How to Destroy Professionalism in Nursing and How to Get it Back
Professionalism in nursing and the allied health industries is vital to a patient’s sense of wellbeing. It increases the patient's, family's, co-worker's and employer's confidence in the clinician. That’s why it’s important not to lose it.
Below, we've listed some ways to sabotage your professionalism, which will also serve as good reminders of things you must not do to protect your own career.
- Be late, or chronically absent, to work. People just love to cover shifts for irresponsible employees. You lose the trust of your boss and co-workers. Make sure you are posting your exploits on social pages while "ill”.
- Talk about your problems, politics, religion or sex. Our aging population was reared with an Emily Post mentality. And many of our younger generation were reared by the aging population. Hence, they consider some topics as taboo. So talk to the patient about how much your boss and co-workers hate you and how the corporation is messing with you. Talk about your personal life. Discuss your Saturday night, your divorce, your significant other or your children’s problems.
- Look or smell as though you just rolled out of bed. Use a cold iron on your clothes. Wear excessive make-up and have tiger claw nails. Show off those tattoos and piercings. Go to work with the smell of tobacco, alcohol, cologne, or body odor. It is your right to do as you please with your body, but eventually, no one will work with you, either staff or patient.
- Gossip. This will make you popular and unpopular at the same time. Only that everyone wants to listen because they hope it isn't about them. Make sure the bus you throw people under has all 18 wheels.
- Refuse to take responsibility. Come to work and do the bare minimum. Take all breaks to the minute. Leave at the end of the day. When asked to do anything extra, say "that's not my job!" or “that's not in my job description.”
- Let your license lapse. Refuse to change or don’t keep up with current technologies. Keep it old school.
- Complain. Whine and point out problems continuously.
But what if you’ve lost your professionalism? It’s not too late to change. What do nurses do to get it back? Here are some essentials.
- Be on time and stop being a "clock watcher." This may seem simple but it really works. While I am a believer in work-life balance, I believe you should give something back. So perform your duties to the best of your ability. And yes, you should be paid for the services you are providing at work. However, mentioning this at every opportunity is not ideal.
- Dress for success. Take an extra couple of moments before your shift starts. Check yourself. Does your appearance reflect the best goals of the company and professsionalism in nursing? Your personal standards of excellence?
- Put a circle around your feet. I learned this from a pastor friend years ago. The person inside the circle is the only person you can control. If it doesn't pertain to you, don't repeat it. Admittedly, this is more difficult than the above recommendations. It means don't gossip. Don't talk about it when your co-worker is online on social media. This is not your concern. If you refuse to gossip, it becomes harder for upper management to take rumors about you seriously.
- Play nice on the playground. It’s the simple kindergarten concept where we learned not to kick sand. And to win at tug-of-war, you had to work as an effective team, which means sometimes living up to the challenge before your co-worker is willing. Helping them perhaps and doing something a little extra.
- Put your troubles in a sack. And leave them at the door. Everyone has what kids today call "drama." We used to call it life. So when you arrive at work, leave the sack at the door. Try not to let anyone get on you. Texting and talking about your personal life says “my job isn't important” or “I am not paying attention.” Only pick up the sack on breaks, lunch or after work.
- Say one nice thing. Brighten someone’s day. Ask a patient or a co-worker how they are and then let them lead the conversation. It will relieve tension for all concerned. You may be the only person who listens. However, this should not to be confused with gossip.
- Be ambitious. Make it your mission to keep up with the new technology in your CEU’s. Keep track of your licenses and registrations. Attend additional nursing classes to broaden your knowledge. When you have a free moment, ask if you can help someone else.
- Be a problem solver. Bring at least one solution to the table when you point out a challenge. Problem solvers are noticed in times when tough corporate decisions have to be made. So it isn't only about getting a job, but keeping the job. Be the person they want to keep.
Do you have other tips about professionalism in nursing? Share them with us! Post them in the comments below.
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