Top 10 Most Awful Nursing Habits

I’ve said it before … I love being a nurse … but, sometimes, nurses’ actions are so hypocritical and shameful. Ouch! 

Although our managers are not supervising us every minute of every shift, patients are.   Consumer driven healthcare is powerful.  Companies such as Press Ganey evaluate performance improvement based on patient surveys. I believe that consumer driven healthcare would be ideal if patients were educated about medical issues. But the reality is that our patients’ knowledge of healthcare is based largely on what they see.  Social perceptions and stereotypes of nurses start with one bad experience.

When patients act like traditional consumers, they can be dangerous to healthcare outcomes because skills and qualifications are too often overlooked, and “quality” is in the eyes of  poeple who lack clinical knowledge.  Three years ago, for example, I interviewed for a job with a very busy pediatrics office affiliated with a major Philadelphia hospital.  The interview lasted an hour and 15 minutes.  Although they had my resume, I was never asked about my clinical experience or pediatric certifications.  Instead, 75 minutes were spent discussing customer service, proficiency rates, and the need to keep revenue high.  I felt like I was going to be trained to be their robot in a mass production factory.

I got the job. I refused the offer.

This is not my attempt at whistle blowing. But I get frustrated when I see my colleagues – my very skilled colleagues - acting poorly and ultimately undermining perceptions of nurses and trust in them.  And, in some cases patient safety is affected.

See what you think of my Top 10 Most Awful Nursing Habits …

  1. Smoking breaks directly outside the oncology unit.
  2. Rolling their eyes at a new patient on their unit, just because it’s shift change.
  3. Wearing multiple charm bracelets – the dangling kind – in patient care.
  4. Talking directly in front of a patient, about the patient, as if he or she was not present.
  5. Not washing their hands!
  6. Refusing to take a nursing student for the day.
  7. Indulging in sweets and coffee just to survive a 12 to 16 hour shift.
  8. Text messaging in patient care areas!
  9. Non-compliance with wearing gloves.
  10. Coming to work sick! (I am 100% guilty of this.)

What other behaviors should nurses think about twice before doing?  With patient satisfaction surveys fueling many decisions, are nurses asking to be targeted?