Good healthcare is a vital aspect of a well-functioning society. It ensures that individuals receive the care they need to maintain their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Not only are doctors crucial to an effective healthcare system but nurses also play a highly important role. Invariably, a nurse is the first point of contact when a person visits a healthcare facility, and they then provide a wide range of care services.
As nurses play such a critical role in helping patients become healthy, it is important to understand the skills that make a good nurse. While some of the skills are acquired through education and experience, others are innate.
The cornerstones of good healthcare
The cornerstones of good healthcare include access, quality, and affordability.
Access to healthcare is the ability of individuals to obtain necessary medical services and treatments. This includes access to preventative care, primary care, and specialty care. Ensuring that individuals have access to healthcare is important in preventing and managing chronic conditions, promoting early detection and intervention, and reducing healthcare costs.
Quality of healthcare refers to the level of care that patients receive. This includes the competence and qualifications of healthcare providers, the effectiveness and safety of treatments and procedures, and patient satisfaction. Ensuring that patients receive high-quality healthcare is important in promoting positive health outcomes and reducing healthcare costs.
Affordability of healthcare refers to the cost of healthcare services and treatments. This includes the cost of insurance, copays, and out-of-pocket expenses. Ensuring that healthcare is affordable is important in reducing the financial barriers to access, and promoting, health and well-being.
The cornerstones of good healthcare are interconnected, and ensuring access to quality and affordable healthcare is essential for promoting positive health outcomes and reducing healthcare costs.
The importance of nurses in the healthcare system
Nurses are highly trained healthcare professionals who are responsible for providing a wide range of services to patients of all ages. They are often the first point of contact for patients in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings, and they play a critical role in assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients.
One of the main responsibilities of nurses is to administer medication and monitor patients for side effects and other complications. They also perform diagnostic tests, such as taking vital signs and drawing blood, and work closely with physicians and other healthcare professionals to develop and implement treatment plans.
In addition to providing direct patient care, nurses also act as advocates for their patients. They are often the primary source of information and support for patients and their families, and they help educate patients about their health and treatment options. They also work to coordinate care among different healthcare providers and ensure that patients receive the right care at the right time.
Nurses also play a key role in promoting health and preventing disease. They provide health education, screenings, and immunizations. They participate in community outreach programs to promote healthy lifestyles. They also monitor patients for signs of infection and work to prevent the spread of disease by following strict infection control protocols.
Nurses are essential to the functioning of the healthcare system. They provide a wide range of services to patients and play a critical role in ensuring that patients receive high-quality, compassionate care. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 3 million registered nurses in the United States, making it the largest healthcare occupation. The nursing profession is also projected to be one of the fastest-growing occupations, with an expected growth of 6% over a period of 10 years, from 2021 to 2031.
Skills that a good nurse requires
Here are some of the skills that a nurse requires to be effective and successful in their career.
Empathy and compassion
Empathy and compassion are essential skills for nurses. These traits allow nurses to understand and relate to the emotions and experiences of their patients. A nurse who is empathetic and compassionate can provide care and support tailored to the individual needs of the patient. This is because they can put themselves in the patient’s shoes, understand their feelings and concerns, and respond in a way that is comforting and supportive.
Nurses who possess high levels of empathy and compassion can provide better care to their patients and have improved patient outcomes. They establish a strong therapeutic relationship with the patient and that, in turn, leads to increased trust, cooperation, and treatment adherence.
Effective communication skills
Nurses must have strong verbal and written communication skills to effectively interact with patients, healthcare professionals, and other members of the healthcare team. They must be able to clearly and effectively communicate information about patients’ conditions, treatment plans, and progress. They also need to be able to communicate with patients in a way that is empathetic and easy to understand.
Additionally, nurses must be able to communicate effectively with patients from diverse backgrounds, taking into account cultural and linguistic differences. Good communication skills also include active listening, being able to provide clear instructions, and giving feedback.
Critical thinking skills
Nurses must be able to analyze patient information, make decisions, and solve problems. They must be able to critically evaluate patient information and make decisions about treatment plans and medications. They must also be able to identify and respond to potential complications and adjust treatment plans as necessary.
Critical thinking skills allow nurses to recognize patterns, identify the underlying causes of problems, and develop effective solutions. They should also be able to evaluate evidence, make judgments, and draw conclusions based on logical reasoning. Critical thinking is an essential part of nursing education as it prepares nurses to adopt safe, skillful, and efficient nursing practices, thereby making them more effective and efficient nurses. Nurses can develop and hone their critical thinking skills through further education. Courses such as Carson-Newman University’s MSN-FNP Program teach students why critical thinking in nursing is so important and helps them build a transferable skillset through online study and clinical placement.
Attention to detail
Nurses must be able to pay close attention to detail to ensure that they are providing the correct medication dosages, administering medications at the correct time, and monitoring patient progress. They must also be able to accurately document patient information and treatment plans. Attention to detail includes being able to recognize small changes in patients’ conditions and being able to take the appropriate actions.
When nurses are keen observers and pay attention to the small details, they accurately and consistently monitor vital signs, administer medication correctly, and keep detailed records. This leads to reduced healthcare costs and ensures more positive patient outcomes.
Nursing can be physically demanding, and nurses must be able to stand for long periods, lift and move patients, and perform other physically demanding tasks. They must also be able to work in fast-paced and high-stress environments. This includes working efficiently and managing time effectively to complete all the necessary tasks.
Adaptability and flexibility
Nurses must be able to adapt quickly to changes in their patients’ conditions, treatment plans, and healthcare regulations. They must also be able to work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and home health care. This skill includes being able to work with different patients with diverse needs and adjusting their approach accordingly.
Being empathetic and compassionate
Nurses must be able to empathize with patients and provide emotional support. They must be able to understand and respond to patients’ emotional needs and provide comfort and reassurance during difficult times. Empathy and compassion also include being able to identify the patient’s emotional state and providing appropriate emotional support.
Continuous learning and professional development
Continuous learning and professional development are important practices for nurses. Nurses must be able to stay current with the latest advancements in healthcare and nursing practices to provide the best possible care to their patients. This requires a commitment to ongoing education and professional development.
When nurses focus on professional development and strive to constantly learn and enhance their knowledge, they stay current with the latest developments and advancements in nursing practices and healthcare. As a result, they can take better care of their patients and perform their duties more effectively and efficiently. That ensures superior patient outcomes.
Nurses are often part of a multi-disciplinary healthcare team and must be able to work effectively with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors and therapists, to provide the best possible care for patients.
Strong leadership skills to be able to effectively coordinate care and delegate tasks are desirable, especially when they are in leadership roles. Strong leadership skills include being able to manage and direct a team and mentor and guide other team members.
Time management is an important skill for nurses. Nurses must be able to manage their time effectively to complete their duties and provide the best possible care to patients. This includes the ability to prioritize tasks, set and meet deadlines, and handle multiple tasks simultaneously.
Nurses with strong time management skills can provide better care to their patients and have improved patient outcomes. They also tend to have a better work-life balance as they can finish their tasks quickly and set aside time for self-care and their loved ones. When nurses have a good work-life balance, they are more effective and productive at work.
Patient education is an important skill for nurses. Nurses must be able to educate patients about their health conditions, treatments, and medications. They must also be able to provide clear and accurate information in a way that is easy for patients to understand.
Nurses who possess strong patient education skills can provide better care to their patients and have improved patient outcomes. They can educate patients about their health conditions, treatments, and medications, which leads to better understanding and adherence to treatment.
Nurses must be able to understand and respect the cultural and ethnic differences of their patients. They must be able to provide culturally sensitive care and communicate effectively with patients from diverse backgrounds.
Nurses who possess cultural competency can provide better care to their patients and have improved patient outcomes. They can better understand and respect the cultural and ethnic differences of their patients.
Strong patient advocacy skills
Nurses must be able to advocate for their patients and ensure that they receive the care they need. They must be able to communicate with patients, their families, and other healthcare professionals to ensure that patients’ needs are being met and address any concerns or issues that may arise.
When patients are too sick or ill to speak for themselves, it falls upon nurses to ensure patients receive the treatment and care they need and deserve. Hence, when nurses want to take up patient advocacy, they need to have a strong understanding of the patient’s health issues and what treatment protocols can be added or removed to help accelerate healing and recuperation.
Sound ethical and legal knowledge
Nurses must have a strong understanding of the ethical and legal principles that govern healthcare. They must be able to apply these principles in their practice and make decisions that are in the best interests of their patients. Additionally, nurses must be aware of and adhere to the laws and regulations that govern healthcare, including patient privacy laws and infection control protocols.
As technology continues to play an increasingly important role in healthcare, nurses must be able to use technological tools and devices, such as EHRs, telehealth technology, and medical equipment. This also includes being able to access and utilize online resources, such as medical databases and research studies to stay informed and up to date on current practice and care guidelines.
Good nurses ensure they are tech-savvy and stay abreast of the latest technological advances in healthcare and nursing practices.
Strong emotional resilience
Working in healthcare can be emotionally demanding, and nurses must be able to cope with the emotional stress that comes with the job. They must be able to remain calm under pressure and handle difficult situations, such as dealing with critically ill patients or patients who have experienced a loss.
Good nurses always take care of their own emotional well-being and stress. That ensures they maintain a healthy work-life balance and do not suffer from burnout.
The US has a shortage of primary care physicians so the onus of primary care is falling on nurses in many healthcare settings. This is a major responsibility, and only nurses who are confident and sure of their knowledge and skills can handle patient care.
A nurse gains confidence with hands-on experience and through the constant improvement of their knowledge and skills. Patients depend on nurses to make decisions on their behalf, which requires high confidence levels. Nurses can become more confident and self-assured by attending training programs and workshops, and reading research papers on the latest developments in patient care and nursing practice.
Dedication and commitment
Good nurses are dedicated to their work. The majority of nurses do not consider nursing a job but a lifestyle, where they provide care and help to patients unable to care for themselves.
A good nurse does not hesitate to step in and help a person in need as they focus on the health and well-being of other people even when they are not working.
Many people assume that nurses just care for and treat patients. However, that is just one part of being a nurse. As nurses get more experienced, they tend to move up and assume leadership roles. Experienced nurses can be responsible for a team of nurses or become mentors for student nurses. In leadership roles, good nurses ensure that they cultivate a caring and compassionate environment where the patient is the center of attention.
Nurses with leadership abilities work more efficiently and can handle emergencies and difficult situations without panicking. Such nurses often get noticed by their superiors, and that increases the chances of career advancement. Nurses with superior leadership skills can get promoted to executive or management roles not just in hospitals but also in the public health sector.
High degree of professionalism
Nurses are highly respected as they provide care and support to sick and ailing patients. Good nurses are extremely professional and treat all patients the same way. They do not take care of patients because they are wealthy or affluent. Instead, they ensure the best patient care regardless of the social standing of a patient.
Good nurses always conduct themselves carefully and properly even when they are not working. They realize that their conduct can not only affect their employer’s reputation but can also have a profound effect on how people perceive nurses. So, whether they are at work or outside, good nurses always display a high degree of professionalism.
Even though nursing can be an emotionally and physically demanding career path, those who get into this field often love their work. It enables them to do meaningful work by providing care and support to those who need it the most. Many nurses build caring relationships with patients and ensure that their knowledge, skills, and care can help patients recover. Good nurses make a real difference by helping those who are at a vulnerable point in their lives.