Being a great nurse means striking up a perfect balance between dealing with people and having the medical knowledge to know what to do in a tight spot. While you'll need to be able to empathise with patients and arguably feel more compassion than some professions, it is often underestimated just how much medical knowledge a nurse also needs.
You're the front line in healthcare settings such as hospitals: being personable is a must, but you'll also need to know how to deal with many of the day-to-day healthcare needs of in and out-patients and the queries of their family members, as well as identifying the times when a physician's input is required.
With these things in mind, it is possible to split the qualities that make a great nurse into those human and emotional values that are probably the reason you got into nursing in the first place, and the technical skills required to flourish in your workplace.
Values leading to human connections
Ask most nurses and on some level they'll probably say that they took a career in healthcare because of an innate desire to help people. It is the people in nursing jobs who are most likely to strike up a human connection with the individual.
Whether you're qualified to deal with children, adults, people with learning disabilities or those with mental health problems, you'll need patience and a fair amount of empathy as well. To provide the best care, it is crucial that you're able to view things from a patient's perspective – whether it's something as simple as the loss of dignity someone might feel to having you change a bedpan in public, to concerns they may have about their treatment and underlying condition.
That's not all there is to being a great nurse though. As important as patients are, it is equally crucial that you don't forget yourself in the equation! That means having the emotional fortitude to deal with the tragedies that are part and parcel of working in healthcare; being able to tread that fine line between empathy and not becoming too involved.
Having these values and inter-personal skills are crucial to becoming a successful nurse, but they'll only get you so far if you don't have the technical expertise required. With responsibility for a large part of patients' day-to-day care, nurses will need to understand everything from the dosages of any medications they're receiving to any food requirements that a patient might have.
You'll also often end up as a go-between between doctors and patients, so knowledge and understanding of a patient's medical history will also be crucial, as is the ability to talk the language of the doctor and the patient.
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