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5 Ways You Can Deal with Lazy Nurse Co-Workers

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By Rozzette Cabrera, R.N.

Working with lazy nurses is, perhaps, one of the most annoying things you can experience on the floor. This goes particularly true when you’re running a very busy shift. With your co-nurses pretending to be “busy” reading the paper, disappearing for a few minutes to a full hour and leaving empty coffee cups and candy wrappers almost everywhere, it’s hard not to feel annoyed and frustrated.

Although tattling might be able to relieve some of your frustrations, the truth is it won’t really get you anywhere. In fact, telling in on your co-nurses might even result in more issues. You could be subjected to bullying, jealousy and receive the cold treatment.

If you are dealing with the same issues at work, here are a few tips on how to handle nurses who are just plain lazy.

1. Refuse to cover for your lazy co-worker.

If your co-worker frequently takes brakes, don’t agree to cover for her. You can tell her that your hands are full and that you have a lot of patients to look after.

If your co-worker doesn’t have anyone else to attend to her patients or administer their due medications, she’ll be forced to do the job herself. A bad behavior will continue if you tolerate and allow it.

2. Don’t allow them to distract you.

When you’re a nurse,  the last thing you want to happen is to get distracted while performing your duties. Remember, medication errors can easily happen when you’re not focusing or your concentration is divided.

Medication error can compromise not only your license but your patients’ lives, too. Remain focused on your work and limit distractions as much as possible.

If you find your co-workers chatting in the nurse station, excuse yourself and find another quieter spot to finish your paperwork. If you are in the middle of preparing your patients’ medications, don’t hesitate to ask them to leave the area. Don’t put too much energy focusing on what your co-workers aren’t doing. Instead, just concentrate on your tasks.

3.  Give guidance than doing the work.

If you are finding it hard to say no when someone asks for help, set limitations on how much help you can give. You can always provide guidance but never do the work for your co-nurses.

“always provide guidance but never do the work for your co-nurses.”

Remind them of their tasks and deadlines. Organize their duties for them or give tips on how you’re able to accomplish more things in the same amount of time.

4. Don’t make them change your attitude.

It’s incredibly frustrating to see your co-nurses slacking off and leaving the other nurses to pick up after them. No matter how frustrated you get, don’t let it affect your attitude, especially the way you interact with your patients.

“I’ve been in this ward for several years already and I’ve been able to work with nurses with a wide range of attitudes. One thing I learned is that no matter what they do, you are you. If you let them affect you, it’s your patients who will ultimately bear the effects. And with their poor health, that won’t be of any help. Always consider your patients first,” an 8-year surgical ward nurse shared.

Don’t fall into the trap of following their lead, too. Don’t get stuck into the long hours of chatting and the frequent trips to the restroom.

5. Know when to speak up.

In case you are at the point that you’re too stressed out about the situation that it’s negatively affecting your work, consider speaking with your co-workers first.

Your co-workers might not be that lazy after all. Perhaps, they just lack proper management and organizational skills that they miss out on deadlines and tasks. It could be that they’re distracted with personal issues, too. In essence, there’s nothing that a good, respectful conversation can’t solve.

Talking to your co-workers about your issues with them can give you a clearer understanding of their behaviors as well as possible solutions.

If for some reason, they still can’t change their ways, you can communicate your frustrations to your superior. Be honest with your report. And if your superior failed to do something about it, you can discuss it with human resources.

As much as possible, don’t whine or share your sentiments with your other colleagues. This can only create misunderstandings as well as hurt feelings.

Rozzette Cabrera is a registered nurse pursuing her childhood dream of becoming a professional writer. She spent a few years putting her profession into practice until she decided to take her chances with freelance writing over a year ago. Her life has never been the same since then.

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