It’s no secret that nurses play a very important role in the care of patients. Among all members of the health care team, the nurse spends the most time with patients. This fact alone gives nurses the unique position of having the ability to improve the quality of care in hospitals, nursing homes, and communities.
Whether you are still in nursing school or presently working as a staff nurse, you always aspire to improve yourself and become a great nurse for your patients. Here are some of the qualities that can make you a great nurse who is valued by both your team and your patients.
Every nurse must possess genuine empathy towards their patients in order to excel on the job. If you do not have compassion and a caring attitude, then you will not go far in your nursing career. How can you establish rapport with a patient if you don’t really care about his or her feelings? If you don’t have a caring attitude then your patients will not cooperate with you and your efforts to improve his or her health will not be effective. Of course, some can fake it and be that “nice” nurse. But somehow this facade will break down and rear its ugly head in your sloppy, careless, inconsiderate work.
Nursing is a tough job. You will encounter demanding patients, obnoxious doctors, and incompetent colleagues. But remember, you come to work because of the patient and should keep your emotions in check. It does not mean you transform yourself into a robot; we are human beings and showing our emotions is normal. Just make sure those emotions don’t get in the way of doing your job as a nurse. The health care workplace can be brutal, but having lots of patience helps you survive the day without incident.
No amount of empathy and patience can substitute for pure competence and intelligence. If patients have their say, they will always choose the most knowledgeable and experienced nurse. Just by being competent and doing the job well, you will inspire confidence in your patient, and this will likely result in a better relationship. Start honing your skills in nursing school and continue increasing your competence as a nurse as you continue on your career path. Your patients will be thankful that the nurse entrusted with their care is skilled and knows his or her stuff.
A highly-skilled nurse who is lackadaisical or who is always late for the change-of-shift report is not a great nurse. Even if that nurse is extremely competent and knows all the nursing tasks and lab values like the back of his or her hand, but can not be counted on, then he or she values neither the team nor the patient. As a nurse, make sure dependability becomes one of your great assets. Over time, patients and your team will value you more and more, and that can open up additional opportunities for you.
Hunger for Knowledge
By becoming a nurse, you pledge to become a life-long learner. It is imperative that you grasp this fact early in your nursing career if you are in this for the long haul. Health care, nursing knowledge, and medical science are constantly evolving and changing very rapidly. You need to make sure you keep up with all the changes because ignorance can be dangerous. You need to be able to quickly learn all the new medical gadgets and equipment out there. Don’t forget your obligation to complete continuing education units to renew your license and update your knowledge.
Good Role Model
Imagine a nurse conducting a smoking cessation seminar who takes a puff of smoke during breaks. Or a nurse with wild, unkempt hair and dirty fingernails giving hygiene tips to a senior. Surely, these nurses’ behavior and appearance defeat the purpose of encouraging healthy habits. A great nurse always walks the walk. Yes, it is hard to be the next Florence Nightingale, and we all have our shortcomings. But that should not make you stop trying to become a good role model.
A great nurse takes pride in his or her work and for good reason. As a nurse, you are a valuable member of the healthcare team. You are a great resource not just in your workplace but also to the larger community given your knowledge and expertise. You have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of your patients and their families. For years, nurses have been identified in surveys to be the most trustworthy among all professionals.
A great nurse puts himself or herself in the patient’s shoes and is always there to address the patient’s needs. By staying competent and learning continuously, a great nurse will always be valuable to the patient and the health team. Lastly, a great nurse takes pride in his or her work and always strives to become a good role model. Now that you know the qualities of a great nurse, are you ready to become one?
J.G. Enriquez has worked as a nurse for 4 years. He writes feature articles about careers as a Registered Nurse, like the one you have just read, for BrainTrack.com.