the medical team. Truth is, nurses are the glue that holds patient care together.

Related Content: How Pathogens Spread in Your Medical Workplace

Abrasive Physicians Can Rattle Your Thinking

Most nurses across the country have witnessed or been victims of bullying by physicians or colleagues.  Reports of doctors who flail surgical instruments, criticize harshly, fling insults, shout profanities, and refuse to answer questions or return pages and calls is not uncommon.  The damage to your psyche that results from this abuse and the patient negligence that ensues when a physician snubs your opinion, ignores your questions, and disregards your pages ultimately destroys teamwork and brings down the quality of care you owe to your patients.

How to Take a Firm Stand Against Bullying

  • Stay calm and refrain from verbally aggressive behavior. Sometimes it’s best to ignore outbursts or insults, stay focused, and carry on.
  • Don’t take it personally. Often physician outbursts reflect ego insecurities. Sometimes bad behavior in the operating or emergency room may be associated with an unrelated upset.
  • Find a private moment to tell the physician or co-worker how you feel about these put-downs. Open the dialogue with empathetic language: You might say, “You seemed really upset in surgery today, is something going on that I can help with?” If your question is met with vinegar, stay strong and let the physician or co-worker know that you don’t appreciate being spoken to that way and won’t tolerate it in the future.
  • If the behavior continues, be sure to document and report it to your supervisor or hospital administrator. Not doing so makes it harder for higher-ups to take action against this physician when other nurses experiencing bullying come forward.

Thorny Patients Can Leave You Feeling Frustrated, Guilty, and Inadequate

The best way to deal with difficult and verbally abusive patients is to approach them with confidence and calmness.

  • Know that their nastiness is not about you. These patients are often frightened, confused, uncertain, or angry about their illness and show resistance when strangers attempt to take care of them.
  • Show difficult patients that you care. Sometimes their unreasonable demands are really a way of asking for reassurance in a situation where they feel alone or neglected by family members.
  • Get personal. Ask questions about their life, their likes and dislikes, their feelings and thoughts. Your interest may make their bad mood disappear for good.
  • If humor is your strength, try a little levity. If their harsh words taunt you, take a 5 minute time-out to regroup.
  • Sometimes crankiness can be a side effect of medications or a sign of mental instability. If you suspect either, get a medical consult and call security if necessary.
  • Remember your commitment to excellent patient care. Even difficult patients deserve it.

Whether you are looking for tips on how to handle challenges in the workplace or want to pursue your career options, rely on BOS Medical.  Our nursing and healthcare staffing recruiters go above and beyond to match each of our candidates to the right job.  Contact BOS Medical today to find your next opportunity.

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