Setting the Example

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Setting the Example

Are you modeling good behavior for students and beginning nurses?

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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A recent study conducted in England suggests that experienced healthcare providers are not setting a good example for student nurses when it comes to infection prevention and control. While the study isn’t from the U.S. and involved only a select group of about 450 student nurses, the results may apply here as well.

The study reported that students frequently witnessed lapses in infection prevention and control while doing their clinical rotations. Most of the offenses involved hand-washing, with more than 75 percent of the students reporting that healthcare workers did not wash their hands between patients.

Chipped Polish Is a No-No

Students also observed multiple examples of practitioners wearing nail extensions and nail polish while providing direct patient care. The Centers for Disease Control recommends keeping nails short, clean and unpolished; chip-ped nail polish is a particular no-no.

Other reported lapses included poor handling of sharps, poor technique in the insertion of medical devices, failure to change protective clothing between patients, failure to comply with isolation procedures and inadequate sanitation of patients’ environment.

It will come as no surprise that doctors were particularly guilty of the above lapses, but all members of the healthcare team were criticized for face-touching, nail-biting and scratching during patient care.

You can read the complete study in the September issue of The American Journal of Infection Control (Vol. 41, No. 9, pp. 760–763),  a publication of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. The full text is also available online at   

Photo above: A candy-corn manicure is cute for a costume, not for work

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