I was at dinner with my guy, one night, discussing business with him, venting my frustrations about nursing and he stops me and says , "Sometimes, you have to QTIP." Quit taking things personally. How many times have we left work, upset at something that a patient or family member said? We can carry that remark for weeks, months, sometimes throughout our career. Failing to realize, that it was not us, that the patient was angry at,  it was their medical situation. We wear our hearts on our sleeve, but honestly,  in the healthcare profession there's no room for that type of emotion. 

     As healthcare professionals we are often dependent upon others for validation of our skills and competency.  When others are supportive, encouraging, or praise the job we are doing it may make us feel satisfied with our careers; however, when people are judgmental, critical, or abusive toward us, we may find ourselves questioning our judgement, skills, or even the profession we've chosen. Taking things personally is often a by-product of our professions. When we take things personally we are giving others  more power over us than they should be allowed to have. It causes stress, emotional turmoil, and sometimes even physical distress.

     Instead of reacting when someone pushes your buttons, here are a few things to consider when you find yourself caught up in an interaction that challenges your personal or professional judgement:

  • Put yourself in their shoes. Try to understand what the other person is feeling or thinking. Is this the way they interact with others and not just you? Many times are patients are angry with at a new diagnosis and they project it onto you. 
  • Don't jump to conclusions too quickly. As previously stated, oftentimes patients are angry and their perceptions and misconceptions onto you. In fact, it’s almost always about them. Their fear leads them to desire to control the situation. 
  • Take a break. Your initial response might be to react emotionally. If possible, don’t. Take the time to control your emotions and assess what’s really happening, before you respond.
  • When YOU are ready, talk about the situation. By this time, you should be able to place your emotions  on the back seat. In some cases, they may not realize how aggressive or rude they have been. If it becomes clear that he or she can not respect you, then remove yourself from the situation. Our relationships with our patients play an important role in our professions.
     However,  you can't take it personally, if you want longevity, in your career. So, the next time a patient or family member becomes aggressive, rude, angry, or aggressive......QTIP! 


  • Excellent advice!!

    Nicole J.
  • The best advice that I ever received was early in my career when I found myself upset and venting to my nurse manager about something that either a patient or co-worker had said to me. My Nurse manager told me that I personalize things too much and that I needed to stop. Her words really had a positive impact on me throughout my career and there were many times, long after leaving that position that I could hear that nurse manager’s words in my head…“Stop Personalizing, that person’s behavior really doesn’t have anything to do with you.”

    Thanks for writing this great post!

    Nurse Born Products
  • Great article. So true. As nurses we do tend to take things personally, but at the end of the day it’s not about us. Great takeaway points on how to check our emotions.

    Shantay Carter
  • Well stated, this definitely allow us as health professionals to have longevity in our profession. All of your bullet points is what I discuss with my Assistant Nurse Managers often during their direct reports.

    Marshanell Wright

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