Diary of a Labor and Delivery Nurse: Does This Ever Get Easier?

I once had a physician call me at home on my day off to ask me about a patient discharged from triage the day before. The patient re-arrived to our unit, asking for me by my full name, telling anyone who would listen that her physician was “so angry” with me…she should have been admitted (her perception) and she wanted everyone to know it. I tried to act as if it didn’t bother me…after all, I’m a nurse. I don’t have the authority to admit or discharge patients on my own whim. But the truth is, I was bothered on so many different levels. I hated that the patient knew my full name—I half expected it to be splashed across social media, where I would only have the ability to look and listen, watching whatever was said to play out. I hated that I had been called on my day off, on my own time. I had answered the phone while waiting at the pediatrician’s office, trying to hold the phone and listen and simultaneously explain myself while balancing my cranky toddler on my hip. But most of all, I hated that anyone’s perception, whether it be the patient’s or the physician’s, was that I should have done something different. I thought of a hundred different times I had redirected a patient’s perception to shed a provider in a better light, it felt like a betrayal that the patient had come in telling all of my coworkers (and my boss) that I had done something wrong, something that angered their provider. I was upset. After all, I kind of work for the physician.

I didn’t offer to pick up any extra shifts that week. Those days off, I mended my hurt ego, alternating between feeling wounded and feeling defiant. Nursing is so hard on so many different levels. It’s a profession that has historically been voiceless, a profession that still struggles to define an equatable relationship with the people we work so close with.

I finally came to terms with the entire situation, a situation that my own worry had probably blown up and out of proportion.  After a few days, time allowed me the ability to self-reflect and I was able to think of things I could have done differently. I ended up telling myself that I was happy the physician felt as if they could call me to talk about the situation (although I might have to remind myself of this if it ever happens again).  After all, that’s what they would have done if it would have been another physician. I knew my feelings were founded from the fact that I think so highly of the providers I work with, I respect them so much and hated that they may have viewed any action as questionable. It might have been my first “patient dissatisfaction,” but it probably wouldn’t be my last (no matter how hard I want to please everyone), and that’s something I just have to accept. Above all else, I remembered that we have to attempt to learn and grow from all situations, to hopefully ultimately improve the outcomes for our patients. Be gracious with yourself, and especially with those around you. No one ever said nursing was going to be easy, and I doubt it will ever get easier, but this profession is so worth it.  Remind yourself of that when you question it. And we have to keep reminding ourselves—we really work for our patients 😉 Without hesitation, they are so worth it.

Until my next delivery ❤


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