Have Nurses Become Too Proud and Arrogant?Sitting on an airplane recently, I observed two middle-aged gentlemen seated in the row directly in front of me. I couldn’t help but notice in the dimly lit cabin via the reflection in the window, that one of these men had not set his phone to airplane mode and continued to text back and forth with someone, despite being requested to comply by the airline attendant.

He continued to text until the plane reached an altitude which prevented internet connection before he ceased with this activity. Upon the announcement that we’d begun our initial descent into our destination city, the attendant asked the other gentleman to place his seat back in the upright position, a request he did not comply with.

Coming back through the cabin, the request was made of him a second time, this time the attendant waited for him to comply with federal regulations. He did so begrudgingly. When she walked away, both gentlemen began to speak quietly to each other with snarky hand gestures, indicating their frustration and disapproval.

When did we become a society of entitled, selfish, and rude people who believe we are above giving respect, above following rules, above federal regulations?

I couldn’t help but think of some of the nurses I have known over the course of my career. It’s becoming commonplace for nurses to show a similar disregard, a similar disrespect toward physicians. We all know physicians who lack bedside manner and leave a lot to be desired in their communication style with nurses. But nurses often arrogantly disregard physicians for the educated, medical professionals that they are.

I have personally met countless nurses who feel they know better or know as much as a physician. This may be true on occasion, but as a general rule? No. I question whether many nurses comprehend the magnitude of the education and training doctors have received, an education that far surpasses that of a nurse- any nurse.

Swallowing The Bitter Pill

When nurses become arrogant, they refuse to grow, to learn new things- after all, they already know it all. I hope I never reach the point in my career where I feel my educational standing rivals that of a doctor. How can I say such a thing?! We are not their subordinates, we are their colleagues! Yes, this is true, but that doesn’t excuse us from giving respect or from recognizing the expansive knowledge and training physicians possess.

Not what some of you want to hear? Sorry. This article isn’t serving dessert. It is discussing a real meat and potatoes issue affecting so many of us every time we go to work. Some nurses are guilty of not giving credit where credit is due. But we sure want our credit, don’t we? We all want to be recognized for our achievements.

Call me old school, even Florence Nightingale-ish, but I believe if we want to see doctor/nurse relationships improve in our profession, we must first start with our own poor behavior. Change starts with me. It starts with you. Change doesn’t justify or make excuses; it finds solutions. There is clearly a trend of disunity and disrespect between some nurses and prescribers.

I know nurses are capable of great empathy, love, and understanding. But let us be honest, we are capable of unprofessional conduct and arrogance and those behaviors have no place in the profession of nursing. Let’s raise the bar. I’ll start with me. 

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