Why I hate being called "Nurse"

My day always started my day with the same routine – walking into my bay, turning on the lights and introducing myself – “Good Morning Everyone. My name is Matt and I’m your Nurse for today“. This would then be followed by helping everyone out of bed for breakfast whilst having a bit of a natter.

I admit, hate is a strong word - I’d just rather be called by my name!

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It was my favourite part of the day. I love my job, I love nursing and I especially love speaking to my patients! People who know me will vouch for the fact that I love to talk! 

In recent years it has been argued that using first names in healthcare could be seen as a sign of disrespect and staff should be addressed by their titles; Doctor, Nurse, Sister etc. I strongly disagree with this.

My name is Matt not Nurse, Staff or any derivative of the two. I, in fact, take it as a massive compliment that someone learns and remembers my name; staff, patients, relatives or whoever.

The importance of using first names and introducing yourself to patients has been backed up by the #HelloMyNameIs campaign started by Dr Kate Granger, a Doctor who has experienced the NHS first hand after being diagnosed with cancer. Kate explains that the people looking after her didn’t introduce themselves before providing care.

This felt very wrong so encouraged and supported by my husband we decided to start a campaign to encourage and remind healthcare staff about the importance of introductions in the delivery of care. I firmly believe it is not just about knowing someone’s name, but it runs much deeper. It is about making a human connection, beginning a therapeutic relationship and building trust. In my mind it is the first rung on the ladder to providing compassionate care.

It appears to not only the case for nurse to patient relationships but also for all interprofessional communication.The Patient Safety and Quality Council (2013) of New Zealand have demonstrated that being on a first name basis with your team improves productivity, team cohesion and remove barriers to effective care (2) (3).

I feel that being able to use first names encourages approachability and breaks down the barriers to escalating concerns and seeking advice – “Hi Matt, will you take a look at this patient for me” etc.

Reducing barriers to effective communication and escalation was something highlighted in the Mid-Staffs Enquiry and then the Francis Report and should be of paramount importance to all trusts at the moment.

Even as my career further develops, I’ll always be just Matt, no matter what.

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