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Nursing: You Wanna Know What I Think?

Unintended Consequences: Be Careful What You Say

Published November 1, 2012 4:36 PM by Pat Veitenthal
Cultural sensitivity training in hospitals has been around for a few years now. Several people thought it was a waste of time, citing basic manners as the only requirement for getting along. It was just another bunch of customer service babble that we were required to sit through.

Being blatantly honest, I admit I occasionally had the same thought... until recently. As the world watched this Frankenstorm Sandy rip across the Caribbean toward our Eastern Seaboard this week, I heard some unbelievably stupid remarks come out of the mouths of supposedly intelligent professionals. No amount of training is going to fix stupid, so you kind of just ignore those. I can't even repeat some of them, but I can tell you that surprisingly, it was the most innocent stupid remark that affected me the most.

As a group of us watched CNN coverage of the storm as it took apart Haiti, a colleague said, quite sympathetically and seriously, "Poor Haiti. It should just sink completely and get it over with." Every single person there knew exactly what she meant, and agreed. Or should I say, we knew and agreed with what she intended it to mean. But after a few minutes passed, another colleague rose and excused herself saying she needed to call home and check on her family. She was asked where her family lived, and her tearful reply was, "The island you all want to sink." She was from Haiti.

We obviously needed that training...and maybe some more.

posted by Pat Veitenthal


It is unfortunate that opening ones mouth may be followed by your foot. It is indeed a learning curve where I have learned the most. %0d%0aAnd will continue to improve. Thank you for the intelligent reminder.

Leigh Simmons, RN November 19, 2012 11:38 AM

i  was a saden to hear the story, i bet everyone was sick when the girl got up and left the room. but you are right we say things and a min, later we could bite our tonge off.  

                                    Dixie P.

Dixie , retired November 3, 2012 11:57 AM
Huron SD

That story brings tears to my eyes!!  How horrible that person must have felt, although he/she was completely innocent & meant no harm.

Janet Warkentine November 1, 2012 11:08 PM

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About this Blog

    Pat Veitenthal, BSN, RN
    Occupation: Per diem nursing supervisor and cruise ship nurse
    Setting: Community hospital and cruise ships
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