October 15, 2006, 11:41 am

with all DUE respect….

This is where I go to recharge.

Mendocino, California.

I may live near San Francisco, but my soul resides here.

It will be a while before I can go back, but I will go back.

Instead, I will have to settle for a quick post to ventilate before my next 12-hour shift….


Dear Doctor Prissy Pants,

I’m so sorry you had to be on call this weekend.

I’m even more sorry that we had to call you in for a bad gallbladder.

Being on call sucks, I’m sure.

I’m positive that not having the nurses genuflect on your arrival was even more disturbing.


You see, Doctor, you are not the only person who had to work last night.

In fact, when you ambulated into the ER

  • you walked into a department that was on ambulance diversion,
  • was in the middle of try to get four patients admitted
  • in addition to getting your patient to surgery,
  • had every room full
  • and three people who had not yet been triaged.

Frankly, oh esteemed colleague of the surgical persuasion, we were running our butts off.

Your patient, despite requiring surgery was stable.

Your patient could not have his consent signed because you had not yet made an appearance to explain the risks and benefits of the surgery, nor had you told any of us the nature of proposed surgery so we could at least have written that down for your convenience.

I’m sorry, I thought that was something covered in Surgery 101. How foolish of me to expect you to follow through with that.

I guess that is what the “hired help” known as nurses are for.


I would have had no problem with your attitude, even though you rarely see it in surgeons of your generation.

It was when you stood with your elbow leaning on the nurse’s station and remarked how nobody was doing a damn thing; that I was the only person you saw the entire time you had been there and who was going to get this patient to surgery?

That’s when I lost it.

Or nearly lost it.

You see, oh god of the OR, your patient was standing and voiding before going to surgery. He actually insisted on it!

But you wouldn’t care about that, you were being inconvenienced!


It’s odd Doc. I’m old enough now so that I’m not afraid of telling you exactly what I think of you.

So when I told you we were running our asses off and you made another snide comment, I was hotter than a fully stoked wood-burning stove.

But with age came the wisdom to know the time and place where it would be appropriate to rip you a new one.

The middle of a busy ER wasn’t it.

So I smiled ever so sweetly and told you that I if I said anything more, I’d be saying too much. And shall we take the patient upstairs you and I? After all, isn’t that the most important thing?

You jerk.


What is so frustrating about all this is that I can’t do anything with the rage I feel.

  • I can’t tell you off, or I will be perceived as unprofessional. However you are allowed to insult/abuse the nursing staff without any repercussions what-so-ever.
  • A letter to my manager? She’s “just” another nurse.
  • A letter to the medical director of me ER?
    • You probably play golf with him.
    • Oh, he might “talk” to you, but you are a surgeon and the abuse you heap upon the nursing staff doesn’t amount to a hill of beans where you are concerned.

But let me tell you something. If I run into you in a parking lot, at the store, on the street, you will hear me. And it will be off the record so there is nothing you can do about it.


So, the next time you see me and think you can insult me, my profession and my colleagues?

Talk to the hand, because my ass will be too busy running to hear a thing you say.

Its arrogant idiots like you that make me want to blow this popsicle stand, buy a wardrobe of peasant blouses and long skirts, embrace my inner hippie and sell hand-made earrings on the streets of Mendocino.

You’re the biblical term for a donkey.

Or didn’t they teach you that in medical school….

And should you read this and think it’s about you, you’re right.

(Good god, and I still have two more twelve-hour shifts to go. At least now I can sleep with this off my chest.)


  • Rita Schwab

    October 15, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    Dr. Prissy Pants – love the pseudonym!

    Put up your “prissy pants force field” and don’t waste any more of your good energy on him.

    If that doesn’t work, consider putting a nice crunchy bug in his coffee.

    : )

  • DisappearingJohn

    October 15, 2006 at 12:10 pm

    I understand how you feel, Kim,

    Luckily I relly haevn’t had to deal with that too much. 1), I’m a guy, and, while not right, it seems doctors are far less likely to heep abuse on the male of the profession, and 2) I work in a trauma center where our cheif of trauma surgery adores and respects the nurses, and I have seen him jump others who don’t share his admiration…

    Its amazing the healing powers of visualization (visualize your inserting a large foley in him over and over… You will feel much better!)

  • Julie

    October 15, 2006 at 1:55 pm

    I’m sorry Dr. Prissy Pants, but first we need to disimpact your cranium from your cecum, and oh, look at that, we’re out of lube.
    What a jerk. Been there. For every 10 wonderful doctors, there’s gotta be just one a-hole to make a bad day worse. Sorry.

  • Susan

    October 15, 2006 at 2:10 pm

    We have one ED doctor who feels that he must put one person in his/her place each shift via smackdown. I hate the guy. I can work with him, but I really hate the guy. I never knew a person could actually be born without a sense of humor.


  • motherjones-rn

    October 15, 2006 at 7:31 pm

    Thank God not ever doc is like Dr. Prissy Pants, but the few who are make life bleak. I like Disappearing John’s idea of using visualization. When Dr. Prissy Pants is yelling at you, visualize him standing there in his underwear. Then think about his “little man’s syndrom.”

  • Dawn

    October 15, 2006 at 8:07 pm

    Are you sure this isn’t the same doc that I worked with in the GI practice, because he sounds exactly like him.

  • Melissa

    October 15, 2006 at 9:04 pm

    Maybe you could e-mail him this post.

  • Myssi

    October 16, 2006 at 9:16 am

    Sorry about Dr. Prissy Pants, Kim. It makes me glad that our CEO is a practicing ER physician. He’s been known to jump a specialist for dumping on “his” nurses when they didn’t know that he is working in the ER instead of his Monday-Friday office. 🙂 It’s amazing how much difference that made, according to my friend who is an ER nurse.

  • PixelRN

    October 16, 2006 at 1:59 pm

    Another reason I am so happy to be working in medicine, with pulmonary docs, and not surgery (or anywhere that requires dealing with surgeons on a regular basis). Amen to you, Kim, for putting your feelings aside and putting the patient first. That requires more patience and grace than most people realize.

  • Tom

    October 16, 2006 at 3:35 pm

    I have had good luck with” you know, in my 30 years of listening to crap like that, I have yet to see anyone get smarter or more interested in addressing YOUR issue when they are being yelled at or otherwise abused”. Your issue is your priority, not the priority. If you think it is bad now, just wait another 3-5 years when the Boomer nurses pull the pin and retire!!!

  • ERRN

    October 16, 2006 at 9:13 pm

    I’m lucky to work at a facility that doesn’t allow physicians to heap abuse upon the nursing staff. We have an excellent DON and CEO. Lucky, I know. The last hospital I was at had horrible evil mean surgeons that loved to make the nurses look stupid (or try to make them look stupid). Very hard to work with.

  • Cath

    October 17, 2006 at 6:48 am

    I suspect Dr Prissy Pants is very bad in bed, and not in a good way.

  • Third Degree Nurse

    October 17, 2006 at 7:17 am

    When he remarked that nobody was doing a damn thing, I might have laughed and asked him if he’d had his vision and hearing checked lately.

    My theory is that assholes always want to get you upset. Don’t let ’em. My strategy is to deescalate their assholeness and never answer anybody’s rhetorical questions/remarks. Sometimes you have to say an honest word to put them back into reality, but never, ever do that in front of other people no matter how tempted you are. I usually allow them one chance to “save face.”

    You might see some new second career nurses who are already veterans at dealing with this kind of Little Bitty Person. Personally, I’ve put a few years working with the asshole prototypes — some of our state legislators.

  • […] And it’s as if she anticipated my new Dear Doctor series. Yesterday, she wrote to Doctor Prissy Pants. […]

  • Always Learning

    October 17, 2006 at 8:18 pm

    Sorry about the experience. It’s poop-heads like that that ruin everyone’s day. Never really understood if they were always like that, if they became like that, or how they managed to get to this point in life with that kind of personality. While the OR may revolve around them, the rest of the world certainly does not.

  • ro

    October 18, 2006 at 7:05 am

    by not reporting him and insisting on a resolution to prevent further incidents you are not only letting him get away with it you are encouraging him –one voice can start a movement

  • enrico

    October 21, 2006 at 8:53 am

    You know, I was going to write something, then I read the comment above by Cath (“I suspect Dr Prissy Pants is very bad in bed, and not in a good way.”) and I changed my mind.

    Imaine Dr. PP, fresh off a day of abusing nursing staff, scrub techs, his assists, OR nurses (he probably thinks he was being congenial compared to how he abuses the surgical nurses)–imagine him driving away from the hospital, but not home, taking a detour to a seedier part of town. There, he pays Mistress Helga to whip him silly as he says, “I’ve been a bad Dr. Prissy Pants,” sucking his thumb the whole time.

    There. That should make your next encounter more tolerable. 😉

  • anonymus

    November 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Mendocino was shot in my favorite movie, Denial, starring Jason Patric and Robin Wright. What would be there and visit that county, walk through the beach, look down the cliff, walking through the streets, sleeping in one of the caravans are parked there ….. And of course getting on the Skunk Train. I do not know when, but I visit it sometime.

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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