Divas work in every profession, including medicine. Having a doctor who swans in and makes unreasonable demands or who throws temper tantrums can harsh your nurse-y groove…so how do you deal with it? Here are five tips for de-diva-ing your drama queen:
1. Stay calm, even if they yell.
Some docs love making other people respond to their twerpy behavior. It’s weird, but true. If you can stay absolutely calm (and no, you don’t have to be smiling), you can stop bad behavior before it escalates.
2. Boundaries, rules and limitations!
Drama doctors can be told, just as anyone else can be, when they’ve crossed a line. Simply saying, “That behavior is unacceptable” is totally within your rights. The doc in question might act as though you’ve whapped him or her across the nose with a rolled-up newspaper, but it’s still your right to call him or her out.
3. Resist the temptation to snark back.
This is not the same as staying calm. You can be calm and snarky, which I do not recommend. I have a patented Generic Facial Expression I slip into automatically now, rather than biting back with something sarcastic. Practice enough and it’ll become automatic.
4. Enlist your colleagues to help.
I’ve heard stories of doctors whose behavior was so bad that nurses would have a signal for all the nurses on the floor to come and stand silently, bearing witness to the doc’s bad behavior. If you’re stuck with somebody who’s a true loose cannon, an agreement like this can help anyone in that person’s way.
5. When all else fails, leave.
It’s perfectly professional to say, “This discussion is upsetting both of us; I’m going to go into the break room to calm down for 10 minutes. We can resume talking after that time.” Sometimes the doc will follow you and keep going, but mostly he or she will give you your space. It’s good to enlist the help of your charge nurse or unit manager during that time, if you can. If you’re dealing with somebody who’s a bully, having a higher-up there can both protect you and show the bully you’re serious.
And remember: Stay calm. Nothing irritates drama queens more than your refusal to buy into their games.