A career in nursing can be incredibly rewarding, but it’s not for everyone. It’s a lifestyle choice and a mental shift, and it’s a journey in and of itself just becoming a registered nurse. There will always be a demand for qualified nurses; in fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for RNs is expected to grow at a rate of 19% through 2022!
With that being said, there are certain intangible ‘qualifications’ that make good nurses great – a nursing skills checklist, if you will. Nursing students who possess these skills are quickly hired by the top organizations. As you read through the list below, think about how each one applies to your own skillset.
Below are the top 10 skills nursing students need to possess as they build a successful nursing career. How many can you check off your list?
When stepping into a new nursing job, it can be easy to second-guess your decisions, regardless of how many exams you aced in school. But you need to be confident and assured that what you learned in nursing school has made you ready for this job. It’s about being optimistic, independent, and assertive, with enthusiasm for what you do and an emotional maturity that helps you do your job at a higher level.
2. Ability to Connect the Dots
So how well did you pay attention in school?! The tests are over, and now it’s time to apply what you learned to real-life situations. Maintaining a holistic understanding of course content and being able to pull from that knowledge to make decisions and ask the right questions will help you succeed and better assist patients.
3. Critical Thinking & Decision Making
Being able to observe, think critically, and make the right decision is vital to being a successful nurse. You may be great at dressing a wound or give an IV like a pro, but without the ability to make quick decisions in high-stress situations, you’ll find yourself struggling as a nurse.
4. Relation-Based Care
This one is simple enough but cannot be overstated. “Bedside manner” is one of the most important tools in a nurse’s arsenal and, aside from proper actual treatment, it’s the one that can have the biggest impact on patient or family experience. As a framework, relation-based care improves safety, patient & staff satisfaction, and quality of work by improving each relationship within an organization. The ability to make real human connections and create an environment that keeps patients and their families feeling safe, informed, and cared for is a personal skill that lifts morale, and as a result, the reputation of the organization.
Being a leader doesn’t require a leadership role. As a nurse with patients and families looking to you for updates and guidance, you’ll be put in leadership positions all day long. You’ll need to be self- and situationally aware, have strong time management skills, and be able to manage projects, conflicts, and emergencies.
6. Lifelong Learning & Reflection
Being committed to succeeding in your nursing career requires constant learning, practice, and reflection for continuous improvement. Few industries move at a faster rate than medicine and patient care and there’s always more to learn.
7. Think Like a Nurse
Successful nurses obviously need to have strong clinical thinking skills with a strong foundation of concepts and theories, but without being able to adapt to changing situations and think on the spot, lives could be in jeopardy. It’s a whole world of thought - with the help of blood, bodily fluids, 12-hour shifts, staying obsessively clean, and multitasking constantly, “thinking like a nurse” is hard to avoid.
8. Work Well with Colleagues
Hospitals or other organizations in which you work will expect new nurses to be able to communicate and collaborate effectively with co-workers right off the bat. It’s not something learned in textbooks or by studying; it’s an intrinsic skill of maintaining composure, respect for others, and flexibility. Plus - it’s nice to be liked!
9. Consider Alternative Points of View
It’s easy to become absorbed in a patient’s situation or feel strongly about the best way to proceed with diagnosis or procedures. Be open to advice, and even confrontation, and stay open minded to other ways of doing things. Treatment is rarely binary; be accepting of other points of view and learn something from every situation.
10. Advocate for Patients
As a nurse, it’s your responsibility to advocate for the patients you assist. You’ll often have the most contact with a patient and become the person debriefing team members, or interpreting tests, procedures, and instructions for patients and families.
So, how did you do? Did all 10 apply to you? It’s okay if you’re not a pro at all of them. Most of these are fine-tuned and develop with time and experience. But having a strong foundation of these skills with make you an irreplaceable asset in the workplace.