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Getting along with hospital staff.

Last post 04-23-2009 7:39 PM by eadunne. 5 replies.
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  • 03-14-2009 7:18 AM

    Getting along with hospital staff.

     As a doula, I want to support my clients and make sure they are treated the best.  Sometimes, it doesn't seem that they are, like the staff treats them like cattle, herd 'em, herd 'em out.  I have known some doulas to be quite in your face to the staff, which, frankly, only makes them dilike doulas all the more.   I feel that the women I am supporting will receive better care if their providers know and like me.  If they are angry at me, will they take it out on my client? 

    Also, I am a midwifery student, so sometime in the future, I may be transport a woman.  I sure don't want to have them all hate me because they knew me as some angry doula. 

    How do you support your clients while still showing respect for the staff?

    Vicki - wife to Chris, mom to eleven, doula and midwifery student.
    Filed under: , ,
  • 03-14-2009 1:18 PM In reply to

    Re: Getting along with hospital staff.

    If I'm meeting the client at the hospital, I go straight to the nurse's station and introduce myself and tell them who I'm with.  If there's someone at the desk who knows me, I go to that person.  I knock before I enter the room, meet and greet the couple first and then the nurse if she's in the room and any other personnel, obviously not butting into anything that's going on or interrupting conversations.  Then I wash my hands.  I think that's very important and shows that I'm at least halfway bright.  I never go to a birth dressed as a shlumpadinka. I also never get in the way of the nurse and I make sure I don't get in between the nurse and my client either physically or figuratively.  Even if I've warmed up 2,000 rice bags in their microwave or gotten ice from the ice machine behind the desk 2,000 times before, I always ask beforehand the first time for that client.  It's the nurses' territory and I want to respect that.  Occasionally I come across a nurse who says no and she gets the ice or warms the rice bag for me.  That's how she wants it done because she's territorial, then that's OK.  I've been going to the three local hospitals for the past 24 years and I think I can count on one hand the times I've had a problem with any hospital people and one of those was a nurse anesthetist who got all up in my face literally because she felt I needed to leave the room while an epidural was being placed.  I think it made her feel superior to throw her weight around.  Otherwise, I have found that if I'm nice and cordial and kind to them and respect their job, they do the same in return.  If I have a nurse who's a bit constipated (my word for being a crab) that day, I try to remember that she most likely entered her profession because she wanted to help people.  So if there's something that I'd like to do with my client that I think she's never done before or that she may be a bit cranky about if I just go ahead and do it, I say something like, "Myrtle dear, can you help me/us?"  I was at a birth on  Thursday which was an induction and was just pure torture for my client.  The baby was LOT for hours and the doc was getting antsy and I wondered if we could get my client into a butt-up position to see if the baby would rotate.  I did a bit of quick thinking and went out to the desk and talked to the client's nurse and rather than saying, "I think we should try X" or "Can I try X", I asked her if she knew of anything else I could try and she immediately said, "Well, the epidural's pretty light.  I think we could get her with her chest down on the bed and her butt up for a bit."  I just had a feeling that if it was her idea, it would go over better. 

    I think that if we show respect for people, whether they're the nurse or the janitor, it's never a bad thing.  If I'm choogling down the hall to get some ice and I come across that peron mopping the floor or vaccuming, I make sure I don't get in their way and I always thank them for keeping the hospital so clean.  It's not butt kissing, it's respect for their job.

    And then there's food.  Every so often, I try to take up some cupcakes or something small that nurses can eat easily and quickly.  If we've had a great experience, I send the nurse and the supervisor a note.  If we've had a good/average experience, I send the nurse a note and I make sure I put in at least one detail that made that birth special because she was there.

    And I totally understand and hear you on the "herd 'em in, herd 'em out" aspect.  Maybe you could try to focus on one thing that Sally Sue RN is doing great with that particular client and thank her for it--even it she's cranky and a real stickler for the rules, you can tell her you appreciate her efficiency. Sometimes I have to really fish for it and it gets down to saying something like, "Gee, those shoes look so comfortable!" and that kind of softens her up a bit and she's more flexible.  Always be professional, kind and courteous.  There's never a reason to fight or get rude during a birth.  If nothing else, we have to remember the baby and her/his experience, too.


    I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult. --E.B. White
  • 03-14-2009 5:44 PM In reply to

    • ZoeysMom
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on 02-04-2009
    • Lincoln, NE
    • Posts 63

    Re: Getting along with hospital staff.

    Very VERY well stated!! TYVM

  • 03-14-2009 6:57 PM In reply to

    • RobsGirl
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 02-04-2009
    • Mid-Hudson Valley, NY
    • Posts 364

    Re: Getting along with hospital staff.

    Wow!!  The wisdom of Susan.  

    Zoeysmama, what is TYVM?...oh it just hit me, Thank You Very Much.


    RobsGirl, 31
    Wife of one fabulous guy (34)
    Mommy of 3 awesome boys, ages 11, 8, and 4, and a precious 2 year old daughter.

  • 04-07-2009 3:24 PM In reply to

    Re: Getting along with hospital staff.

    All very excellent suggestions! I would add to go in with confidence in yourself, your right to be there, the mindset that you are a colleague (even if they don't yet know it Smile). I am also very careful to refer all questions, etc. to the parents to comment on so it is not my idea.


  • 04-23-2009 7:39 PM In reply to

    Re: Getting along with hospital staff.

    I also always introduce myself to the staff and ask if they have any questions.  Sometimes they are totally down with what a doula is, other times they do have questions and I get to do a little educating.

    When they're doing their thing, I ask if there is anything I can do to help (if I'm not actively doing something with the client).  Often they appreciate an extra pair of hands.  For example, many times I've held the electronic fetal monitor in place when they're trying to get a strip and the belts won't hold it where it needs to be in the position that is most comfortable to the client.  This way they don't have to force the client to get into an uncomfortable position, they see you respecting that they need the strip and the info it provides, and they can get on with the next task at hand.  I've even held the darn thing in place the entire time a client pushed, always finding the hb again when it got lost, and this left the nurse able to help the doctor and neither of them had to keep fussing with the EFM. 

    I always make sure to never contradict anything a doctor or nurse has said in the presence of any hospital staff.  If I feel like there has been information left out or wrong information given, I prompt my clients to ask any questions and/or to ask for the time to think it over and then we talk and I might remind them in private about something they were concerned about said intervention and then they can bring it up with their care provider.  The most I'd say in the presence of hospital staff is, "You were concerned about XYZ, do you have any questions about it?  Do you need some time to think about it?"  Just because I KNOW that the narcotics in an epidural cross the placenta, it's not my place to tell the anestesiologist that he's just lied, iykwim.



    Em, Momma to Adelh
    Doula and CNM in the making
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