At the end of a hellish shift, it can be fun to go out and have a few drinks with your favorite nursing friends. But drinking with your colleagues isn’t like drinking with your friends on the weekend. The same rules just don’t apply.
No matter how laid-back your hospital may be, your actions always reflect on your professional nursing persona. So what kind of behavior is appropriate? Check out our happy hour etiquette guide for smooth sailing!
Pretend You Are Still at the Office
What happens at happy hour doesn’t necessarily stay at happy hour. You don’t want other nurses at the hospital to gossip about your drunken texts, or post an embarrassing photo of you in the staff room! Keep your wits about you when joining other nurses for drinks. Act like you’re still in a professional setting and that all the usual HR rules still apply. This should give you a solid guideline of how to act.
Treat Your Boss Like You’re Still at Work
Just because you’re sharing a pint doesn’t mean you’re now BFFs. Going over a patient’s file with your supervisor while he’s trying to enjoy his Pilsner is not going to gain you any brownie points. Not to mention, it’s a privacy issue! Chances are he’s not going to remember what you talked about the next day anyway, so why are you trying so hard? As for your other colleagues, keep the conversation light and superficial. Definitely avoid speaking in medical jargon and don’t start quizzing other nurses about proper patient education methods.
Don’t Overstay Your Welcome
Having a few drinks after your shift with fellow nurses is fine. Closing down the bar with them is not. The drunker you get throughout the night, the more likely you are to embarrass yourself in front of your entire staff. Don’t even think about showing up to your next shift drunk. That’s a patient liability suit waiting to happen!
But if you do find yourself stuck at the bar until last call with other nurses, remember Rule #4 …
Hospital Relations Are Off Limits
No matter how hot he is and how drunk you are, it’s not ok to flirt with the lab guy. While legitimate work relationships may be acceptable at your hospital, sloppy drunken hookups are not covered in the HR training. These are people you will have to work with on a daily basis — having an awkward hookup relationship with other nurses and colleagues just makes it more difficult for you to do your job properly. Eying your own McDreamy? Before you chat up the doctor, make sure it’s you, not the alcohol, doing the talking. This isn’t Grey’s Anatomy.
Don’t Get Sloppy
Doing shots off the stomach of the girl from Orthopedics is a big no-no. Dancing on the bar is probably frowned upon. And joining in on Jager-bomb races can only lead to trouble. These are extreme examples, but even having one too many beers can put you on the road to embarrassment. Keep track of how much you are drinking, and have a glass of water handy to sip between drinks. If you find yourself getting tipsy, excuse yourself and hail yourself a cab home.
Keep Trash Talking to a Minimum
You may find it a little harder to keep hospital gossip to yourself once you’ve had a few. Try harder. Chances are if you’re drunk, you may be talking at a louder volume than you think. It’s true what they say — loose lips sink ships, and you could be sinking your career ship if you’re branded the hospital gossip.
This Is Not Jersey Shore
Alcohol is a mood accelerant. If you dislike someone from the hospital, emotions can run high once you start knocking them back. Don’t pick a fight. Whether it be physical or verbal, fighting at a work happy hour creates an uncomfortable situation for everyone involved and could even lead to your termination if it gets out of hand.
Remember the Consequences
No matter what happens during happy hour, you’re going to have to deal with the fallout the next day. As fun as your nursing friends might be, you have to know when to say enough is enough. If you are worried you won’t be able to cut yourself off, designate a responsible nurse to tell you when you’ve had enough.
While a happy hour can be a great way to network at work, it can also easily destroy your nursing career with one wrong move. (Like spilling the beans on a delicate patient’s case.) Watch your alcohol intake, keep a cool head, and keep the conversation light and you’ll be fine. Enjoy yourself!
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