To be a great nurse and to move forward in your career, you need to have a lot of medical knowledge. You need to be able to understand treatment plans, medication, side effects, symptoms, and more. You need to notice when a certain treatment isn’t working and have an idea of how to find one that does. In other words, when you are a nurse, your medical knowledge has to be unparalleled – it’s the only way patients will get the right treatment at all times and the best way to help them recover.
However, as much as these tangible skills are crucial – no nurse could do their job well without them – they aren’t the only skills a nurse will need. They will also need plenty of what might be termed ‘soft skills’. Despite the name, these soft skills aren’t any less important than the ones we’ve mentioned above, and in many cases, they will have to combine with those medical skills to offer patients the very best care possible.
The difficulty comes with the fact that these soft skills are usually part of someone’s personality rather than something that can be learned through study. This can mean that it is hard to learn them if you are lacking. Hard does not mean impossible, however, and with experience and a desire to succeed, you can learn almost anything. With that in mind, here are some of the essential nursing skills you’ll need if you want to be successful. How many do you already have, and how many do you need to improve on? Once you know, you can make a successful start on your nursing career.
Offer Emotional Support
From this very first point, you’ll be able to get a much better idea of the kinds of traits that a good nurse will need and why it’s hard to teach and learn them. Offering emotional support comes much more naturally to some people than others, and for those who can do it, it will become an integral part of their nursing career.
When most people think of a nurse, they’ll think of someone compassionate and caring. They’ll think of getting emotional support from them. A nurse who can’t offer this kind of support may well still be able to technically do their job, but they won’t form the bonds and relationships needed with their patients to help them fully. The patient experience may be somewhat lacking, and the nurse themselves might feel less than satisfied with their work. In the end, this could mean they decide to change careers because they don’t think that nursing is the right option for them. If this is the case, it’s nothing to be ashamed of; it’s a decision you need to make for yourself, as there is no point in doing anything that doesn’t make you happy.
Of course, this emotional support isn’t just there for nurses to give to patients. It can also be for nurses to give to their colleagues. Nursing is not easy, and there will be hard days, particularly when a patient doesn’t make it. Although nurses do need to be emotionally strong in front of their patients, if they hold everything in, this can make them unwell mentally and perhaps even physically. It’s good to talk about issues and how you’re feeling and having colleagues around you who understand what you’re going through and who can be there to emotionally support you is crucial. So as a nurse, you really do need to take care of everyone.
Emotional support – sometimes called compassion – is clearly a crucial trait that nurses must have in order to be successful and to help people (whether they are patients or colleagues) as much as possible. However, empathy is just as important, and although the two skills can get confused, there is a difference. When you are compassionate, you show that you care about what someone is going through. When you are empathetic, you actually put yourself in their position to understand more about what is happening and how they are feeling.
When you have empathy, you can help everyone around you. You can understand how scared someone might be or what questions they might have, meaning you can pre-empt those questions and help people even before they realize they need that help. Even the hardest and most emotional situations can be made at least a little easier when you are empathetic and compassionate at the same time.
Excellent Communication Skills
No matter what job you have, communication is going to play a role at some point. However, when it comes to the medical profession, and nursing in particular, you’ll find that communication is essential – the work cannot be done without excellent communication skills in place. For example, a nurse will need to communicate treatment plans to other colleagues and even the patient themselves, and depending on who they are talking to, they’ll need to communicate differently.
Nurses must communicate throughout their shift, and whether they’re talking to colleagues, patients, patient families, or anyone else, they’ll need to communicate in the right way. For example, older patients might be confused, and they’ll need to be calmed and soothed before information can be imparted, and children could be the same way. You might come across patients who don’t speak English very well, if at all, and that will require a different kind of communication as well. When nurses can do this, patients will get much better treatment, the workplace will run more smoothly, and things will be generally more positive.
Poor communication from a nurse can make an already stressful situation much worse and might even impede recovery. Rather than a skill that is nice to have, communication is the bedrock of nursing and is absolutely vital.
Although being kind, caring, empathetic, and compassionate is so important for nurses, as we’ve mentioned above, there is the possibility that it can go too far, and this is something to watch out for. Every nurse must be as professional as possible at all times, even when they are being compassionate to their patients. There must be a line drawn and stuck to to ensure that professionalism remains in place no matter what the situation might be.
It can sometimes be hard to understand the difference between being caring and being professional because being caring is, after all, part of a nurse’s job. Yet there is a difference. When you can stay professional, you’ll be able to help your patient a lot more than if you allow your emotions to cloud your thoughts and judgment. It might sound harsh, but your patient will have friends and family who will be caring without the added professionalism, which is why a nurse must have this trait – it will be very helpful. If you can see the difference, you’ll be able to keep your patient informed about their condition and treatment, which is something you might not be able to do if you are too emotionally invested (particularly if the news is bad).
Professional nurses are:
- In control
- Able to guide and provide excellent work in all situations
Ability To Adapt
From your very first day learning with Holy Family University to your last day before retirement, you’ll need to be able to adapt if you want to be a great nurse. One of the best things about nursing is that every day is different. When you arrive for your shift, you’re never quite going to know what you’ll find or what is going to happen by the end of it. Sometimes those shifts might be quiet and uneventful; sometimes, they might be chaotic and busy. You’ll just never know, and you need to be ready for anything that comes your way.
This is why being able to adapt quickly to anything that might be happening is a genuinely important trait for a nurse to have. Things can change from one moment to the next – or they might not – and you need to be able to ensure you can do your work in the best possible way, whether the unexpected is happening or you’re just going about your normal routines. In either case, the patient must be the priority.
If you find it hard to adapt to change, being a nurse is going to be difficult for you. Again, this is not something to be ashamed of; everyone is different. Some prefer to know exactly what their day will bring, almost minute by minute, and others prefer something more exciting and different. If you fall into the latter category and you’re happy to adapt, nursing could work out especially well for you.
Know When To Ask For Help
Did you know that knowing when to ask for help could be seen as a skill? It might not seem like it at first, but when you consider that it involves a lot of critical thinking, understanding, and compassion (for yourself), you’ll see that it is a skill. In fact, it’s a skill that many people lack; they feel they have to keep trying to move forward without help, even if that is a difficult (or impossible) thing to do.
Knowing when to ask for help could make all the difference to your career, your patients, and your happiness – that’s why it’s so important.