I've observed something in the hospital setting that will come as no surprise to many of you, which is that many doctors and nurses don't like each other. Part of this can be explained simply with the suggestion that some doctors are pompous a-holes, while some nurses (male and female) are bitches. These particular doctors and nurses probably don't get along well with their bank tellers, their children's teachers, or the people who are unfortunate enough to inhabit residences with them, either. It's not surprising that they would have trouble getting along with one another.
I've written before about the hierarchy that exists in hospitals. In practice, we third-year medical students are on the lowest part of the bottom rung of the hierarchy. Theoretically, we outrank nurses at least in terms of orders concerning a given patient. If we give an order, in theory a nurse needs either to abide by the order or to contact an intern, resident, or attending physician to override the order given by us. In practice, third-year medical students usually want the input of nurses before even doing so much as turning light switches on or off, much less in formulating patient orders.
In my current surgical rotation, I have fewer opportunities for conflict with nurses than I will have in most settings of my career. A substantial portion of my time is spent preoperatively, in surgery, and in in post-op. I don't have to make much in the way of decisions concerning patient care. I talk to patients, record vital signs, insert IVs, and observe surgical procedures. It's not an environment conducive to conflict with nurses. For this I'm grateful. While eventual conflict with a nurse is an inevitable part of this job, neither do I look forward to it.
My brother is in a pediatric clinical rotation. A nurse derided him him because he left her to clean a bed of a patient who had defecated. Because I'm a total wimp and I want the nurses to like me, I probably would have stuck around and helped the nurse to change the bedding and clean up the patient. My brother chose to alert a nurse and to move on to his next patient. He was within his rights to act as he did. Cleaning up patients and changing bedding are duties of nurses, not of physicians, except in the most extreme of situations. Would there have been anything inherently wrong with my brother helping the nurse with the rather unpleasant task? No. Was he obligated to don his rubber gloves and clean up the mess. Again, no.
The nurses in the hospital make a monthly "Shit List" (no pun intended) of med school students and interns. Matthew would have had an excellent chance of making the list for the month of July had his conflict with the nurse happened later in the month. As it is, he still has three weeks to flash dazzling smiles at the nurses, most of whom will think he is a reincarnated Ben Casey, assuming either the fictional Ben Casey or the actor who played him have moved on. Chances are that by the end of the month, even the nurse he left to deal with the soiled patient and bedding will have forgotten all about Matthew having been less than chivalrous.
Meanwhile, I'll toil away and try as far as possible without surrender to avoid offending anyone.