A recent poll has once again handed nurses nationwide a reason to celebrate this holiday season. For the 15th year in a row, the nursing profession has been ranked as the most trusted in a long list that includes everything from senators to college teachers.
In the recent Gallup poll, 84 percent of Americans polled rated nurses’ honesty and ethical standards as high or very high, besting other professions. By comparison, pharmacists earned the second spot on the list with a 67 percent in the same category and members of Congress came in at the very bottom with 8 percent of respondents ranking them as high or very high in the ethics category.
In general, those in professional health care fields were seen as more honest and ethical than many other professions. Medical doctors earned a 65 percent and dentists earned a 59 percent rating.
Gallup first held this poll in 1999 and nurses have topped the list every year since then except for one. In 2001, firefighters were included on the list in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and they came out at the top of the list.
It’s no surprise to nurses that they are at the top of the rankings. Nurses have always been advocates for their patients and have the patients’ well being and interests as their top priority. In addition to holding a common outlook, nurses in the field are well prepared in school to tackle dilemmas they might never have expected. There are nursing codes of ethics to uphold, confidentiality to protect, and a sense of duty and a responsibility to do what’s right that nurses share.
In nursing school classes in ethics examine tricky situations nurses might encounter in a real scenario. With all that training, even the newest nurses are ready to handle themselves with the highest level of professional conduct.
Congratulations to all you hard-working nurses on this important recognition. Ranking as the top profession for honesty and ethical standards is something to be proud of in the new year!
As the end of the year draws to a close and you start thinking about resolutions and a fresh start, consider a few professional steps to boost your career.
At the top of your list should be your resolve to go to networking events and to make a lasting impression at each one.
You don’t have to be the life of the party and you don’t have to schmooze with each and every person there. Networking is a good way to meet others in your industry while also sharpening your professional communication skills.
If you’re a natural extrovert in social gatherings, networking events shouldn’t be too difficult for you. Introverts might have a harder time, but they can still be successful networkers.
No matter what your own networking personality is, there are a few things to remember that will help you work a room like a pro.
Practice Your Talking Points
You can, and should, practice your networking efforts. Invite some friends over and practice introducing yourself and making small talk that is meaningful. Practice with coworkers at lunch. Stand in front of a mirror and read off prepped cards. Practice until you are comfortable holding a conversation that has real impact with someone you just met.
Investigate the Event
Do a little legwork so you know what you want to accomplish. Do you want to meet a specific person? Do you want to find out about a new trend in nursing? Are you looking for information about certification? Decide what you want to find out and choose at least four people who can help you so you can introduce yourself.
Looking friendly doesn’t mean you have to plaster a smile on your face. But a natural smile helps when you are talking to others. Mingle. Chat with the person next to you. Do not stand against a wall or sit at a table silently. Be genuinely interested in what’s going on around you and people will catch onto that feeling.
Have a Prop
Some people feel especially uncomfortable if they don’t have something in their hands. If you relate to that, by all means grab a plate of food, a glass of water, or even just a small stack of business cards. Just don’t do more than one at the same time or it will get in the way of you being able to shake hands with people or hand out your business cards.
Because you are networking to connect, you will surely leave a networking event with some business cards or at the very least some names and contact information. Follow up with people who can help you, those to whom you can offer your help, or just people you formed a connection with.
Growing your professional network takes work and part of that is just getting out and meeting people at events. Each event brings something different to the table, so figure out how your professional experience and skills can shine in different situations.
And remember, you have just as much to offer as anyone else there, so don’t think of networking as something you do to get something. Figure out ways you can offer to help others, too, and you’ll be much more satisfied and likely to form strong professional relationships.
The next couple of weeks bring on a holiday season filled with meaningful holidays that are especially tough on patients who are hospitalized, in nursing homes, or home bound.
Nurses expect to work some of the holidays that are special for them, and they know how hard that is. But they also know they are taking care of people who are also as saddened by not being home for the holidays and are too sick to have any choice in the decision.
As a nurse working the holidays this year, you have a chance to make a real and lasting impact in the lives of your patients in many ways. Of course, giving excellent medical care is expected, but being aware of the sadness patients might feel is equally important.
Depending on where you are working and the physical condition of your patients, you can extend some holiday cheer to patients and their families.
“Nurses are keenly aware of how missing holiday traditions can impact patients,” says Evelyn Kieltyka, FNP, MS, MSN, and president of the Maine Nurse Practitioner Association.
Patients who have families nearby can help brighten the holidays as well. Spending time with a family member who is hospitalized over the holiday is so important to their recovery, says Kieltyka.
If family is around, encourage them to come in on the holiday if they are at all able. Discuss how many visitors are permitted and how long they can stay. Let families know that even a quick visit can significantly lift a patient’s spirits. “If family are close then of course spending time with a loved one on the holiday is the best outcome,” she says. “Bringing in decorations, food (if permitted), and other touches are great suggestions.”
And nurses can also extend some holiday touches as well. Adding cheer, wearing festive scrubs, or just talking with patients about favorite holiday traditions can help ease the pain of being hospitalized over the holidays.
For patients, the human connection of just having someone else empathize with you and not ignore feelings of missing family keenly is often so soothing. But for nurses, the connection is equally heartening. Knowing you are helping make someone’s holiday brighter is especially gratifying.
You never know what you might learn about your patients, either. You could learn some great recipes from a dedicated cook or variations of traditional holiday songs you’ve never heard. Patients could inspire laughing fits as they tell tales of family holidays gone wrong or tears with singularly perfect holiday memories.
And if the holiday holds religious significance, be sure to ask patients about their preferences. “The nursing staff will also do whatever they can to make the day special for patients,” says Kieltyka. “For instance, if attending a religious service is important, the nursing staff will reach out to the hospital Chaplin to assist.”
And your mood makes all the difference as well. If you are upset working the holiday shift (a pretty natural feeling), your mood can rub off on the people you are caring for. Try your best to spread holiday cheer as much as you can, even if you don’t feel cheerful. You might find the positive reaction you get from those around you is enough to lift your own spirits.
Working a shift during a special holiday is often a fact of life for nurses. People need care every day of the year, and nurses are there to provide it, even if the rest of the country is taking a holiday.
As hard as it is to work on a holiday, it’s also something nurses adapt to, says Evelyn Kieltyka, FNP, MS, MSN, and president of the Maine Nurse Practitioner Association. “Nurses are very resilient when it comes to finding ways to celebrate the holidays on a day other than the holiday itself,” she says.
Nurses find they can still celebrate, but that the plans might have to be more flexible. “If [the nurse] has a family, the family may spend the day with family or friends,” she says. “The nurse and his or her family will then find a special time to have family time.”
Many families plan bigger gatherings near the holiday, but not actually on the holiday. For instance, your extended family could plan to gather the weekend before or after a holiday so you can attend. “I recall one nurse who always worked the night shift,” says Kieltyka. “The family would always celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. Then the nurse would go off to work the night shift.”
And as nurses gain seniority, they might have more flexibility when it comes to working a holiday shift if they really don’t want to. “There is, in general, a tradition (and maybe policy) to give preference to seniority,” says Kieltyka. “But it’s also the culture of fairness, in other words, the staff will look at the holiday season as a group and attempt to give nurses a preference.”
Depending on the holiday and a nurse’s personal traditions, dividing up the holidays can be easier for nurses, but it won’t suit your preferences all the time. It helps if you decide what holidays are especially meaningful to you, with the understanding that you’ll probably still work that holiday many times.
“For instance, Thanksgiving may be an important holiday for one nurse but less important for another so staff take into consideration how important one holiday or another is to each individual,” says Kieltyka.
Younger nurses know that the nurses who have come before them have also walked the same path of trying to figure out how to be away from family and friends during the holidays without losing any of the holiday spirit. Sometimes, you will miss an important celebration because of work. But nurses know that going into the profession. And you also know you are not alone. You are part of an essential swath of nurses working on the same holiday and you share a bond of selflessness and determination that makes the profession so respected.
You’ll be working with a team who is in the same situation and caring for patients who can really use your holiday cheer. Being able to provide that is often so uplifting that it makes your holiday memorable even if you are not with your own family and friends.
The holiday season brings lots of chances to get together with coworkers in both casual and more business-geared settings. The holiday work party is sometimes a confusing mix of both, and it’s worth giving some thought to the best way to approach it.
Holiday parties can seem like a time when you can let go a little and have fun with your coworkers, especially if some are friends you see outside of work hours. But your coworkers aren’t the only people celebrating at the holiday party – your supervisors (and often managers above them) are frequently there as well.
So while you should relax, mingle, and have fun there are a couple of things to keep in check.
1. Don’t Overindulge
It has been said many times, but can be said again—the holiday party is not the time to have too many drinks. Not only can you say or do something embarrassing, but you are doing that in front of people who might consider you for a promotion. If you come unhinged at the holiday party, they might remember that and question your overall judgment.
2. Show Your Best Self
Just as you don’t want to be remembered for the spectacle you made after having a few too many, you also don’t want to shock people with inappropriate comments, political opinions, or gossipy stories. If your coworkers turn to you for the latest dirty joke when you all go out to dinner, keep it there and not at the holiday party.
3. Do Mingle
Make sure you do catch up with people, but it doesn’t have to be all about work. Now isn’t the time to hit someone up for a job offer or to regal them with facts and figures from your latest reports. Don’t spend the night talking shop, but do spend the night making a genuine effort. If you know a colleague helped a patient figure out how to cope with a demanding medication schedule successfully, by all means pass a compliment on to them. And don’t neglect to greet your boss.
4. Don’t Skip the Party
Even if you really dread holiday parties, you don’t get a free pass to skip. Part of building relationships and being a team player means having to attend at least for a while. Don’t make it obvious that you want to leave (for instance, make sure you at least take your coat off!), but stay just long enough to chat with a few people, eat some of the food, and have people know you were there. Then you can make a graceful exit.
5. Plan Ahead
If office parties are especially tough for you, spend an hour the night before planning who you would be comfortable chatting with (but you can’t just pair up with your favorite buddy). Also memorize a few questions to break the ice and keep conversations from stalling. People love to talk about themselves, so you can ask what they have planned for the holidays or what they like to do in January. Keep the topics neutral and broad.
Office parties can be a trial, but they can also present great opportunities for you to reinforce your professionalism and get to know the people in your work setting. Take advantage of the opportunity and enjoy this unique part of the holiday season.