I had originally planned a different topic for this week’s blog post, but I would be remiss if I didn’t use this time and space to share my experience at my primary care practitioner’s office today. I went in for my flu shot, not a big deal; I only spent about 10 minutes there. However, in those ten minutes I was paying particular attention to the nursing staff (don’t we all do that?) A young woman called my name and I followed her down the hall as she studied her clipboard - no eye contact, no hello, no smile, and no introduction. I also quickly noticed that while she was wearing scrubs, she did not have a name tag on, or anything identifying herself by name or role.

Off we went into a small room where another woman was working on her computer. There was no sink in the room. Just a desk with a pile of the CDC’s Influenza Vaccine fact sheets (not that it was offered to me); a cup of prefilled syringes and a cup of needles; a pile of alcohol swabs; and some other non-related items and pieces of equipment. I did notice on the wall a piece of paper with information about Guillain-Barre syndrome - definition, signs and symptoms, and prognosis. I’m not sure if it was placed there for the staff or for patients. In either case, there was no information offered about why it was posted there.

This staff member prepared my vaccine, the whole while her long hair swinging around. She put on gloves, asked me which arm I wanted the shot in (then approached my right arm after I replied “left”) and gave me the vaccine. A quick band-aid application and she handed me my “receipt.” No good-bye, smile, or any farewell greeting.

What has happened to common courtesy and manners? I won’t assume that this staff person was a nurse, but I’m sure that many other patients do and will. How can we promote a professional image of nursing when even a nurse herself (me!) feels this way after a quick visit?

I may have shared this article with you before, New Nurse Notes: 7 tips to improve your professional etiquette, but I think it’s worth sharing again. Okay, I’ll say good-bye now (with a handshake and a smile!)