The Three Worst Types of Nurses (and How to Deal with Them)
Being a nurse comes with its own set of ups and downs that are pretty unique to the profession. One of the biggest challenges we face is dealing with each other! It’s true that no one is perfect, but some nurses make us really wonder whether they know that or not. If you’re a nurse, you’ll probably recognize some of the nurse types on this list.
1. The Talker
Pretty often, nursing work requires a bit of silence and concentration. In fact, it can be pretty important to have a quiet space to finish paperwork or procedures. But once in a while, we have to work with The Talker. You probably have met one or two in the course of your nursing career. They’re the ones that seem to always have something to say about pretty much everything. From the weather to the new orderly to the price of gas these days, The Talker will never run out of things to talk about. They also don’t discriminate when they choose a listener; literally anyone will do if it means they get to speak.
There are several subsets of the overarching Talker type, like the over-sharer, who insists on sharing every little detail of their personal life and childhood traumas, and the question-asker, who won’t let you get away with not actively participating in the conversation. If you’re facing any breed of Talker, here are a few ways to deal:
- Move to another location. If you notice The Talker gearing up for another tirade against some current political topic or the cute thing their three-year-old did this morning, go ahead and make yourself useful in another area. If you’re due for a break, take it now and hope that the monologue is over by the time you come back. If nothing else, you probably have a few patients that definitely need attending to (wink wink).
- Avoid eye contact. Just like a threatening animal, you’re going to want to avoid eye contact with The Talker. If they catch your attention, even in this minor way, they might see it as an invitation to begin a conversation. If they start talking to you anyway, keep looking away and participate as little as possible to shorten the conversation.
- Redirect their attention. Often, Talkers talk so much because they get distracted by thoughts in their own head and want to get them out. If The Talker in your office starts up, redirect their attention back to their job. You can ask them if they’ve finished their charting, or to check on a patient for you while you finish paperwork.
2. The Whiner
You know the type. This is the person who will complain about literally everything. No paper in the printer? They’ll complain about nurses not being given enough resources. Don’t like their most recent assignment? They’ll protest that they aren’t being treated what they’re worth. Difficult patient? Work is too hard, and they don’t get any appreciation.
All the complaining can definitely be a drag. It is very hard to sit and listen to negativity all day without absorbing some of it yourself. To protect yourself and encourage your coworker to be more positive, try the following:
- Stay positive. Negativity begets negativity, so the more you hear it, the more likely you are to embody it. However, the same is true for your already negative coworker. Your positivity can leak over to them if they hear it enough. If you’ve got a Whiner in your workplace, try to make positive comments. You don’t necessarily need to refute every negative thing they say, but pointing out when the weather is nice or how well a procedure went can make a big difference.
- Kill them with kindness. Chances are that the Whiner in your office doesn’t really like feeling negative; it can just be easier to see what’s wrong than see what’s good. In this case, make it easier for them to see the good and give them less to complain about. A fresh bunch of flowers for the shared space is nice, or a batch of homemade (or store-bought; we don’t judge) treats can brighten anyone’s day.
- Ignore them. If nothing else seems to work, or their negativity requires more work than you are able to reasonably provide to help them, just ignore them. Keep yourself at a distance and don’t engage their conversations. Misery loves company, but it doesn’t have to be you.
3. The “Off-Duty” Nurse
This is the nurse that somehow feels constantly off duty…even when they’re on. They may sit back and let you do most of the work while they read a magazine, check texts, or scroll through their Instagram feed. While they may be present and technically at work, there is little to no work actually being done.
If you find yourself often doing much of the work that should be shared and don’t know how to fix the problem, here are a couple of things you can try.
- Ask for specific help. Instead of reminding them they’re on the clock, ask them for specific help with a task like checking on a patient. If it’s simple enough, they’ll have no reason to say no and then you can segue into more intense work that needs to get done.
- Talk to a supervisor. No one likes tattling to management about their coworkers, and nursing is no different. However, if you’ve reminded your coworker that you need help with some tasks or given explicit instruction and they still aren’t working as solidly as they should, it’s time to refer to a supervisor.
Working in any field is never easy, especially if you work in close quarters with others. There are lots of personalities to deal with and it can easily become frustrating. However, dealing with the three worst types of nurses should be a little bit easier if you follow the above tips.