Whether we’re RNs, LPNs or CNAs, most of us got into nursing out of a desire to help people. But, like it or not, health care is a business…with both external customers (patients) and internal customers (co-workers). How each of us treats our “customers” has a big impact on our most important outcome: patient health and well-being.
I was reminded of that today, in a small way, when I went to the drug store to pick up a prescription. The pharmacist greeted me and asked how she could help. I told her my name and she brought my prescription to the counter. She asked if I had any questions…the usual drill. Then, instead of ringing up my prescription and sending me on my merry way, she said, “My assistant will be with you shortly.”
Unfortunately, her assistant was swamped with people who were dropping off prescriptions. And, the “drop off” line kept getting longer as I stood at the register. This meant that people who arrived after me were being served first. Meanwhile, the pharmacist stood a mere five feet from the register. I was the only person waiting to pay, so she could have checked me out in less than a minute. In fact, in the time it took her to tell me the assistant would help me, she could have been halfway through the process! Instead, I was forced to wait more than ten minutes for the pharmacy assistant.
OK, I get it. The pharmacist went to school for a lot longer than her assistant. And, I’m sure the pharmacist had plenty of prescriptions to fill. But, she did not demonstrate good customer service to me (the “patient”) or to her co-worker. She was in full-on “it’s not my job” mode!
We’ve probably all been guilty of ignoring the needs of a patient or co-worker with the justification that we had something more important to do or that the task wasn’t in our job description. In my work with CNAs, I’ve heard stories that make me cringe: the nurse who brushed off the patient who asked for fresh water because that was the aide’s job (so the patient waited 30 minutes for water). Or the CNA who ignored her co-worker’s plea for help making an occupied bed…because she didn’t like the co-worker.
We all get busy, caught up with fulfilling the responsibilities of our daily assignment. But who suffers in the above examples? The patient. Each and every time.
There’s no way around it: every interaction between two nursing co-workers has an impact, either positive or negative, on patient care. If you think your staff could use a reminder of this fact, consider purchasing our inservice, Customer Service in Health Care. It focuses on issues like internal and external customers, customer expectations, the price of poor customer service, handling customer complaints…and much more. Like all our CNA inservices, it provides an hour of inservice credit.
And feel free to share your customer service stories–for example, a story of exceptional customer service by one of your CNAs or a cautionary tale of what not to do!