Being a professional is more than having a title and working with the community as a professional can be the most rewarding job you can have. Being able to help people and see the results makes a hard day’s work worth it. Anytime that you work with people, whether they are sick or having a crisis in their life can be a handful at time. The show of professional behavior shows up in the person taking charge of the situation.
The title of a person does not make them a professional; it represents a service and or a company they work through – professionalism shows up when they are put in a crisis situation that allows them to display their own personal control and mannerism.
In the 23 years I have worked in mental health I have been called lots of names “Mrs. Angie” was not always the one that rang down the hallway. Working on a male ward most of my years as a mental health nurse I have upset quite a few men much larger than me because I did not respond the way they thought I should have – or I basically said no without using those words.
The majority of the male population is very respectful for the female staff they work with but you always have the 1-2% that try to hit that nerve with the words they spew at you. Having an extra layer of thick skin is a must to work in mental health. In the beginning years of my career I was young and my nurse skin was rather thin. The first time a man called me “bitch”, I took it personal and either responded back with words that were not as professional as they could have been used or made an effort to not be available for the extra requests when he asks. If you are a nurse don’t shake your head in shock because you know you have ignored a patient you did not like as well as some.
It took a few years to get the name calling response under my belt and allow it to roll off my shoulders and know that they are not talking to me personally but to whatever is upsetting them that they are dealing with.
There was a middle age man who thought he was suppose to go home that day but found out he had to wait until the next morning for the papers to be completed, he was not very happy and wanted to make sure everyone around him was very clearly aware of his disproval.
It can get a little uncomfortable telling a grown man what he can and can’t do when he crosses the line of acting out behavior. They usually let you know they don’t approve of your respond with “Bitch you better get me out of here or I am going to whip somebody’s ass” I find it rather comical sometimes after it is all over how calm I can stay when someone is threatening to whip someone ass and I am standing in front of them knowing he is referring to me. In my professional non judgmental tone of voice I let him vent but also remind him that acting out in not going to make the process happen any quicker and if he makes to choice to strike someone out of anger it could cause the process to be canceled all together.
After close to 45 minutes of his ranting and name calling he finally went to the TV area to sit – nowhere near calm – but not cursing at the staff for the moment. He sat and glared at the TV and grew more agitated at the fact he was not leaving. He came to the office door and screamed “Get the fucking doctor up here now – I am tired of fucking with your stupid ass bitch, or somebody is about to be sorry.” With his fist clinched and his teeth tightly gritted together he took a step towards the door glaring at the 2 staff in the office. I grabbed the door and quickly slammed it closed. The doors are 3 inch thick wood that locks once they are shut and it must be opened with a key from the outside. The pounding on the door sounded as if he would splinter the door if he punched it just one more time. A Code D was called from safely inside the office, and once we heard help arrive I opened the door.
After the aggressive situation was handled and he had time to calm down with a little extra medication to assist his anxiety he once again approached me. “Mrs Angie, I am sorry I called you that name – I was angry and I should not have said those things to you. I wanted to go home today.” I smiled at him and said I understood there is no place like home. We talked for a few minutes about what his plans were when he got home and he wanted to get started on them right away. He slipped off to his room and rested for the remainder of the night.
The younger nurse would not have handled the post situation near as well as the seasoned nurse. Your professional mannerism shows up with time after being in many different stressful situations you learn that someone else’s anger does not always mean it is about you even if it is being said to you. The next time you find yourself around an angry person, ask yourself, is this about me. You may find you becoming a good listener instead of a defensive receiver.