PMD 7: The Challenges of Working With People Who Don’t Support You

Session 07

You’re excited to be inching towards your goal of getting into medical school, yet someone you work with is being negative. How do you handle that?

[01:17] Caller of the Day:

“I work in an emergency department… and recently, I’ve had a few of my coworkers come to me saying just how there have been complaints from one nurse in particular about me sharing my successes. And it’s not like I’m lagging. It’s always a nurse would ask.

So when my coworker came to me and told me how this one nurse, in particular, has been saying some really nasty things behind my back about my road to med school and just how I’m not going to make it and she’s tired of hearing about it. It kind of sucks because I’m sitting here and I don’t go out of my way to tell you these things. I thought you genuinely asked. It really hurt. And the crazy part is this is a person who is not even in my age group. This person is old enough to be my grandmother and I’m getting negativity from her. It’s even more concerning because as an African-American, there’s not a lot of us. And this person saying the negative comments about me is also African-American. Why are women are so quick to put each other down? And just coming to work has been so hard and training is stressful. Am I going to be met with these comments again? Am I going to be met with another individual who’s asking about school and do they really care?

Just trying to focus on getting through undergrad… I’m a nontraditional student. I graduated high school in 2010, however, I had to take some time off. I had to leave school, family issues, and get back in school. I’m married. I’m older. It’s not easy going to school full-time and then working full-time and having to be a full-time wife, and just trying to balance all these things… it’s this one person has nothing but negative things to say. I’m really not understanding.

But with that though when it’s just as crazy in the ED and patients keep coming on both sides. meaning the ambulance is bringing in the patients and then you have patients walking in through the front door, and our ER is not so big. So you can see everyone as quickly as a timely manner as they would like. I always get one patient that constantly be that one reminder that this is why I’m doing this. I am human. I have feelings.

For instance, we had a patient come in and they weren’t looking too good. Their breathing wasn’t normal. And EMS had told us how, due to his blood volume, they had to put in the IO to get the patient’s fluids. But that wasn’t working. The pressure was really low. Nothing was going right… By the end of that, the patient was talking. One of the nurses on the case was saying how she’s had a patient before and she didn’t even know that the patient could speak. That, though, was really, really good.

As someone who works in the ER, you’re going to have those days where you do have to see a patient die. Not saying the cases are easy but some cases are easier to deal with than others. But as someone who has been working in an emergency room for three years, there are some cases where I’ve never dealt with.

I’m so glad you guys are doing this and you have this podcast where we can just talk and vent and just get it all off our chest because it really sucks. It really shocked my husband. He’s like, “You’ve seen someone die in front of you? You say it so nonchalantly.” “I’m not trying to be callous or heartless but it’s just something that comes with the job.” And he said, “how many have you seen?” And I say, “Honestly, I don’t count because if I count, I’d have to think about it and if I have to think about it, it’s not something I want to focus on and then my day is ruined.”

But that side of medicine that we don’t think about is the aftereffect. What happens when everyone leaves the room? What happens when you really have a sick patient and what happens to the ones that you want to save but we can’t? How do you treat those? And on those days, I have moments when I’m just like if this was all I had to deal with everyday, would I still want to be a physician? And I love that I can honestly say yes. Because we’re trying to save them. Our hearts are pure in wanting the best care, wanting the best service for our patients.

It sucks that at times… by thoughts of other individuals who have their own feelings and their own thought on what your life should be or they just have something negative going on in their life…”

[10:10] Thanks for Sharing With Us!

Thank you for calling in! You were just so authentic in your description of your feelings about the highs and the lows of what you’re dealing with. It’s such a great thing to be able to do that.

[10:33] Being Around Negative People

It really stinks to be around people who are just negative. There really are people who just want to see us fail. And it’s even harder if you’re working with them and especially if it feels like it’s a personal attack. I wonder if this person is just jealous because she’s older than you. I wonder if she regrets that she didn’t pursue the path that you did. And because she’s jealous, she’s trying to tear you down.

As a woman and as a physician, I’ve seen people too where you’d expect other women to support you and lift you up. But there are definitely interesting relationships which can exist between physicians and med students and nurses. Many of us encounter this. We want to view our team as a team all working together. But I’ve had experiences where I’ve not gotten along well with other people on my team.

'There is sometimes bad blood between female nurses and female physicians or female medical students.'Click To Tweet

Sometimes, nurses get frustrated by medical students that come in and think they know what’s going on. And the nurses have worked there for a very long time. Then the medical students come in and act like they’re the boss. That’s very frustrating for nurses.

This is even the case with female students who have become physicians. I’ve seen nurses and women physicians have strife between them. As women, we would all like to see each other succeed because we know it’s been a male-dominated environment for a long time and that’s changed. But there’s still a lot of feeling about how women are oppressed and there’s a huge gender pay gap which still exists.

Remember that there are going to be people always along the path of life, and the premed journey, and your medical journey who don’t want you to succeed. And not you personally, but just in general. There are going to be negative people out there.

'It's so frustrating especially if you only have good intentions and you just want to help people.'Click To Tweet

What you need to do probably is keep this kind of people at a distance. And if she asks questions just tell them you’d rather talk about work or just shift the conversation so that she won’t have anything in her basket to give you a hard time about.

[15:22] Don’t Let Negative People Get in the Way

You have so much to deal with on your plate, plus the stress you’re having in your environment. Keep her at a distance. Well, you have to work with her. But remember that she can’t have any power over you. She can’t change the outcome of your premed journey. She may make it hard for you. But you’re a very resilient person. You have way more to offer than she can so don’t let her get in your way and don’t let her ruin your day.

'When we have someone who's so negative at work, it can really interfere with the actual work we're trying to do because it makes us feel bad.'Click To Tweet

Eventually, they will get bored and they will leave you alone. And the saddest thing at the end of the day is she’s going to live with herself and you don’t. She has to live with the negative person that she is.

[17:30] Celebrating the Wins

Write these stories down no matter how busy you are, even just two lines. Just to remind you in the future. And this might even come up in an interview someday for medical school. This might also be something that can give you inspiration for your personal statement. This is a great thing to read when you’re feeling crappy and you need an inspiration of why you’re doing this. This also includes studying for the MCAT when you’re overloaded with information and you’re bored with everything you’re studying. These types of experiences that you can recall can lift you up so much and keep you grounded. This will help keep you focused so that you don’t get sick of studying.

'Write down just a couple of lines these stories that really move you and that will stay with you.'Click To Tweet

[19:40] Seeing People Die

It’s amazing how there’s no time allocated to really talk, process and digest these incredibly momentous things we see and we’re a part of. For instance, pronouncing someone was something I experienced and there wasn’t even anybody standing outside the door asking me how I feel. There are hospitals that do the huddle though, where people just talk about the experience and share their feelings. But in large part, I don’t think this is a standard thing.

'There is not a standardized way that has become mainstream that allows med students and health care teams to process these very challenging experiences.'Click To Tweet

And it’s a big deal to watch another person die. However, sometimes, we don’t treat it that way because it is a part of the job. And we have to be able to move on. I don’t mean move on and forget but move on to the next person who needs our help. If we all didn’t have the capacity to pick ourselves up and move on to the next person who needed our help then it wouldn’t work. We would not be able to function.

Indeed, watching people die is momentous. But we also have to find a way to be able to pick ourselves up and move on to the next thing. And for people who don’t work in health care, this is even something they can’t imagine to watch someone die and just move on. It’s something you have to take on when you become a physician that you’re going to be able to digest and move on to the next thing because we have to.

If you too are experiencing any of these, feel free to share it with us here on the podcast. Don’t just bury these things as this can be a disservice to yourself. Make sure you have a place to be able to process these very heavy situations. Practice this as a premed as this will definitely help you down the line.

[29:15] Keep Calling In!

Share your highs and lows with us by calling 1-833-MYDIARY. Press 1 to leave a diary entry and press 5 to give a feedback and let us know what episode you’re calling about.


Listen to Other Episodes

Leave a Comment

Join our free email newsletter to get updates of the show. Simply enter your name and email.

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

2018 © | All Rights Reserved | Web Design by MAP