This Nurse Turned Author Believes Etiquette is Needed in Every Profession

    Professional etiquette reaches far beyond which fork to use at a formal dinner. It is a necessity for personal and professional success.

    Kathleen Pagana
    Kathleen Pagana

    That is what author Kathleen Pagana, PhD, RN, has learned as a business etiquette expert. What makes her unique as an etiquette coach is that she partners that knowledge with her nursing background to help healthcare and other professionals with these skills.

    Professionals—in health care or not—might have a great understanding of the skills needed to get their job done, but without etiquette it’s harder to move forward in any career.

    “I loved this topic and it resonated with what I believed was needed for professional nurses,” Pagana said. “When I reflected on my long and varied career in nursing, I was amazed at the numerous situations where business etiquette skills would have made me more confident and comfortable. I had been a nursing educator for almost 25 years and had never addressed etiquette as a career-enhancing tool.”

    Pagana is a professor emeritus at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa. She also is president of Pagana Keynotes & Presentations. Pagana is author of more than 85 articles and 28 books.

    After publishing the first edition of her widely acclaimed book on the topic in 2008,  Pagana is now releasing The Nurse’s Etiquette Advantage, Second Edition: How Professional Etiquette Can Advance Your Nursing Career.

    Book coverThis book, published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), provides nurses and health care professionals with practical tips, faux pas, and do’s and don’ts for professional conduct online and in person.

    In  Pagana’s positions as patient care manager, military officer, academic dean, and director on the board of a health care system, professional etiquette has helped her handle a number of business challenges that helped build her successful career.

    “Etiquette is the missing link for success in the work place,” Pagana said.

    So what are her favorite five etiquette tips? Here you go!

    * Never approach someone at a conference and say, “Do you remember me?” Instead, put out your hand, smile and say your name.

    * Wear your name tag on the right side of your chest.  This way it can be easily read when shaking hands.

    * Hold your drink in your left hand at a cocktail party. This keeps your right hand warm and dry and ready to shake hands.

    * Use the BMW method to remember proper table setting positioning. Your bread, meal plate, and water appear in this order from left to right, just as the letters of the BMW automobile.

    * Beware of your gestures when traveling internationally. Several common gestures can be misunderstood or considered rude.

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    Karen Dybis
    Karen is an editor and writer for Corp! Magazine. She graduated from the University of Michigan and has worked at The Mackinac Island Town Crier, The Kalamazoo Gazette, The (Adrian) Daily Telegram and The Oakland Press. Karen was a Detroit News business writer with stints in retail, workplace issues and personal finance. Dybis also was a blogger on Time magazine's "Assignment: Detroit" project. She is author of four Michigan history books, including "Secret Detroit" and "The Witch of Delray."