Disrespect in Nursing Profession


Nursing is a heartwarming profession which anyone can easily be interested in. However, many nurses join the profession and leave. A few years ago, this was known to be as a result of poor pay and occupational hazards. Nonetheless, the most challenging aspect of the profession faced by the nurses is the lack of respect they experience from their co-workers, the doctors, the administrators and even the patients. This is evidenced by verbal abuse and the physical assaults which have made the profession one of the most disrespected (Adams, 2015). The media normally portrays the nurses as sexy and dumb who are zealously trying to catch a doctor. This idea that the nurses only settle for the profession rather than doing it by choice has been adopted by many people.  Most nurses have become used to this trend and do not even bother to report these cases as they feel that it is part of their job.  The legislation’s laxity in addressing such issues has led to continuous growth in this behavior.

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Peoples’ perception: Many people despise the profession and those in it normally feel humiliated. They are also regarded to as lazy and people who just like sitting. Unfortunately, this is not the case. You will find that nurses mostly sit down only when completing the various piles of paperwork required by the healthcare system. Most nurses may even neglect the seated-demanding paperwork to take care and nurse a patient since most of them need close observation (Catalano, 2015). They eventually face reproach for lack of proper documentation by the administration.  Many people perceive this decision of laying aside some duties to care for the patients as being unmotivated, weak and lazy. They do not recognize the value of the care given to the patients by the nurses and this causes disrespect to them.

Bullying: Some nurses face bullying from the doctors which turn to be threatening to them and the patients.  Stories do abound everywhere about doctors reprimanding, assaulting or even threatening the nurses. You may often hear things like, “Don’t you understand?” Or “Are you stupid?” directed to a nurse in the hospital. Most nurses have experienced this kind of bullying from the doctors and are still expected to perform. Such insults may even lower the morale of a nurse and the burden is transferred to a patient. Literally, human beings are less probable to perform their best where they are being disrespected, bullied, and unappreciation no matter the type of profession.

Research: A survey by the Institute of Safe Medication found that in 2014, about 80% of nurses had experienced a “reluctance to return calls or answer questions” by the physicians. Nurses are afraid to report these mistreatments as they fear that the administrators may not penalize the physicians who harvest the media compliments or simply generate revenue. They also worry about losing their jobs in retribution or being perceived as whistleblowers by their colleagues. The nurses become too intimidated to ask questions where necessary because the probability of getting answers is too low. Nurses generally work in very aggressive, threatening and hostile environments where they face all manner of mistreatments despite their urge and quest to provide quality services to the patients. Most doctors do not monitor their language tone, especially when handling high tensions regarding life or death situations. This poses great risks to the patients.

Job relationship: The relationship between the nurses and the other physicians matters a lot, especially where a patient is involved. The care provided by the nurses matters a lot in determining the patient and family satisfaction and eventually the public image of the hospital. This calls for the need to address the nurses with a lot of sensitivity and respect. A mistreated nurse is likely to transfer the pressures to the patient hence complicating the matters the more. When a feeling of mutual understanding and respect exists, it eases the work tension and the job performance is likely to improve which allows the nurses to offer full patient care with much confidence and the patients receive the highest degree of care.

Solution: Therefore, various steps can be taken to address these problems regarding disrespect to the nurses.  Regarding the hostile physicians, the nurses should learn to embrace such behaviors with factuality without opinion or emotions.This means to act as if nothing happened since reacting with emotions before a patient may cause more stress to them. The nurse can just walk away silently or demand a fair and respectful manner of speaking. However, the nurse can approach the physician later in good mood and enquire about the mistreatment where they can talk one on one and solve the matter respectfully. The physician should be in a position to apologize where necessary.

What nurses can do: Nurses need to make decisions and take steps themselves to build up confidence and the ability to confront the co-workers and the physicians who behave inappropriately. This starts with a belief that no one deserves being yelled at for just mere mistakes. If a nurse experiences inappropriate actions or language from a physician, he or she should be assertive and antagonize the physician at the time of the incidence regardless of the circumstances. The manner in which this will be done will create the difference between a toxic and healthy working procedures and norms. A nurse can simply say, “Please stop shouting at me” or “This is not acceptable” on behalf of a colleague or for yourself will make a physician realize that their behavior is upsetting and that it has been noticed. This kind of response requires self-control in order to address the frequent doctor’s behavior.

Self-expression: When addressing the physician, it is important to use the “I” language which signifies self-confidence. For example, “I felt flustered when you yelled at me.”Nurses should exhibit professional behavior to relieve most of the miscommunication with the physicians. This can be through being prepared when assisting with any procedure or reporting information regarding a patient when advocating for the patients and their family members. These are some of the nursing qualities and need to be demonstrated professionally and every day. The nurses are to learn how to approach situations which are prone to provoking disruption and be organized, communicate well and provide the necessary information that may help in minimizing the chaos.

Documentation: If a nurse tries the direct confrontation and it does not seem to work or the poor behavior persists, a good practice of documenting any mode of misconduct by the physicians and reporting it to the managers will be of help.  This is, especially if the misconduct is likely to threaten the safety of the patient. Nurses who keep such records stand a better chance of making a stronger case when they decide to report the behavior or challenge the doctor directly. It is important to note the time, date and if possible include a possible witness and the time of the incidence and some description of what was done or said.

Policies: Implementing the policies that address the disruptive behaviors is also helpful. The policies should be well clarified about what, when and whom to report. Nurses should ask for clarifications in case the reporting channels are not clear enough.  The policies will state clear the expected mode of conduct in the workplace and the procedures for reporting concerns should be discussed periodically and especially when orienting new employees. This continuous practice will ensure a zero-tolerance policy in matters concerning disrupting behaviors (Pryde, 2014). 

Chaos-solving committee: Some committees will be designated who will be responsible for dealing with the nurse-physician relationships. At least one resource should be held accountable for scrutinizing and addressing the cases reported regarding the disruptive and inappropriate behaviors of the physicians. Any poor misconduct or frustrations reported should be handled with much strictness and actions taken against the victims if need be.  This requires to lay down the fear of losing the so valued physicians in an attempt to confront their misconduct at the expense of a nurse.  The laxity to intervene with the physicians’ disruptive behavior also puts the health and lives of the patients at risk and the management may also risk facing lawsuits or losing their credentials (Pozgar, 2016). This may happen if the strained nurses opt to seek aid from external sources which include state nursing boards or associations.  Every single nurse is to be in the forefront to implement the disciplinary action policies in their workplaces. They should not be in fear of getting fired. Naturally, the truth is normally followed andit works. So, as long as the nurse is sincere about the physicians’ misconduct, the truth will always prevail for the betterment of the whole society regardless of the circumstances.

Positive working environment: At times, enlisting the fellow co-workers to rally against a misbehaving physician may not be a legitimate approach to resolving the matter. This calls for a need to create a better and positive working environment, to improve the comfort necessary to provide quality services. Offering the Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) which will provide essential services at the organizational and individual level is of great importance (Bartholomew, 2014). This will include personal counseling, peer and life coaching. As a nurse, I suggest that training around conflict resolutions and communication in a respectful manner be provided to every employee.  This will help build a culture of respect in the workplace. The change may not happen instantly but with time, the workplace will become healthier and comfortable for all the employees including the patients.

Conclusion: In short, the nurses should be aggressive enough to report the cases to the administrators or the managers for actions to be taken. However, the nurses’ reporting should not be mistaken for whistleblowing since this will instill fear in them and allow such bullying to grow roots. The nurses should feel protected and confident when addressing the issue in assertiveness and the responsible committee take the necessary actions.  This will delete and overcome the peoples’ notion that nurses are just handmaidens. Addressing the media about the picture they paint them on then by engaging a debate on the reformation of healthcare will also play a great role.


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Adams, L. Y. (2015). Workplace mental health manual for nurse managers. Press.

Bartholomew, K. (2014). Ending nurse-to-nurse hostility: Why nurses eat their young and each

            other. Danvers, MA: HCPro. Press.Bottom of Form

Catalano, J. T. (2015). Nursing now!: Today’s issues, tomorrow’s trends.Mosby. Press.

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Pozgar, G. D. (2016). Legal and ethical issues for health professionals. Press.

Pryde, I. T. (2014). The Dark Side of Nursing. Press.

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