Unwritten rules for healthcare jobs
By Gemma Raw
You've read the employee handbook. You're up to speed with your professional practice guidelines. But what about those informal protocols that you're expected to follow? Here's our guide to some of the more common workplace etiquette for healthcare workers that you probably won't find written down.
Whether you're a nurse or an allied health professional, you'll no doubt be familiar with NHS guidelines, professional standards, and your employer's formal policies. But it's also important to be aware of the unwritten rules of the workplace. That's particularly true if you're working in locum healthcare jobs, where you'll need to successfully integrate with a new team of colleagues on a regular basis. Here are a few things to consider...
Respect your colleagues
In a busy hospital, everyone is part of the team and makes a valuable contribution, from senior consultants to admin staff, porters and cleaners. Therefore, you should have time for and give due respect to all your co-workers, not just clinical colleagues such as doctors and nurses.
Respect your patients
As a nurse, physiotherapist or occupational therapist, your professional practice guidelines will help you deliver excellent patient care. However, it's always worth thinking beyond the formal rulebook. Try always to be aware of and respect your patients' feelings. For example, it may be appropriate to ask their permission before you touch them, give them privacy when they are undressing or knock before entering a private room.
Avoid information overload
We've all received them: emails copied to a huge list of recipients, regardless of their interest in the subject matter or its relevance to them. Think before you share. Most people working in healthcare jobs face significant time pressures, so the last thing they need is to have to read through and discard a lot of irrelevant information.
The same principle applies when you're organising a meeting. Don't invite people unless they have something to gain or contribute.
Don't be afraid to ask
As a doctor, nurse or allied health professional, decisions you make and actions you take can have a profound effect on people's lives. That's why, if you're unsure of anything, you should always admit it and ask for advice or confirmation from a colleague. They will respect you for being honest and avoiding the risk of a costly error.
As a courtesy to colleagues, it's a good idea to keep your workspace and communal spaces as neat and tidy as possible. If you're sharing a workstation, don't forget that others have to use it. In kitchen areas, avoid leaving behind unwashed crockery or out-of-date foodstuffs.
Keep your voice down
There's nothing worse than somebody talking loudly when you're trying to concentrate, have a one-to-one discussion with a colleague or patient, or talk on the phone. Be aware of what's going on around you and find somewhere more private to have a conversation if it's likely to disturb someone else in the team.
Unfortunately, most workplaces are breeding grounds for tittle-tattle and healthcare settings are no different. Avoid the temptation to get involved in gossip or spread rumours. In nine cases out of ten, it will backfire on you and lead to negative relations with your co-workers.