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Rookie Wit & Wisdom
“Learn My Name, Doc!”

In the OR things can get hairy—real fast. And in those moments of peril, doctors seem to be the most disrespectful of nurses.

I’ve had doctors yell at me for not having what they needed in the room. They bawl, “Hey, nurse, why isn’t such-and-such instrument/med ready? Why isn’t it here? I need it now!”

In those moments, I cover my name badge and say, “Do you know my name? If you don’t know my name--if you can’t show me respect by calling me by name--what makes you think I should know what you want in this room?”

Some docs make the assumption that though you’ve never seen or worked with them before, you should, nevertheless, know everything about them. I should have taken Mindreading 101, I suppose.

But because I’m not a clairvoyant, I’ve learned to be courageous and flip their requests back to them: “What do you know about me?” And once I call them on their behavior, they usually back down. They realize that, yes, they are the doctor--but without you, the nurse, they couldn’t do their jobs.

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18 Responses to ““Learn My Name, Doc!””

  1. Amanda Says:

    I have actually had a Dr (who was a oncology dr visiting our hospital for a ‘special’ case)yell at me about where I was standing (as a student, observing) Before I could get off of the stop stool, the oncologist that was from our hospital told me not to move….what was I to do know? I just stood thier like a deer in headlights. The 2nd doc told the first “Her at (hospital name) we treat all of our staff w/ the same respect, whether it the CEO or the ES person that will clean the mess up that your making, and this includes the nursing students!” I think I almost passed out in shock!!!!!

  2. n00bienurse Says:

    While, yes, they should treat you with respect, showing them equal disrespect is uncalled for. It makes you look unprofessional and can cause a large problem in your working relationship.

    I have to also deal with the doctors not knowing my name a lot of the time, but instead of flipping back with a smart comment – as tempting as it can be at times – I’ll remember that I’m a professional just like them, even if they have trouble acting like one.

    I’m not suggesting that you let them walk all over you, either. As the old addage goes, you catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar.

  3. steubified Says:

    My first thought is that a response like that only ends up harming the patient by delaying a needed surgical instrument/med. While, yes, the Dr. obviously needs an attitude adjustment (most doctors do!), you shouldn’t respond by showing that you also need an attitude adjustment.
    That being said, I would definitely be thinking “you should know my name”!

  4. Joseph J. Neuschatz M.D. Says:

    How will it be possible to learn your name if you sign your article “ANONYMOUS”….?

  5. n00bienurse Says:

    perhaps she signed her article, “anonymous” to avoid potential retaliation…

  6. lizzybeth Says:

    I would be interested to know your age and how long you have been a nurse n00bienurse. You are correct we are professionals, educated and vital. We should never forget and we need to remind the occasional throwback of it. Most of us have been in codes or other life threatening situations when emotions and adrenaline get free reign. Many things get said that are sparked by the intensity of that moment. I imagine that was not the situation anonymous meant. Making a point at that moment is never on anyones mind. We as a profession need to get away from the idea that the MD is a god and all knowing. They are a member of the TEAM. My eyes, ears, and critical thinking are vital to pt care. The MD is at the bedside for 15 min on average. Im with that pt all day. I could go on and on about the little things that come from interaction on a larger scale with pt and family.

  7. n00bienurse Says:

    Lizzybeth, I’m not sure what point you are trying to make. Can you clarify?

  8. lizzybeth Says:

    My point is that ‘taking the higher road’ isnt getting us anywhere. Its pretty much what nurses have been instructed to do for decades. Granted we get more respect with younger Doc’s as a rule but disrespect should never be tolerated. Would we suggest that ‘yes its wrong that your husband smacked you but for the sake of the children present or tempers were just high…’ Or put racial intolerance in that place.
    I should not have singled you out. As I reread the comments I note that the other two comments fueled my indignance and I misinterpreted your final response.

  9. n00bienurse Says:

    Thank you for clarifying. This is a very touchy topic. I never intended to suggest that it is okay for any sort of abuse to take place – whether in the home or on the job. In fact, it is never okay to allow someone to do such a thing.

    I was simply saying that one should not stoop to a similar level. You can demand professional respect while still remaining professional.

    If confronting the doctor in a professional manner does not solve the issue at hand, implement the chain of command. If that still does not solve the issue, then maybe it’s time to find somewhere else to work – somewhere where you will be given the respect you deserve.

    And to answer your question about my age and how long I have been a nurse, I’m 22 and I have been an RN since this past December. I don’t think that is entirely relevant. I was brought up to know that respect is a basic human right and that in order to earn respect, one must show respect and that disrespect should not be tolerated.

  10. steubified Says:

    “I was simply saying that one should not stoop to a similar level.” –noobienurse
    I totally agree, not in just this situation, but in most situations. I’ve seen some extremely distasteful and disrespectful things said on the floor by doctors towards nurses, students, IV team, respiratory, anybody. I’ve also seen snide comments in return by the nurses and others towards the doctors. Watching/listening to this turns the floor/OR/whatever into an arena for a catfight where the patient and everyone else is a spectator who has no choice but to become victim to the tension created. Unacceptable! No matter who you are!

  11. Mr Ian Says:

    I think, the fear of a Coroners Inquest can do that to some people. In which case, I’d prefer my doc didn’t know my name.

  12. cohen312 Says:

    I agree with n00bienurse 100%

  13. Silver Says:

    The OR is a tough place. And yes, many surgeons expect you to have taken mindreading 101. A look at a preference card, or a quick question to a nurse experienced in that service will get you much farther than a smart comeback. Not only will you grow your knowledge, but you will be giving better service – to the patient and the doc.

  14. n00bienurse Says:

    …as long as the preference card is kept up to date…

    But I agree! Get to know your doctors and at least get an idea of how they operate.

    My mother (who’s also an RN) just started working in the OR about a year and a half ago and had a similar issue with a doctor reaming her out because she didn’t have exactly what he wanted for the procedure. Instead of blowing him off and labeling him a jerk, she found his preference card and updated it. As she was doing that, she found many more cards that weren’t up to date what so ever. By updating the cards she not only helped out the other RN’s, but also the doctors.

    It’s the difference between being proactive and being reactive.

  15. Clayton Says:

    I think the professional thing to do would be to get the physican what he needed, but after the surgery have a stern chat with him/her about mutual professional respect. Retaliation will only escalate the problem and give nurses a bad reputation. Conflict resolution isn’t about getting even with the physican, it’s about helping the physican to see that as a professional and part of the team nurses deserve respect. Also, the physician should be able to work with the nurse and expect the same mutual respect.

  16. vic Says:

    I quote here n00bienurse:
    “If confronting the doctor in a professional manner does not solve the issue at hand, implement the chain of command. If that still does not solve the issue, then maybe it’s time to find somewhere else to work – somewhere where you will be given the respect you deserve.”

    This is EXACTLY the attitude from us nurses that is encouraging the docs to continue mistreating the nurses. Do you think anything is going to get done through the chain of command when the “unprofessional” doc almost slaps you in the face? About time to get a reality check! Why should the nurse have to leave the department? Why does the nurse have to suffer the consequences of someone elses unprofessionalism.

    I sincerely believe that as long as there are subservient nurses employed in the profession, the harassment will continue to go on, no matter if you go on to get your MSN or PhD to even the educational plane. How can you expect your nurse manager to stand up for you if you cant stand up for yourself as a nurse?
    We as nurses need to realize that we are the physician’s eyes and ears. And if they continue abusing these essential parts, at the end, they will end up losing them. Once they realize that, the disrespect will stop instantaneously. Unless, ofcourse, “some” nurses continue to preach subservience and self humility.
    STOP the abuse. Think of your own children. Perhaps, one day, they would want to follow in their parents footsteps, and guess what you would have left behind for them to walk into?

  17. marko Says:

    I am also RN, and I can just tell you that doctors are just abusing nurses who let them, really it is so simple. I don’t take “crap” from anyone and I am well liked at hospital. I don’t give up my seat to anyone, when doctor is close I actually ask him to help with lifting patient and they help. Really stop kissing doctor’s asses. some of my friends are doctors and the number one reasone doctors have no respect for nurses because of nurses’s behavior. example, “Good morning doc, get seat. and actually doc should say good morning first because he came to floor. Got it? If you think that your humility will help you you are very mistaken of course they will feel sorry for you in the sense but no respect.

  18. Olanrewaju Says:

    I don’t know about Kaplan, but there are others, like the State University of New York, where you do your comrpteuized tests and then take your clinical exams in the area you live in. As far as I know of, there are only two states that do not accept these degrees, Louisiana and I think Indiana. Wherever you go, you will still have to pass the NCLEX exam to get your RN anyway. This is assuming you are not already an RN and just going for the Bachelor’s part. If you are an LVN going for an RN, you have a choice between just getting an RN and getting a BS RN.If you are already an RN, chances are you can find a local university that you can take the additional courses to complete your bachelors for a lot less than any on-line school. And you have to be very careful about the on-line schools, anyway. I have no worries about SUNY because it is associated with an actual state university. But any other school I would thoroughly google and check out on Ripoff Report before I committed any money to it.But if you have no clinical experience at all, I definitely wouldn’t attempt to take care of a patient after only an online course.

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