Just like nurses, not all doctors you meet along the way are perfectly perfect. Some are exceptionally good while some have idiosyncrasies that can even get to your nerves. When we say ‘difficult’ doctors, we simply pertain to those doctors that are hard to deal with and make your stay in the hospital a daily punishment instead of fulfillment. Their bedside skills might be flawless but in terms of dealing with nurses, especially the new ones, it’s hard to figure out this kind of ‘difficult’ doctor. Though not all doctors are classified under this category, its imperative for a nurse to step up if she meets one to ensure safe and quality patient care. To help you out, here are 5 simple tips on how to deal with a difficult doctor:
1. Think before you act
If you know NCP, then you already know the drill: assess before doing anything else. Are you feeling mad to this doctor because you associate him/her to someone who hurt you in the past? Are you a naturally sensitive person who reacts negatively with every criticism hurled to you? Are you angry because you’re being taken for granted or because the doctor crossed the boundaries and abused you verbally or sexually? You have to ask yourself first these questions for you to know if the doctor is REALLY being difficult to you or you’re just simply annoyed to his/her personality.
2. Have a flexible personality
As a nurse, it pays to have the “people skills”/”social skills” or the ability to adapt in any situation no matter how obnoxious the people are. In the Philippines, the term pakikisama is already part of the culture that’s why Filipino nurses are known worldwide as unique and very likable employees. In a hospital setting, a nurse must learn to accept that not all people (patients and co-workers included) will act according to her standard because every individual has a unique personality that might clash with another. The same goes with difficult doctors; nurses must know how to survey the scene and know more about this particular doctor so necessary adjustments can be made. And sometimes, it is the nurse that is being difficult and not the other way around.
3. Prove your worth
If you’re new and the doctor is not thrilled to work with you, so be it. Every successful nurse must start with no experience at all and work her way up. You should not expect an expert doctor to welcome you with open arms and immediately establish a smooth working relationship with you. Remember: you haven’t proven anything yet so why on earth should they highly respect you? Don’t be hurt if you’re new and doctors criticize you openly for your mistakes and take you for granted most of the time. Master your craft, study hard, work your ass off, and prove them you’re a nurse to keep and respect. That is, if you’re a newbie, but if the rift persists for years, then that’s a problem already. Perhaps you lack the will to cultivate a good working relationship with the doctor or you fail to establish yourself as a nursing leader with equal competencies to take care of the patient.
4. Communicate effectively
Here’s the rule: don’t ever use the doctor’s irritating lack of concern to you as an excuse to forget your own duties as a nurse. You owe your professional license to your patients and you must perform your responsibilities no matter what. If your doctor doesn’t like to talk to you, initiate the conversation and establish an open communication about your patient’s conditions. Assert yourself as a nurse with an equal responsibility for your patient’s recovery. Remember that a nurse-doctor relationship should always be a teamwork founded on mutual respect and open communication. The idea that the doctor is the boss and the nurse is the follower/subordinate is an insult to the nursing profession itself. Doctors will never learn to respect nurses if nurses don’t even know how to do it to their selves.
5. Report the behavior when necessary
There are certain cases wherein a written complaint is the best way to set limits and stop the doctor from abusing a nurse verbally or sexually. If you were successful in assessing the situation and feels like your rights have been violated, then proceed you must in filing a detailed report of the incident. Response to a difficult doctor is subjective so you always choose how you will react in this kind of situation. Whatever it is, learn to OWN your choice and always stand for what you think is right.