Like it or not

Image: Medioimages/Photodisc | Thinkstock

How does “liking” my patients affect my nursing care? Well, frankly, it doesn’t. I’ll admit that in my new job, because I am working with such a different demographic of people, I have been struggling to “like” my patients. For some reason, liking my patients and feeling needed has provided a lot of job satisfaction for me.

Because I am an extrovert, I thrive on being around people, and I am also looking for that little something in people I identify with. My husband jokes with me and says I can “make friends with a stick” and he is right: I get along with most everyone and am liked by most in return.

Changing demographics from working with an indigent population to working with an extremely privileged, upper class group of people has had me questioning if how I feel about my patients has any impact on how I do my job. The answer is absolutely not—but I find that I am walking away from work without a sense of accomplishment—in other words, it is affecting how I feel about my job.

I think I have found much of my worth as a nurse in how much I helped people. Because I am serving such a different population, I have to dig deeper to find the rewards.

The fact is I don’t feel very needed by patients who can buy anything they want and expect to have bought a perfect hospital experience. And somehow feeling needed creates a bond between this nurse and her patients.

Yet even though I don’t feel needed, I am definitely an integral part of providing safe, quality care to these women and am there to help them through the a joyful, painful, miraculous, amazing part of their lives: the birth of their child. And the reality is that I need to bond with my new demographic of patients on a different level. They are not as needy in the areas I am used to, but they have different needs that make my work important.

And in that statement is the target: I need to somehow get more fixated on the goal of my care—the healthy newborn with a healthy mom. Liking my patients has little to do with this goal—and my motivation should always come from this outcome. I am learning to discard many of my feelings—not because they aren’t valid, but instead because they can hinder the outcome and my own job satisfaction.

Ultimately, I am working through where my job satisfaction comes from and am realizing that emotional rewards are a little more hidden at my new job. I find I am doing some very necessary soul searching and expanding my nursing philosophy at the same time because of this new challenge.

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Amy Bozeman

Amy is many things: a blogger, a nurse, a wife, a mom, a childbirth educator. She started her journey towards a career in nursing when she got pregnant with her first child. After nursing school and studying "like she has never studied before" she entered the nursing profession eager to get her feet wet. The first years provided her with much exposure to sadness, joy and other complex human emotions. She feels that blogging is a wonderful outlet and a way for nurse bloggers to further build their community. Traditionally, midwives have handed down their skill set from midwife to apprentice midwife. She believes nurses have this same opportunity: to pass from nurse to new nurse the rich traditions of this profession.

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3 Responses to Like it or not

  1. Peggy V

    I work in a correctional facility….mental health is the main focus…really difficulty to “like” the offenders and the management just makes the job tougher. I do have glimmers of progress with them on occasions!

  2. queenie

    I also work in a correctional facility. When I worked cardiovascular ICU, I once had a patient and family complain about me that I “acted” like I didn’t like him. What? Maybe that is because I was more concerned about his condition; which wasn’t stable. My manager pulled me off his care the next day and gave his care to a new grad. I hope the family and patient were more comfortable with her since she was “nicer.” Anyway, that doesn’t happen in my current job.

  3. Granny RN

    I once had a patient who had MURDERED, in Cold Blood, a neighbor of mine. He was in jail awaiting trial when he ‘took sick’ and ALL of us including the docs were naturally torn between our feelings as human beings and our responsibility as healthcare professionals. What I finally determined was that the ONLY way in which to deal with the situation was to leave our feelings and emotions OUTSIDE the door, go in and ‘just do the job’.
    Fortunately the man did not stay long with us, was convicted and is serving a ‘life’ sentence.