What Nurse Practitioners Can Learn from Hollywood

I attended a business conference with my husband earlier this year. He was part of the team responsible for organizing the event for Nashville entrepreneurs. Wanting to witness his hard work firsthand, I attended even though I didn't expect the content of the event to apply to my own professional life as a nurse practitioner. 

I recall one particular session at the conference vividly. The animated speaker declared "the Golden Rule is crap!". My spine instantly straightened, my eyes darting around the room to observe the audience's reaction. The statement was bound to be a controversial declaration in the middle of the Bible belt. But, as the speaker went on to argue his position, I came to align with his point of view. 

As nurse practitioners we find ourselves squarely in the customer service business. Our patients are clients of the hospitals and clinics where we work. A lackluster experience in our facility may motivate our patients to seek care elsewhere. Providing a quality customer service experience in your nurse practitioner role is the best way to set yourself and your employer apart. But, how do you go above and beyond in delivering customer care?

As a nurse practitioner you are a leader responsible for dictating the customer service tone in your workplace. And, "do unto others as you would have them do to you" isn't always the best message to give to your team. Even as healthcare providers we all come from different backgrounds. Being educated in medicine, we as NPs might prefer our own personal medical visits to be to the point, sparing the basics. Chances are that your patients don't share the sentiment. In a similar way, if you are a young nurse practitioner, the language and tone of voice you use may differ from that preferred by older adults, for example. These things may seem trivial, but together small details add up to create the patient experience as a whole. 

The Golden Rule proves extremely valuable and holds true at a moral level, however when it comes to customer service in healthcare, more specific intentionality is in order. To start, nurse practitioners can take a lesson from Hollywood. Here's how.

Implement Scripts in Your Practice

If you own your own clinic, get your team on board with using scripts. While many argue that scripts lead to staff sounding like rote telemarketers, getting everyone on board with the message delivered in your practice is a must. Scripts help you as a nurse practitioner as well as your staff sound more professional. When nurses respond to patient calls by answering with professional words and tone as well as follow patient interactions up with "Is there anything else I can help with?", your practice immediately stands out above the rest. 

If your employer doesn't offer systems and processes to guide interactions with patients, create your own scripts for your work as a nurse practitioner. This will make your job easier as you will have developed a tried and true method for encouraging patients to follow-up, delivering bad news, explaining procedures etc. Implementing scripts into your practice gives you as a nurse practitioner confidence and control. Scripts ensure you ask all the right questions up front rather than realizing you are missing key pieces of information as you sit down at your computer to chart

Take a lesson from Hollywood when it comes to customer service in your practice. Scripts guiding patient interactions at every level will help you excel. Don't worry - you can still deliver them with a touch of your own style and flare. 

Master Your Performance

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence didn't instantly fall into their on screen chemistry and in-sync dance moves in Silver Linings Playbook. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams definitely rehearsed a time or two to master their teary, emotional performance in The Notebook. Delivering a script and playing a role convincingly takes practice. 

In a way, as a nurse practitioner you're a performer. Each day you show up on the job and, regardless of whatever may be going on in your personal life, put on an approachable and professional expression to deliver the best possible patient care. You deliver good news and bad news. You walk patients through difficult physical or emotional times. Having these discussions isn't easy. So, practice. Without a trial run or two, sex talks with teens will remain insufferably awkward and you will stumble through letting patients know they have a life-threatening illness. Master the content and delivery of your script by giving it a trial run...or ten.

Implementing scripts into your daily life as a nurse practitioner and honing your delivery may not win you an Oscar but it will take your practice and professionalism to star status.