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Unprofessionalism: The Evils That Lurk At Work

Updated on February 3, 2015

“The Divine Command was not like thy neighbor but love thy neighbor, because it is hard to like certain kinds of people, such as those who step on our toes or made funny noises when they drink their soup. When there is no spontaneous love, love begins only as a duty. But as we learn to write by writing, to cook by cooking, to be courteous by practicing kindness, so we learn to love by loving. The I ought after a while passes to I love.” – Archbishop Fulton Sheen (The Power Of Love)

I used to work eight-hour shifts/ 5 days a week. Well, it wasn’t exactly eight hours on the dot. Any medical personnel would attest to this that you rarely get out of the workplace on time because you have to make sure you have done everything right. Then at the end of the day, you still trouble yourself by wondering whether you did everything as supposed to, or you forgot something. A conscientious nurse would understandably be fidgeting like this. That’s why it’s very important to develop a personal system as we go along with work because this will help us be efficient in what we do. This is not foolproof, however because there would still be things that will be missed. We are humans after all and we learn from our mistakes.

But in my personal experience, it is quite frustrating that while you try to better yourself at what you do for the sake of the patients, you see others that do not care at all. I do not intend to be smug about this. But it would definitely be an easier tour of duty if everyone steps up to the plate. The truth of the matter is, is that direct patient care is not an easy task. You have to be good at multitasking. You have to have a memory like an elephant. You have to have great communication skills. You have to have the patience of Job. A huge storage of knowledge in nursing is great, but most of the time, we have to use a lot of common sense too. But, regardless of the difficulties of doing direct patient care, in my view, it is still a more tolerable thing to do than putting up with the politics and unprofessionalism at work. Unfortunately, they are inseparable. I think in any workplace you go, there would always be politics involved and a certain degree of unprofessionalism. In my many years of experience as a nurse, I have encountered so many unpleasant situations. The following made the top 4 of my list:

  1. Gossip – This is a very damaging but nonetheless enticing pastime that the staff loves to engage with. It is hypocritical of me to deny that I have not involved myself in such. I think showing interest most especially to a “juicy gossip” is as guilty as the one spreading the gossip. So I try to analyze why people gossip? I think it is easier to talk about other people’s pain and flaws rather than deal with the ones we have. I think we also fool ourselves with the idea that our lives are better than anyone else so it’s okay to talk about their woes. But this nonsense chattering, not only derails our focus to the task at hand and slows down productivity, but it also harms the person who is the center of the gossip. So unless people talk about something work related, gossiping should be dealt with severe repercussions by management.
  2. Envy- Some people are green with envy and jealousy because of the material possessions others have that they try to outdo each other. While others are envious simply because, the other person is just a radiant of goodness. They see so much goodness in the other that they become spiteful about it because they cannot see those qualities within themselves. It is like a growing fungus that morphs into a hideous monster under the guise of professional jealousy. What to do about it? Well, I am not immune to this. So I say a prayer for humility that will give a proper perspective on things. Being humble will open our awareness to the evil that is slowly creeping into our hearts. There is nothing wrong to desire for a house, a car and other material possessions. The reason after all of coming to America (for most immigrants like me) is to have a better quality of life. And one aspect (among many) of good quality life is proper sustenance of our physicality and spirituality. There is also nothing wrong to aspire to a higher position in the job. With the absence of envy, it is actually good to have a healthy competition. This way, we can drive ourselves out of our comfort zones, challenge our boundaries and realize that we are still capable of doing something better. With this, we must also have healthy doses of openness to the possibility of failure and then learn from our failures. Learning in itself is already a form of success.Whatever other definitions of “success” we might have, is entirely up to us. The bottom line of what I am trying to impart is that the aspirations mentioned above only becomes sinful or avaricious when it is no longer in line with God’s will and in the process we do more damage than good to ourselves and others.
  3. Laziness- This is like an aggressive cancer that kills healthy cells. It metastasizes to other parts of the body until there is total organ failure. For me, laziness is that cancer that negatively affects the working community, or wherever productivity is needed. How many times have I encountered people who only wants to do the least amount of work? It’s as if their butts are glued to the chair and are selectively deaf or oblivious most especially when it comes to responding to call lights. And when they indeed do what is part of their job description, it’s done haphazardly. These people are shrewd and know how to cut corners. Noticeably, they are also the first and has the most to complain about everyone and every single thing at work but does nothing to improve his or her work ethics. For the many times that I had the unlucky situation of having such a co-worker, it always left me exasperated. But there are things I put in mind after all these years that has made me prevail. Everyone deserves a nurturing environment where one’s potential could thrive. Everyone has the right to have peace of mind and heart. So I always do the right thing by following the proper chain of command and express to management how I feel about the detrimental effects of laziness. I know that this is an inconvenient thing to do because more often it has led to further problems before finally arriving at a solution. But if management values you as a person, the quality of work you give and your opinion, then they will do something to resolve the issue. If not, then that clearly means you have to move on and find another place that will.
  4. Insensitivity- I am actually nice when I use the word “insensitive”. I use it instead of the word “rude” when people at work talk in their language – most especially in front of you. To what I know, English is supposed to be the official language at the workplace. I am Filipino American and English is not even my primary language but good manners and proper etiquette suggest that in the presence of other people, we use a language that everyone understands. I have a long list of rude behaviors but speaking in a language that no one in the room understands is one pet peeve of mine. Overall, the insensitivity or inconsiderateness are in reference to people who have no regard whatsoever for others feelings or well being. Back in kindergarten, teachers often tell us to be nice, be quiet, learn to share. You think the adults would know better. But I guess this is so to say “not everybody attended kindergarten”. Awkward it may be, but apparently, you might have to remind people again of what the teacher said.

So, at the end of this so-called shift, I finally call it a day, hit home and kick off my shoes. I reflect upon the day’s events and realize I am not estranged from the issues I presented above. I may have inadvertently contradicted my own work ethics a few times in the past. Nevertheless, change for the better could start from one’s self and the acknowledgment that no one is infallible. If everyone have this in mind, then we can all make a difference and contribute towards a better working environment.

© 2015 Ma Teresa V. Santos


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      Maria DesHotel 

      3 years ago

      The top 4 unpleasant situations you mention is seriously true and continuously happening in all types of work and work place.


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