How to Handle Rude Doctors at Your Nursing Job » Nursing Jobs Blog – Nurses Insights at Nursing Jobs.org

How to Handle Rude Doctors at Your Nursing Job

March 27th, 2009  |  Uncategorized

Everyone occasionally has a bad day at work. Something goes wrong and we take our anger and frustration out on our coworkers. It happens to the best of us, but what are nurses supposed to do when intimidating doctors act out against nursing staff day after day? Here are some tips that will help you deal with doctors who have nasty dispositions.

Don’t Hide, Get Wise.

I’ve seen this scenario play out countless times during my nursing career. The nursing station is full of playful chatter that comes to an abrupt halt when a certain physician walks onto the unit. Nurses scatter and take cover as the doctor starts yelling and slamming charts down at the desk. The best thing to do is to show no fear. Some doctors enjoy making nurses sweat, so don’t feed into their negative behavior by giving it positive reinforcement. Give them direct eye contact. Don’t allow them to hover over you. Stand up, don’t sit as you speak to them. Speak in a low, quiet tone. The physician will have to lower his or her own voice to hear what you are saying. It’s also appropriate to tell an abusive doctor that you will not tolerate their behavior. And if all else fails, walk away. Tell them that you will speak to them when they can act in a professional manner.

Calling in the Middle of the Night

Here’s a common occurrence that happens on a nursing unit during the night shift. A nurse has to call a doctor for telephone orders for a patient who is in pain or who has spiked a fever in the middle of the night. The night nurses start haggling with each other over who is going to make the call because the doctor has a monstrous reputation when it comes to being called in the middle of the night. The unlucky nurse who ends up having to make the call dials the phone. The doctor answers the phone call, and after a few moments of silence, says words that would make a sailor blush. If you’re that unlucky nurse, stop and remember theses things before you respond to Doctor Temper Tantrum:

1) Don’t apologize for doing your job. You aren’t making social call. You are making a phone call to a physician on behalf of your patient.
2) Don’t take anything the physician says personally. Pull the phone away from your ear while the doctor screams, curses, and vent. Then calmly, yes, calmly, continue your conversation by stating the facts and asking for orders. Speak with absolutely no emotion in your voice. This technique is useful in calming down irrational patients. It will work on irrational doctors in the middle of the night, too.
3) If the physician continues to be abusive, or refuses to give you orders, have another nurse listen in on your conversation on another phone line. You’ll need a witness. Then call the nursing supervisor. Write up the incident and file a compliant with hospital administration in the morning. In the meantime, your nursing supervisor can immediately take the issue up the chain of command. No matter what happens, keep focusing on your patient because they are your first priority.

Do you have any tips on how to deal with rude doctors? Come to Nursing Voices and tell us about it. We’re waiting to hear from you.

Terri Polick
About Terri Polick
Terri Polick has been a nurse for thirty years, and is a published author living in Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. She is currently working as a freelance writer, and is a frequent contributor to Nursing Spectrum Magazine. Terri works at a local community hospital as a psychiatric nurse.

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