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.
In a Scottish study of 10 nursing student's perspectives of the qualities of mentors (Gray & Smith, 2000), students described good mentors as "approachable, confident in their own ability, good communicators, professional, organized, enthusiastic, friendly, possessing a sense of humor, caring, patient and understanding" (p. 1547). Students at a baccalaureate school in the United States described their mentor experiences:
"My preceptor was amazing! She let me do as much as I could and helped me when I had questions. She also let me work with her outside the hospital at a free clinic" (L. Lucero, personal communication, July 7, 2010).
"What I loved most about working with my preceptor was that she allowed me to function autonomously. In many situations it was really helpful for learning when she verbally stated that she trusted me and then would allow me to perform a task on my own" (C. Luedemann, personal communication, July 7, 2010).
God's Advice About Following
As a student nurse you follow someone—whether a staff nurse, charge nurse, clinical instructor, or a peer. Hard to imagine now, but there will come a time when someone will follow in your steps. God's Word gives practical advice related to following:
Hold on to your faith and keep a clean conscience. 1 Timothy 1:19
Pray for those in authority. 1 Timothy 2:2
Set an example...in speech. 1 Timothy 4:12
Jones, G. A. (2009). Combating cynicism. Journal of Christian Nursing
Kangas, S., Kee, C., & McKee-Waddle, R. (1999). Organizational factors, nurses' job satisfaction, and patient satisfaction with nursing care. Journal of Nursing Administration
Gray, M. A., & Smith, L. N. (2000). The qualities of an effective mentor from the student nurse's perspective: Findings from a longitudinal qualitative study. Journal of Advanced Nursing