Yesterday, I was on call for anaesthetic emergencies with Jim, one of the slightly more senior anaesthetic trainees. The surgeons wanted to operate on a man in his eighties who had come into hospital with bowel obstruction. When we went to see him, it was obvious that this man had so many other medical problems that if he would need to go to intensive care after the operation to give him the best chance of surviving the surgery. Jim, myself and the ward sister were in the process of organising this man’s post-operative care. Despite obviously having lots to do, this nurse was doing the best she could to help us set things up so our patient could have his operation with the minimum delay possible.
I turned to Jim and said, “Do you not find that the ward sisters (senior nurses) are generally much more helpful that the staff nurses (junior nurses)?”
“Yeah, I think there’s something in that. I think that the senior nurses see more easily that you’re trying to sort stuff out for the patients. If you’re being polite and ask reasonable stuff, then they do their best to try and help you out. I think that the more junior nurses have a tendency to lump all doctors together. If they’ve had a bad experience in the past, they get the “all doctors are arseholes” syndrome and it’s really difficult to get them to do anything at all.”