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Can you offer moral support or suggestions: I don't like my son's nurse, but love his pediatrician

By December 2, 2008 - 2:26pm
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I need some moral support, and am not sure the best way to approach this situation:

I am taking my son into his pediatrician in a few days...and I LOVE the doctor but STRONGLY DISLIKE the doctor's nurse. Is this enough reason to change doctors, or do doctors have a choice in nurses??

Last time we were at my son's appointment, we just saw the nurse (by choice). She did not say one word to my son, her PATIENT (!), and just looked at me impatiently after she instructed (not asked) that I strip him down to his diaper to get his weight checked (he's two). She was discourteous, rushed, bored, demanding and put me on the defensive in this strange way---I was just answering simple questions (how much milk does he drink a day?), but felt interrogated and intimidated!

I am planning to talk to the doctor, to let him know that this one nurse seriously made me question whether to keep coming there or not, and I at least expect her to say "hi" to her patient (my son), smile at him/ help him feel comfortable, say "hi" to me, etc. She seemed as though she was afraid to talk with me (chit chat), for fear I would ask questions and take up her time. Just thinking about it makes my blood boil again!

I would love any pointers you have!

On the same note, I found a related article regarding health care provider etiquette that I wanted to share this article with everyone, since there are frequent discussions related to finding GOOD characteristics in doctors (or any health care provider, for that matter). What are your expectations that a doctor should meet, or exceed, when you visit him/her?

This article talks about the "Six Habits of Highly Respectful Physicians", and I would LOVE to hear your additions to this list:
"• Ask permission to enter the room; wait for an answer.
• Introduce yourself; show your ID badge.
• Shake hands.
• Sit down. Smile if appropriate.
• Explain your role on the health care team.
• Ask how the patient feels about being in the hospital."

What would you add to this list?


Add a Comment4 Comments

HERWriter Guide

"Nurses would eat their young!" - that was a quote from my OB/GYN's mother - who is also a nurse!

I couldn't believe her mother (the nurse!) said that but my doc also agreed and said many nurses are rather ill-tempered. I asked her why she thought this and she said it's a combination of pressure, of not feeling respected by doctors and being "the front-line" means they bear the brunt of the complaints by patients.

Anyway, that was my doctor's opinion!

With regard to your situation, Alison, I would also say to talk to the nurse first. Then at least give her the chance to change her attitude. Is she always like this?

When confronted with a bad tempered person, I often ask them if they are having a bad day. When they answer 'no', I tell them they seem like they are having a bad day. If they answer yes, I tell them that I could tell. It just indicates to them that their behavior is obvious and they might want to ease up on the innocent folk in front of them!

If talking to her personally doesn't work, then go ahead and talk to the doctor. I'm sure she would want to know. I know I would. And she will have to address the issue, especially if she wants to retain patients.

December 3, 2008 - 1:21pm

Alison, it's a shame you were made to feel almost like an intruder just for being the mom of a patient in a doctor's office. The first thing it makes me think is this: That nurse is not enjoying what she does. The second thing it makes me think is this: You are probably not the only people whom she is treating that way.

Was this the first time you saw this nurse, or is her attitude habitual? If it's the first time she was this way, I would probably give her the benefit of the doubt for at least one more visit, on the possibility that she was just having a horrible day that other time.

I have a neighbor who used to be a nurse for many years. Recently she went back to nursing after about a decade in another career, and she was astonished at how much had changed. She said that the insurance requires the doctor to see 30 patients a day, which basically means one every 15 minutes, and that she had approximately 2 minutes to greet a patient, take their vitals and get them in a room to await the doctor. She said there was just no time for small talk (even though she's a good conversationalist and would make people feel at ease) and that the personal aspect of the doctor's office had seemed to vanish entirely.

I am wondering if your nurse is under the same kind of pressure to "route" patients through as quickly as possible. It's exactly why she might rush through such things as weighing the baby and discourage you from asking extra questions. And why spending a minute talking to the umpteenth baby of the day might not be her forte.

I think if, in your next appointment, she seems impolite again, that I
would talk to the doctor. In my opinion, front-line workers are representing the people they work for, and it's not our burden to have to be the ones who keep them in line. If you speak with the nurse herself, she may change her behavior just for you; whereas if you speak with the doctor, he may be able to change something in the office culture to encourage better client treatment all the way around.

And to your list of expectations for a doctor, I would like to add the expectation that, barring some emergency that takes them away from their normal work, I be seen within at least 30 minutes of my scheduled appointment time. I know I'm not the only person who has sat in an office forever waiting to be seen. I recently changed doctors after a move and was surprised to find myself in an office that was pleasant, ran on time and treated me like a human, even with short consultations in the doctor's office before any actual exams. It's a shame that this tends to be the exception rather than the rule today.

December 3, 2008 - 10:08am

My take on this is simple. Have a conversation with her. I suggested a book called CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS and another called CRUCIAL CONFRONTATIONS on a different posting. I learned a lot from this book and training that followed on how to effectively communicate with others. Good bedside manners are expected in the "caring" business. Doctors, Nurses, and other healthcare professionals are expected to display a caring attitude while performing their duties. If this nurse is not doing so then you need to have a talk with her and share your concerns as soon as possible. I would recommend you have a talk with her first. If that does not work then go the next step and talk to her supervisor.

December 2, 2008 - 10:38pm

Ugh. I definitely feel for you. I loved my dentist. He had a gentle touch, he was a master of calming communication and once when I grabbed his arm because I didn't like the 'sound' of what he was doing, he just stopped for a moment and let me pull my hand away. He didn't say a thing, he just let me uncurl my fingers and set my hand back on the chair. Great man.

His dental hygenist on the other hand -- not so cool. I received what I considered 'lectures' from her. No friendly reminders, no pithy advice, but lectures. In fact, sometimes I would swear she was TRYING to make my sensitive hurt. So, what did I do? I asked for another hygenist. And I got one. In fact, I've had a few since my initial torture sessions and couldn't be happier.

I would check with your doctor's office to find out if there is a different nurse in the office who can better handle your son's needs. My doctor's office has a few nurses and assistants. I hope yours does too. Let us know what you find out.

December 2, 2008 - 7:18pm
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