“Next time, make sure your phone is working before you page me.” This is what a doctor said after I had just apologized to her (unprompted) that the phone wasn’t working but that the outgoing nurse had paged her to that phone.

That she felt the need to chastise me still speaks to just a fraction of the verbal and emotional abuse nurses get from doctors regularly. Nurses take it with grace and move on but I couldn’t do it this time. After she said what she said, I said to her “I’m not sure how I could have ensured that seeing as it is that I came in to work and I had no way of knowing the phone they paged youto wasn’t working.”

Rather than apologize, what does she do? Muttered “you know what, forget about it” and hung up. Man, I was UPSET! In fact, I’m still upset a day later. Not because that’s the worst thing she could have said to me or that’s been said. No, it upset me because of how prevalent it is. It upset me because it prompted me to have this unnecessary and ego-lead conversation with myself about how I can be a doctor too and blah blah blah as though that is a requirement for mutual respect. That should just be the baseline regardless of my degrees and accolades.

It was then super interesting to see a Humansof New York post talking about the trauma that doctors go through during their training and that predisposes them to being assholes. Many doctors were commenting saying how it’s true and how things need to change. After reading that post and tens of comments underneath it, I felt empathy towards yesterday’s doctor and any other doctor that as ever treated me and fellow nurses disrespectfully.

It however, reinforced my determination not to be treatedlike a doormat without standing up for myself. Sure, doctors have had a very stressful training and have a very stressful job but that’s their cross to bear. That’s right, it is their problem to deal with and still treat nurses and other staff respectfully. Respect is the bare minimum. We as nurses can have empathy and respect for authority while also demanding to be treatedrespectfully.

This got me thinking about relationships where the parties involved have baggage. We can make room for them to grow and be empathetic towards them but we also realize that the onus is on them and them alone to work on the shit they need to work on to showup for us. For a long time, because of my shortcomings, I would always allow for others to disrespect me because “none of us are perfect.”

I thought my imperfections were a reason to allow mistreatment. Not anymore…it’s still a work in progress for me but I will not hesitate anymore to demand respect from others. They’re not obliged to give it but neither am I to keep them in my life.

So, let’s keep working on ourselves while never accepting mistreatment or disrespect as par for the course.



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