Legal guidelines state only that nurses must be physically and psychologically able to provide nursing to patients. These vague guidelines do not begin to paint the full picture of the types of attributes an individual nurse must possess if they are going to be successful in their career. In order to provide the best nursing care possible, nurses should possess each of the following five attributes.
In order to make decisions effectively, all nurses must have effective critical thinking skills. These skills help them to prioritize both patient care decisions and policy decisions. Each nurse must be able to interpret, analyze, and evaluate every choice they make. After a choice is made through these steps, the nurse must also be able to adequately explain and self-monitor the decisions they have made. Critical thinking is needed for nurses to assess potential risks to their patients, identify the cause and effect in a clinical situation and develop nursing care plans.
Nurses typically work eight or twelve hours shifts, during which they will be responsible for a range of patient care activities, including passing medications, changing bandages, and taking a patient’s vital signs. These tasks will need to be performed on multiple patients on a floor that a nurse is responsible for, and some of duties must be performed at a specific time each day. In order to make sure that each patient’s needs are taken care of in an orderly manner, nurses must be able to manage their time effectively.
Some jobs may allow their employees the luxury of fitting in a round of their favorite computer game or checking their email a few times during the day, but nursing is not one of those occupations. While nurses are allotted a lunch and breaks, the time that they are actually on duty allows them very little downtime. In order to excel as a nurse, an individual must be willing to dedicate themselves to their job tasks. This sense of diligence can be difficult to maintain, due to long shifts and the amount of tasks required.
Having effective written and verbal communication skills is important for any nurse because they provide patient care as part of a team. Nurses interact with doctors, therapists, nursing assistants, patients, and family members on a regular basis. To fully communicate with these groups of people, nurses must have abilities in presentation, teaching, conflict resolution, negotiation, non-verbal communication, and written documentation.
Nurses remain professional by providing compassionate nursing care that includes integrity and lives up to the legal and ethical standards of the profession. Occasionally, a nurse may have difficulty in retaining their professionalism because the occupation can be stressful. However, the best nurses are able handle the emotional stresses of dealing with a variety of patient and coworker emotions. These may include anger, frustration, hopelessness, grief, and sadness. Additionally, nurses must be able to receive constructive criticism from superiors in a calm manner and recognize that the criticism can help their patients in the long run.
Although stressful, nursing offers a challenging and rewarding career to those individuals who are able to handle the occupation. However, it is not a career for everyone. The best choice for prospective students is to seriously consider if they possess the critical thinking, time management, diligence, communication, and professionalism that they will need in order to be an effective nurse.
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Joyce Smith is a nurse practitioner and guest author at College Degree Search, where she contributed to the guide to the Top 10 Masters in Nursing.