On doctors, again

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Do doctors like nurses? Do you ever wonder?

The thing is, I value good physicians, I like doctors, I do! Yet here is the thing—and I’m trying not to generalize here—just looking at my career in health care on the whole:

I have been a unit secretary, was a CNA, a med tech in the ED, etc. So, I’ve been around the block. But no other hospital relationship is more cantankerous, it seems, than the nurse-doctor one.

I will never forget, back in the days before nursing school, as a unit secretary, when I got my first physician-tongue-lashing. He literally cursed me out for a non-emergent clerical error. It was at that point that I kind of clued into the fact that doctors may be hard to work with. Yeah, I had no idea.

As a nurse the relationship is more delicate. Yes, I have been yelled at at 3AM over the phone. Yes, I have been vehemently disagreed with over patient care—those things are somewhat understandable if not altogether inexcusable. But it is strange to be ignored by some physicians. Or for them to be somewhat inhuman and rude no matter what time of day, over the phone, or face-to-face.

I still wonder if doctors just see us nurses as slave labor? Honestly, I feel somewhat mistreated by some of them at times.

For instance, one doctor, on my reasonable suggestion that we discontinue a certain treatment based on the patients SBAR, screamed at me, “You can do whatever you like if you don’t mind KILLING THE PATIENT AND HER BABY!” Needless to say, I continued treatment. Ahem.

How about the doc who threw the instrument in the OR because he was handed the wrong one? Or the resident who snarled an obscenity when it was suggested he wash his hands after just delivering an HIV+ patient in one room, then going straight to another room to deliver another patient (and yes, the suggestion was made out of patient earshot)? Or the doctor who yelled, “Don’t you dare call me at home tonight–I need to sleep” when his patient was clearly going to deliver in the middle of the night? I mean, what am I supposed to do?

Do you have as many stories as I do?

Then there is the discussion board of residents who continually belittle nurses and the nursing profession in their posts. Many docs don’t recognize us as professionals, it seems.

Yes I do have some very good relationships with doctors, but I am going to say here that on the whole, doctors seem somewhat annoyed, irritated and fed-up with nurses. They take out their aggression towards their jobs and their patients on the people they work the most closely with: Us.

My mom, a retired nurse with 30 years of experience, would agree. My coworkers would and have agreed. No, it’s not just me. What is the deal? Aren’t we supposed to be working together? We BOTH as physicians and nurses have stressful jobs, so is that really even a good excuse anymore? And how can we change?

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