R.N. Q&A #10: Should I be a nurse?

life coach nurses robb hillman self care

Dear Robb,

I need help.

I'm currently in school for nursing. But seeing what I'm seeing, I'm not at all sure this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. But I can't figure out what else I would want to do either! How do you figure it out? How do you just pick something and be like 'this is what I was meant to do, this is what I LOVE to do'?????? Gahhhhhh. I feel like my life has no direction at the moment.


Dear Margaret,

I hope you know you aren’t alone in asking these questions, and in wanting to know that you are taking actions that are going to make you happy. We all do at one point or another, because we want to make smart moves that lead us to happiness and the job of our dreams.

Often we trick ourselves into thinking there is a RIGHT answer, a RIGHT choice, and if we don’t find it in time then anything else we do is just going to be wrong and we will pay the price for it with unhappiness. 

But here is the weird thing - finding your dream job is simply a choice. How do you pick the right thing? You pick a thing and decide that it is right! The heavens don’t open. A fairy godmother doesn’t appear in a puff of sparkles to wave her wand and make you happy. We don’t get a letter from our future selves to congratulate us on making such a good choice.

The very good news - and this really is the most amazing good news - is that all that happens is that we make the choice that we are happy. We decide that we love what we do and are happy with what we have. I certainly can’t tell you what you are going to love. Your boss can’t, your friends can’t, your mother can’t. You just decide that you love something or that you don’t. The choice does not happen outside of you. 

For some strange quirk of humanity we simply LOVE to pretend that there is some romantic thing out there, one job that is just going to fill us up and float our boat and make us delirious with joy. But really, all that happens is that we do something, and then we decide that we made the right choice. And we choose to be happy about it. 

Or not.

Anyway, I say all this just to say this: you are perfectly normal. Nothing has gone wrong here. And what I would offer you is that going forward on your journey, if you want to be happy, stop waiting to be happy. Stop waiting for someone or something outside of you to validate your choices. Not because doing so is wrong, but just because, why wait to have something that you can have right now?

If you want to be a nurse, be a nurse! I promise you that you can be happy and satisfied and fulfilled being a nurse. You could also be all of those things doing something else. THERE IS NO WRONG ANSWER.

If you want to know if nursing is a right answer, ask yourself this: do you want nursing to be the right answer? If so, then great, all you have to do is decide that it is, and then work on dealing with all of the challenges that come up. 

If you don’t, or if you aren’t sure, then ask yourself, why? What are you afraid of? What is stopping you from deciding to love it? Are you willing to work on overcoming those obstacles or do you want to want something easier? (I promise you nursing can be fulfilling and awesome, but I won’t promise it will ever be easy.)

Whatever your choice, make it with pride. This is your life, and you get to do whatever you want with it. I suggest loving it. I suggest being happy and having adventures and not wasting time and energy second guessing ourselves. Doubt is so boring! ;-) 

Good luck. I know you will figure it out. I hope you have fun doing it. 


Note: Questions are edited for privacy and clarity. I aim to be HIPAA compliant! ::wink:: If you have a question, you can SUBMIT IT HERE.

R.N. Q&A #9: My DON says I'm "rude", but I'm just asking questions

Life Coaching for nurses Robb Hillman

Dear Robb,

I've been informed that I don't take orders well, that I'm "defiant" and "rude". This is coming from my DON and other staff, NOT by my patients. I really feel like all I do is ask questions, I'm a free thinker and I don't blindly follow orders, instead I politely question. When I am questioned on why I do things a certain way I explain my logic. I really need some advice. "To kill the part of myself that allows me to feel alive so that can survive, is really worth living?" -unknown


Dear Sam,

As a coach, often my first job is to help people figure out what exactly is the problem that you most want to solve. It sounds like you want two things here - one is that you want to be a "free thinker" who questions things. The other is that you want to get along with others, at least well enough to do your job effectively and not be in danger of getting disciplined or censured.

My guess is that both things are possible, if you can find the balance between the two.

You might want to spend some time thinking about how you build relationships with others. The importance of this can't be understated, because nursing is a team-based environment and every day we rely on our peers for success. There is nothing, of course, morally wrong with asking a lot of questions. But there is a difference between asking for new information and asking a question that forces someone else to defend themselves, their actions or their practice. And if you haven't yet build good relationships with the people you are asking to constantly defend themselves to you, your questions may come across as arrogant and rude and tiring, even if you do not intend them to.

One easy thing to try - start handing out compliments like candy. If you are going to question things you have a problem with, make sure you are also commenting and validating the things you see that you do like. "I really liked the way you handled that patient." "Thanks so much for helping me to understand this." "I really appreciate how efficiently you completed that task." I don't mean to give out insincere compliments, because that won't feel right to you or to them. But instead of just noticing and commenting on the problems, start paying attention to the good things people do too. I think you might be surprised just how well this can help build up your relationships so that people can then tolerate your questions without feeling attacked. We all want to feel respected and appreciated.

There is that Maya Angelou quote about how people don't remember what you do, but they will always remember how you made them feel. Give them the opportunity to love having you around, and I bet you will start seeing a big difference in how people perceive you. 

Good luck!


Note: Questions are edited for privacy and clarity. I aim to be HIPAA compliant! ::wink:: If you have a question, you can SUBMIT IT HERE.

R.N. Q&A #8: My hospital has crazy high turnover...

Nurse life coaching

Dear Robb,

The hospital that I work at has CRAZY high turnover. Literally we have flipped our entire critical care and step down units in the past year. The situation is so desperate that we even have brand new baby nurses right out of school "precepting" new grads now. It's so dangerous to say the least. I hate to say it but the nurses who are precepting haven't had nearly enough time to be able to take a step back and even fully get the big picture themselves.

I believe the management must be aware but are acting out of desperation. What can I do?? I have offered to be a resource person, to orient, etc. Even though step down is not my floor I am willing to cross over to help make the orientation process more effective. No one has listened. They never listen and I'm so worried about pt safety and not to mention these nurses' licenses that they probably aren't thinking about at this point.

How can I make them all understand how desperate this situation is? 

Thanks, Fran

Dear Fran,

I remember years ago watching a TV movie about a meteor hitting Houston (because I love disaster movies). In one scene a brand new nurse came to a hospital and there were injured patients everywhere, and she was totally overwhelmed and said "I can't help them all, I don't know what to do!" and her more experienced friend led her to a patient and said "But you can help this person. Just keep helping one more person."

It sounds like you are overwhelmed, as are, I assume, most of the other nurses you are working with. Wanna guess what one of the #1 emotions that leads to nurse burnout is? 

Wanting to help others is a great thing, it is why most of us became nurses in the first place. But I'd suggest that if you are feeling responsible for every other nurse and every other patient at your facility, you are going to burn yourself out and that isn't going to help anyone. 

This is going to sound funny at first, but stay with me here.

You are not responsible for the other nurses. You are not responsible for their education, or their licenses, or their patients. You are not responsible for what Administration understands or doesn't understand.

Your job, as I see it, is to take care of yourself so well that you can then take excellent care of the patients that you are assigned to.

Now, if you take care of yourself so well that you still have more to give, and I mean from a solid foundation of abundance not from a place of fear or worry or desperation, then by all means there are things you can do to help the hospital and patients and the other nurses. But do them because you want to, not because you feel like you have to. The difference there is so important. One will make you feel great, and the other will continue to wear you down. 

You can't make anyone understand anything. Whether they are blind to the situation or are purposely ignoring it, focusing on making someone else do something is the hardest task you can give yourself, because at the end of the day they are in control of the outcome, not you. 

You have to take care of yourself before you are going to be able to help others. Your battery has to be full before you can give your energy to others.

Instead of focusing on how bad things are and all the nightmares that could happen, try focusing on how you can be the most badass nurse you can be, leading a full, vibrant life, taking amazing care of your patients, helping your peers, and going home every day feeling confident and satisfied that you put in a good days work as someone who helps people. Be a leader by example. Show the other nurses what is possible. Because that is the path that will keep you loving your job, and the longer you love your job, the more patients and peers you can help. 

Hope this helps! :-)


Note: Questions are edited for privacy and clarity. I aim to be HIPAA compliant! ::wink:: If you have a question, you can SUBMIT IT HERE.

R.N. Q&A #7: Should I leave nursing?

nurse questions life coach

Dear Robb,

I'm a nurse with diagnosed Bipolar Type 2. I just finished my orientation period on a busy women's health floor at a major hospital. I asked for more orientation time but was told they couldn't give me any. I'm finding it to be too much: the staffing ratios, the pace, the expectations. My manager yelled at me recently at the nurse's station in front of employees and pts because a form was not signed by a family before leaving. I had not even been told the form existed.

What would you advise that I do? Should I stay there? Leave nursing? Is there somewhere else in nursing that's pace is better paced for someone with BPD? Thank you! I forgot to mention that the incident with my manager triggered an episode that lasted for a couple of days. I see a doctor for my BPD and am compliant with my medical treatment.

Thank you,


Dear Celia,

As a coach, one of my biggest jobs is to help people get what they want. So when people ask me what they should do, that is a big clue that they don’t yet know what they want. There is nothing wrong with this, life is a journey and we learn and grow and change our minds as we go. But sometimes when things get hard, we can get stuck. We start to think that there is a “right” answer and a “wrong” answer, and we are afraid of making the wrong choice. So we don’t choose. Instead of working towards our goals, we end up just reacting to things as they happen to us, floating through life in a sea of confusion, uncertainty and fear. 

Hint: most of us don’t find this place to be very enjoyable. 

When you ask me if you should be a nurse or not, how does that feel? How would things be different if you already knew the answer to that question? 

The truth is, I can’t answer that question for you. Even if I knew you I still wouldn’t know what was going to be best for you. The answer has to come from you. The good news though, is that often getting clarity on these kinds of questions isn’t as hard as we think it is. 

Ask yourself this very basic question.

Do you want to be a nurse?

Think about it, and answer honestly.

If your answer is no, then great! We just need to problem solve to figure out a good transition into something else. 

If your answer is yes, then great! We just need to problem solve to figure out how to find a job that will fit your needs.

Either way, by identifying what it is that you want, what the goal is, now instead of feeling lost and confused and overwhelmed, we can now create a detailed plan to get us the thing we want. In my opinion, this is a lot more empowering. 

For the purposes of this example, I am going to assume you want to be a nurse.

Next question: Do you want to keep the job that you have?

If your answer is no, then great! We just need to problem solve to find a different position, a different specialty, a different setting, a different shift, whatever it is that needs to change so that you can love your job instead of dreading it. Asking about different specialties is a great place to start just to start to get an idea of all the options you have as a nurse.

If your answer is yes, then great! We just need to problem solve to figure out how you can love this job, exactly as it is.

Now this can be a little challenging, because often we want to answer with conditions. “Well, I want to love this job, but in order for that to happen then my boss needs to change and my co-workers need to change and my patient load needs to change. And then it will be perfect.”

Instead, I would ask you to figure out what needs to happen in order for you to love this job exactly as it is.

Because you don’t really have control over how your boss behaves, or what the census is like. Yes, there are things you can do - good communication, setting boundaries, etc, but ultimately whether they listen to you and make the changes you want is up to them, not up to you, so while this can be a tactic to help, as long as your happiness is dependent on the actions of others you are setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. Instead I’d suggest focusing on the things YOU can do to help your situation, since you do have control over that.

So really, what can you do right now that would help you succeed at this job? Can you ask your boss to review all of the important paperwork with you? Can you practice the more common skills and tasks you are asked to perform? Can you read up on the more common diagnoses you see so that you feel more comfortable? What would it take for you to become an expert nurse on that floor? Are you able to take those steps that would be needed to give you the result that you want?

As far as your mental health goes, besides the obvious of always following up with your doctor, I would tell you the same thing I tell everyone - if you want to be a nurse, you HAVE to learn how to take care of yourself.

And I don’t mean treating yourself to extra dessert after a hard day. I mean learning how to fill your soul up so full that you have the reserves to deal with it when things get hard.

I know this is easier to say than to do, especially for nurses for some reason, but the alternative is burnout and martyrdom, and I would not recommend either. 

So to sum up: decide what you want. And then problem solve to figure out how to get what you want. Breaking it down into a plan can eliminate a lot of unnecessary suffering by giving a light at the end of the tunnel. Make the most of it!


Note: Questions are edited for privacy and clarity. I aim to be HIPAA compliant! ::wink:: If you have a question, you can SUBMIT IT HERE

R.N. Q&A #6: How do I pick a specialty?

Nurse questions

Dear Robb,

I am excited to say I am getting close to graduating nursing school, but I’m not sure what kind of nurse I want to be when I grow up. Throughout my rotations I have yet to find a specific "specialty" that takes my breath away or makes me feel like Wow! I want to do this! Is this normal?

I figured if anything I would start on tele as a new nurse. Everyone says to start on Med Surg, but I’m not too excited about that. I am interested in the ED, but I'm not sure if I have the inner confidence to take on that specialty.

How do I make sure I choose the right path?

Thanks, Suzanne

Dear Suzanne,

This is a great question, and I’m going to be really annoying by answering it with some questions of my own. Because that’s just how us life coaches roll. ::wink::

Do you think you are normal for asking this question?

Do you think there is only one specialty that you could possibly be happy working on?

Do you think if you make the “wrong” choice that you will have to be miserable?

Do you think it is your job’s responsibility to “take your breath away”? And if it doesn’t, then does that mean something is wrong?

To be clear, I think you are pretty normal. In fact, I had exactly the same question when I was finishing school. I had no idea what I wanted to do. Just like you, I was worried that I might make the wrong choice, and wasted a lot of time and energy worrying about it, but here is what I realized:

If you don’t know exactly what you want to do, then, just maybe, there is no wrong choice.

I could have done anything and I would have learned from it. At my first job, I learned about things I liked, I learned about things I was good at, and yes, I learned about things I didn’t like so much. 

One of the best parts about being a nurse is that you have a ridiculous amount of options. Not just different specialties, but different settings and different roles. Maybe you will get one job and work there for the next 40 years, and that could be great. But it is just as possible that over your career you might have five different jobs, or twenty. 

Maybe there are no wrong choices, just different choices. 

What would happen if you ended up working on Med Surg? (which from your question seems to be the worst case scenario.) Would you learn anything? Would the nursing experience you gained help you or hurt you in the long run? 

Would you have to be miserable because your socks weren’t getting blown off as you learned how to deal with boring old chest pain and routine surgery preps and run of the mill blood draws and wound care and foley insertions and drip calculations and patient education and foundational skill building and time management and team building? 

Or would you be able to leverage the opportunity to learn and grow and excel, to use it to build a foundation that would support you in any other role you ever end up taking to be an even more exceptional and awesome and totally happy nurse?

There is no blood test you can take that is going to tell you what specialty to work in. The only thing that makes a choice right or wrong is how you decide to think about it.

So, maybe, decide there is no wrong choice. 

Then you can make the choice you think will be best for you (Tele? Great! ER? Fantastic!), knowing that no matter what you are going to learn a ton of things, and that you can always change your mind and change your job later if it doesn’t work out the way you thought it would. 

Whatever you choose, I hope you will also choose to be happy about your choice. It is powerful way to live your life.

Good luck, and have fun!


Note: Questions are edited for privacy and clarity. I aim to be HIPAA compliant! ::wink:: If you have a question, you can SUBMIT IT HERE.

R.N. Q&A #5: I have a highly abusive patient

Nurse Life Coaching

Dear Robb,

I'm a home health nurse and I'm struggling. I have a highly abusive client. She is rude, calls me horrible names, and refuses to let me lift her properly. She's fully aware of what she's doing (no dementia). I'm so frustrated. No matter how nice I am she's still mean as the Dickens. Any advice on how to win her over? 

Thanks, Sarah

Dear Sarah,

This sounds like a tough situation! Of course your first task is safety, and I would go through all of your protocols to ensure the care you are providing is safe, both for your client as well as yourself. 

But from a coaching perspective, one issue I see is that your question is "how can I win her over". I'd suggest that you have no control over what she thinks of you, or how she chooses to act, so if that is what you are focusing on, you are likely to remain very frustrated and helpless. You'll be happy if she is nice, you'll be frustrated when she isn't. But you can't make her be nice, you can't make her like you. With that goal, you have empowered her instead of you over how you feel at work. You will try X, and then wait and see if that works to get her to like you. Then you will try Y, and wait to see if that works. You are the one doing all the work, and she is in control over whether you succeed or fail.

What would happen if instead you focused on you, and what you want out of this relationship? If your goal is to like your job, or to be an excellent caregiver, or to know you have tried everything possible to establish rapport - those are things that are under your control. Whether she responds or changes - or not - has no effect on how you achieve these goals. As long as you are focused on yourself you are likely to be a lot more successful. Because then it won't matter what she does, you can always respond as you need to in order to protect yourself (as well as her) as is required to get the job done in a safe and professional manner.

Remember, her choices are not about you, they are all about her. Maybe she is sick, maybe she is hurting, maybe she is just mean. Whatever the reason, don’t personalize her behavior. Kudos to you for being a person who is trying to help her, despite herself. And maybe the gift she is giving you is the realization that you are a badass who can deal with anything. Nursing is hard, BUT YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS.


Note: Questions are edited for privacy and clarity. I aim to be HIPAA compliant! ::wink:: If you have a question for me you can SUBMIT IT HERE.


R.N. Q&A #4: I need a change

Nurse Life Coaching

Dear Robb,

I need a change, I am an alcoholic I think the BON is going to mandate an intervention project and I don't know that I want to be a nurse. I have a lot of areas that need healing. My dream would be to be a wellness and fitness trainer.  No clues where to turn or what to do.

Thanks, Chloe

Dear Chloe,

It sounds like you have a lot going on. Without knowing the details, here is what I would offer you.

1. Take a breath, and know that you are ok, and that you can do this. Nursing is hard. Dealing with addiction is hard. Heck, sometimes just being a person in the world is hard. The fact that it is hard doesn't mean anything has gone wrong. It just means you are being challenged to grow and adapt and become someone stronger.

2. It would be understandable if you were feeling overwhelmed right now. But if you are going to make choices that are going to affect the rest of your life, you might want to consider grounding yourself first. Overwhelm, frustration, fear - these are normal feelings we all have, but they are not a great foundation from which to build a better life, or to end a career on. I have no idea if you should stick to nursing or try something new, only you can know which is going to give you the life you want to have. But I'd caution you to make that decision from a position of strength, not to run away from your challenges, but to stand tall as the person you are. It is a very different thing to say "This is hard and uncomfortable so I'm just going to do something easier" than to say "This is hard and uncomfortable, and I know I could get through it and be happy at this job again. And I'd rather do something else."

3. You are not alone. We all need help sometimes, all of us. Heck, I love making life-altering changes every so often, and even though I love it sometimes I need support to get through the uncertainties and challenges that come up. And that's ok. So let people help you. A friend, a therapist, a program, a coach. Whatever it is that you need. There is no glory in being a martyr.

4. Lastly, and this is a really coachy answer, but I'd recommend getting clear on what exactly it is that you want. Sometimes we get caught in a mind-trap where we just want things to be easy. Then when they aren't, we get frustrated and withdraw and are miserable. Do you want to love being a nurse? Do you want to stop drinking? Do you want to heal old hurts and feel empowered and strong and confident? If you could have anything you wanted, what would you want? If you can get clear on that, then all you have to do is start doing the things that will get you there. Choosing your goal can be one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself. It might not be as easy as we wish it were, but don't underestimate how helpful it can be to know what direction you want to steer towards.

I hope this is helpful! If you have questions we can always jump on the phone, I offer free 30-minute coaching calls. CLICK HERE to find a time on my calendar that would work for you.

Life can be hard. But you are a nurse. You can do hard things.


Note: Questions are edited for privacy and clarity. I aim to be HIPAA compliant! ::wink:: If you have a question, you can SUBMIT IT HERE.


R.N. Q&A #3: How can I pass this class?

Nurse Coaching Questions

Dear Robb,

I have been a LPN for 36 years. I have been earning my pre-reqs at a local community college. My problem. I cannot seem to get a grip on my A&P class. I've failed twice. I've had to drop twice. I'm always the oldest student in my class. I've had health issues the past 2 years (cancer). I really want my RN. I I've never felt so discouraged and unsure of myself. How can I pass this class without the nervousness?

Thanks, Rose

Dear Rose,

Firstly, I want to give you credit for how well you are asking your question. When we get challenged, often in our frustration we end up asking questions with a negative slant.  “Why is this so hard” or “Why am I having so much trouble with this” or “Why does this keep happening to me”. Instead you asked a positive question “How can I pass this class?” and then you made it even better by adding what I think is a really powerful qualifier at the end - “How can I pass this class without the nervousness?” Well done, Rose, well done.

The great thing is that once we start asking questions, our brains will start looking for answers. If you ask a negative questions, "Why is this so hard for me?", then your brain is going to find answers to that. And if you ask a positive, solution-oriented question (like you have), it gives your brain permission to get creative and start figuring it out.

So you are totally on the right track, we just need to keep going until we find an answer.

Now, unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) I’m not a mind-reader, and I’m not sure what the answer is that is going to be the most helpful for you. All I can do is offer a brainstorm of guesses to get your brain going, and it will be up to you to evaluate them as possible solutions or to let them spark your own creative ideas. But since we have clearly identified your goal - passing the class without being nervous - this process becomes much less emotionally fraught and much more focused on finding a practical strategy that will work for you.

So what do you think it will take? Studying more, maybe with set hours every week? Finding a study group? Do you learn better writing things out or talking them out? I remember I had an anatomy coloring book that really helped me remember things. Could you talk with the instructor and get their advice? (They are going to be able to tell you exactly what they expect of you.) I always learn best by teaching, do you have a friend or a dog or maybe a photo of your friend’s dog that you could explain everything to after you study? What if you took fewer classes this semester so you could focus getting over this block? There is no denying it is a lot of information, but in your experience how do you best learn? What will it take for you to be able to learn and retain all of that information?

Let’s take it one step further - what would it take for you to be at the top of the class? How hard would you have to work to get 100% on everything the entire semester, and how willing are you to work that hard? That may not ultimately really be your goal, nor does it need to be. But ask yourself, what would it take? If you can answer that question, then it should be easy to dial it back a little if your real goal is a little less ambitious. Figure out what you need to do so that passing that class becomes inevitable. It will take effort, but think how good it will feel when it is done. If this is something you really want, then make sure that passing the class this time is not optional. Make it the priority, and make it happen.

And the really good news is that if you start coming to class not only prepared, but overly prepared, the nervousness is going to fade away all on it’s own.

But just to address it a little, here is what I’ve found about the emotions we don’t want to feel. If you focus on getting the nervousness to go away, to try to squelch it or ignore it or bottle it up, it will probably only get worse. That's just how our brains work. And why is being nervous so bad? It is a pretty normal and common feeling. What if it is ok to be nervous sometimes? What if you acknowledge that it is there, doing it’s thing, and decide that it’s ok? If you think it is a problem, it is going to be a distraction. But if you just let it be, knowing it is a normal part of the human experience, meanwhile focusing on getting prepared for the classwork, I bet the nervousness is going to abate without you really having to do anything about it.

I know you can do this. And, more importantly, it seems so do you. After all you’ve been through, you are still here, you are still trying to make it work. You haven’t given up because deep down you know you can do it. Like most nurses, you are optimist at heart, which is a pretty badass superpower to have. You know the goal, so get clear on your strategy to learn what you need to learn. And you are gonna pass this class, feeling proud and strong and empowered.

Thank you for the question, I hope this helps!


Note: Questions are edited for privacy and clarity. I aim to be HIPAA compliant! ::wink:: If you have a question you can SUBMIT IT HERE.

R.N. Q&A #2: Should I leave my toxic workplace

Life Coach for Nurses Q&A

Dear Robb,

What do you do when your work environment becomes toxic? I was so excited when I got hired and thought I would stay here forever, but now my other friends are telling me I should just leave.



Dear Kaitlyn,

Usually when I get asked this question, what people are hoping I will say is either to "Quit as fast as you can and run!" or "Here is a checklist of things you can do to change the bad behaviors of others so you can stay." I understand why people expect that - we are nurses, and we want to jump right to the solution. But as a life coach, before we start brainstorming our strategy I'd rather take the time to make sure we are solving the right problem. 

So I want to ask you a question Kaitlyn. What it is you most want to get out of your job? This question is important for any of us to answer, but it is especially critical here. What is most important to you? Do you want to like your job? Do you like where you are and so want to do the work to rise above the drama and enjoy it no matter what anyone else does? Or do you not really care, or want to focus your energy elsewhere in your life and so you just want an easy-to-like job? Think about this. There isn't a right or a wrong answer here, so be honest.

Because once you answer this question, then it becomes a lot easier to be able to figure out what you want to do about it to get the result you want. We can't control whether someone else decides to bring negativity and drama to the workplace or not. We can't force people to be nice, or to communicate better. What we can do is choose how we want to react to it, and what we want to do to protect ourselves.

This is important, because if you otherwise like your job and want to stay, then letting yourself get chased off is going to be frustrating. If you don't want to spend any energy dealing with the troublemakers, then staying might be hard. (Though, really, there are troublemakers everywhere.)

If you decide what you want most is to stay, then you can start looking at your options to empower yourself to enjoy your job, no matter what others do. If you decide you want to get away from the disfunction, then instead of feeling chased off you can feel great about looking for something better. 

While you are figuring that out, remember to TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Hot baths, good food, exercise, time spent with friends and family, pottery class, whatever it is. Make sure you are filling yourself up so that work doesn't start to drain more than you have to give. Everything gets harder when we are empty inside.

It is possible to find a good way to stay, just as it is possible to find a good way to leave. So make the choice, decide which result is the one you most want, and the rest will get a lot clearer.

Thanks for your question, and have a great day! 


Note: Questions are edited for privacy and clarity. I aim to be HIPAA compliant! ::wink:: If you have a question you can SUBMIT IT HERE.

R.N. Q&A #1: Changing someone's opinion of you

Registered Nurse Q&A

Dear Robb,

A new nurse is going through Orientation on my unit, and confided to me that her peer reviews have not been good and she feels she is being set up to fail. Consequently, I know she has lost her self-confidence; so she had a meeting with her Manager & Nursing Educator & she said that she was told to change the Staff's perspective of her. I am not quite sure what to tell her or how to help her as I feel that this Group has made up their minds about her & no longer want her as part of the Team (most have been in this position since they became RN's 25 to 30 years ago).  I am in an awkward position!!

Please explain your opinion on, "Changing The Staff's Perspective of You!"

Respectfully yours,


Dear Jeanette,

How gracious of you to be looking out for this nurse - it really shows the kind of person that you are. 

I am asked variations on this question frequently ("How do I make them like me?" "How do I make them respect me more") as this is something a lot of us struggle with. As a coach, my goal isn't just to give you an ibuprofen to dull the discomfort, but to help you think about the problem in a way that could empower you to heal the source of the pain on your own terms. 

If the question you are asking me is “How can my friend change the perspectives and opinions of the other nurses”, then strictly speaking, my answer would be that she can’t. What they think and feel and do is 100% up to them, so if she is spending her energy focused on trying to change them, she is setting herself up for a lot of disappointment and frustration and wasted energy.

When she thinks “I am being set up to fail”, then she is likely to feel discouraged and helpless, less likely to relate to her co-workers in a positive way and more likely to come across as stand-offish or irritable or desperate. By focusing on them and what they think, she is disempowering herself and is instead empowering THEM to be in charge of how she feels, and how her day goes, and this is a recipe for a great deal of struggle. 

Now if this sounds bleak, don’t worry, because there is a better solution! :-)

What I would recommend is that she focus instead on herself, and what she wants of herself, instead of what she wants of them. I would guess she wants to like her job, or be good at her job, or something like that. Then she could think of the things she could do to make that happen. Clearly depending on her peers to make her like her job or be good at her job is not a useful strategy at the moment. But surely there are things she can do. Study pertinent protocols or lab values, prepare for common tasks, practice her skills. She can see to her own self care, so that she comes to work recharged and ready to take on the challenge. Rather than trying to get her peers to like her, she can focus on liking her peers.

If she focuses on being the best and most competent nurse she is capable of being, she gives herself a goal that she is 100% in control over. 

With that goal, now she can focus on herself, which is something she is in control of. Even as she is learning, she can feel great that she is doing her best, and can be aware of her own progress as she is focused on getting the results she is in control over. 

The good news (and the irony) is that in focusing on being a great nurse, she is more likely to increase her self-confidence AND to earn the respect she wants from the other nurses at the same time.

It seems counter-intuitive when you are focused on the goal of changing someone else, but this is often how human behavior works. By taking charge of how she shows up as a nurse and as a peer, she is most likely to exhibit the behaviors her peers want to see from her.

Also, I would encourage her to remember that her self-confidence does not come from her peers, it comes from her. She is going to have very different results if she is thinking “My co-workers are making this too hard and I don’t know how to make them like me more” than if she instead goes to work everyday thinking “This transition is hard, but I am a nurse, and I can do hard things.”


Finally, just because her manager gave her the goal to “change their perspective of you”, don't let the semantics there throw you. What I am recommending will give her the same result her manager wants, but just changes the focus of how to get there to one that empowers her instead of empowering others. 

I hope this helps! If she is interested in hearing more, I do offer free 30-minute coaching calls, she can sign up HERE.

Thank you for the question, and have a great day!


Note: Questions are edited for privacy and clarity. I aim to be HIPAA compliant! ::wink:: If you have a question for me you can SUBMIT IT HERE.