In celebration of Nurses Week, I want to take a moment to reflect on the qualities of a great nurse. Both my mother and my sister are nurses. Both of them entered the nursing profession late in life (in their 40s). I have tremendous respect and admiration for nurses, for they are the backbone of healthcare in our country. This list outlining the qualities of a great nurse comes from the website diversitynursing.com.
1. Communication Skills
Solid communication skills are a foundation for any career. However, for nurses, it is one of the most important aspects of the job. A great nurse has excellent communication skills, especially when it comes to speaking and listening. Based on team and patient feedback, they are able to problem-solve and effectively communicate with patients and families.
Nurses always need to be on top of their game and make sure that their patients are clearly understood by everyone else. A truly stellar nurse is able to advocate for her patients and anticipate their needs.
2. Emotional Stability
Nursing is a stressful job where traumatic situations are common. The ability to accept suffering and death without letting it get personal is crucial. Some days can seem like non-stop gloom and doom.
That is not to say that there aren’t heartwarming moments in nursing. Helping a patient recover, reuniting families, or bonding with fellow nurses are special benefits of the job. A great nurse is able to manage the stress of sad situations, but also draws strength from the wonderful outcomes that can and do happen.
Great nurses have empathy for the pain and suffering of patients. They are able to feel compassion and provide comfort. Be prepared for the occasional bout of compassion fatigue; it happens to the greatest of nurses. Learn how to recognize the symptoms and deal with it efficiently.
Patients look to nurses as their advocates. Being sympathetic to the patient’s experience can go a long way in terms of improving patient care. Sometimes, an empathetic nurse is the best part of a patient's day.
Being flexible and rolling with the punches is a staple of any career, but it’s especially important for nurses. A great nurse is flexible about working hours and responsibilities. Nurses, like doctors, are often required to work long periods of overtime, late or overnight shifts, and weekends.
Know that it comes with the territory. The upside is that a fluctuating schedule often means you’re skipping the 9 to 5, cubicle treadmill. Sounds perfect, right? Run errands, go to the movies, or spend time with the family — all while the sun still shines!
5. Attention to Detail
Every step in the medical field is one that can have far-reaching consequences. A great nurse pays excellent attention to detail and is careful not to skip steps or make errors.
From reading a patient’s chart correctly to remembering the nuances of a delicate case, there’s nothing that should be left to chance in nursing. When a simple mistake can spell tragedy for another’s life, attention to detail can literally be the difference between life and death.
6. Interpersonal Skills
Nurses are the link between doctors and patients. A great nurse has excellent interpersonal skills and works well in a variety of situations with different people. They work well with other nurses, doctors, and other members of the staff.
Nurses are the glue that holds the clinic together. Patients see nurses as a friendly face and doctors depend on nurses to keep them on their toes. A great nurse balances the needs of patient and doctor as seamlessly as possible.
7. Physical Endurance
Frequent physical tasks, standing for long periods of time, lifting heavy objects (or people), and performing a number of taxing maneuvers on a daily basis are staples of nursing life. It’s definitely not a desk job.
Always on the go, a great nurse maintains her energy throughout her shift, whether she’s in a surgery or checking in on a patient. Staying strong, eating right, and having a healthy lifestyle outside of nursing is important too!
8. Problem Solving Skills
A great nurse can think quickly and address problems as — or before — they arise. With sick patients, trauma cases, and emergencies, nurses always need to be on hand to solve a tricky situation. Whether it’s handling the family, soothing a patient, dealing with a doctor, or managing the staff, having good problem solving skills is a top quality of a great nurse.
9. Quick Response
Nurses need to be ready to respond quickly to emergencies and other situations that arise. Quite often, health care work is simply the response to sudden incidences, and nurses must always be prepared for the unexpected.
Staying on their feet, keeping their head cool in a crisis, and a calm attitude are great qualities in a nurse.
Respect goes a long way. Great nurses respect people and rules. They remain impartial at all times and are mindful of confidentiality requirements and different cultures and traditions. Above all, they respect the wishes of the patient him- or herself.
Great nurses respect the clinic or hospital staff and each other, understanding that the patient comes first. In addition, nurses who respect others are highly respected in return.