A call for courtesy, please

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!)

Posted: 12/7/2011 2:44:07 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 1 comments
Filed under: courtesy, influenza vaccine, professional etiquette

Sue Shattuck
November 3. 2010 20:52
This is one of my pet-peeves in nursing. Seemingly anyone and everyone calls themselves a "nurse." My elderly parents speak of the "nurse" at the dentist office, and when waiting for an x-ray, I overheard a patient tell his wife he was waiting for the "nurse" to fetch him and perform his x-ray. I recently had a family member call a friend a "nurse" and upon further inquiry, I learned she was a CNA in a nursing home. As professional nurses, we need to make the word NURSE synonymous with only one thing - the professional Registered Nurse. I could also see a good argument for the LPN/LVN being called nurse as well, but when I consider the difficulty and rigor of a 4-year university degree (and subsequent grad school), I do not think one could compare the knowledge and skill of a LPN to a RN. When I was a staff nurse in the ER working triage, it was not uncommon for a patient or family member to talk about their friend or relative who was a nurse. I always took the opportunity to inform them briefly on the difference between an RN and others who are commonly called "nurses." Our profession needs to do a better job at defining the unique role of the nurse as well as the nature of our body of knowledge, which is vastly different than any other profession. Can you imagine a country where many people working in health care settings were loosely called doctors? Like I said - big pet peeve for me.
8/6/2015 2:46:20 PM