Transforming Nurses' Stress and Anger: Steps toward Healing

By Sandra P. Thomas | Go to book overview

4

Modifying Nonproductive
Anger Styles

What do nurses do when they are stressed out and angered on the job?

I was screaming at my nurse manager. I got frustrated and angry and screamed at her.”

I go to the medicine room and cuss.”

I kind of back off.”

I stood there and took it. It’s kind of like kicking a dog and the dog never runs off.”

I really blow up and I start crying and I feel better it’s out, but I wish I had handled
it a little better
.”

None of these nurses felt good about how they handled their anger. In fact, most nurses I’ve talked to about work-related anger incidents echo that last statement: They wish they had handled their anger a little better. Learning to modify a nonproductive anger style can be one of the most important self-management projects you will ever undertake. Both your career and your health will benefit. And the profession itself will benefit. Some nurses are harboring their anger until, like a malignant growth, it chokes the love of nursing out of them. Feeling powerless to effect change and giving up the hope of being rescued, they leave—either physically, by changing employers or professions, or mentally, by remaining on the job but merely going through the motions. They are the dispirited walking wounded in every health care setting. Former ANA president Beverly Malone has this to say:

Nurses have a legitimate right to be angry, but along with that right come consequences
and challenges. The goal is not to eliminate anger but to acknowledge it and channel
it into positive, life-supporting interventions. Acknowledging the anger will remind

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