Dealing with being “fired” as a provider by your patient

np nurse struggle

Not something you want to think about as a brand new nurse practitioner (NP) but something to be aware of is how to deal with being “fired” as a provider by your patient. The most important thing to keep in mind is that being “fired” by a patient is not a reflection on you.

Why you might be “fired” by your patient

Your patient did not get what they wanted and wants to see someone else instead. Likely, the patient was told something they did not want to hear (but probably needed to hear). Or they wanted a medication you would not prescribe (likely, because it was unsafe in your clinical opinion). When these situations occur, it’s easy to go internally and think, I’m a bad provider, I’m unlikable, I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m a failure, I’m the only one this has ever happened to, ever.

But stop yourself from doing this. You are a GOOD provider. In fact, it can be problematic if patients like you too much—you are giving them whatever they want, maybe any, and every, controlled substance under the sun. But you are a provider for a reason.

Your true role as a nurse practitioner

Your job is not to be liked by every patient.

You are not in the business of patient satisfaction and giving patients whatever they want. If it were, getting training to be a healthcare professional would not be necessary. Patients would just ‘order’ what treatment they want as they order burritos at Chipotle. Brown rice, black beans, grilled vegetables, lettuce, cheese, salsa, and always guac. That’s unsafe, and not the direction healthcare should be moving.

So, know that being “fired” as a provider is likely a result of providing quality patient care that ultimately keeps the patient safe. And also, know that most providers get “fired” at some point in their careers, if not a few times.

“Firing” is a two-way street

Know that you can also “fire” patients. If there is disrespect, if there are many no-shows, if they are continually not following medication regimen instructions leading to unsafe practices even after being repeatedly told by you numerous times, you may “fire” the patient.

Sometimes, we providers think that we are required to put up with anything and everything that comes our way regarding patient treatment. This is not the case.

The better you get at de-personalizing being “fired” by a patient, the less stressed and insecure you feel.

Take inventory of your patient interactions

I don’t want to imply that any time a patient lets you go, it’s always the patient’s fault. If you are being “fired” frequently, take a personal inventory of your interactions and communications with patients. Are you being abrasive? Are you not listening to your patients? Do you show little respect for your patients? Check in with yourself to see if the patient’s response to you is warranted. You can ask your trusted colleagues who know you their impressions as a provider to see if you have any blind spots.

But, if you are not being “fired” very often, it likely has nothing to do with you. Take in the information for what it is (a patient being taken off your caseload) but do not internalize it and continue to provide exceptional quality patient care you are capable of providing.  

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