Home » Library » Enjoy » Off the Beaten Path

The Nurse Trap: Operant Conditioning for Hospital Staff

Clicker trainer Jean Silva writes:

I am a hospital volunteer. One day I arrived and was told immediately that the patient in 4B was giving candy to anyone who came into her room. Well, you can imagine the rapid response she got when her bell rang. Indeed, staff and volunteers began to offer behavior by sticking our heads in just to see if she needed anything. Since that day, I have called it a "nurse trap."

Now, whenever a friend enters the hospital, I provide a three-pound box of chocolate, with instructions on operating a nurse trap. Just offer candy the minute they come in the door. Insist that they take a piece for later, if they don't want one now.

Most people are surprised at how well it works (I know other clicker trainers will just smile). One friend told me that her doctor visited her no less than three times a day—as long as the chocolate held out!

Yummy trap!

I think that any job where folks work as hard as nurses for as little recognition, with as grumpy a target deserve a little chocolate.

I'll bet that, like any OC recipie, this one also trains the trainer - it's hard to complain wildly and dramatically after one has just offered someone a chocolate. Yes?

It does work

When I was in the hospital I gave out chocolates to the same success. When I ran out of candy, I gave out Beanie Babies which I collect. Seems pricey but think about how much that hospital visit cost and how valuable the extra attention meant to my care. I didn't draw the connection to clicker training but not I do.

Now I am very suspect of the endodontist who leaves out a bowl of candy??



Post new comment

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <embed> <object> <div>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Glossary terms will be automatically marked with links to their descriptions. If there are certain phrases or sections of text that should be excluded from glossary marking and linking, use the special markup, [no-glossary] ... [/no-glossary]. Additionally, these HTML elements will not be scanned: a, abbr, acronym, code, pre.
  • Each email address will be obfuscated in a human readable fashion or (if JavaScript is enabled) replaced with a spamproof clickable link.

More information about formatting options

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.