Makeup tips, etiquette — hospitals give nurses a makeover (Feature, May 12 is International Nurses Day)

May 11th, 2012 - 1:46 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 11 (IANS) She looked at herself in the mirror. Hair neatly tied, kohl-lined eyes and some lipgloss to complete the look. Satisfied, she sprayed on some mild deodorant. Her trainer, who also happened to have groomed a number of beauty queens, smiled in approval.

If you thought Mini Thomas, the girl in front of the mirror, was an aspiring model, an air hostess or even a beauty queen, you couldn’t be more incorrect. She is a nurse in one of India’s leading hospitals and this was part of her induction programme.

Like in hotels, hospitals are conducting grooming lessons and personality development classes for their nursing staff. Looking presentable and behaving courteously, along with good services, has never before attained such heights in the hospital sector in India.

“Patients who visit a hospital obviously don’t come in the best of their moods. On top of that, if a nurse is not smartly turned out or doesn’t have her manners right, he will be even more put off. When they pay for good services, one mismatch can bring the whole experience down,” Col. Binu Sharma, vice president, nursing services, Columbia Asia Hospitals, told IANS.

Columbia Asia, which has six hospitals across the country, with 1,300 nurses, has classroom presentations and practical sessions on grooming for its nursing staff.

“The classroom presentation brings to focus about the importance of personal hygiene; so your uniform must be clean and ironed, your shoes polished, you have to be careful about mouth or body odour, your skin must be moisturised and hair neatly tied,” Sharma elaborated.

They have roped in image enhancer and consultant for models and beauty queens, Rita Gangwani, to give valuable tips to nurses.

“Most of our nurses come from simple, humble backgrounds, and have no idea about make-up or things like waxing, threading. The trainer therefore teaches them all that, and even advises them on which brands to use,” she said.

Although male nurses comprise just 20 percent of the staff, they are also taught the basics of grooming, like shaving regularly and keeping their moustache short.

But it’s not just cosmetic makeovers. Like in Columbia Asia, the Apollo group also takes grooming lessons for their nursing staff.

“Soft skill training for the nursing staff is an important part of our induction programme. And it goes beyond greet, smile, say thank you. We also teach our nurses how to be polite, yet firm with patients; how to handle difficult patients and service enquiry and so on,” Usha Banerjee, group director - nursing, Apollo Hospitals group, told IANS.

Sharma said: “We have a one-day module on how to handle different customers, telephone etiquette, manners; and have a refresher programme after six months.”

The art of communication, Banerjee stressed, is something that is of utmost importance in the health and hospital industry.

“The nursing schools that most nurses attend don’t prepare them in these soft skills. We once tied up with Pria Warrick, who is a former beauty queen and has a finishing school, to train our nurses. It helped,” she said.

Apollo also did away with the traditional white uniform of nurses - which children associate with fear, Banerjee said - and now have them in soft pink. They also did away with the nurse caps.

Similarly the Max group has an elaborate one-month induction programme for its nursing staff.

“Our focus is more on on-the-job learning. Until 2009, we were more into theoretical learning of what to do and what not, but now that’s changed. After a seven-day classroom session on soft skills, the nurse learns the rest practically,” Col. Saravjeet Kaur, director, nursing, Max group of hospitals, told IANS.

“For instance, it’s not enough to say that smile to all patients. If a person is in the last stage of cancer, it will be stupid if she keeps smiling. On the other hand, if she doesn’t smile at a child who is just admitted, that also generates a negative vibe. It’s all situational.”

Max also has a list of do’s and don’ts for its nursing staff. For instance, women are told not to wear heavy make-up, loud perfume, chunky jewellery and so on.

“Ultimately, I tell my nurses to behave with the patients as they would expect their family members, or themselves, to be treated. That takes care of everything,” Kaur said.

(Azera Parveen Rahman can be contacted at

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