The nursing profession is multifaceted. Many different types of nurses exist, from certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to registered nurses (RNs) to various kinds of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and nurse leaders. Each position comes with a unique set of responsibilities and a distinguished role in providing patient care. While their day-to-day job descriptions may vary by role, all nurses should have some core competencies. To succeed as a nurse, you must be ready to administer patient care, educate patients on health and well-being, and provide emotional support for patients and family members, along with other tasks. These nursing skills are crucial for anyone in this important field.
1. Communication skills
No matter which type of nursing role you wind up in, communication will be a critical part of your job.
Nurses often explain treatment plans to their patients and answer any questions that may arise. Good nurses are able to clearly and accurately convey medical information even to patients whose knowledge of medicine is quite limited. Additionally, nurses may sometimes have to deliver difficult news to patients and family members; doing so requires an ability to communicate clearly but also compassionately. Good nurses should know how to communicate with their words and also have a command of body language and other forms of nonverbal communication.
Nurses often work in collaboration with doctors and technicians, meaning they must also be ready to quickly and precisely communicate patient concerns or pain points.
2. Critical thinking
A patient’s situation may change at any moment, requiring nurses to think on their feet, determine possible complicating factors, and decide how best to continue administering patient care.
The ability to assess new or unexpected developments with sound critical thinking is a must, both when providing care and diagnosing patients. APRNs and nurse practitioners can play an essential role in assessing patients, interpreting test results, and determining a diagnosis, all of which require critical thinking abilities.
3. Patient assessment
No matter which level of the nursing profession you’re in, it’s necessary to have some basic knowledge of assessing patient conditions and determining whether your patient needs emergency care. Specifically, nurses should be well versed in technical skills, such as monitoring vital signs, checking pulse, and listening for indications of labored breathing.
Nurses should also be able to identify and assist with conditions and symptoms that are sometimes complex. The ability to assess urgent problems and find the best course of action can save lives.
As a nurse, you may encounter situations in which patients and their families are overcome with anxiety or grief. While these interactions are often difficult, everyone deserves compassionate care. Great nurses are able to maintain their patience and empathy, especially during unpleasant circumstances. This could mean communicating graciously, building rapport with patients, and ensuring that patients feel comfortable and secure, no matter the situation.
5. Urgent care
Nurses should be well versed in providing basic urgent care. No matter which nursing role you occupy, you may see patients who are experiencing life-threatening conditions such as cardiac arrest, catastrophic bleeding, or an airway obstruction. Therefore, it’s necessary for nurses to be proficient in skills such as wound care and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Additionally, you may be required to triage patients as they come into the emergency room, ensuring that they’re directed toward the right department and the appropriate level of care.
6. Physical endurance
As a nurse, you’ll likely need to work long shifts and may be on your feet for many hours at a time. While on the clock, you may also need to fulfill some strenuous tasks, such as moving patients or heavy equipment
Physical strength and stamina are essential for success and avoiding injuries. Nurses who aren’t in good physical health may be prone to injury or physical exhaustion. They may also simply find that they’re not in the right condition to provide optimal patient care.
7. Technology skills
The world of health care is increasingly reliant on advanced software, including applications used to manage electronic health records (EHRs). Nurses are often called upon to access, transfer, or update patient files according to new appointments, treatments, diagnoses, or clinical outcomes. Technologies ranging from health monitoring systems to portable medical devices are constantly advancing, and learning new technologies is required for nurses to provide optimal care.
Develop core nursing skills
To thrive in the nursing profession and have a positive impact on your patients, it’s crucial to hone the right nursing skills. One way to develop those core competencies is to enroll in a nursing education program that will prepare you for real-world practice — whether that means obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), or even a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Explore our recommendation engine for some of the available nursing programs that can help you build these skills.