cancer, family, health, nurses, nursing, society

What Kind of a Nurse Are You?

During my recent stay in the hospital with my Mama P, my eyes were opened a little more to the reality of standards of nursing care, in today's day and age.

I have been a nurse for 14 years. While 7 of them have been spent at the bedside of babies, the previous seven were spent working at the bedside of adults, in very fast paced settings.

I have always taken pride in my job as a nurse…I enjoy what I do, even when it's stressful. That being said, I always tried to make sure that when I approached each bedside, I gave each patient the time that they needed, in that instant. I asked them questions, returned answers, and talked to family members at the bedside.

Naturally, this didnt always work out. I would sometimes be called away to answer a fall monitor, when a confused patient would get out of bed!…. Or hear a patient yelling outside of their room for help,…. Or maybe a bathroom alarm would go off, meaning I needed to get there quickly, in case the patient tried to get up on their own, and risk falling!

I worked on very busy units…so busy sometimes, that your lunch hour was often spent at the desk while charting…even if you were working the night shift. It seemed like every year I worked, the more workload that was added. More patients per nurse, less ancillary staff to help, more tasks on the to do list.

Even though it was faster paced working, my back hurt, and the work environment around me was more stressful, I never did let it get me down…..I still liked what I did, plus it made me appreciate my time away from there even more. However, it was easy to see that it made some nurses bitter. Having their own stressors at home, and then adding this workplace stress on top, was more than some people could bear!

Unfortunately these people still need jobs, and even more unfortunately, some people take their attitudes to the bedside. We have all worked beside these nurses, had one as our own nurse and/or family members nurse….Or….ARE one of these nurses!

This type of nurse has always irritated me. They even irritate me more, after staying two nights with my Mama P, on a neuro unit….a type of unit in which I've worked before. Its not that I don't agree that the work is hard sometimes….I know it is. However, the attitude that these nurses bring is ridiculous! I have always felt that those who do this, somehow feel that their lives…. their stressors…. their pain and struggles, are somehow worse, or more deserving of attention, than others around them.

While staying with my Mama, the nurses always started out so pleasant and accommodating. Both my dad and Patty had been pleased with their services so far….That is, until I got there! She hadn't brushed her teeth in two days, and they hadn't offered to help her get cleaned up. She hated her meal trays, said they brought her the same thing every time, and didnt know that she could order off of her own menu…..a menu that she had never been offered.

I asked 6 times for that menu…..each person looking at me as though they didnt know how to get one! I knew that these irritations of mine were silly, in the whole scheme of things, as they didnt really affect her health, so to speak, but they were the most basic forms of assistance there were!

In addition to this, after giving her such medications, that may cause her to have to get up emergently, if you know what I mean, they never even checked on her one time!!! I got her up…helped her in and out of the bathroom, helped her on and off the gurney, and into the wheelchair. I helped her with the shower, handed her the things she needed for teeth brushing, and filled up her ice and water containers….and this floor even had CNAS to help out!! I was getting more irritated as the days went on.

It's not that I wasn't okay with helping my mama…I didnt mind at all, and I would have done it anyway. However, it was the lack of interest in knowing our needs or wants. It was the fact that no one asked or checked in to see how they could be of assistance! Every time I asked for something, NEVER pushing the call light mind you, they acted like it was such a chore! I simply wanted bed sheets, a sack to put them in…..I wanted them to understand that we all were going through a VERY difficult time! I wanted them to show compassion!!

Instead, I was met with comments like this… “Sorry, my patients are all spread out”….”Sorry, we have too many patients”….”Sorry, but we have very sick patients, you guys are our best ones”!!!!!


I know I can be bossy, but I honestly don't think I was asking them for anything but their basic job requirement…I wasn't asking them to go above and beyond, and I wasn't asking them to be sticky sweet….just expecting the very least of what I would give my own patients.

I am obviously emotional, and its realistic to believe that I overreacted in lieu of the sadness and stress I was feeling, in regards to our recent news. However, as a nurse myself, this makes me think that as a family, we should have been understood more….treated with sensitivity and empathy even.

Again, my eyes were opened. With the new heathcare system, things are only going to get worse, before they get better…if it gets better at all. The thing is, regardless of the stress we may be feeling as a bedside nurse with more work, and more patients….patients and family members are still struggling, they still need assistance, they are still grieving, and they are still dealing with hardships and with loss! That's what we went into this field to help with in the first place…or at least I did.

Having dealt with this in a personal manner, on the opposite side of the bedside, I can see clearly!

I hope as a nurse to never lose sight of this!



7 thoughts on “What Kind of a Nurse Are You?

  1. I know exactly what you mean. I think that as the role of a nurse has got more clinical a lot of the qualities of a good nurse have been lost. It is more progress,but at a high cost. I also think that cutbacks do stop good nurses doing their job well.

  2. I have friends who are nurses…and I could not imagine meeting the demands of that job! That said, like you said, some really do have an unnecessary attitude. Three years ago I had to have my gallbladder out without insurance, and I was treated less than human by some of the nursing staff. I had to beg for pain medication on several occasions, as well as just water after my surgery. It was truly an awful experience, and I can’t help but feel I might have been treated differently if I had insurance at the time (it was an emergency surgery).

    • I’m sorry you were treated like that! There is so much more work to do, so I understand that the nurses are run so thin, but they can still be nice at the bedside, instead of acting like you’ve asked for sooooo much! I isnt the patients fault:). Thanks for reading!

  3. I’ve only been in the hospital a handful of times, but I’ve seen how big a difference in comfort and healing a good nurse is vs an indifferent one. I had some large fibroids removed from my uterus, and I had some nausea due to the anesthesia. I couldn’t get a nurse to bring me any Tums or anything to help despite asking several ties. Finally, I threw up in my water pitcher because I couldn’t get anyone to help me to the restroom (my stomach incisions meant I couldn’t do it myself). Then it took three hours before anyone to come see me and take the vomit-filled container away, so I had to smell it.

    Needless to say, I will avoid going to that hospital ever again.

    It’s good to hear you as a nurse advocating better patient care and not tolerating the bad attitude of others. People are so vulnerable when try or a loved one is ill. I couldn’t have the strength to be a nurse, so I salute those of you who truly care.

    • Well, I’m sorry for your poor care as well. It is becoming more difficult to give good care due to the increased patient loads, plus the fact that you have to cross every t and dot every I or you ay lose your job. However, I think a pleasant attitude is always a must! May you stay far from hospitals or a long time!!! 🙂

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