Posted in Grad Nurse, Nurse Residency

Mean Physicians


Jeremy Liebman is the dude behind this artistically genius photo.

I’m reluctant to write this post. Not because I’m scared of what will happen should the asshat who is the subject of this post eventually read it, but because I hate to give him more of my brain space than I have already given him.

It has been exactly 1 day and 10 hours since I was berated for the first time by a surgeon. I was made to feel like I was the dumbest broad in the room. I had met this surgeon only 30 minutes prior and the only words I muttered to him were “nice to meet you”. That was the extent of our conversation – because he sure as heck didn’t say anything back. Oh well. I was getting used to people being completely and totally unresponsive to you in healthcare. From nurses to techs to physicians, people are just plain rude in healthcare. It’s crazy.

I digress.

In the OR, I am approximately 3 weeks old. 3 weeks. My 25-years-in-the-OR nurse went on break soon after our patient was draped and prepped for the case. I felt great because everything was as it should have been. Or so I thought.

The first question was barked at me “Is my coag on 15?”

I answered him. “Yes! 15 and 15!” I was so excited. BOTH of his bovies were on 15 coag.

“NO. NOT 15 – 15!! Coag on 15!!!!” he shouted.

“Um, yes. The coag is on 15.” My response was confused.

What in the hell?  I know, of course, that both his cut and coag were not on 15. I was answering the question given me which was in relation to coag settings, which were BOTH on 15. He had two bovies. I also know that cut and coag are often verbally stated as “40, 40,” for example. So, I could see why he wanted it said a different way. So, chalking it up to him being kind of an ass, I let it go.

5 minutes later, he attempted to use the bovie tip. It would not work. If it is plugged in, this is usually a safety mechanism to prevent the patient from being burnt in areas other than the intended target for coagulation – something that would only happen if the patient isn’t grounded. I looked at the machine, the screens were lit up. Everything was as it should have been.

“THE BOVIE PAD ISN’T ON!!!!” he screamed at the top of his lungs.

What the? What do you mean the bovie pad isn’t on?

“My goodness,” I agreed, and set under the drapes to get the pad on the patient. It took me approximately 10 seconds.

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? SHE DIDN’T HAVE THE BOVIE PAD ON!?!? TELL THAT NURSE THAT SHE ISN’T TO GO ON BREAK EVER AGAIN. I’M SERIOUS.” he both berated at me while simultaneously ordering that my preceptor never leave the room.

Now. This physician did not curse at me. He didn’t say my name (he didn’t know it). But, he sure as heck made me feel like an insignificant piece of shit who is about as incompetent as a rock.

My mind immediately shifted to my age (early thirties), my adult responsibilities, my child, my marriage, my abandoned 13 year career in business and I stood in utter disbelief that someone just treated me like I had the intelligence of a lizard in front of everyone in that room. This person didn’t know my name, didn’t know anything about me, or how long I had been a nurse, but he knew I was brand new, and he treated me like I had no business being in the operating room.

I came home and told my husband about it, and I burst into tears. Today, my husband used that experience against me in an argument to quiet me and I relived the experience over again.

I have been analyzing and analyzing why I have held onto that experience so painfully over the past couple of days and how I’m going to move past it and go back into that OR another day. The only thing I can come up with is to focus on the positive experiences I have had.

Just the morning before I was in a completely different room with a surgeon who let me have all the time in the world to prep a patient. He was so patient, so nice and so encouraging. He and all of the staff in the room added to a day that would go down as one of the most memorable in my career. Yet, here I was spending all of my time thinking about the man who made me feel so small and insignificant.

My remedy?


Yes. KitKat bars. I’m going to focus on the good surgeons. The ones that make me feel like the beginnings of an awesome OR nurse. The ones who spend the time helping me become a good colleague and skilled nurse. I’m going to tape kit-kat bars to little thank you cards that read something along the lines of:

“Thank you for giving this new nurse a break. You fostered a safe, enjoyable work environment that was ideal for learning to take place. This is a skill that not everyone possesses, but I hope you find solace in knowing that you do.



Isn’t that great? Giving the great doctors the recognition they deserve while simultaneously giving his not so nice colleagues the hypothetical finger. What’s even better is that I can give them to staff as well. But, right now, my targets are the surgeons.

At least then I won’t feel so helpless at the other end of their terrible attitudes. At least I could feel like I did something about it, if only indirectly, by praising those who were good to me while completely and totally giving the KitKat shaft to the jerks who don’t deserve my time of day.

What do you do to deal with rude team members?






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