I haven't been doing this for very long, and I have a question, which I spelled out in my own journal at length, but briefly: is it bad manners to fail to shake hands with patients and/or their family members, when they arrive? Generally, I dislike shaking hands with anyone. I smile, I talk, I have welcoming and pleased-to-meet-you! body language, I'm very attentive to their needs and reassuring, I take them seriously, sympathise, and don't make any promises I can't keep while at the same time trying to provide comfort and security. I go and get things they need, and make sure that everything in their room is working and they know how to use it. I give them a brief sense of what to expect for the next few hours, and describe the hospital and routines very briefly, encouraging them to ask now or later if they have any questions or needs. I'm respectful. I'm friendly in a professional kind of way. I just don't shake hands.
What do you think? In the US - New England - is this going to make people feel put down, isolated, or disrespected? I can shake hands if it's necessary to complete the welcoming process. On the other hand, these folks are *sick*. THey are not well people at all. They are shaken up by recent ambulance transfer, and probably feeling awful and not sure they want to be there. In that situation, /I/ wouldn't want to shake hands, but I don't know that I'm the norm. I see other people shaking hands - the nurse manager, etc..
What do you think?
EDIT: I should say, I don't shake hands unless the other person initiates it. Then I always do, immediately.