Remember Technology Etiquette as You Travel

I recently got a new cell phone and started the arduous task of transferring information from the old to the new.   Even though I know I am getting older and have less patience and tolerance for change, for crying out loud give me a break can it be any more difficult?  I managed to get it all moved and had my phone all set up the way I like and then last night they updated it and now I have to redo many of my settings.
I can only imagine what it is like for those of you traveling.  It has been a while since I traveled from one facility to another for work but I am sure that today’s tech-driven world has got to be frustrating.  Things are changing so fast it seems like every other day there is new technology.  A new way to document, upgrades to the medication-dispensing machines or a new social media platform you are encouraged to “like” or join. How do you stay sane?

Let us look at some ways to deal with the changes and stay safe and sane and patient-focused.  These tips are etiquette based in order to make your patient the number one priority while you navigate new gadgetry.

Remember Your Telephone Etiquette.

Our phones are the major means of communication and we never leave home without it.  Many hospitals now use portable phones carried by nurses throughout the shift. This phone is the main way to communicate with your patients, other nurses, physicians, and family members.  Remember the rules for phone use.

  • Be mindful of your physical location when speaking on the phone with a patient. Patient confidentiality is important, especially if in another patient’s room, in a hallway, etc.
  • Be careful of nonverbal communication. Even on the phone, I use my hands to talk.  If in front of another patient don’t roll your eyes or other derogatory behavior.
  • Be considerate of how much time you are on the phone while in another patient’s room. You may need to excuse yourself to see another patient or resume the conversation after you finish with the current patient.

Scanning the Barcode

Recently I was a patient in the hospital and this was a pet peeve for me.  Now the most hospitals now use some type of barcode/scanning system for patients’ medication and supplies nurses have become sort of robots.  First I think I only saw a nurse about 4 times in the 2 days I was there.  Most of those times they entered the room pushing a big cart (looked like they brought the whole desk in the room). Each time they entered my armband was scanned and then they handed me meds or recorded the vital signs and then they were gone.

Technology is our new tool taking the place of the days when you actually touched the patient to get vital signs.  It should not take the place of touch, presence, and empathy.


Important to Remember:

  • Make eye contact
  • Smile
  • Introduce yourself
  • Explain what you’re going to do

Remember all those things you learned in Nursing 101. Don’t get so rushed you forget the basics.   

When Completing Your Assessment, Don’t Forget the Patient.

When we are forced to stare at a computer screen in order to read the questions for assessment we forget the patient is looking at us.  We then become so engrossed in filling out the information we that we forget to look at the patient. I think we spend more time looking at the computer than looking at the patient.  Do not forget each time you enter the patient’s room:

  • Make eye contact often
  • Really listen to the patient
  • Make sure not to position the computer between you and the patient
  • Use touch to show compassion when appropriate

It is all About the Manners

I think we all have seen the Youtube video of the nurse describing her flu day in the ER.  Because she described patient actions, even though she did not name them, she found herself in hot water. Social media is becoming increasingly popular. How tempting is it to want to take a picture of something funny in the facility and share with someone.  Just do not be tempted to post in sites like Facebook or Instagram or Twitter.  Most big businesses have you sign a letter agreeing to not use social media at work.  As a nurse, we must be aware of the rules for using social media at our workplaces. Using the company computer to update your Facebook status may be prohibited in some workplaces. Never assume instead find out what the rules are in your workplace.

If you do participate in social media at your worksite, remember to be courteous. The rules also apply to email. When communicating through the internet remember since you’re not face-to-face with those you are communicating with, it can be challenging to get your point across. Try these pointers:

  • Do not type in all caps (this is considered yelling)
  • Do not leave the subject field blank
  • Be careful using group emails. Does everyone in the group really need to receive the email?
  • Do not share personal information (especially protected health information)

 Protect Patient Confidentiality.

Patient confidentiality is most important when posting on social media. Always remember the rules before posting something on your workplace’s Facebook page or you’re creating your own YouTube video.  Don’t get so carried away with the fun of social media and forget about patient confidentiality.

A good way to stay current with information about the technology at the different sites is to network with others who use the technology.

Dealing with constant technology changes from one location to another can be challenging. Be sure to remember the basics of etiquette, safety and confidentiality can help in keeping you safe and sane on the job!

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Cheryl Roby, RN

Cheryl J. Roby is a Registered Nurse and retired US Army Reserve Nurse Major. She has more than 30 years of nursing experience and 26 years of military experience in the Army Nurse Corp. During her nursing career, she has traveled as part of her military experience visiting many of the 50 states and to South Korea. She was trained as an Army Medic during the Vietnam era and later as an OR tec. She went on to become a Licensed Practical Nurse and then completed her nursing training as a Registered Nurse. She was then commissioned as an officer in the Army Reserves. She appreciated the challenge of working in various specialties and expanding her clinical and professional skill sets. Her time in the Army Reserves and California National Guard gave her the opportunity to travel to most of the 50 states and work in other medical facilities. During her career, she had the opportunity to work in several specialties to include, OR, Occupational Health, Hospice, Sexual Assault Team, Forensic/ Correctional Nurse, Nurse Case Manager for developmental disabilities, Parish Nursing as well as a Nurse Entrepreneur.

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