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Rookie Wit & Wisdom
Appropriately Saying No to the Doc

Working the night shift on a Labor & Delivery floor, I often know what’s going on with the laboring mother-to-be better than the doc does. And sometimes, I actually have to tell the doctors what needs to be done.

Of course that’s a challenge. Who am I? I think. They’re the doctor. They know best; they are “above” me. But when you are looking out for the needs of your patient and the unit, sometimes you have to say, “No, you can’t do this because….”

For instance, we have two operating rooms, and we try not to run both of them at the same time. If there’s an emergency and we don’t have an operating room, then we’d be jeopardizing our patients’ well-being. At times we have one procedure going on, and a doctor will want to do something like a tubal ligation, and I’ll say, “No, you can’t do that right now, because we’ve got a procedure going on.”

Then the persuasions are rattled off: “Well, it’s almost done.”  “You can quickly clean the OR.” “This won’t take long.”

It’s in these moments, no matter how weak you feel, you have to stand your ground and say, “We really can’t.” Use your logic and make the patient the priority; they’ll respect you for that. Say something like: “We’ve got five laboring women here, and this one’s baby doesn’t look too hot right now. What if the heart rate goes down and we have to do an emergency C-Section, but there’s no room?”

Lots of times, they’ll argue with you. But sometimes they will understand—and you’ll gain the respect of the doctors for being professional and making your patient a priority. And most importantly, your patients will be well cared for.

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2 Responses to “Appropriately Saying No to the Doc”

  1. liz Says:

    We had a nruse have that sort of problem with the doctors. Coz we are a private hospital, we dont have the interns etc etc, and the consultants will only often pop in for a few minutes and thats it. They arent there all the time to see what exactly is going on with the patient.

  2. andrea Says:

    Working in a “teaching” hospital made it very easy to work with ‘newbie’ docs who WOULD listen. Many times they would say we, the nurses, knew more than them and we ‘saved their bacon’ on several occasions. I was fortuate to be part of a team that really interacted well w/interns,residents, etc. Even the Fellows were very respectful of us, for the most part. We always went out of our way to befriend the doc’s for our patient’s benefit as well as ours. Doughnuts and fresh coffee carry a lot of weight and make for harmony.

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