Being a great nurse involves a lot more than what you can learn in a classroom. There are certain skills that can only be learned on the job, and mastering them is vital if you want to deliver the absolute highest level of patient care.
Book smarts and solid technical skills are, of course, crucial in nursing. It takes a lot more than just those things to be a really amazing nurse, though. Working on certain other skills can go a long way toward helping you ensure the most pleasant experience possible for your patients. Doing so could even help you advance your career. Keep scrolling to figure out which essential skills you need to master in order to enhance patient care.
If you want to be a good nurse, you have to develop strong communication skills. According to Peplau’s Interpersonal Relations Theory, which focuses on the relationship between nurses and their patients, there are three distinct phases that define the relationship and allow the nurse and patient to reach a common goal.
In the orientation phase, the patient has just been brought in for treatment and has questions. During this stage, their first impression of the nurse and the rest of the healthcare team is formed. In the identification/working phase, the nurse and patient begin working together. This phase takes up the greatest amount of time and is when the nurse’s communication skills are really put to the test. In the final phase, the resolution phase, the nurse measures the success of their communication skills and if those skills enabled them to ensure that the patient’s needs were met.
As a nurse, you need to listen to and understand what your patients have to say. You also need to pay close attention to non-verbal cues, though, to get a better understanding of their meaning and how the patient is feeling. Maintain eye contact to let the patient know that you are paying attention and that you respect them.
Strengthening your written communication is important, too. Make sure that everything you write is concise, clear, and easy to understand. When communicating with a patient in writing, be sure to use layman’s terms instead of medical terminology.
Developing strong communication skills takes time, but, if you want to deliver quality patient care, it’s an absolute must.
2. Organization and Time Management
When you work as a nurse, it’s easy to feel like there just isn’t enough time to complete everything that needs to be done during your shift. With excellent organization and time management skills, though, you can get a surprising number of things done in a relatively short amount of time.
Get organized by making sure you have everything you need when starting your shift. Choose scrubs that are functional and comfortable and which have plenty of pockets for the things you’ll need throughout the day. Having everything you need with you will save you a lot of time since you won’t need to be running back and forth to get things. Comfortable nursing shoes help, too, as they make it easier to go through your shift without slowing down.
Get better at managing your time. Don’t be abrupt with your patients, but don’t waste time chatting, either. Do things in an order that cuts down on the amount of running back and forth you need to do. Take steps to work smarter instead of harder, and you’ll likely find that managing your time isn’t quite as difficult as you thought.
3. Attention to Detail
Attention to detail isn’t something that can be taught in a classroom, but it’s something that is vital for nurses. In addition to helping ensure that you will avoid medical mistakes, having great attention to detail helps you deliver a higher level of care to your patients.
Pay close attention to your patients when you are speaking. Those communication skills mentioned above will help you out here! Also, always be mindful of what you are doing. Before administering medications, check and recheck the labels and/or orders. Be mindful during every patient encounter and avoid getting lost in your own thoughts. When you work in nursing, even a simple distraction can have devastating consequences.
4. Critical Thinking
When you’re a nurse, solving problems is a big part of the job. You frequently face situations where time and resources are in limited supply, and it’s up to you to figure out how to take care of your patients anyway. Having strong critical thinking skills allows you to combine the information at hand with your past experiences, evidence, and outcomes to come up with creative solutions for your patients.
Most people enter the nursing field because of a deep desire to help others. Unfortunately, nurse fatigue is a very real phenomenon that can make it very difficult for nurses to not lose their compassion and empathy.
As a nurse, you spend your days working closely with patients and their families. It’s important to connect with them and be empathetic about their situation. A little bit of compassion goes a long way and can make a big difference when it comes to improving patient experience.
If you want to be a great nurse, you need to develop skills that cannot be learned in a classroom. You need to learn how to interact with your patients and show them respect, empathy, and compassion. You need to develop strong communication skills that enable you to understand both written and verbal cues, and you need to communicate effectively via the written word.
As a nurse, you play a major role in connecting patients with the care they need and helping them navigate difficult situations. It is not a role that should be taken lightly. Mastering the skills listed above is a crucial step in enhancing your patient care and becoming the type of nurse you want to be.