I’ve been mulling this over for a few days. In the language of the psych nurses, I’ve been perservating, which means fixating or turning a thing over and over in your mind till you’re worn out or need a strong hypnotic.
One of my colleagues, a part-timer RN, told me to fuck off. Just like that. It wasn’t one of those half-sarcastic, half-jokey fuck-offs you sometimes hear in the Emergency Department. It was a real, please-drop-dead-now, pissed off, get-out-of-my-face sort of thing.
I won’t get into the details or circumstances of why this nurse told me to fuck off. Suffice to say, what I asked this particular nurse to do wasn’t out of the routine for the Emergency Department, but she didn’t like it anyway.
Part of me is a bit astonished by her cheek.* Patients have sworn at my before, and meant it; but this is the very first time a nurse has cursed me out, at least to my face. And, sadly, if she wants to rumble, swearing angrily at the
charge nurse Clinical Care Leader (who incidentally can make her life a misery in about ten thousand different ways — not that I would, but just saying) in front of three other nurses probably classifies a tactical setback. Calling the manager to object to my “poor” management of the ED was, in hindsight, a definite strategic error, especially when I was sitting in the manager’s office discussing two written complaints from other nurses about her behaviour. In short, this is likely not the hill she wants to die on.
The stupid thing is, I was going to let it go. It wasn’t worth my time or energy worrying about. I mean, I know that casual RNs often get the short end of the stick, and understand horizontal violence, and also, sometimes, even nurses have crappy days and behave ways they are later embarrassed about. But because she tried to defensively twist her behaviour around, and blame me, and also because there are now other complaints, it’s a Thing which requires more documentation and more ugliness.
The manager has basically left the swearing piece for me to deal with, which I am glad about: I am a firm believer in sorting out your own problems. Hence the perservation: what’s the best way to approach an already hostile nurse to tell her she needs to, um, voice her concerns respectfully and professionally?
*In all honesty, a larger part is hurt and dismayed by her behaviour, much more so than I would admit publicly: being in charge means wearing the Charge Nurse game face. In the Emergency Department, elbows are sharp, and the nurses have the self-defined image of being pitbulls with lip gloss — but even pitbulls have feelings.