Nursing jobs have been near the top of the job growth charts for almost a decade. The population is increasing at a rapid rate, and older people are making up more and more of that population. The two most common types of nurse are the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and Registered Nurse (RN). No matter what nursing career you decide to pursue, there are many skills you will need to be able to handle the responsibility that comes with being a nurse.
While working as a nurse, you will interact with people at their worst and their best. An effective nurse needs to be caring, understanding, non-judgmental, and have a strong ability to empathize with patients from all walks of life. Patients look to a nurse not only to treat them but to educate them and offer support not only to the patient but family members as well.
Depending on where you decide to work, you may deal with people who are very sick, disabled or experiencing any number of physical, mental, and emotional issues. If you work in the emergency room of a hospital, you may have to handle all of these conditions every shift, every day. You will have to be strong enough emotionally to provide patients with everything they require no matter how their particular condition affects you deep down.
A nurse needs to be intelligent, organized, and be a good multi-tasker. Nurses are responsible for recording a patient’s medical history accurately and asking the right questions to get more information when needed. When working as a nurse, you will be working with a lot of different machines and medications, so it’s imperative to know math at a reasonably strong level. You will take plenty of math classes in college, but you should pay particular attention to them as math is a skill you will use daily. You will also have to know both the standard and metric systems of measurement as you will measure various things throughout the day.
Many nurses have a strong background in science, and this is very useful because you may be around bacteria and viruses once in awhile. A background in science can help you explain what exactly is going on with a patient that is sick.
Language and listening skills are crucial for a nurse. You will have to be able to communicate with doctors, patients, and your coworkers in a very fast paced environment. You should be able to listen to doctor’s orders and take perfect notes when needed. You don’t want to confuse a tablespoon with a teaspoon or a milliliter with a milligram.
If you already know or are planning on learning a second language, you will be a great benefit to any hospital, doctor’s office, or nursing home. Nurses who speak multiple languages, including sign language, have a greater ability to communicate with patients and are in higher demand and will usually get a higher salary.
Nurses need to be able to spot anything out of the ordinary. This includes wounds, strange behavior, or anything that just doesn’t seem right. A good example is if you have a patient with a few deep cuts. You will have to make sure you see every cut so the doctor will know to examine it. Patients might not know why or where the problem is so it will be up to you to find out.
If you work in a nursing facility of some kind, you will get to know the residents of that home so it will be easier to notice when something isn’t right. With an ER nurse, you will have to work a little harder to get information from the patient so you can understand and locate the problem.
Nursing will require a good amount of physical activity. You will be lifting, moving, adjusting, and sometimes restraining. Nurses are rarely alone, and assistance is usually right outside but if someone falls, has a seizure, or requires you to move them immediately, you should be able to handle it. Nurses also do a lot of walking on shift so you should be able to walk around all day with little trouble.
While these are the top skills you will need to focus on to be a nurse, you will also need to be able to manage those around you, complete paperwork efficiently, and possibly work with finances. The best skill a nurse can have, however, is patience. You might deal with some people who intentionally push your buttons but if you are patient, it should work out just fine, and you’ll have a long, fulfilling career.