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A Not So Nice Day

November 18, 2011

I know I said that my next post would be about keeping the sanity, but in between writing my last post and the upcoming post, Keeping the Sanity I had two extremely monumental days of work that I must talk about before I forget.

If you’ve read my previous posts, you may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned anything about what to do when you encounter a patient’s  family who is, how do I put this…giving you a hard time.

Recently I experienced working with difficult family members of a patient. I received a phone call in which the family members were yelling accusatory things to me. During the conversation I started to feel my heart beat faster, the redness burn my face, and the heat take over my body. This was the first time I had experienced a patient/family situation like this and my initial gut reaction was to defend myself since my nursing judgment was being questioned. I immediately assumed that I, the new graduate RN must have made a mistake. As I began to defend myself, I realized that I owed no explanation to the family, afterall when someone is over age 18, they are no longer a minor. 

Suddenly my heart slowed down, my face no longer burned and I wasn’t hot. As I began to think more clearly I also realized that I did exactly what I was supposed to do,  provide excellent nursing care to my patient. I calmly told the family members, “I understand you’re concerned. Your loved one was medically cleared for discharge and if you have further concerns I can connect you to the physician who will be able to answer more of your questions.”  As I hung up the phone my preceptor told me I handled the difficult family members very well, and truly, there was nothing more I could do for the situation aside from documenting the conversation.

As a new graduate RN it feels as though we are being watched under a microscope. This makes moments when a patient’s family member starts interrogating you all the more difficult. I knew when I became a nurse that working with a patient’s family was part of the deal. In fact, I love educating and reassuring family members about their loved one. That being said, there is a fine line between a family that is working with the nurse, asking questions, trying to understand the situation than simply throwing around false accusations at the nurse.

When I got home, and could fully digest the things those family members had said to me, I felt horrible. Even though I was reassured by my coworkers, friends and family that I did what I was supposed to, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had failed.  That night, as I lay in bed I had to practice the skill of leaving the day behind, pushing it far out of my mind. Being able to leave work at the hospital each day is imperative to a nurse’s well being. After watching an episode of Seinfeld and having a few good laughs while eating scrambled eggs for dinner, I drifted off to sleep as the upsetting conversation floated further and further out of my mind. I awoke the next morning ready for a new day, and didn’t let myself think about the evening before, and guess what? It worked! I only hope that next time, with practice I’ll be able to let those difficult scenarios float far, far away as I leave the hospital.

To hear about monumental day #2, read my next entry which is (conversely) called, A Wonderful Day and I promise, Keeping the Sanity will be posted shortly after.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. leanne permalink
    November 18, 2011 9:22 pm

    I’m sorry you had such a tough day, it seems like you handled the situation really well. I love your blog!

  2. November 22, 2011 7:00 pm

    It is nice to hear that you are adjusting to clinical work well! I know that things are difficult, but have no doubt that you are doing an amazing job! I really enjoy reading your posts…very insightful and helpful to understand the daily routine in a nurse’s life.

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