Professionalism 101

  1. 7
    Professionalism 101
    ( I am omitting my real name)

    Is professionalism an inherent trait, or is it something that should be taught in school? Does professionalism entail courtesy?

    Professionalism is defined as " the competence or skill of a professional: the key to quality and efficiency is professionalism." (The New Oxford American Dictionary.) Based on this definition, courtesy is not included in this definition.However, courtesy goes a long way to improve professionalism. One can have the skills to perform a task, but lack common courtesy, and therefore appear unprofessional.

    No matter what industry one decides to pursue a career in, there are many things that can transcend industry barriers to promote professionalism. Whether you work in Finance, Healthcare, Restaurant, Retail, or any other industry, there are several steps you can take to ensure that you appear professional.

    1. DO NOT badmouth your co-workers. Whether
    done publicly or privately to other co-workers, bad-mouthing fellow co-workers is not a good idea. It should not be done within earshot of other employees, and it especially should not not be done within earshot of clients/customers/ patients, etc. It is never appropriate to belittle someone's education level or skill level. This is even more important to not bash the new employee who is doing all they canto learn the ropes of their new position. Badmouthing your co-workers sends a negative message. It does not foster teamwork. And it can be intimidating. It is also not appropriate to bad-mouth your manager. If you have an issue with a coworker, take them aside and discuss it privately.

    2. DO NOT HIDE. Literally.
    Do not hide in an exam room/kitchen/supply closet, etc to give the appearance that you are busy and inaccessible, while your co-workers are picking up the slack.

    3. DO NOT undermine your co-workers.
    Everyone has something to bring to the table. Also, see rule number 1, above, as that is also a form of undermining.

    4. DO watch your body language and tone of voice.
    Recently, I have had the unpleasant experience of dealing with co-workers that spoke to me like a defiant teenager. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of dealing with teenagers of your own,I encourage you to remember how you treated your parents when you were one. The tone of voice, the eye rolls, the hands on the hips,the walking away while being spoken to... this behavior also does not send a positive professional image. Conflict is not my strong suit,so this was especially difficult, because, personally, I wanted to throttle this person(s), however, I also had to maintain a professional image, so there was little I could do.

    5. DO have the ability to accept direction, suggestions, and constructive criticism.
    Sometimes,there are more than one way to do things. Sometimes, there are not.But instead of saying," This is the way we've always done things, " be open to discussion.

    6. DO follow proper dress code and maintain proper personal hygiene. Do not
    appear disheveled or frumpy.

    7. DO NOT make inappropriate jokes about clients/patients/customers
    (gallows humor) or about co-workers (blatant disrespect, intimidation).

    8. DO NOT have inappropriate conversations
    such as sex, bodily functions, partying, "hooking-up," etc at work. Work is not the place for these types of discussions.
    I have worked in healthcare for a long time. It seems like some of these behaviors are running rampant. Are there any other industries where these types of behaviors are acceptable? What are your thoughts?
    Last edit by TheCommuter on Sep 15, '13 : Reason: formatting, paragraphs
    tokmom, Altra, SoldierNurse22, and 4 others like this.

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  2. Poll: Is professionalism going the way of the dinosaur?

  3. 14 Comments...

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    I apologize, I had this in a word format, but when I copied and pasted, it seems to have omitted some of my spaces, and made my words look jumbled together. So now, unfortunately, I also now appear unprofessional.
    iheartcats, NutmeggeRN, adjappleton, and 9 others like this.
  5. 2
    Quote from stiffler99
    I apologize, I had this in a word format, but when I copied and pasted, it seems to have omitted some of my spaces, and made my words look jumbled together. So now, unfortunately, I also now appear unprofessional.
    Glad you said something because I was itching too. That's the smart ass in me and I will be the first to admit I talk poorly of some of my coworkers and management. Of course it's the lazy, incompetent, disgusting, and ineffectual ones only.
    NutmeggeRN and SoldierNurse22 like this.
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    Quote from stiffler99
    I apologize, I had this in a word format, but when I copied and pasted, it seems to have omitted some of my spaces, and made my words look jumbled together. So now, unfortunately, I also now appear unprofessional.

    I noticed that. You should have seen me rolling my eyes, sighing and badmouthing you to my cat!

    Meriwhen, silverbat, mrsmamabear2002, and 1 other like this.
  7. 5
    Gallow's humor is an awesome coping technique. And if you were my coworker and thought otherwise, I'd make jokes about you not liking it.
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    This isn't really how "professionalism" has been defined to me. IMO, nursing is a very special profession. To put it bluntly, if you're going to be a nurse, most of the time what that means is that you're signing up to see some real sh*t. Death, decay, grievous wounds, vast amounts of pain, every form of human injury imaginable, stories that'll break your heart. And that's what you do every day. Being able to bond with your fellow nurses and coworkers makes that more bearable. While I would never talk about my personal life within earshot of patients/family members, I don't think there's anything wrong with talking about it in the break room. That doesn't make you unprofessional -- it makes you human, and if you're lucky enough to have bonded with your coworkers, it strengthens that.

    Most of what you said, though, I agree with. Bad attitudes and a lack of basic respect for your fellow human beings is very unprofessional. I know exactly what you mean when you talk about people who are constantly trash-talking other coworkers, sighing and complaining and generally acting like whiny little spoiled brats when they SHOULD have grown out of that crap a long time ago and learned how to pull their own weight.
  9. 3
    As I read this, I saw red flags going up. Perhaps you are surrounded by juveniles who should be working at McDonalds. I am worried that you are just above them all. If this is the vibe you are giving off- that somehow the folks around you are just not measuring up then that sets up a cycle of behavior- on their part and yours.

    If I feel you might criticize me and my way of doing things, I won't volunteer to help because I might get criticized for x, y, or z (all those decisions that are in the nursing gray zone- acceptable one way or the other but different based on your logic). I might hide from you if I need to get my work done and you are harping on me that we cannot ever pass a call light (and it is that lady that is confused and puts on her call light 100 times an hour and it is not even your patient).

    Disheveled or frumpy? That is my everyday look- I roll out of bed at o dark thirty and throw on clean but not ironed scrubs put my hair into a pony tail and maybe a dash of make up.

    Like I said- I may be reading this all wrong but I work at a job I LOVE. I am one of those make-lemons-from-lemonade and happy people. I am well liked- WHY? Because I make that as much of my work as any other part. I help everyone out- I don't sit until everyone else is sitting. I look at the best in everyone and assume that someone who is grumpy is having a bad day and needs support (which I give). I don't correct people- like almost NEVER (unless the rare pt safety thing). BUT- I work with others who hate their job- act like every day is torture. How management and other people are terrible and unsupportive and all the things that you mentioned in your post.

    You find what you look for. You are looking for some ideal perfection and you are working with imperfect people. We are not Florence Nightengale. My whites aren't white and starched and my hat is crooked. Am I professional? You bet your stethoscope I am. People want to work with me- you need to do what it takes to make your coworkers (and patients) look forward to your arrival at work.
    yoga pants, jojo111, and vamedic4 like this.
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    My sense of humor leans toward the dark and the sarcastic as well. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't make these kinds of comments/jokes with like-minded co-workers.

    And, let's be honest, many of our colleagues who get the vapors when the humor gets a little too blue indulge in the vices of martyrdom and/or passive aggressiveness. They're just exchanging one form of snide for another.

    The key here is knowing how to read people, and knowing who will appreciate your gallows humor..... and who won't. Have the common sense to know what to say to who, and who to say nothing to.

    I've posted this little verse a couple times elsewhere, but I'll post it again here 'cause I love it so much:
    If wisdom's ways you wisely seek
    Five things observe with care:
    To whom you speak
    Of whom you speak
    And how and when and where.


  11. 5
    Quote from BrandonLPN
    I've posted this little verse a couple times elsewhere, but I'll post it again here 'cause I love it so much:
    If wisdom's ways you wisely seek
    Five things observe with care:
    To whom you speak
    Of whom you speak
    And how and when and where.
    I love this, first saw it in one of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books. It was her mother's advice to her.
  12. 1
    Quote from Do-over
    I love this, first saw it in one of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books. It was her mother's advice to her.
    I heard my grandma say a variation of it a few times, but the place I read it first was in a Laura Ingalls Wilder book, too. Laura's Ma writes it in her yearbook after Laura gets into a hot mess after repeating something she ought not have about her teacher in front of the wrong people.

    It always stuck with me as excellent advice about being aware of what you're saying and who's listening.
    Hygiene Queen likes this.


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