Phrases to avoid

quote_PhrasestoAvoidIt’s really easy for nurses to devalue the work of nursing in the eyes of non-nurses without even realising it.

Using words like “basic” or terms like “I just…sat and listened” to describe the work of nursing sends a message that nursing is not a particularly skilled activity and requires little expertise.

This can also be heard in the language we use to describe the work of specialists. Using terms like “advice and support” might help patients understand the role but to others re-enforces the idea of being a “nice extra”. What language do you use to describe your work? Do you use phrases that devalue you what you do? Saying things like “basic care”, “nursing is just common sense”, “I do the job of a junior doctor” are all ways to devalue your expertise.

Do you tell people: “oh, it was nothing” when offered a compliment? Make sure this extends to the written word – it’s really easy to dumb down what you do just by using an auto signature on an email. Compare these two signatures – which one gives a more professional impression? Who should I listen to and invite to the table when making decisions?

Jane Smith
CNS to Dr Jones
Jane Smith RGN
CNS Chocolate Addiction Service
St Elsewhere’s Hospital
Telephone 01234 567890


We will be doing more on this in the future but in the meantime you can read more about this in books like “From Silence to Voice” by Bernice Buresh & Suzanne Gordon, or check out Suzanne Gordon’s website which includes the fantastic “Just a nurse” resource.

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