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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