How do you "put your thick skin on?" - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 10 Old 03-05-2011, 08:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So I am training in a field where a little bit of abuse and hazing is considered a right.  I am fortunate to be at a great clinical site right now and am very protected by my preceptor.  However, she was out of town last week and I had to beg my way into rooms and experienced a lot of conflicting information, and one guy was just a bully (he was making fun of me in front of the lunch room, he is the director at another site, so soon I'll get to see him up close and personal... ARGH! What a jacka**!).  So I left feeling pretty insecure. Unfortunately, this was not a bad day by the standards of any other site.  So, I know I need to toughen up... How do I approach these clinical experiences, knowing that sometimes being made to feel bad is a part of the process and keep my psyche and sanity intact?

 

 


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#2 of 10 Old 03-05-2011, 10:27 PM
 
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If you don't mind my asking, what field are you in?


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#3 of 10 Old 03-06-2011, 05:53 AM
 
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Agreed, I need to know a bit more to respond. What is your job? Are you an intern? And I am concerned about the "hazing and abuse" piece. I do not believe anyone should just accept that they will be abused if they are in training.
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#4 of 10 Old 03-06-2011, 09:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am in training to be a nurse anesthetist.  ORs can be famously... um, shall we say cold environments. Especially when training.  SOME preceptors delight in watching people fail and "pimping" (the act of asking challenging questions) often in front of others (to make you feel dumb) is accepted.  This is par for the course.  Not every preceptor delights in jerkiness, but some do.  So my usual preceptor is awesome.  She asks pimp questions, but quietly and directed only to me.  I feel she asks them to encourage critical thinking, not to watch me fail.  And she understands where I am at in my development, provides appropriate experiences and constructive feedback.  But, she is not the norm.  And I experienced that for the first time.  I will only be with her for a few more months and then will move on into the unknown.  My question is what to I do to prepare myself to not internalize the process? To understand that jerks will be jerks, learn what I can from them and move on with my psyche intact?  Strategies? Stories of survival?

 

 I should probably add that I really like what I am doing, I just feel like I need to hike my woman pants up! 


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#5 of 10 Old 03-07-2011, 09:14 PM
 
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I think it helps me to vent with co-workers (peers, not my boss) when I feel I've been disrespected or mistreated at work.  Do you have others in your training program who would be able to relate to your experiences?

I also think these kinds of things can help us learn how to professionally advocate for ourselves.  It is hard in your position, as you'll be a student- but after that, in your day-to-day job, if people treat you this way, you will have to learn to respectfully advocate for yourself and not let people mistreat you, whether expected or not.

I imagine with more experience under your belt you'll have to deal with this less?  And as I read your post I was thinking what a great preceptor you might make one day! :)


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#6 of 10 Old 03-08-2011, 09:26 AM
 
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Hey there - just wanted to give some hugs.  I'm an NP. I've been in practice now for 5 years, but I remember those days as a student.  Truthfully, I cried alot at home.  But stuck it out as best I could at clinicals when I was with a preceptor or other professional who was less than kind.  Venting with my classmates was helpful as well as doing as much as I could to be with preceptors who I knew were going to be more supportive.  You'll get thicker skin, it will just happen as a part of going through the process.  I am still highly sensitive but getting through school and those first stressful couple of years of practice has made me tough.  As my knowledge and clinical experience continually expand my confidence grows and I am just less phased by things.

 

Anyway - good luck in a challenging but stimulating and rewarding field!

 


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#7 of 10 Old 03-08-2011, 08:55 PM
 
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Wow. I had no idea. This sounds really terrible. I work in the financial industry and thought it could be a tough atmosphere! Sounds a lot less stressful than this. Sorry to hear it and good luck!


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#8 of 10 Old 03-09-2011, 05:41 AM
 
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I agree with LittleGriff. It is sad that this is "accepted" behavior for training a new person in your field.

I know in my business (social work/mental health) we have a lot situations where a think skin is required for your own sanity and development. I personally am a pretty sensitive person. What I have done over the last several years is read a lot of business books because business is so cut throat. One of my favorites is "The No A@*hole Rule" by Bob Sutton. He talks about working with really challenging people in really difficult fields (Like working for Steve Jobs is a real nightmare, but Bob talks about how certain people are able to work around his craziness and embrace his genuis in order to be successful.)

Good luck to you!
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#9 of 10 Old 03-19-2011, 07:43 AM
 
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I don't think my work environment is as challenging as yours but I'm in a creative field and I've learned something about having a thick skin from taking years of blunt criticism.  I don't know if it applies but I will share anyway and maybe it will help :)

 

I never, ever apologize for my work or for my level of knowledge.  I know this is difficult as a student but if I find myself in a situation where I am caught out on something I don't know or criticism I don't agree with, I regard it as a learning experience.  I don't question my own legitimacy - if I don't understand something, it's not because I'm dumb, but it's because it's difficult...now what can I do to figure it out and what can I learn from the smarty-pants' expertise.  I know that in my line of work, guilt and insecurity are luxuries that I can't afford - if I am not 'over' myself then I can't see what is best for the project.  Maybe in your case instead of a project it's developing your skill set?

 

Good luck!  Sounds like a really exciting field.

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#10 of 10 Old 03-19-2011, 11:40 AM
 
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I think I would frame it as: this is a very challenging field where mistakes/ignorance down the line will have HUGE negative implications. so the people training you need to hold you to a high standard and will push you beyond your comfort zone to prepare you for that environment. i think venting with coworkers/fellow interns on this is actually sometimes negative--you are in a field where your efforts can impact someone else's life and you should take your training seriously in that respect (not saying you don't!!). venting can often turn those defensive or fearful feelings into resentment or rebellion against the system, instead of putting those feelings into a more positive or constructive manner.

i am in a similar field, not medical but a high stress and very high impact human services field where my professional behavior and decisions can have major, major implications for my clients. developing a thick skin and learning to take in LOTS of different kind of responses, especially hostile or negative ones, as constructive criticism that i can react to in a calm and professional fashion is key. journaling and talking with my supervisor/mentor has also helped me in the situations where i really have felt like i was put in an unfair position but still had to react in the moment in a non-defensive manner. and, honestly, i have learned so much from a situation where i felt somewhat ashamed or put on the spot due to my own mistakes or ignorance, i can remember one in particular where i spent about half an hour sobbing afterwards and then got my act in gear and recognized my own mistakes and i can now look back on that with positive feelings (instead of just thinking wow my boss was a real jerk for being so hard on me). i hope i am sounding clear and positive here...

i am not saying you should put up with harassment or abuse that would qualify for, say, workplace harrassment charges. i think there's a definite line between 'i felt totally ignorant today and that makes me feel ashamed' and 'my boss called me names in front of everyone'...i hope that's not the situaiton you are dealing with!

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