by Tara Trester
An event from my junior year pediatric rotation left a big impression. I observed nurses in the pediatric intensive care unit caring for a patient hospitalized due to a drug overdose. The patient was comatose and on a ventilator. One particular nurse sat at the nurse's station loudly discussing the patient's condition, adding her personal opinion that no additional efforts should be made to care for this patient because the state was paying for the care.
The situation left an impression—a negative impression. I left early from clinical observation that day. I felt sick as a result of what I'd witnessed by those in my profession. I had numerous positive experiences in my clinical rotations, but this one lingers in my mind. I had started the day hoping to learn from experienced nurses how to care for critically ill pediatric patients; I left realizing that those who are unhappy with their jobs or lives negatively impact others.
The article "Combating Cynicism" by Gregory Jones (2009) describes the all too common situation where nurses focus on their personal opinions of patients instead of focusing on patient needs. As a student, I observed that nurses who slandered patients seem less satisfied. In general, these nurses were less willing to work with students, took less time with patients, and interactions were more negative. In contrast, the nurses who were satisfied seemed more willing to work with students, had positive interactions with coworkers, and demonstrated a caring attitude toward patients.
A study by Kangas, Kee, and McKee-Waddle (1999) examined what factors affect employee satisfaction of nurses. They found that nurses who felt their organization supported and valued nursing rated their employee satisfaction higher; if nurses felt their care was critical to patients, satisfaction increased. These results suggest that those employees who are supported and encouraged by their employer and feel their role is important are more satisfied with their job. Ultimately increased job satisfaction correlates to better patient care, hopefully decreasing judgmental attitudes toward patients.
These ideas are one suggestion to decreasing nurse negativity. I encourage nurses to consider how our attitudes affect students, patients, and colleagues.
Tara Trester is a 2010 graduate of Saint Anthony College of Nursing in Rockford, Illinois.
See this article, Nurse's Negativity, and others from the Journal of Christian Nursing, January—March, 2011.