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Letters to the Editor – June 2008


Choose your battles with physicians wisely  
“Don’t tolerate disruptive physician behavior” (March) really hit home. When I started on a cardiothoracic stepdown unit a year ago, I knew I’d be working with surgeons, who don’t have a reputation for being polite. Nearly every time we have a code, they yell and scream at the nurses. I’ve learned not to take it personally, figuring the job is very stressful and sometimes people take their anger out on others.
I think many nurses tolerate doctors’ disruptive behavior out of fear they might lose their jobs if they complain. Who’s more dispensable to the hospital—an RN with relatively little experience on the unit, or a surgeon whose work brings in millions of dollars a year? No one dares report an attending surgeon, who can make your life a nightmare by scrutinizing everything you do. On the other hand, it might be wise to report an abusive resident before he gets to a point of authority where you can’t say anything. Bottom line: We have to choose our battles wisely—and perhaps grow a thicker skin.
Nadine Innocent, RN
Brooklyn, NY

From Today’s Forum:
The article regarding disruptive physician behavior was much needed. However, “telling on” every physician who is slightly disrespectful is idealistic and over the top. It’s reminiscent of a “Big Brother” mentality where everyone is walking on pins and needles so as not to offend anyone… Everyone is guilty of having a bad day. This is not to say that boorish behavior should be accepted, but running to management with every incident shouldn’t be encouraged. Instead, speak frankly with the physician without getting into your feelings… In the real world, you do not gain respect (or further inhibit disruptive behavior) by telling a person who has acted in a contemptible manner how your feelings are hurt and allowing someone else to handle the incident.

Nursing school pin:  Not for sale at any price 
Today, nursing school pins are sold on the Internet to the highest bidder. Knowing what they symbolize, I agonize when I see them being bought and sold so easily. I’m old enough to remember when graduates had to jump through hoops to replace a lost school pin. One had to write the school and ask permission to purchase another pin, and then wait for a letter saying the school had notified the pin manufacturer that you were, indeed, a graduate and therefore eligible to purchase a pin.
My blue-and-gold school pin is about the size of a dime and not particularly beautiful, except to me and every other graduate of “Old Blockley” (the former Philadelphia General Hospital’s nursing school). Nothing I own means more to me than this pin. It’s proof that I’m part of a profession with an enormously rich and meaningful history. I wouldn’t sell it at any price, and I’d be devastated if my daughters even considered selling mine after I’m gone. Happily, there’s little danger of that: We’ve begun a family tradition of my daughters (and hopefully, my granddaughters) wearing my pin on their wedding day, to represent something old, something borrowed, and something (a little bit) blue.
I’ve seen two Blockley pins for sale on eBay. I contacted one set of bidders, asking if they were PGH graduates. They were, so I backed out of the auction, relieved to know the pin would go to one of our own. I bought the second pin, which had belonged to a 1942 graduate. Although few people ever notice, I wear it to work every day in honor of that graduate, knowing how much it must have meant to her—and still means to me.
Theresa Stephany, MSN, RN, CARN
San Diego, CA

Journal makes me proud to be an ANA member
As a returning ANA member, I must tell you how impressed I am with American Nurse Today. Reading your journal makes me proud to be an active ANA member. I was especially struck by Pam Cipriano’s February editorial, “Money can’t buy happiness”; we need to share its wisdom with nursing colleagues of all generations. On behalf of nurses everywhere, thank you for your hard work and effort.
Nelda Godfrey, PhD, CNS-BC
Kansas City, KS

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