On the way home from work you stop at the grocery store. An acquaintance who knows you're a RN approaches you and pulls up her sleeve. She points to a mole on her arm.

“Do you think it's cancerous?” she asks.

What do you say? Before you answer, consider the following:

Ask yourself how do you feel about your acquaintance asking you this question? Complimented because she respects you enough to ask your professional opinion? Annoyed that you are trying to buy supper and she is delaying your trip home? Either, you are a nurse and helping people is what you do so giving advice outside of your work setting is OK with you?

Whatever your reaction, remember to respect yourself enough to realize that this “friend” is taking advantage of you and putting you in an awkward position. First, she is asking you a question after your work day should be over. Secondly, she is asking you to do more than just a nursing assessment. She is asking you to medically diagnose.

Whatever your initial reaction, what you say next is cranial. If you say, “Yes, it might be.” Be sure to advise her to see her primary health care provider for a biopsy. “If you say,” No “and it turns out to be cancerous, more than your reputation could be in danger. in a place where you never want to be. In court! Either way you could have put your license in jeopardy.

A better way to answer may be “I see you're worried about it.” I'd recommend you call your primary care health professional to have it checked out. ”

That way you are helping your friend and not hurting yourself. Even though you might be complimented that someone wants your professional opinion, advice outside of your work place may come back to haunt you in the future. Do not do it!