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Rookie Wit & Wisdom
The Unapproachable Doc

As a new nurse, you find out quickly the doctors who are approachable and willing to offer you suggestions and those whom you should try and avoid.

Eight weeks into my nursing job, I had a run-in with one of the “unapproachables.” He actually caused me to break into hives.

It happened when I had to call an orthopedic surgeon for a consult. He wanted to know what the patient’s temperature was; it was 99.1. I told him that, plus I reported the patient’s other vital signs.

He proceeded to ask me: “What is that temperature in Celsius?” He actually asked me to convert the patient’s temperature. I couldn’t believe it.

I said, “I’m sorry, Sir. I don’t know the conversion off hand. I can look it up in the computer.” But all along I’m thinking, What the heck? Why is he asking me that? It’s 99.1. You know that it’s just a little bit above normal!

Plain and simple: he was just giving me the run-around. He was probably trying to prove his authority over me.

Ironically, he didn’t gain my respect.  And the troubling part of it all is that we’re supposed to be a “team.” But he was doing everything possible to show that he was superior to me.

Deep down I wanted to say something, but I didn’t. How should I have responded? How have you handled similar situations?

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5 Responses to “The Unapproachable Doc”

  1. Colleen Says:

    I think you should have said something to the doctor to show that you will not tolerate that type of treatment. As a nursing student I get the stupid comments from the doctors and other nurses around me but had the courage to say something. They were shocked that I would actually defend myself and they saw that I was not going to accept their negative comments. Be courageous and know that you can say something to a doctor even if they are a higher authority. Even though you are a new nurse, no one should undermind you because you worked just as hard in nursing school like the docs worked hard in med school. Good luck in the future.

  2. Alex Says:

    This is America buddy, we don’t do no celsius here.

  3. Bulldog jack Says:

    Another way you might handle that kind of situation is with humor. “I’m sorry, I only hand a Fahrenheit thermometer.” Or, “Above normal.” Or, “We’re not allowed to use metric instruments.” Practice these responses and deliver them with an absolutely straight face. You can have a lot of fun and gain respect for being witty. Deflect, divert and confuse.

  4. Melissa Granger Says:

    I wouldn’t worry about something so stupid like that. He is being the stupid one. Maybe he should have known the conversion ratio himself. Don’t let it get to you

  5. cohen312 Says:

    I agree with Bulldog jack

    Maybe the doc was just having a crappy day and he took it out on you…who knows…

    The definition of Nurse:

    Nurse: n. the one who saves the doctor’s gluteus maximus

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