The magical mystery land of community health

I don't make this stuff up!…but I do change identifying information.

Speechless. October 15, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — lesbonurse @ 12:23 am

This morning I was tending to a woman who had smashed her finger in a door. She was grumpy to begin with because I was running 30 minutes late. She was not pleased with my recommendation to go to the ER for xrays and stitches. She works the night shift and had not yet been to sleep. All around, not a happy camper.

We discussed her job  and the fact that she will likely not be able to work for at least a few days. I asked her if she has sick leave. “Well, I don’t know,” she said. “My boss is a Jew and they don’t like anyone to take time off.” Um…hello, I’m a Jew?

What followed was a long silence while I struggled to come up with an appropriate response. I couldn’t find one. The long silence was all that I could muster. I hate when that happens! It’s not that I find the patient’s remarks ok, or even worthy of ignoring. It’s that my first reaction (did she really just say that?) is never conducive to a therapeutic response. My second and third reactions (oh my god, think of something to say! THINK OF SOMETHING TO SAY RIGHT NOW!) aren’t very helpful either. The fourth reaction (say ‘I’m Jewish.’ Wait, do you really want to engage on a personal level right now? Is that professional? Is that a good idea?) also didn’t make the grade. My only response was a disapproving silence. It was not the articulate yet professional condemnation of bigotry that I was hoping for. Sigh. I’ll be adding ‘develop better response to prejudiced patients’ to my list of “Things to Work On.”

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2 Responses to “Speechless.”

  1. laura Says:

    im sorry, thats so awkward. you should have told her that you’re jewish and love to loaf around on the couch, that would have learned her.

  2. Oh, dear. I was thinking about how your role as a NP is to provide compassion to people who are suffering. Frankly, it’s unfortunate that patients don’t think about that a little more often. I hear derogatory remarks all the time, but I still don’t have a clear answer to these overwhelming situations. I’d like to say something witty, but that may not be the most suitable retort, or even helpful in the long-run. What I strive to do, is to gain a sense of composure and find an appropriate way to approach the person and help them avoid doing or saying harmful things in the future. I feel that you have to try to do so without blame or judgment, because otherwise you are just adding to the negativity.

    That’s just my two Antioch-motivated thoughts on the subject. I am so sorry that happened to you. I don’t think your silence was detrimental; perhaps it was what you didn’t say that made an impact at that moment.


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