How do I deal with a brand new resident?


Image: © Lucas Lerga

Is there anything worse than being an experienced nurse and having to deal with a doctor who’s fresh out of medical school?

Okay, so there is—but that doesn’t make the situation any less frustrating. Of course, a great deal depends on the resident. Some residents are very aware of their limitations and are eager for input from seasoned nurses. Others are determined not to show any weakness and shrug off advice from anyone. Still others completely shy away from the spotlight, making themselves conveniently unavailable when you need assistance.

In other words, how to deal depends on the situation. In general, though, treat a new-to-the-unit resident the same way you’d treat any other new team member. Say hello, introduce yourself, share a little bit about your professional background and ask the resident about her background as well. You’ll establish a rapport from the start, and you both might start to relax when you realize that each of you has talents and skills that can be used to help your patients.

If you have time, show the resident the ropes. Introduce her to other staff members and let her know how things are typically done on your unit. She’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness, and introducing her to “the way things are done” can save you a lot of time and frustration in the future.

When it comes to patient situations, be professional. Don’t just tell the resident, “Mr. Smith doesn’t look so good.” Instead, tell her, “He’s very pale, his blood pressure is 90/52 and he hasn’t passed any urine since 9 a.m.” Be patient if the resident takes some time to look things up before issuing orders. (Unless, of course, the situation is a true emergency.) If you know your patient well and have a good idea of what’s needed, don’t be afraid to make suggestions. Many residents value the voice of experience and recognize that you’ve been doing your job a lot longer than they’ve been doing theirs.

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2 Responses to How do I deal with a brand new resident?

  1. JoJo

    I agree completely with everything mentioned in the article- being friendly and making conversation by introducing yourself early can go a long way. They are just as scared and as intimidated as you were the first day on a new job. Most will be willing to listen to suggestions you have about patients but don’t stop there- explain why you feel the way you do, you may actually learn something from each other. The nursing profession and the medical profession care for patients in extremely different manners and have different frames of thinking- you can each benefit from learning a little something about how the other person is approaching the condition of the ill patient. Of course, there will always be THAT resident that looks down on you and does not treat nurses with respect- if that is the case, treat them with respect but try to deal with them as little as possible. And don’t be afraid to bring these issues of disrespect up to their higher-ups.

  2. Nurse Rene RN

    The First of July used to be a date which forever lived in Infamy for nurses who work in Teaching Hospitals simply because that was when the latest influx of newly graduated doctors arrived for their clinical rotations. Many a nurse would attempt to be scheduled OFF on that day and try to ‘let the dust settle’ for a few days while the ‘greenhorns’ looked about desperately for a friendly nurse to save them from themselves.
    One truth still remains however, and that is that the Smart Ones KNOW that the experienced nurses can make their rotations easy, or we can make them difficult.
    The single worst First Day Performance by a new Intern happened when one who was FULL of ego announced very loudly that ‘All of the ICU nurses were Morons!;’ The unit’s unwritten policy simply was ‘don’t get Mad, get EVEN! This particular young doc-tor received the honor of very loudly announced NORMAL LAB RESULTS at about 0300 every night that he was on call for the first YEAR!