Why I Hope My Patients Hate Me

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.


That got your attention, didn’t it!? Now, before you fly off the handle, let me explain.

As nurses, our job is to improve the patient’s current health situation. We impact lives by delivering interventions that maximize health and wellness. These interventions often are some of the most difficult things a patient’s ever done.

I’ve said it time and time again, but everything we do has a purpose. Nurses don’t do something simply because it seems like a good idea. Our nursing practice is based on sound evidence that has been researched and proven effective in improving patients’ health situations.

For instance, after surgery, we don’t have patients breathe into those funny plastic devices (incentive spirometer or flutter valve) just to see them turn blue in the face. Nor do we do it because we like to watch them choke on phlegm.

No, we do it to help fight and prevent pneumonia. Increased lung expansion will help deter atelectasis (lung collapse) as well as move, mobilize and remove a lot of lung secretions. All of which are a good thing.

Along the same train of thought, early mobilization and continued mobilization also has been proven to decrease post operative pneumonia and decrease loss of physical strength and function. The sooner and more often you move, the better.

I don’t get patients out of bed, into a chair and then ambulate them around the room and unit just to see them writhe in pain. I do it because I know it’s best for their health. It’s getting them one step closer to going home. And it will get them out of the hospital that much sooner.

I hope my patients hate me. I’d rather they hate me for doing my job of getting them better…..than love me for ignoring them, letting them sleep all day and watching their health decline.

If you hate me, I must be doing something right.

P.S.–take this post with a hint of sarcasm. I don’t want any of my patients to truly hate me. I like to call it a little bit of “tough love.”

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.



  1. I used to work orthopedics 12 hours on the night shift, I can tell you that a lot of our post-laminectomy patients were quite surprised when I’d stroll into the room – about two or three hours after taking out the Foley cath – and tell them that they WOULD get out of bed now, and try to go in the bathroom. Oddly enough, the older a patient was, the more likely they were to hop on out and do well. I used to tease patients that I had my own cattle prod to, um, “encourage” the slug-a-beds… lol.

  2. At the beginning of my second quarter of clinical, I was diagnosed with laryngeal CA. Surgery was a semi-laryngectomy that removed the CA and half the epiglottis but saved everything else. Post-op, in my room, my 7P-7A nurse came in and said, “You’re going to hate me before the night’s over, but you’re not getting pneumonia on my shift! I want that wall over there covered with blood by the time we get through! It’ll wash.”
    That was nearly fifteen years ago! I have always been grateful to her (although the time involved one of the painful things I’ve ever done) and have used the line many times since. Being a patient was the best thing that could have ever happened to my nursing career. I finished school two years later and am still practicing at age 72+. Patients do need be informed of consequences, but I’m convinced that the more serious the consequences, the harder we need to push. I doubt that I’d have been willing to tolerate the abdominal (diaphragmatic) pain of that episode had my nurse not been so insistent. God Bless Her!

  3. Some very angry and ignorant person wrote a criticism of my amazing workplace called Woods Services on Yelp.
    Woods is dedicated to encourage people with challenges such as Autism, Brain Injuries, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy…and much more, learn to try to do their very best with activities of daily living, chores, working out in the community, and being a productive member of the community.

    This above mentioned “do-gooder” claimed that the staff were lazy and should do the chores themselves. He also accused the staff of eating the residents food when they go out. Actually that is a lie! Staff are encouraged to join the residents and have the residents join them in all things, including trips and meals out.

    When I see a staff member encouraging a wheelchair bound child to use her one strong arm to wheel herself, when if the staff instead, simply pushed the wheelchair herself, that would be much less work for the staff and “killing with kindness” the independence that this child could achieve. I know that the young lady grumbled about working her arm, but one day, she will be grateful for the “lazy” staff who believes that she deserves the best health possible! At Woods, these people are nurses, residential counselors, occupational, physical, and speech therapists, program specialists, residential managers, teachers, and I am sure I forgot some of our other “lazy” staff who treat people with the dignity and respect for learning to do whatever they can!!! Okay, sorry for being so long-winded. I just love that “hatred”!!!!

    physical therapists,

  4. And then….there’s me- a 35 year veteran RN spending her last working years in Hospice after 25 years of medicine, ER, and trauma. When you are old and frazzled from all that tedious by the book nursing where everything has to fit together and sterile supplies have to be tossed because of an expiration date (and of course JCAHO always finds one) try hospice! You patients will LOVE LOVE LOVE you and you will love them. You will be able to encourage them to stay in bed when tired and eat ice cream. You will be able to make them feel better without worrying if their resps slow down. You will have the unique nursing experience of poking around their house for litttle sticks and gadgets to help unplug their drains-all in an effort to keep them at home where they want to be when all the disease modifying treatment fails. It’s a lot more challenging than you might think. You will feel SO accomplished when you CAN rig something up on the fly that works! It’s wonderful to see that the nursing profession is still loaded with people like us who love their career choice and will ALWAYS find a niche that fits them. May you have as long a fulfilling career as I have. And may your patients always love you!

  5. I wish my hospital would allow us to push patients to get better rather than push pain medications all night.


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