Sunday, October 23, 2011

can you work in the ER and still be nice?

One of my co-workers retired last week. They have these things called teas for people when they leave. The cafeteria in the hospital brings up some appetizers and cake(whoopee). People are supposed to come and say goodbye to you. I told a co-worker today I am either going to just disappear into the fog or cancel the tea and have a drunken party.

The person who retired today had put in 29 years. She was the kind of person who was always nice, never said a bad word about a patient, a coworker. In other words she wasn't really human...just kidding. There are maybe 2-3 people in my department who have been there a long time who are always nice, don't speak negatively about things. The rest of us rant and rave.

Some days I come home and tell my husband or son about some bozo I saw that day or a funny story. My son told me he thought I was mean the other day because I sometimes have little sympathy for the users and abusers of the ER. I told him that the people I have sympathy for are people like the guy who is mentally disabled, has a brain injury, now has sores on his back that have MRSA, can communicate little. Or I have sympathy for the cancer patient who is suffering. The mother miscarrying. Those are the kind of people I have sympathy for. I have little sympathy for the drug seekers, manipulators, fakes, phonies. I call 'em like I see 'em with those people.

I have often had the thought can you spend years in an ER and still be a nice person? ER does give you a jaded view of humanity. It's hard not to start viewing the whole world that way, to bring that attitude into your personal life and how you see other people. Honestly, I don't think that you can work in ER long and not develop somewhat of a hardened cynical attitude. That is probably the most challenging thing about working in ER or being a nurse in general,to maintain your view that people are basically good, 'cause you run into a lot who aren't. If we didn't all believe in the goodness of humanity somehow, I guess we wouldn't be doing what we do...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I forget where I saw this, but it cracked me up: (it's not medical but I think it's transferrable) a couple were defaulting on a loan and the officer, in a sweet voice said "Oh I totally understand what a hassle it is for you to owe this money! It must be so annoying to have to pay it back. You still HAVE to, but I get that you're angry!" .. it was priceless.

I can hear it like this: "Oh I completely understand why you feel so frustrated to not get narcotics when your back flares up, even if the prescription has been expired for weeks. You can't have any, but I do see how upset you are."