How To Say No As A Nurse
I bet this blog caught your eye for one of three reasons:
1. That sounds really rude, disrespectful, and wrong, I need to see what’s up.
2. I need to click and read this because I feel like I’m aways trying to please and struggle to advocate for myself!
3. YES GIRL, AMEN!
Whichever of these you are, I think you’ll be happy you landed here. You see, 5 years ago when I became a BRAND NEW bitty baby nurse, I was going ABOVE and BEYOND to be the best nurse that I could be. That’s also the “achiever” personality type in me, but nonetheless I wanted to do a good job. I said yes to everything. Yes to staying late. Yes to coming in early. Yes to floating even when “my turn” was being abused. Yes to picking up extra shifts. Yes to switching shifts. I said yes to everything EXCEPT myself.
Why Nurses Need To Master The Skill of Saying No
I found myself 2 years into my profession completely depleted emotionally and physically. My health had gone downhill (gained about 30lbs working nightshift and too many fast food runs between shifts), sleep deprivation & anxiety was the norm, and I had nothing good leftover for the people I loved around me. I really hit a point where I looked in the mirror and into my heart and realized something had to change. Insert changing my diet, lifestyle, mindset and learning to say “No!”
If there’s one skill that is really hard for nurses to acquire, it’s advocating for themselves and saying “NO.” There is this giant misconception that saying no as a Nurse means you’re being a bad employee and if I’m being honest, some hospitals & managers will make you feel that way. That is not right, not true, and not okay! “No” isn’t a bad thing when it’s used as self-advocacy that ultimately contributes to the greater good. It’s probably the HEALTHIEST skill you can learn.
We HAVE to set healthy boundaries for ourselves in this profession. We have to say no, it’s part of self-care. It’s not up to you to save the day. You’re only responsibility is to take care of yourself because not investing in & protecting your wellness is damaging the VERY tool that you need to make the greatest contribution to both your patients and this world!
How To Say No
1. No To Coming In To Work On Your Days Off
I understand that sometimes your friends are working and it’s short staffed. You feel like you’re not being a team player by not coming in on your day off when asked or that phone rings. As nurses, we truly do take on the burden of others, including our friends. Listen, if you want to pick up an extra shift to make some extra cash, DO IT! However, if you TRULY don’t want to work, you’ve done your 3 days and you NEED rest, then say NO. It’s OKAY TO SAY NO! They cannot penalize you for that. No guilt. No shame. It’s self-care, sister.
2. No To Staying Late
I’ve been in situations where there have been patient add ons and nurses coming in late. I used to say yes when I could AND when I couldn’t. Saying YES when I needed to get home to my husband, go to the grocery store, or do something that contributed positively to my family life always took a toll. Neglecting laundry, not getting to the grocery store, not being able to run an errand when I was planning to etc, often came back to bite me in the butt.
I either ate out instead of having food to cook at home or I got in a bad mood because I didn’t do something that needed to get done and it overflowed into my family life. Sometimes it works out and you’re available and that’s so great, but if you need to go, GO. It’s not your responsibility to stay. If you can’t pass off your patients, that’s another story, but if you can’t stay late and your current responsibilities are covered, confidently and honestly communicate that. How they react and how they feel is none of your business. You know what you’re doing isn’t selfish because you know what it’s helping and the BIG picture.
3. No To Picking Up Extra Shifts
I actually have to laugh chatting about this one because being in sales, there are a lot of charge nurses I wish I could recruit for my business! HAH! Part of their job sometimes is to make sure the units are adequately staffed. If that means walking up to you mid-shift while you’re cleary occupied and putting you on the spot to work extra, they do it! It’s really hard to say no when you’re in the lime-light with the social pressure. DON’T CAVE! You have two options:
•No I’m sorry I can’t
OR If you’re considering:
•Let me get back to you later when I can look at my schedule.
That’s it. Again, no guilt-no shame!
4. No I Can’t Swap Shifts
I don’t know why, but asking me to swap my shift used to get to me so bad. It was mostly before I realized that I could say no. I think I didn’t like the discomfort of having to tell someone no, but also hated swapping because I liked having control over my schedule. I’m a type 7 on the enneagram so asking me to change my shift made me anxious. I was committing to a day I didn’t choose and I just got caught up in all of the anxiety of the change for me. Here’s the deal, if you can swap do it! If you can’t, “Sorry I can’t!” No guilt, no shame. Sometimes it can be good negotiate and swap for a day you can’t work or want switched, so always leverage that!
Did Regina George Write This?
Now listen. I want you to realize that I’m not Regina George. I’m all about being a team player and helping others out, but I’ve also experienced REAL burnout from not setting up healthy boundaries in the beginning. I was a pleaser. I’m here to tell you that it is very important to LEARN how to say no. I care about the wellness of nurses and the care that they give! That’s what matters! We’re not here to say the hospital business, we’re here to save our patients. Again, taking care of yourself is taking care of your patients! Don’t feel bad saying no for ONE second because you’ve done NOTHING wrong. If someone wants to have an opinion about you protecting your physical and emotional health, that’s none of your business! That’s on them.
Saying no is a learned skill, but you have to learn to advocate for yourself in nursing or else you will find yourself burned out like an old headlight on a 57’ Chevy! Saying no is actually doing more of a SERVICE than a disservice to this profession and the people you work with. Saying no keeps you healthy and whole and able to FULLY take care of others. So I’m here to tell you, saying “no” is saying “YES” to what matters: YOUR WELLNESS! The greatest contribution you make to this world is being a WHOLE you.
Do You struggle with saying No? I would love for you to comment below and share if this blog has been helpful! Please snag my FREE “For The Anxious Nurse” guide which equips you with education and skills to set emotional boundaries to support your emotional wellness as a Nurse!