6 Rights all nurses have

Do you really think assertively? If you feel like you’re stepping on eggshells when you go to work, it might be a good to take a look at some ways you can think more assertively as a nurse. These 6 ‘rights’ are universal rights that every person has.

I’ve adapted them from real assertiveness training modules to apply to us nurses. Enjoy!

1.     You have the right to change your mind. Sometimes it feels like once you make a decision, send out that email, or give someone an answer, you can’t take it back. You might feel like if you do, you’ll seem indecisive and annoying. That is not true! Exercise your right to change your mind.

2.     You have the right to to say ‘no.’ Just because you’re at work, doesn’t mean you are a yes-nurse. Bosses and co-workers can be wrong, and if your gut is telling you ‘no,’ don’t let it get swept away by self-doubt. But…what if you put your foot down, take a stand, and it turns out you were incorrect?

3.     You have the right to make mistakes – and be responsible for them. If you’re proved wrong or made a mistake, don’t beat yourself up over it. Everyone has the right to be wrong or make mistakes. There are no exceptions to this rule: everyone learns from failure. That’s how the best nurses became the best nurses. Taking responsibility for that failure, and making sure it doesn’t happen again – that is what sets us apart.

4.     You have the right to offer no reasons or excuses for justifying your behavior. If you say no, you don’t have to say why. If you decide to do something differently than usual, you don’t have to justify it. There are situations where we do have the obligation to explain our actions (like when dealing with patients and making decisions that affect others), but when it comes to our own decisions, we need not justify them to others.

5.     You have the right to say, “I don’t know.” As medical professionals, we feel like we’re pressured to know everything. People say things like “well, you’re a nurse, do you know if…” or “Hey – you’re the nurse. You know about these things…” or “Ask the nurse! That’s what they went to college for!”

No, we don’t know everything off the top of our heads. We do know, however, how to look up that information and interpret it in the right context. So the next time you don’t know something, don’t feel embarassed. You have the right not to know.

6.     You have the right to say, “I don’t care.” Wait, what? Nurses can say they don’t care? Yes! (Maybe not in those exact words, though). Although we have the responsibility to care about a patient’s holistic welfare, there is still a therapeutic boundary. This comes out especially when you’re working in private care or home care, where the ‘nurse’ can become the ‘solver-of-all-my-problems.’ We’re not here to solve all your problems. And we have the right to say so.

Kevin Pan is an RN and owns Exam Review Expert, a comparison and review site for NCLEX courses.

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