When a Nurse Says: I Don’t Care

“I don’t care. “

Those aren’t the words you want to hear coming from the mouth of a nurse.

Now, true, nurses are human, and there are things that we don’t care about, but the phrase itself, while on the job,  just sounds so …. unprofessional.

As nurses, we encounter so many challenges every day. Often we have to wait on other departments, facilities, or patients. If we are not waiting on something (a lab, a transporter, a phone call), we rush to do or get something done ourselves. It’s very much a feast or famine profession. Things rarely progress at a steady, predictable pace. We have those days, but they are few and far between. Most of the time, we are constantly trying to balance the push and pull required to deliver good patient care. And sometimes, that means being made to wait.

Now it is evident that waiting is not always ideal and can be very frustrating, especially with all the other things we have to get done in the day, but sometimes it is just part of the ride, and we have to hold on. If, however, you feel you’ve been made to wait an inappropriate amount of time, then yes, I feel it is appropriate to voice your concerns. But make it clear, the concern is the needs of the patients who are being made to wait because of the delay. At least, that should be the reason you are annoyed. We are not above being made to wait as nurses, but our patients should not have to endure this event any more often than necessary.

So if you are made to wait too long, speak up for your patients. Don’t, however, make a dramatic event out of the situation and ask to speak to charge nurses and supervisors and make the conversation and ordeal consume twice as much time as it would have otherwise. Your patients are just going to have to wait longer in this instance. Also, if the Director of Nursing for the facility you became impatient with happens to call you to discuss the conversation that she just had with your boss, I would find it pertinent to be apologetic and professional. The last words I would personally utter is: I Don’t care.

As nurses, we should care. We should care about our demeanor and if we are interpreted as professional and competent. We should care if someone feels we were rude to them. We should make an effort to right our wrongs and to continually grow and learn in order to promote ourselves and our chosen profession to the highest levels possible. We should do all this because We Do Care.

The very essence of nursing is caring. Remember, your patient is not always the person in the bed in room 204. Your patients are anyone you interact with as part of your professional role as a nurse. It could be your fellow nurse, your manager, family members, housekeeping, and, yes, even personnel from other facilities.

Professional Nurses Do Care.

Be a professional Nurse.

8 thoughts on “When a Nurse Says: I Don’t Care”

  1. Nerdy Nurse,

    I will not engage in discourse regarding semantics…if you choose to call your colleagues “patients” then so be it. While I can appeciate the analogy; I think it’s a leap but I can agree to disagree.

    As for no longer being a nurse because you are no longer at the bedside. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nurses should be and are increasing becoming a vital component in many areas of healthcare. It is our unique perspective that I feel ultimately results in better patient outcomes.

    Plain and simple, the nurse you were referencing was an idiot. I apologize if I came on a bit too strongly. I’m just a strong proponent of Nursing as a SCIENTIFIC profession as well a caring one. A lot of our colleagues muddy the water by engaging in certain practices and behaviors in order to be “liked” as oppose to being respected for the knowledge and skill set they bring to the table. There is nothing wrong with common courtesy in the workplace and getting a cup of coffee for or giving up a seat to another co-worker but I disagree with it when it is done out of deference to a title.

    Btw, I think your site/blog is awesome.

    1. Stephanie,

      Thank you for sharing your opinion on patients. I like a lively discussion and your perspective is just as valid and valuable as mine on what is defined as a “patient.” So again thank you for sharing.

      Being a passionate nurse is important in caring for patients and in commenting on blogs. I appreciate that passion!
      I have seen many nurses consumed with the politics and social game associated with working alongside women and less concerned with the care they are providing or being seen as and advocating for nurses as professionals.

      And thank you for saying my blog is awesome. Though, you may not want say it too much for my husband’s sake. He is afraid that if I get too many people complimenting my blog that my head my swell to epic proportions and I’ll no longer be able to fit through the door-frames here… and sadly he is not a very good carpenter.

  2. “Your patients are anyone you interact with as part of your professional role as a nurse.”
    HOGWASH! This type of flowery drivel is part of the reason nurses are not respected as PROFESSIONALS. Any true professional knows how to assess individual situations and handle them accordingly. Patients are the recipients of healthcare services, anyone encountered outside of that definition should be classified as a colleague, co-worker, team-member etc and should be treated with courtesy and respect for their area of expertise. However, this does not mean turning a blind eye to rendering poor services. This should be addressed with their CHARGE NURSE and SUPERVISORS which often facilitates the needs of the patient being met as opposed to further delaying them.
    “Also, if the Director of Nursing for the facility you became impatient with happens to call you to discuss the conversation that she just had with your boss, I would find it pertinent to be apologetic and professional.”
    If one is truly being professional and acting as a true advocate for the patient; why the need to be a apologetic? One should instead, calmly and rationally convey the facts pertaining to their course of action. It seems that nurses in general confuse assertiveness and direct, effective communication with disrespect and unprofessionalism. I so wish we as a profession would truly learn the difference in order to get on with the business of CARING for patients without making excuses and apologizing for trying to do so in the most efficient and safest way possible.

    1. Stephanie,

      I humbly disagree in the definition of a patient.

      I work in clinical informatics and my “patients” are nurses and technical professionals. I don’t work at the bedside, but I am very much a part of patient care.
      I am often working to correct the ailments of medical records and problems that nurses encounter while documenting.

      Because I am not at the bedside, does that mean I am no longer a nurse?

      In regards to being apologetic, perhaps that is not the best term. But I do not think one should continue to be inconsiderate and callous to the person on the other line.
      This particular instance was not about advocating for a patient, this was about a nurse having a bad attitude and acting inappropriately. She continue to act inappropriately even when given another opportunity to speak about the incident.

      The nurse spent 30 minutes at shift change discussing how her time was wasted, and how inconvenienced she was. She basically bragged to everyone about how she told them off and then tried her best to get them into trouble. No mention was ever made of the patient. It was about her and her need to be somehow compensated for her time.

  3. This is a great article! I worked as a Nurse Assistant in undergrad, and the title that we had at the hospital was “Care Tech”! I just wanted to share that because it fit.

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