1. Knocking on every door while entering. Notice I said “while” entering, not “before” entering. It’s not so much a “can I come in?” knock, and more like a “Hey, I’m swinging this door open in half a second” knock.
2. Taking everything people say with a grain of salt. Nurses have to be street smart because patients are street smart. One habit of experience is not believing everything you hear – or read.
3. Putting hand sanitizer on without realizing it. Do you just walk by the wall-dispensers and get a splash of sanitizer without thinking about it? Do you sit down and automatically reach over and press the bottle on your desk? Are your hands cracked, dry, and smell like Purell? You’ve developed the habit.
4. Patting down our pockets before we leave the unit. I’m always surprised at the kind of stuff that collects in my deep, bottomless-pit scrub pockets at the end of the day. A lot of it should not be carried home. Self pat-downs are a must, and I never leave the unit without one.
5. Hoarding. Have you ever found yourself getting excited when you go to the supply room and see a brand new box, full of supplies? And you have the urge to just grab an armful and hide it? That’s a learned behavior.
6. Keeping tabs on the physicians. Some nurses are “Doc-Detectors.” They know when the doctors usually show up, how long they stay, and are just plain watchful for them. I wonder if the doctors know…they’re being watched.
7. Answering phones by stating our name and unit. This is a tough habit. Ever float to another unit, and no matter what you do, answer with your home unit? Ever have to stop yourself from saying where you work when you answer your own phone? It happens.
8. Reading Labels. On everything. Well this is just a smart thing to do. It’s just that reading labels as a nurse is essential if you don’t want to make a huge mistake and lose your license.
9. Smiling in the face of negativity. We have a lot of negative things said to us. We see a lot of negative things happen. We see things that make people cry, and make us want to cry. But we smile on. That’s a nursing habit to brag about.
Kevin is the owner of Kevin’s Review, a site for students preparing for the NCLEX.