Are you keen on getting into nursing? While challenging, working as a nurse is immensely rewarding. You are at the heart of ensuring people get the care they need. Without nurses, millions of lives may be at stake.
However, as you may imagine, nursing is a career that requires a specific set of skills. You will not only need to be ready to learn and adapt to complex situations, but you will also need to have a healthy temperament and attitude to go far.
Here are the most important skills you will need to have — and hone — if you want to succeed as a nurse:
Confidence in making decisions
Being confident in what you do is a given. When making important decisions, however, you will need to be especially confident if you want to grow in the healthcare industry.
Nurses bear many responsibilities. While doctors and surgeons make tough calls on their own, nurses, too, will need to make the ‘final call’ in high-pressure circumstances.
Therefore, you will need to think on your feet. There may be a situation where the clock is ticking — and you will need to draw on your experience and knowledge to make calls that you confidently believe are right.
While you can certainly niche down into the type of nursing that appeals to you, adaptability is a great skill to start out with. Being versatile means you can easily adapt to any challenges the day may present to you.
For example, you may need to cover an emergency shift at the last moment in a different hospital. Or, you may have to head to a specific ward to help support other nurses dealing with difficult patients.
Providing you are able to move quickly and adapt smoothly to various challenges, you will find the varied work of an on-call nurse thrilling.
A willingness to learn
While you will learn many different skills when training as a nurse, you should always be ready to learn every day you are on the job. Ultimately, this is a role that will provide you with unique, complex new cases every day. You are always learning.
In fact, provided you are always keen to learn, you do not have to be a nurse to get into healthcare in the first place. Online accelerated BSN programs for non nurses (such as through Baylor University) are great for people who want to care for others, and who are passionate about learning new skills.
Crucially, you will find that every day in nursing provides brand new experiences. That means within a few years, you will have a wealth of knowledge you can share with others.
Open communicators thrive in nursing careers. Consider all the people you are likely to communicate with while working shifts in a hospital or at a clinic. You will likely need to work in a team of other nurses and will have supervisors to answer to.
The more easily you communicate with others, the quicker you will find effective solutions in patient care. Moreover, communication skills can help you update patients in a way that calms and reassures them.
You will also need to be ready to share bad and good news. Sadly, nursing always carries its fair share of joys and tragedies. Being able to communicate clearly on both sides of the coin is a must.
An open mind and attitude
The best nurses are those who are always open to change and who genuinely want to care for others. Without passion for the role and an open mind in everything you do, you will likely find it difficult to grow in healthcare.
A great attitude for nursing is one based around compassion. You will need to be a team player, and you will often need to put your own comforts to one side so you can ensure patients get the care they need.
This means you will also need to keep a steely resolve. While your team and supervisors will support you as much as possible in intense situations, with a poor attitude, you will not get the support you demand.
The best nurses are born problem solvers. They are willing to think beyond the usual procedures and treatments to look for new ways (within ethical boundaries) to help patients recover from various illnesses and ailments.
Given that no two patients’ demands are ever the same, it stands to reason that nurses need to be able to solve problems on their feet and often on their own. You will face puzzles that require a cool head and an analytical mind.
Over time, you will find more complex problems and cases are easier to map out and resolve. While patients will always differ in their needs and profiles, a nurse that is learning on the job can always draw on their previous experiences and education. As mentioned above, you never stop learning.
Empathy comes easily to some people, but not all. For many, showing empathy may be difficult, possibly as a result of low self-confidence. However, if you are naturally empathetic and find it easy to connect with others, you are already one step closer to becoming a nurse.
However, there is a line to keep in mind. Empathy is important, but you will also need to keep yourself invested ‘enough’ in patient cases. As mentioned, nurses will see joy and tragedy over their careers. As such, investing yourself too deeply with patients may trigger emotions you may not be able to control.
Balancing empathy with keeping a cool head is not easy. If you can invest yourself enough in patient lives without getting personally affected, you will go far as a nurse. You will learn these skills at university and on the job — providing you are willing to.
Nurses are truly spectacular people. They handle thousands of complex cases a year, often tasked with saving lives or helping people get comfortable. They are resilient, unfazed, and always ready to take on new challenges.
When it comes to new skills, learning can be difficult at the best of times. But, providing you are willing and open to new experiences, you are likely to find a lot about nursing you enjoy.
You will learn a lot as a nurse at both university (online or offline) and on the job. However, having the above skills are always likely to propel you ahead.