Soft skills required in nursing
For those that want to get into nursing, they can quickly find it to be a challenging and rewarding career that requires, among other things, a unique set of interpersonal skills. Of course, technical knowledge and clinical expertise are still essential parts of any nurse’s professional repertoire, but nurses must also possess a range of soft skills in order to provide the best possible care to their patients and interact effectively and efficiently with their colleagues. Soft skills is a term that can be defined as skills that are applicable to a wide range of situations. These skills are not specific to any one profession and enable individuals to work effectively with others and navigate challenging situations. While some soft skills may be important in any profession, nursing requires many key soft skills.
Nursing is now one of the fastest growing jobs in the US, with nurse practitioners being the fourth fastest growing job in the country. Throughout this article, you will discover the most important soft skills required for nursing and how they might be applied within the field. Additionally, we’ll discuss ways in which prospective nurses might work on developing these skills and incorporating them into their profession, making it a great resource for both nurses that are currently in the field and looking to improve themselves, and nurses that are just starting their professional careers and want something more to bring to the table.
Perhaps the most universally helpful soft skill, and also likely the single most important one to possess as a nurse, communication is an essential part of building a solid rapport with patients, families and colleagues. Some of the most important functions of a nurse are to be able to listen actively, speak clearly and empathetically and convey complex medical information in a way that patients can understand. These are all responsibilities that require strong communications skills, which can lead to better patient outcomes and help provide those around you with the information they need, whether that be patients or the other medical professionals.
Considering the level of anxiety patients can experience when facing heath issues, clear, concise, simple communication is a must in order to prevent any confusion or misunderstanding. Patients and their families are often under enormous stress and rarely have extensive knowledge of the medical field, so such misunderstandings can be quite common. To avoid this, it’s important that nurses communicate in a way that is understanding of this and that they don’t assume patients have understood something simply because they personally would have.
Additionally, nurses must also be able to communicate effectively with their colleagues in order to ensure the best care for their patients. This can include many aspects, such as sharing information, collaborating on patient care plans, and providing updates on patient progress. Without clear communication, patient care can be impeded, and treatment schedules can get delayed or confused, which makes this an essential part of a nurse’s role. Effective communication skills are also important in working with interdisciplinary teams to provide the best possible care to patients in areas where multiple specialized health-care professionals might be needed.
Compassion and empathy
It will come as no surprise that compassion and empathy are essential soft skills in nursing. While most people who choose to become nurses will undoubtedly possess a high level of compassion for those they care for, having likely chosen the field for a similar reason to begin with, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is being effectively displayed or utilized as part of their role. Nurses who both possess and understand these qualities are able to connect with their patients on a deeper level, understand their concerns and provide emotional support. This is an essential part of patient healthcare that is often overlooked, as providing a sense of security and peace for patients can improve their health and allow them to keep a clear head about their treatment options, improving their overall quality of care.
Nurses who are compassionate and empathetic are also able to provide better care to their patients. They are more likely to take the time to listen to patients’ concerns and needs, and to provide personalized care that meets their individual needs. Being able to connect with individual patients and empathize with what they might be going through is an essential part of patient care. It can be difficult to maintain this empathy in the high-stress environment nurses work in, especially when dealing with a large number of patients every day. Nurses that foster that empathy, however, are bound to be more successful in their field and ultimately find the work more rewarding and be more motivated in their role.
One of the key aspects of working as a nurse is the ability to think critically and make informed decisions on complex topics quickly in the fast-paced, high-pressure environments that you’ll be facing in medical institutions and during periods of emergency or crisis for a patient. This will involve analyzing complex information, identifying potential problems and developing effective solutions to them all within a very short span of time. These critical thinking skills are particularly important in emergency and intensive care settings that nurses often work in, where split-second decisions can be a matter of life or death for the patients under their care.
Thinking critically is often something people find challenging to learn, and many don’t understand what it entails. Essentially, critical thinking is the ability to analyze situations and information and being able to come to conclusions without outside opinions or influences. Another way of thinking about it is independent decision making. This is a skill that you will develop naturally over time as long as you challenge yourself to resolve situations as they come up and don’t assume someone else will know better. Always trust your own judgement and then refer to others second, rather than immediately giving up. Critical thinking also involves the ability to evaluate evidence and make sound judgments based on what you find. This is an essential part of the job as nurses who possess strong critical thinking skills can provide fast, evidence-based care that is based on the best available information at any given time.
Nursing is very rarely a solo endeavor, as most nurses and nursing specializations working in institutions such as hospitals or clinics where they interact daily with their peers. Nurses almost always work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors, pharmacists and physical therapists. Of course, nurses will also have to be in contact with patients and their families. To be effective in their role, nurses need to be capable of similarly effective teamwork. The level of teamwork necessary to succeed as a nurse requires strong communication skills, a willingness to collaborate and the ability to respect the contributions of others, including the professional opinions of doctors or other nurses, and the input of the patients they might be treating. The overall effect is that nurses who work well in teams can improve patient outcomes by listening to the advice of others and the feedback of the patient, and they can also help contribute to a positive work environment that makes a high-stress job a little bit easier and more fulfilling.
Beyond that, teamwork in nursing is also important because it involves the ability to delegate tasks effectively and to work with others to achieve common goals. Programs such as Walsh University’s Master of Science in Nursing: Family Nurse Practitioner degree supports nurses in developing the expertise to provide primary care to patients of all ages. Good nurses are able to work well in teams and as a result are able to provide better care for their patients, reduce stress and maintain a more positive work-life balance overall.
The medical profession is one of the most quickly changing fields out there, and it requires a lot of adaptability to quickly adjust to every new change in healthcare. As a nurse, you’ll be expected to be able to adapt quickly and be flexible in your work and methodology. You will need to constantly consider new information and research and accept that treatments and protocols will change over time. As such, you’ll be constantly learning new things. You’ll also need to adapt to new situations as they come up, such as the unpredictability of patient health. This may involve working long hours to treat patients, reviewing treatment methodology and adjusting to new protocols and technologies. The best nurses are flexible and adaptable and can maintain a positive attitude that is science driven, while providing high-quality care in any situation.
Flexibility is a trait all nurses will learn with time. It’s the nature of the field that priorities will conflict and emergencies will arise at unexpected times, and over time, this will become second-nature. Nurses who are able to be flexible in their approach to patient care are able to provide better care to their patients and to adapt to the changing needs of the healthcare environment.
Attention to detail
Considering how critical the work nurses do is, even the smallest detail can be of mortal importance. Nurses are required to be detail-oriented, constantly vigilant and be able to spot any potential errors before they become serious problems. Doing this is no easy task and requires a genuine passion for the work, and a true dedication to the importance of the responsibilities nursing holds. Nurses will need to be constantly careful in their observations, maintain thorough documentation and commit to following established procedures for the sake of the long-term health of their patients, since even the smallest error in documentation can cause erroneous treatments or misdiagnoses.
Some people have greater natural attention to detail than others, but it is always ultimately a matter of focus. As long as you maintain focus on the task and the importance of the work you’re doing, you won’t struggle to identify patterns and to recognize when something is out of the ordinary. The difference between a nurse who pays attention to the details and one who can’t be the difference between life and death for their patients, so it’s an essential trait in the field.
As is often said, patience is a virtue. There is no profession for which this rings truer than in nursing. As is the nature of healthcare, nurses will often be required to treat patients who may be in pain, anxious or confused. In treating them, nurses must be able to remain calm, compassionate, and patient no matter the situation or what happens. Nurses must deal with a wide variety of patients every day, all of whom will have their own grievances. As a healthcare professional, it is a nurse’s duty to act professionally in response. This requires taking the time to listen to patients’ concerns and needs, and providing reassurance and support when needed and stepping back when necessary, rather than getting angry or frustrated.
Nursing requires a unique set of soft skills that may be desirable in many professions, but in nursing they are essential to providing high-quality, patient-centered care. The soft skills above are only some of the most important a nurse will need to learn before they can provide the best possible care to their patients. It is the nurses who possess these skills that are better able to navigate the challenges of healthcare, provide high-quality care to their patients and contribute to a positive work environment. With the constant evolution of the healthcare industry, and the rising importance of nurses in the field, those who possess strong soft skills will be in high demand and will play a critical role in shaping the future of healthcare.