Nursing is one of the most fulfilling professions you can choose, but it’s not easy. The hours are long and stressful, but if you love helping people and want to make a difference to people’s lives, then becoming a nurse may be the right career choice for you. As a nurse, you’ll need to be able to multitask and prioritize to help patients.
You’ll also need to be extremely calm under pressure and able to think clearly when things are chaotic. However, if you’re up for the challenge, here are some tips for how to be the best nurse possible.
Value the patient
Nurses are often referred to as ‘angels’ because they tend to patients’ physical needs and provide emotional support for those experiencing illness or injury. Treating your patient with kindness will go a long way toward helping them feel more comfortable during their stay in the hospital or nursing home.
Listen to what patients say, and don’t interrupt them unnecessarily. They may not be able to tell you everything that’s going on in their life, but this doesn’t mean that they’re not trying to communicate with you the best they can. You just need to be patient enough to wait until they feel comfortable sharing more details about their situation or illness with you.
Improve your communication skills
You may be required to communicate with your patients regularly as a nurse. This can be challenging when they aren’t able to speak clearly, but here are some simple ways to ensure that your communication is effective:
- Listen to what the patient is saying, even if it’s not in the form of words.
- Ask questions to clarify the patient’s concern.
- Speak in a calm and reassuring voice that conveys understanding and empathy for their situation or position.
- Use body language such as eye contact, a relaxed posture, hand gestures when appropriate, and facial expressions to show that you’re listening intently to what they have to say without interrupting them – even if it’s just asking clarifying questions.
- Try not to use any other nonverbal cues until after they’ve finished talking so as not to appear distracting by moving around too much during their speech.
Always be a student
The best way to be a great nurse is to always be a student. This means that you should learn from your mistakes, your patients, colleagues, supervisors, and even yourself.
You can also learn from books, journals or online resources available for nurses. Baylor University Online offers relevant courses for nurses to help them stay updated with the latest medical developments in the field and other fields such as management, administration, law enforcement and psychology. This can help you become an effective leader in your ward or unit.
Give your all, even to tasks that seem menial
Certain parts of the job don’t get much attention. It may seem like pushing a cart with supplies back and forth, cleaning up after an accident, or helping a patient use the bathroom isn’t that important, but the truth is that it shows that you care about every aspect of your job and don’t shy away from doing any part of it well. If you do this consistently, people will notice and respect you more than if they see you avoiding certain tasks because they aren’t rewarding or fun.
Respect the patient’s culture
Respecting the patient’s culture, beliefs and values is important. Try to learn about their culture, beliefs and values by talking with them or asking family members about what it means for them. Be aware of your own cultural biases before engaging the patient in conversation, as these can lead you to make assumptions about the patient’s beliefs or values (for example, assuming that all people from a certain country believe something).
Avoid making assumptions about patients’ beliefs and values, as well as how they may perceive certain comments made by others at work (for example, a nurse informing one patient that their deceased relative “is in heaven now”).
Also, remember that each culture has many different ways to demonstrate respect for others. Just because someone appears unfriendly doesn’t mean that they aren’t showing you respect by not speaking with you at length on the first encounter (this especially applies if they don’t speak English well).
Finally, and most importantly, be sensitive to cultural differences in communication styles, such as eye contact or body language. Some cultures may view direct eye contact as too forward, while others might expect more assertive gestures from authority figures such as doctors or nurses.
Learn from and share with colleagues
Don’t be afraid to talk with your colleagues about what they’ve learned over the years. They may have insights that could help you improve your care of patients in the future.
You should also share what you’ve learned with other nurses in your workplace or at conferences and seminars. By learning from each other, everyone benefits from new ideas and approaches to caring for their patients. There are several other ways that nurses can learn from their peers:
- Reading medical articles (especially those based on research).
- Asking questions about new procedures or medications.
- Listening carefully during meetings with other staff members.
- Attending conferences outside of work hours.
Balance the personal and professional
A nurse’s life is filled with joys and challenges, but it’s important to remember that it’s not all about work. Maintaining a balance between your personal and professional life is crucial for your health and wellbeing.
Nurses should take time off when they need it. This ensures that you establish a good balance.
Do not neglect your health either by working too hard or ignoring stressors such as depression, anxiety or substance abuse problems.
Nursing is a vocation that requires dedication and hard work, but it also provides great rewards for those who choose it. When it comes to being the best nurse possible, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every nurse has unique strengths and weaknesses that they should consider when planning their career path.
However, with some basic tips and a little outside-the-box thinking, you can learn how to be an amazing nurse who is respected by patients, peers and other healthcare team members.