Nursing is a caring profession. Many people think you learn how to become a good nurse in top nursing programs or by working at some of the country’s leading medical centers. While those experiences will certainly equip you with the skills needed to successfully perform your daily duties, there are certain characteristics that make a nurse exceptional – skills that often can’t be taught in a classroom.
Strong communication is needed to succeed in nearly any career, but for nurses, this skill could be life changing – or saving – for patients. A good nurse practices active listening and communicates clearly and directly with team members. Good listening skills mean the nurse can problem-solve more efficiently and anticipate a patient’s needs. Nurses must also be able to speak with family members in a calm way to answer questions and give updates as needed.
The very nature of the job means nurses are faced with traumatic and critical situations every day. Finding a way to accept and cope with the pain, emotional distress and death that is part of the job is critical for a nurse’s emotional well-being. The bright side of being such a crucial part of any medical facility, is that nurses also get to enjoy the inspirational moments – the unexpected recoveries, physical therapy milestones, and reuniting families – that motivate them to continue in this career.
The best of nurses are empathetic to a patient’s pain and possible grim diagnosis. They are able to offer compassion and hope, sometimes being the only bright spot in a patient’s day. After a particularly long shift, feeling empathy can be difficult. Even great nurses can experience compassion fatigue. It’s important to recognize when you’re reaching that moment and reevaluate your tone and approach. Showing empathy helps dramatically improve patient care.
Attention to Detail
The smallest of missteps in a nurse’s role can have severe consequences, so being detail oriented is a must to succeed in this role. Performing each task meticulously, even when it’s been done a thousand times, is what sets great nurses apart. Error rates will be lower, and paying attention to the smallest detail may be the difference between life and death.
Nurses are the liaison between patients and doctors. A nurse must have the ability to communicate effectively on an advanced medical level and then interpret that information to a patient who simply wants to understand their condition. Standout nurses work well with other nurses, doctors, and patients to ensure each job is done correctly and patients receive the best care.
A nurse’s shift is never predictable, so being physically prepared to handle standing for long periods, lifting or repositioning patients, or responding quickly when needed is a must. A great nurse is in tune with what is needed to fuel the body – healthy food, plenty of rest, mental break – so energy levels don’t take drastic dips during a shift. A healthy lifestyle helps support a nurse’s physical endurance.
While our list of what makes a great nurse isn’t exhaustive, it does highlight some of the most important and invaluable traits of a standout nurse. Great nurses understand the vital role they play, not just in the medical arena, but in the lives of patients. Nurses are a core component of a hospital or clinic, and when equipped with these characteristics, their abilities and value shine bright.