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What Would You Do?

March 24th, 2005, 06:39 PM

I ran into a problem with a nurse who works for me. (I mean in my office part time - she has extensive pediatric experience and is great with the kids that I can see). She is just here pt while my regular nurse is on maternity leave. At lunch we were discussin kids and money and the things they do re: allowances etc.

I was relating about how my nephew when he was about 12 and visiting me for a couple weeks -in between computer camp and doing something with mom (my sister) went with another friend of mine and her kids to a nearby park. While they were out, she took the kids to have their hair cut. Of all the kids, he was the only one to negotiate the price with the hairdresser. This is not typically done in the Maritimes but my nephew lives in Boston. Anyway, this nurse - who I always thought ti be fairly progressive - said - "It must have been the Jew in him". I was so angry I thought I would spit!! Do I want someone like that on my staff? I have Jewish patients in Halifax and Moncton and I never think of about what their ethnic background is except in urgent times when they need some spirtual counselling.

My inclination is to give her one more chance after I discuss it with her but I fear even the dialog may not go well and that means I will fire her? Am I overreacting? My nephew is half Jewish - my sister converted and my nephew has made his Bar Mitzvah and we are very close. His Irish Catholic aunt who who sat with and who I tried to explain the arcane rituals of the Catholic mass at the funeral of my grandparents. On another occasion, I failed miserably in my explanation when - while driving with him past a Virgin Mary siting in Florida (the image of the Virgin is believed to be on a bank in Clearwater) - I attempted to explain the concept of the Virgin Mary. There was mega traffic and people trying to foolishly walk across six lanes of a car to car mess. (Did they think God would overlook an auto running over them?). Anyway, when we arrived back at my parents', he said, :we saw too bad things today - an accident and that St. Mary's things", lol

March 24th, 2005, 06:59 PM
In your line of work, I think sensitivity is key. Even if this nurse is not racist and is just very un-PC, I don't think she should be working with your particular patients. If you were a manager at walmart, maybe some lack of PC can be tolerated but you are in an environment with very sensitive ears and your patients and their parents don't need that possible additional stress around. I feel her comment is very offensive and I am not even Jewish, nor am I in a sensitive situation.

I would tell her that you don't tolerate any racial slur of any kind and if you hear of any other similar remarks, she will be gone. My opinion.

March 24th, 2005, 07:02 PM
Oh cyberkitten thats a tough one. Based on her statement, I think she is prejudice or ignorant, and you can try to talk to her, but I don't know if you can change her views.
It's very sad that some people that have a wonderful medical education,can be so totally ignorant to the ways of the world.
I wonder if she would give a non Jewish patient better care then a Jewish patient?

March 24th, 2005, 07:40 PM
I would address this right away....give one more chance once you make it clear to her. People deserve unbiased medical attention. No prejudice allowed, no matter of race, creed, color or beliefs...they could even be a convicted felon, all people deserve fairness. I would not want her working on me! (My ex was jewish)
Leave personal opinions at webboards ...

March 25th, 2005, 04:05 PM
As a previous HR professional, I think you need to give her another chance. Can you give her another chance with the suggestion of taking a diversity class? Can you give her a warning and as part of the warning make it manditory for her to attend the class (at your cost which shouldn't be a lot). It might be an opportunity to teach rather than just to "punish".

It is fear of the unknown that makes people respond the way she did. Give her a chance to be unafraid. It could benefit her and all patients that come in contact with her after she leaves your facility. You would be doing everyone a favor.

March 25th, 2005, 04:55 PM
Oh, I don't know. Fear of the unknown? These things are culturally embedded and are rarely meant to be mean or hurtful (even though they are). IMHO, the time to react was immediately, expressing your shock and disapproval, and then maybe a warning that you would fire her ass in a heartbeat if she made similar remarks in the workplace. Since it is still bothering you, I would have a frank conversation with her, tell her that you found her remarks careless and hurtful and that you would fire her ass, etc.

March 25th, 2005, 05:41 PM
If she worked for the hospital, a diversity class might be OK - but doctors essentialy run a small biz and I am on several HR committees that hire Deans, docs, CEO's and have done everything from diversity class to conflict resolution to outright dismissal. I think the big problem here is that *I* have to work with this woman and I will never see her in the same way again and that is a problem for me and it is MY practice. She is older than me - 50 or so - and I do know people can change and it may well be she does not even know what she did was wrong. I am going to talk to her about it and go from there. She is a temp employee so I am not about to invest in diversity training - maybe if she was FT and permanent but you can rest assured she never will be now. I know that may sound harsh but I cannot tolerate intolerance (pun intended!)

March 25th, 2005, 05:58 PM
My first response would be to respond in anger as well, Badger. However, that teaches this woman nothing and she leaves angry with another reason for disliking that group (because she won't think she cost herself the job).

The dictionary says that prejudice means "An adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge or examination of the facts". It is ignorance that causes this woman to make these comments. I work in a field where there is a lot of prejudice. I run across it almost every day. It works better for me to educate than to get mad to their face (now what I do when I go home and talk about it with my husband is another story :o ) I convert them, so to speak. Then, in turn, they convert others. Okay, enough said.

I do agree that the conversation should be frank and to the point. It also would be best to handle it immediately.

Best of luck to you. It isn't easy dealing with employees sometimes.

March 25th, 2005, 06:45 PM
NOT anger, it solves nothing. But VERY direct. After your talk, Cyber, I would try to put it out of your mind. The fact that she said it doesn't mean she's anti-semitic. Of course, if you see or hear any other evidence, WHAM.

March 25th, 2005, 07:46 PM
I'd give her a polite warning and a slap on the wrist and let her know that comments like that are just not appropriate in the workplace. You also mentioned she is 50 and there is definitely a generational gap in PC'ness.

If she slips up again....then light her on fire. :evil:

March 25th, 2005, 07:52 PM
BTW Cyberkitten, what kind of practice do you have?

My wife is a GP here in Alberta and is currently looking to set up a rural practice somewhere near Calgary.

March 25th, 2005, 08:40 PM
Kewl Gazoo, do you and she like Calgary? Or rural Alberta I should ask? I am actually a pediatric oncology tho that also means, as you imagine, children with AIDS, aplastic anemia and other immune disorders. I also do research in telehealth (given that we have one Women and Children's hospital in the Maritimes). Good luck with her new pratice!!

Actualy re the pc thing, I am in my 40s so I have never judged people by age. I have young people who are intolerant and very unpc - not university students so much but some nexers . Baby boomers typically are not intolerant. :)

March 25th, 2005, 08:51 PM
Calgary is great. Pediatric!!

Re: the baby boomer thing, you're right, not all boomers are intolerant of course, it's just more likely that the older you are the more likely some of the "old prejudices" and stereotypes will be evident.

IMHO the generations after the boomers have been brought up to be much more tolerant.

March 25th, 2005, 09:04 PM
I think that sometimes that is just wishful thinking. I'm usually at least 4 years older than the rest of my classmates which is not much but it is a huge difference. A lot of people my age split the generation at the end of 1980 instead of the statistical 1979 because we, the kids of the older boomers just don't relate as well to the kids of the younger baby boomers, and that is where the divide seems to be. I have people in my classes who stand up and start yelling at the prof if she goes over by 2 minutes. Maybe they know the right words, as far as PC goes, to use but their rudeness and snobbiness by far shines as intolerance more than PC. So many people I am in school with live with their parents (nothing wrong with that) but seem so high and mighty and "entitled" to their parents money. I have never been as offended by a baby boomer as I have by rude "kids".

I'm not saying the kids these days are worse, I'm just saying every generation has its faults and you can't just blame a character flaw on age. Everybody can change and become a better person.

March 25th, 2005, 11:47 PM
I went to a really kwl HR session about a month ago by Linda Duxbury of Carleton Univ - about managing the different generations and she pointed out now 1961, on the cusp of the boomers but the largest number of births ever that yr makes GenX and Boomers not all that easy to work together. Nexers or the Google generation are different again. And there are the vets - my parents - retired or at the very end of their work lives. She noted this is the 1st time 4 generations are in the work force together and in medicine at least, it means being really creative. Boomers did well - (If there was a bus, they are at the front while Xers have to stand at the back) and many are well enuf that they enjoy their careers.

I teach at a med school - mostly residents who are very polite and love a challenge but they do think they know more than they do (but then we all did at that age, lol) I notice gender differences. There are more women than men in med school now - quite different from when I was there in the late 70's and early 80's. Young men never question that a woman can be in a position of power and treat female undergards as equals.

Some people that age I meet in other circumstamces however can be rude - that sense of entitlement you refer to. I never see that in my kids tho - my patients I mean ,lol (I have an office filled with pix of "my kids"). Occasionally some adolescents will be but they are ill and need to vent so I never let it bother me. I had a 16 yo last week who screamed at me about how futile it all was and who did I think I was to recommend him to do such and such, how easy it was for me. I let him vent and then he started to cry, a child still in many ways facing what he should not have to at that age, at any age really!

Re my nurse - I will speak to her and if she does not accept my terms or reacts badly, I can find another one. (Tho we need more nurses too, sigh!) I have a friend who is retired but is 55 and more progressive than most 25 year olds and she says she will come and fill in till my regular nurse returns from maternity leave. It is not as if she insulted a patient which would be far more serious but it does speak to her character. Either she is unaware - hard to believe for someone working in the system that long - or she is aware and really is racist, sigh!!! And I want only the most compassionate person working for me.

March 26th, 2005, 08:53 AM
I really don't think her comment was meant as a bigotted remark,more of a stupid joke.Being a Swede and blond(now white),you don't know how many times I've heard stupid comments..and I've been known to laugh at ethnic jokes,especially Newfie ones and I am over 50!!! Does that make me a racist??
I really do not care where people are from or what they look like,as long as they are good people,narrowminded,uneducated people exist in all age-groups and ethnic diversions.
I know I'll get in trouble for saying this,but in this PC world,we need to lighten need to tell her how her comment upset you and it is not acceptable in the workplace.Unless she has shown you she is a bigot,I don't think firing her is warranted.

March 26th, 2005, 11:13 AM

I understand what you are saying and I too have been known to laugh at Irish jokes (I am Irish, lol). But this cut right at my heart! It was no joke! She said it half laughing but it goes to a certain stereotype of an ethnic group. It upset me and since I have to work there and am responsible for what happens there, I need to have confidence in the people who are there. I will talk to her about it and see how ot goes. It still really bugs me tho! (even now, days later!)

March 26th, 2005, 01:07 PM
CK,when it bugs you let it out,don't let someones dumb comment wear at you.Tell her how you feel...and if she argues about it say,Bye,Bye!
She might not even be aware it bothers you,no use prolonging it,tell her..

March 26th, 2005, 03:33 PM
I did not have the time or opportunity to tell her right away Chico or believe me I would have said something. There were others in the room and I want to handle is privately. I do think I oew her that. Then my day returned to its normal lunacy and we all went madly off in various directions.

I guess I think even if she is unaware it tells me something about her. How can someone not be aware that kind of comment is hurtful, racist and anti semetic. This is so way beyond pc. She insulted my nephew and his ethnicity and if she is that unknowledgable about that comment being sensitive - she may well benefit from sensitivity training. Keep in mind that this is my practice and I am responsible for it and my patients as well. Anyway - lately I thin kabout only when I log on here, lol

March 26th, 2005, 06:10 PM
I think she wasn't being anti-simetic, I think she was just stereotyping (I am not saying that it is the right thing), but unfotunately that is the way media portrays it, and a lot of people fall for that, whether they are educated or not.
I think what happened was that you were a little sensitive about it, and the way she said it. I think you will know better than anyone else on this board, wether she really was being racist, at the time she said that or she was being ignorant or just trying to make a joke which obviously went really wrong.

Cactus Flower
March 27th, 2005, 12:58 PM
Do you have a picture of your nephew at his Bar Mitzvah? If so, I would show it to her, with a big smile, tell her how proud you are of him and bring up the topic of prejudice in general. "He's such a wonderful, bright kid....I can't believe people judge him because of his religious beliefs....can you imagine how hurtful it is to have to endure slurs....why even I have heard some offensive comments.....(etc etc)".

This woman made her comment to you during a personal conversation, not to a patient or in a patient's presence. Prejudice is a noun, really, but discrimination is a verb, and so far she hasn't crossed that line (let's hope she doesn't). Keep an eye on her for signs of the latter in her work.
If you were able to put the minds of all the people you work with under a microscope, you might be surprised to find that you work with more narrow-minded people than you realize - or not, who knows. Sometimes I've been stunned to uncover a point of view in someone I thought I knew very well, and it's been disappointing, to say the least.

Anyway, good luck with this situation, and I'm very sorry that you were hurt by her unfeeling "joke". Bring out that picture and tell her- and everyone else- how terrific your nephew is.

March 27th, 2005, 03:19 PM
I have a picture of him in my offfice now - his Bar Mitzvah pict and also his graduation from high school. (He will be obtaining his udnergrad degree next yr (hard to believe) and has alreay been offered a FT job at MIT while he works on his Masters. She has to have seen it!

March 27th, 2005, 03:38 PM
CK,I did not even know the boy was actually Jewish,now I can understand better..
My husband loves to barter,especially at the car-dealers,when he starts I usually leave the room and by the time I get back,he's shaved off a couple of thousands on whatever car we want to buy :D
It so happens our favourite salesman at Volvo is Jewish and the last time I asked hubby,are you sure you are not Jewish???
Our salsman Saul,will be the first one to joke about his Jewish mom,who calls him at work 15 times a day,it's all in fun,no anti-semitism intended.