The Unspoken Aspects of Professionalism in Healthcare

How you conduct yourself in your workplace, and how you look, are part of what makes you valuable

We all want to earn the respect of our peers. When you work in a healthcare environment, there are some basic actions you can take that can go a long way to inspire confidence from others. Your attitude and your appearance are two places you can shine, and you’ll find that a little effort in this area will pay off over time.

Whether you do it to impress your boss or put your patients at ease, here are some areas where you’ll want to give some thought to how you conduct and carry yourself:

Every day is an opportunity to learn.
A new job is full of ways to figure out new things, and it’s a good idea to find out what you still have to work on to become a better employee. Look around each morning and ask what duties or tasks you could still find out more about and devote more time to. Being self-aware about areas for improvement is an excellent skill in all aspects of your life, but it will especially help you in work and take you far in your career. (You’d be surprised by how many people lack this ability, or are resistant to it.) The current climate of the healthcare field means that those who succeed are those who insist that they keep growing, are always adapting to new circumstances and technologies, and are able to step out of their comfort zone to learn new processes.

Keep it neat.
When you are dealing with patients day in and day out, how you look says a lot about what kind of person—and what kind of professional—you are. Always remember that when you go to work you represent your entire office, practice, or hospital. Looking clean and having a tidy wardrobe is an essential part of conveying the right message to them. Some basics to brush up on:

  • If you wear scrubs, you want to make sure they are new looking and never wrinkled.
  • Your shoes should not be scuffed.
  • Keep your hair clean and make sure it looks neat well maintained.
  • Fingernails are important because they broadcast how hygienic you and your office are, so keep your nails short and make sure they always looks clean.
  • Keep your breath smelling good by brushing regularly and using breath mints (but not chewing gum at work).
  • Good hand hygiene means washing your hands regularly and using hand sanitizer whenever possible, especially because you are likely to come into contact with so many people over the course of a day—and you don’t want to bring germs from your kids, room mates, or pets into the office.
  • Try to be restrained when it comes to makeup and perfume, and remember that a little goes a long way. (Some patients may even be highly sensitive to smells, and a strong perfume can overwhelm them in closed spaces such as waiting rooms and elevators.)
  • When it comes to jewelry tattoos, err on the side of conservative; your employer may have a policy about how much they do or do not permit you to show.

Avoid any form of gossip.
It’s human nature to express how we feel about other people, or share information we have learned about them, but this is toxic in the workplace. You want to develop relationships with your coworkers based on common interests, but make sure you avoid gossiping about others. This can undermine your position on the staff, and make people feel that you are not to be trusted because you are likely to say negative things behind their back.

Each of these details adds up to a professional manner and appearance that can support you in all that you do at your job. Patients will appreciate it, colleagues will admire you, and your supervisor will appreciate that they can count on you to look the part.

For more about the options available to you at Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health, visit our website and request information about the various programs we offer.

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