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Nursing is much more than a career; it truly is a calling. It takes a special kind of compassionate personality, calm head to care for people in their times of need. Below are traits of a good nurse.
Traits of a Good Nurse
The number one quality of a good nurse is caring. If you do not care about others and yourself, you cannot be compassionate and provide quality care to others. A great nurse is able to do their job effectively while also showing compassion, concern, and sympathy for each individual they serve.
- Communication skills
Communication skills are one of the most important requirements of a nurse’s job—both following directions and communicating with patients and families. Patients who are sick or suffering often are not in a position of strength to speak up for themselves. Patients and families rely primarily on their nurse for this kind of support. For a good nurse, being supportive includes being an effective advocate for the patient when you anticipate a problem or see a concern that needs to be addressed.
A nurse’s communication skills take many different forms. “Their smile is the most important one. A genuine smile gives a patient a sense of comfort, knowing that their nurse cares about them.”
Of course, nurses have been wearing masks and other PPE since the COVID-19 pandemic began, so smiles can be a little harder to come by these days.
“Beyond that, there are many communication styles a good nurse knows how to work with, and not all of them are verbal. A great nurse can communicate in ways that make a patient feel at ease and feel confident that they will be cared for.”
Caring, compassion, and empathy sometimes are confused as one and the same, but there is an important distinction. Empathy is the ability to really hear and share in a patient’s feelings. For a nurse, this doesn’t mean you always have to agree with what a patient or their family thinks. And for your own self-preservation, you don’t need to internalize the pain and suffering they may be experiencing. But it is very important that you listen and try to understand where they’re coming from.
great nurse can make each patient feel seen and heard, without judgment, and with a recognition that each individual has their own valid set of values, life experiences, and perspectives.
Not everyone is born with a robust capacity to be empathetic toward others, but most people lack empathy only because they don’t know the full range of circumstances others may have experienced in life and how it affected them. It’s something nurse educators have understood since the days of Florence Nightingale, and with the knowledge and training a nursing program provides, it’s a learnable skill.
- Attention to detail
When it comes to providing medical care, attention to detail is crucial. Even in the most busy, hectic environment, a good nurse must be detail-oriented, making sure that instructions are followed to the letter, ensuring proper medication dosages, and keeping accurate records.
In the home care setting, a nurse serves as the detail-oriented coordinator of patient care. A good nurse will be the first to notice subtle changes in a patient’s medical condition and alert physicians and other members of a health care team to respond in ways that can avoid a serious adverse health event or unnecessary hospitalization.
- Problem-solving skills
Similarly, a great nurse exercises excellent judgment and can think quickly to anticipate and address problems.
Being set in one’s ways is not a useful quality for a nurse. Providing excellent health care can be very dynamic and unpredictable at times. A great nurse is willing and able to be flexible and adapt to any unforeseen circumstance.
In the day-to-day provision of health care, it is up to nurses to sometimes juggle hectic schedules and competing demands, to make calm decisions and respond to unexpected events effectively, and often, to find creative ways to make a difference for patients in the limited time you are able to spend with them.
Respect for the rules within the healthcare industry, however, is also important. As a field, medicine is notoriously slow to change. That’s because it’s evidence-based, and the processes required to ensure changes are made for the right reasons take time. Reimbursement for medical services is also inexorably tied to regulations set forth by insurers and government agencies, and the failure to follow them can mean the loss of revenue, financial penalties or worse, closed doors.
Decision-making on the job can be a delicate balancing act, and when it comes to nursing, respect goes a long way. Whatever may come, it is important for a good nurse to respect healthy boundaries and to respect all of the diverse people you serve and work with.
A nurse who exercises respect for all coworkers, patients, and families will earn a high level of respect in return. This quality is demonstrated by a professional demeanor, a mindfulness for rules and confidentiality, and a high regard for each patient’s wishes.
In the home care setting, when a nurse enters a patient’s home, they enter the patient’s life. It is crucial to get to know each patient and their family as individuals, and to respectfully and unobtrusively work in concert with their desires and schedules.
To create a great career in nursing that works for you, it is important to really know yourself. Not every work environment will be the best fit for you. Some nurses thrive on the excitement of a busy emergency ward. Others prefer the more quiet, longer term, one-on-one attention they can give patients in the home care setting.
A good nurse will enjoy a long and fulfilling career by being self-aware and gravitating to the kinds of work that best suit their own personality, priorities, interests, and physical stamina.
- Desire to keep learning
Medical knowledge and technology are advancing very rapidly, and a great nurse must have a genuine sense of curiosity to keep working on their professional development, improving their skills, and learning new things.
- Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is the ability to evaluate facts and come to rational conclusions objectively. It’s a disciplined, self-directed way of looking at things that allows nurses to interpret data, prioritize patient needs and troubleshoot difficult clinical issues quickly and accurately. During triage, for example, it’s how a nurse uses normal diagnostic results to determine that a patient having chest pain can wait because they are likely having indigestion, not a heart attack.
The ability to think critically is an important quality because while nurses most often function as part of a healthcare team, their practice is autonomous, and their professional decisions are their sole responsibility. Nurses may be able to dress wounds in seconds, place urinary catheters without faltering or start an intravenous line with a blindfold on, but without the ability to think on their feet, high-pressure situations will be stressful.
Although not all healthcare settings are as extraordinarily fast-paced as a busy emergency room, making decisions isn’t something nurses can avoid. The good news is that while critical thinking comes naturally to some people, it’s also a skill that can be learned and nurtured in school and beyond.
For nurses, there’s no such thing as an average day. The excitement of learning new skills and consistently doing different things is part of the appeal of nursing as a career, but it also makes flexibility one of the top qualities every good nurse needs.
Nurses wear many hats on even an average day, but when challenges emerge, it requires the ability to adapt. A quiet day planned to care for neonates can suddenly become high-intensity when four women simultaneously arrive in labor.
Flexibility is also a characteristic that helps nurses adapt to changes in healthcare in general. For example, before awareness of blood-borne pathogen risks grew, using gloves regularly when working with bodily fluids was uncommon, but within just a few years, it became nearly mandatory. Today, technological advances are causing the landscape of medicine to shift constantly as innovations are introduced at breakneck speed. Being flexible helps nurses adjust to these types of changes with less stress.
- Open mindness
A patient who declines a blood transfusion because of their religious beliefs, a parent who won’t vaccinate a child because of safety concerns and a terminally-ill client who chooses to forgo life-sustaining treatment all present unique and emotional challenges. For nurses, the principle of autonomy, a patient’s right to make their own healthcare decisions without undue influence, always takes priority, regardless of the choices they make.
Today’s nurses are also required to be culturally competent. Cultural competence is defined as the ability to care for patients with different languages, customs and beliefs. Working with interpreters, assigning religiously sensitive patient’s providers of their preferred gender and respecting the need for modesty during physical examinations are some of the way’s nurses are called upon to help.
Health care is constantly changing and a great nurse changes with it and stays knowledgeable of all things. If you have any inquiry, visit our collegenursinghelp.com for more information.
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