How friendly are nurses? I would generally say nurses are very friendly however we frequently see articles in nursing journals of bullying in the workplace.
I pondered this while attending the Global Speakers Summit in Auckland recently. I was over-whelmed by the friendliness of the speakers there, many of whom are very well known internationally. It was a level of friendliness I haven’t observed at the many nursing conferences I’ve attended and certainly gives an opportunity to reflect and see how this can be improved.
I asked a nursing colleague about this and asked her for her opinion. Her response was ‘that’s why speakers are successful and nurses struggle. The lack of genuine connection and sharing.’ She went on to say ‘nurses have been eating their young for years‘. She added that nurses would do well to build each other up and celebrate success not labour struggles.
At the Speakers Summit, I don’t recall a single time when a person walked in my direction without a smile and stopping to exchange pleasantries. Some of these people I knew or had met previously but many were first time encounters. Their responses went beyond pleasantries and extended to engage in a conversation that created connection and sharing and a sense of belonging. A pleasant change and one I hope we can do more to foster in nursing. Surely our patients and their families would benefit hugely if we can all be a little more compassionate and patient, and show genuine interest in each other.
A colleague offered the following explanation as to why nurses rush and lack apparent friendliness at times. ‘Nurses jobs have become about the task and the paperwork , with fewer nurses looking after more patients. And whilst there are still some who manage to make time to connect with those in their care, there are many more who are on a treadmill running from task to task. Many of these nurses are then given students to look after and they do their best to make it a great experience in difficult circumstances. That rushing and being task focused doesn’t do the best job of mentoring and teaching and doesn’t support the best possible care which otherwise might be achieved. Perhaps if the health care system had more nurses and less management you would see a lot more friendly nurses.’
How do we as a collective ponder and plan for change to improve not only the outcomes of what we’re trying to achieve as nurses, but provide a much more enjoyable workplace for all those in it? Remembering that in residential care, the workplace of nurses and care-giving staff is also the home of residents needing support.