Why are so many nurses complaining about introducing a customer service component into our nursing care?! When I am a patient, I am also a customer, as I am paying for my stay. And it is true, if a patient is satisfied with their care, they will often refer others to our hospitals.
True-nurses run themselves ragged performing patient care duties, charting, etc. But it really does not add any significant amount of time smiling at people in the hallway, asking people if they need directions somewhere, responding to call lights in a timely manner. The healthcare system I was employed with provides a full day of training for employees re: customer service. The hospital I currently work at also expects a customer service attitude to be displayed at work. It really is an eye-opener seeing the little things you can say or do to make a difference! On the way back from lunch, ask someone who looks lost if they need assistance! Answer a coworkers call-light if it's been going off with nobody in sight. Answer the phone with a smile-and follow through on what is needed rather than just put someone on terminal hold or transfer the call immediately elsewhere. Having a positive attitude, as well as seeing a positive attitude in your coworkers, makes it alot more pleasant to go to work each day! Try it!
It does not mean the patient knows "it all"-but they do have a right to take the information you give them and make decisions with you, understanding why you are providing certain care/procedures! They have a right to have a say (to a certain degree, of course) re: a daily schedule. We all learned in nursing school
that giving the patient choices in certain aspects of their care aids in healing, increases compliance in care, and increases patient satisfaction. Nursing and customer service really are not exclusive to one another! It doesn't mean you must cater to every whim of every person you come in contact with-but you can easily, and politely say "Oh, I'm sorry, we are only able to supply diapers for patients, but there is a drug store right down the road which should have everything you need." or "I'm afraid I'm unable to get you (a visitor) a cup of coffee, because I am here to take care of my patients, but I can show you where the coffeepot is, or give you directions to our cafeteria."
So-what is all the fuss about becoming more customer service oriented? It does not diminish our roles as nurses, but instead makes us better members of an increasingly rude society!