Things are changing. Fast. It seems like every time you turn around at work, there’s new technology: new ways to document, upgrades to the medication-dispensing machines or a new social media platform the company encourages you to “like” or join. Is your head spinning or what?
Many days, you spend so much time fiddling with the new technology that you wonder if time and care is being taken away from the patient, or if the patient feels left out or dehumanized. But none of the changes are intended to negatively affect your patient care (as ironic as that may seem).
There are ways that a busy nurse can handle the changes and still stay safe, sane and patient-focused. Here are five etiquette tips to help you navigate around all the new gadgetry while making your patient your number one priority.
1. Scan the barcode, not the patient
People don’t want to feel like a product at the grocery store. Most hospitals now use some form of barcode/scanning system for patients’ medication and supplies. I’m sure many of us have seen nurses silently walk into a room, scan a patient and then hand the patient something. Not a good scene.
Technology is just a tool we’re using. We need to remind ourselves of this. It cannot take precedence over care, touch, presence and empathy.
- Make eye contact
- Introduce yourself
- Explain what you’re going to do
Sounds like Nursing 101, right? But in a rush, these highly important basics can be forgotten.
2. Remember your telephone etiquette
The telephone is obviously a major means of communication. In many hospitals, you have a portable phone you carry throughout your shift. This phone becomes the primary way for patients, other nurses, physicians, family members and others to reach you. They’re very convenient and they lower the “yell” factor—if you’re out of earshot, someone can call you instead of calling out for you or searching the halls and rooms needlessly.
Nevertheless, basic phone etiquette rules need to be remembered. Here are just a few:
- When speaking on the phone with a patient, remember confidentiality and be aware of your physical location (in another patient’s room, in a hallway, etc.)
- Be mindful of nonverbal communication, especially if you’re in front of another patient. Do not roll your eyes or display any other derogatory behavior. This sounds simple, but sometimes when we’re busy our bodies react quickly to added pressure and stress. These reactions may include outward displays of negativity. What do you think the patient in front of you will think if she sees you rolling your eyes or crossing your arms while speaking with another patient or family member?
- Be considerate of the amount of time you are on the phone, particularly if you’re in another patient’s room. Do you need to excuse yourself to see the other patient immediately or resume the conversation after you finish caring for the patient in front of you?
Next: Tips 3-5 â†’