Nursing is the largest health care profession in the U.S. There are over 3.8 million registered nurses in the country and a large majority of them are actively employed.
Nurses are valued healthcare professionals who are in demand in nearly every area of the country and require special skills to be successful.
Their duties include caring for patients, communicating with doctors, administering medicine, and checking vital signs.
Are you interested in being a nurse and wondering what nursing skills can help you become successful?
Are you wondering what skills nurses should generally possess?
In this article, you would not only understand why nursing skills are important, you would also get to know the top 20 skills every nurse must have.
What are Nursing Skills?
Nursing skills are basically any certain qualities those in the profession or those thinking of becoming nurses should possess.
They have to make several decisions each day and it is necessary that they have these skills to aid them generally in the profession.
You should be able to listen to a patient’s needs, doctors’ orders, and the family request I your career. There are a lot of sills nurses should have. I have listed the top 20 below.
Why are Nursing Skills Important?
If you intend to pursue a career in nursing, nursing skills are absolutely important. Nurses are usually go-to people in the hospital.
Can you imagine a situation where people avoid you as a nurse due to a skill you have failed to have?
Nursing skills are of utmost importance because they enable you to efficiently and accurately care for other individuals, often those who are sick or who cannot care for themselves.
Having the appropriate skills also ensures that you can work with other medical professionals to provide the most comprehensive and individualized support to all patients.
Nurses must go through extensive education and training to become qualified to practice as a nurse.
During this education and training, nursing professionals learn and master the most important nursing skills needed to be successful in their careers.
It is unusual not to have these skill as a nurse; as such, you might not go very far in your career if you do not possess them.
How Long Does it Take to Get Nursing Skills?
There are several steps you can take towards learning to nurse skills or improving on the one you already have. Some of them are-
- Keep learning- There are several higher education options available for nurses, and all of these provide ample opportunity to build and improve nursing skills.
- Become familiar with the different areas of nursing- There are several areas or specialties within the nursing profession, and the more of these specialties you’re familiar with, the more you can contribute to your workplace.
- Read industry and research publications related to healthcare- This has proved to be one of the several ways to build and improve your nursing skills-reading industry and research publications. Keeping up to date with these publications can give you a larger knowledge base and allow you to contribute in new ways to patient care.
- Become a member of a nursing organization- Nursing organizations such as the American Nurses Association and the National League for Nursing provide various opportunities to participate in continuing education in the nursing field, including conferences, educational courses and access to the latest medical research. By being a member of these organizations, you could build skills every nurse must have.
- Practice communication- Regularly practicing your communication skills can make you a better nurse. Ways to practice include learning and watching for non-verbal cues, practicing active listening and recording yourself communicating to get a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses.
Top 20 Skills a Nurse Must Have
As a nurse, you must have exceptional ethics as they regularly deal with life-and-death situations and must put the wellbeing and needs of their patients above all else.
You must abide by the regulations of any organization where you work and also abide by the strict patient confidentiality agreement. You must be honest and disciplined.
#2. Physical Endurance
Worldwide, nurses are known to be able to withstand long hours and also to handle all kinds of patients.
As a nurse, you would basically be on your feet for several hours each shift, and shifts can last anywhere from eight to 12 hours a day.
You may also be required to help patients into and out of wheelchairs, assist them with walking and may complete other strenuous activities throughout the course of their day.
To perform these tasks, you need to have the skill to physical endure.
#3. Teamwork Skills
You must be ready to work as part of a team of medical professionals caring for a patient or group of patients.
You must have excellent teamwork and collaboration skills that include effectively sharing patient information with necessary team members, keeping track of patient records and being punctual.
#4. Interpersonal Skills
As a nurse, you are expected to meet with different calibers of people every day.
You are required to have good interpersonal skills when interacting and communicating with others.
#5. Computer Literacy
Nurses are often required to use various computer programs to complete their jobs, including programs that keep track of patient medications, treatment plans and medical histories.
Good computer skills for nurses to have include knowledge of electronic medical record (EMR) systems, electronic prescription programs and voice recognition technology.
#6. Math Skills
Nurses are responsible for performing various tasks that require a solid understanding of math and the metric system.
For example, measuring a patient’s blood pressure and determining appropriate medication amounts both require math skills to complete successfully.
Common forms of math that nurses must be familiar with include time calculations, formulas, ratios, conversion rates and fractions.
#7. Effective Communication
On a daily basis, nurses must communicate with their patients, patients’ family members, and the larger medical team.
They must be able to listen to and understand the concerns of their patients. This is essential for evaluating conditions and creating treatment plans.
In addition, nurses need to be able to clearly articulate any instructions for patients, such as how to take a medication or change a bandage.
#8. Critical Thinking
Speaking of critical, critical thinking is another essential nursing skill. No day is the same in the life of a nurse.
Nurses are constantly encountering new patients, new conditions, and new symptoms. Not to mention, health conditions change all the time.
Existing patients may develop different symptoms, or react poorly to a treatment or medication.
Registered Nurses must know how to think on their feet to approach all that comes their way.
#9. Attention to Detail
Nurses must be detail-oriented, as many of the situations they handle can be a matter of life or death.
Nurses must be precise in ensuring that patients are given the correct treatments, in the right dosages, and at the right times.
In addition, they must pay attention to seemingly small details (like minor patient symptoms, or allergies), and ask questions to ensure nothing is missed.
People have lost their lives because of little overlooked facts. You must ensure this does not happen by paying absolute attention.
#10. Flexibility and Adaptability
As noted above, no day is the same for a nurse. As a result, you must be able to adapt to all that comes your way.
There may be last-minute changes to treatment plans or shifts in your schedule.
As a nurse, you must know how to juggle, stay flexible, and keep pressing forward. When situations present themselves, you must plan yourself in an instant and determine what the next course of action should be.
#11. Commitment to Learning
Nursing is a field of constant learning. In fact, in order to maintain your licensure, you will need to complete several hours of continuing education every couple of years.
This is common in the healthcare field, as things are always changing. New technology is coming forth, and new treatments are being established.
In order to stay current, you must be committed to learning and developing your career.
The knowledge never ends and even asides from the traditional mode of learning, you would find that the more you deal with patients, the more you learn new things.
#12. Commitment to Patient Advocacy
This concept is the foundational core tenet of healthcare from the Hippocratic Oath to nearly every hospital’s mission statement in one phrase or another: keep patients safe, deliver the highest quality of care.
In other words, be an advocate for patients, with special attention on their overall safety.
As one of the leading qualities of a nurse leader, a great nurse understands that patient advocacy is a mindset that must be practiced every day, with every patient, throughout every stage of the care continuum.
#13. Patient Care
Patient care is one of the core values and important concepts of nursing, and truly the heart of the field.
In order to provide proper patient care, it is important that you, as a nurse, are competent in-patient assessments and treatment planning.
You must know how to listen to your patients, as well as strategize potential treatments, and determine what course of action they need.
You must understand that this is the most crucial part of your job and everything else revolves around it.
For many, the nursing profession is a calling. The desire to help others who experience life-changing medical situations requires nurses to have a great deal of sensitivity and compassion for others.
In leadership roles, compassion and empathy for patients, families, and employees are important skills in handling emergency or sensitive situations.
A degree program emphasizes these skills and helps prepare future leaders for the types of situations they will encounter. You would meet patients with different ailments. It is important that you are compassionate.
#15. Sense of Humor
To derive satisfaction from such a mentally and physically exhausting career, nurses that can find time for a laugh are typically more successful in their roles.
Nurses encounter varying degrees of high-stress situations, hence, taking the opportunity to enjoy the downtime and incorporate a lighthearted attitude can provide a sense of stress relief beyond measure.
Having a good sense of humor also helps spread positivity to other nurses, patients, and their families.
#16. Calm and Collected
Leaders do not panic in the face of adversity. Nurses are known to work in an often high-stress environment.
Even those working outside of hospitals will eventually find themselves in situations where emotional stability and a calm, steady manner proves essential.
Nurses need not only the ability to calm others but to keep their own emotions in check during times of high stress. This is one of the top skills every nurse must-have.
#17. Case Management (Organization)
Case management is related to patient care but serves on its own as a vital nursing skill.
The fact is, nurses, work with a lot of patients on a day-to-day basis. They are constantly creating treatment plans, monitoring patient conditions, and taking action to keep patients healthy and safe.
RNs must know how to juggle this all, keeping up with multiple cases at once.
In addition, they must serve as advocates for their patients and ensure all their needs are met, which requires constant monitoring of cases.
#18. Time Management
After your first shift as an ER nurse, you will probably feel overwhelmed.
The role of a nurse involves more than just placing a bandage or administering medication. Emergency room nursing skills require the use of time management.
Nurses are now taking a much more prominent role in the initial and ongoing duty of patient assessment.
In addition to assessments, patient education, inter-agency communications, and patient care all demand an ER nurse’s attention.
A nurse is expected to have good skill, good judgment, and polite behavior from a person who is trained to do a job well.
They have an adherence to a set of standards, code of conduct, or collection of qualities that characterize accepted practice within the nursing standards.
Nurses should have a level of integrity and an ability to learn.
As a nurse, have the ability to understand the thoughts, feelings, or emotions of someone else.
It is the capacity to understand another person’s point of view or the result of such understanding.
You would work with a lot of people who are sick. They would expect you to show empathy towards them and what they are feeling.
This is one of the most important qualities a nurse should have.
Frequently Asked Questions
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for a registered nurse in 2018 was $71,730 a year, or an hourly wage of $34.48.
Nurses are one of the least happy careers in the United States. At CareerExplorer, they conduct an ongoing survey with millions of people and ask them how satisfied they are with their careers. As it turns out, nurses rate their career happiness 2.7 out of 5 stars which puts them in the bottom 13% of careers.
Though many nurses love their jobs, nursing is stressful. While less-stressful roles exist, lots of nurses work in high-stress positions. Stress at work can lead to burnout and compassion fatigue.
Nurses are less intelligent and skilled than doctors. Many people incorrectly assume that nurses are people who couldn’t hack it as doctors or that they aren’t quite smart enough for a medical degree. Your nurse is just as intelligent and just as competent as your physician
Math is Necessary for Nursing. So depending on your area of expertise in nursing, you may be required to use basic arithmetic and algebra daily
Now that you know the skills necessary to have when you are a nurse, you may go ahead and pursue a career in nursing.
You should know that most of these skills are already imbibed in you as a person and all that would be necessary is to cultivate them to ensure they serve the most purpose.