(HealthNewsDigest.com) – There are very few careers that offer such amazing personal rewards as nursing can. You will receive a lot of respect; your job will be flexible (to some extent, at least), you will be able to progress in your career, and you will – perhaps most importantly of all – make a huge difference in people’s lives. In many cases, you will even save those lives.
Of course, nursing does have many challenges associated with it as well. It’s hard work, online nursing programs will require a lot of dedication, and shift work can take its toll on your mental and physical health if you’re not ready for it. Still, even though nursing is extremely demanding, it is also incredibly satisfying. Those who have the right combination of qualities make wonderful nurses who love their jobs and who couldn’t ever imagine doing anything else.
Just what are these qualities? What makes a great nurse compared to a good one, or even a mediocre one? What is it that makes one person stand out and do something that many others would never even contemplate? There are several different qualities that, all added together, make great nurses, so read on to find out what at least some of them are.
Empathy is a word you have probably heard many times in the past, especially considering being a nurse and researching online nursing programs. However, even though you may have heard it, that doesn’t mean you know exactly what it means because it is a slightly difficult word to explain – it’s more of a feeling than anything else. In its most simple terms, empathy is the skill of putting yourself in someone else’s situation and thereby understanding how they are feeling and what is concerning them. It means looking at your own situation from a different point of view. Just because, for example, you are busy taking care of a number of different patients, it’s important to understand why one patient is frustrated that you haven’t helped them yet. A great nurse will understand this and will be gentle with that patient, even if they are mistaken in their assumption that they are being ignored or passed by when they want to be helped.
A great nurse will be able to stop this frustration from building by stopping by someone’s bed and letting them know that they have been acknowledged and that someone will be there to help them soon.
Essentially, empathy as a nurse is about predicting how people will feel and helping them in advance, even if it’s just a few words of kindness or a smile. Without this quality, which is certainly not something that everyone possesses, patients may not feel they are receiving the best care, and the nurse in question won’t understand why there is a problem.
Luckily, empathy is something that can be learned if you do not inherently have it. As part of many online nursing programs, you will be taught how to understand your patients more deeply, and this will make a huge difference in your work and your personal life.
Nursing is an extremely demanding job. Every day you will need to deal with people in pain, suffering, grieving, scared, and even those who are incredibly happy, depending on the problem, what they have been told, and how their condition is to be treated. Although the patients themselves may only be experiencing a small range of emotions, you will be experiencing potentially the full range from complete devastation to immense joy because you are dealing with many different patients. This can be tough to handle, and it’s something that, once you have finished your online nursing programs, you will have to contend with right away.
As a nurse, no matter what kind of emotional trauma (or pleasure) someone is going through, you need to remain calm and professional at all times. You also need to be sympathetic; otherwise, you might come across as cold and uncaring. It is a fine balance to strike, and it is something that will come over a number of years – experience will help you hugely if you want to be a great nurse.
Emotional stability is not the same as a lack of emotions. However, being emotionally stable means that you can give your patients the best care because you can see past the trauma and the emotions and look at what needs to be done. Becoming tangled up in the emotions yourself might be the easy path, but it’s not one that will help the patient in the long term, even if it seems to be comforting right now.
Just like empathy, emotional stability can be learned through online nursing programs, but it will still take time, and there is nothing that quite makes up for true experience.
One of the most important qualities of a great nurse is communication. Having excellent communication skills is crucial because nurses need to be able to communicate between patients and doctors, as well as family members, ensuring that each group understands exactly what is happening and what is needed. Even if that means repeating the same information more than once, it must be done.
If there is a miscommunication in a hospital or other medical setting, the results can be serious. From mixing up medication to missing information on a patient’s notes (such as allergies, for example), the outcome can cause much more damage than the initial reason for being in a hospital. Good communication, therefore, is essential so that nothing is missed and everything is entirely understood.
Not only is communication something that will help your colleagues treat patients in the correct way, but it is also a way to build good relationships with patients and their families. This therapeutic tool helps everyone stay calm in dire situations, and it ensures that, as far as possible, people are happy with the care and treatment they are being provided. A patient who is relaxed and feeling calm because their nurse can explain everything to them in a way they understand, and who has a soothing tone as well, is going to be much more confident in sharing any concerns or asking any questions. This can help treat them and diagnose any issues they might have, so it’s much more important than it might seem at first.
A Desire to Learn
You cannot start nursing without the correct qualifications that can be gained via online nursing programs. Nursing is a highly specialized profession, so it’s vital that you have the right knowledge and learning behind you before you start interacting with and treating patients. This is absolutely fundamental to any nurse, no matter what level you start at or what your ambitions are.
Remember, though, once you graduate from online nursing programs, you won’t be expected to know everything, and there will still be a lot to learn. You’ll know enough to make you a good nurse, and you’ll know enough to be able to treat patients and take care of a wide range of patients, but if you want to be a great nurse, you’ll need to know more, and this is where the desire to learn is so crucial. To be a great nurse, you won’t ever want to stop learning. You will always be looking for additional online nursing programs that will enable you to progress in your career, or to work in specific areas such as the OR, or with children, or in a cancer department, for example).
Much of your learning can be done on the job, learning as you go, gaining experience from every patient you help and from the other nurses you are working with. Yet to be a truly great nurse, the desire to learn will be strong, and you will want to take advantage of the many different online nursing programs that are available to you.
Healthcare is always evolving and constantly changing, so even if you are happy to stay in the position you are working in, there will still be new things to learn. Be aware of this and be ready to change the way you work if required; you will need to be adaptable, but if it means being able to help the patients more, then it is always entirely worth doing.
A nurse must be able to think quickly and act fast, but that doesn’t mean jumping to conclusions and rushing their ideas. Critical thinking – thinking carefully about the facts presented to them and interpreting the data to come up with the right solution – is certainly something that a nurse will need to be able to do well. Although nurses do work as part of a team, they are often autonomous when it comes to the quick-thinking they have to do in emergencies, which is why this skill is such an important one if you intend to be a great nurse.
Critical thinking is a skill that requires plenty of self-discipline and the ability to prioritize patients who need the most urgent care. Troubleshooting and being accurate are both skills that are vital in this situation, and if a nurse were to simply grab at the first diagnosis they came to, many mistakes might be made. Yet if they spend too long trying to come up with a solution, the patient could get sicker or worse. This is why speed is important, as well as the ability to think critically.
Something that will help in this situation is having a good base of knowledge from online nursing programs. With this in mind, finding the right solution will be easier, which is why learning as a nurse is so important, as mentioned above.
As a nurse, you won’t always agree with every person you come into contact with. There might be a parent who refuses to vaccinate their child; there might be someone who doesn’t want a blood transfusion due to religious beliefs. There could be people who don’t believe in medicine and only use alternative herbal methods for treatment. These patients or their families will present challenges to you as a nurse, and even though your online nursing programs will have taught you the reasons for medical intervention, and although you might disagree with what they are saying, you need to be open-minded. That is, you need to understand why they are saying what they are saying and acting in the way they are acting.
Nurses must remember that a patient’s right to choose their own healthcare is always a priority. As long as you have given them all the pertinent information they need to make their choice, there is nothing you can do – or should be – to dissuade them from that, even if you fundamentally disagree with the choice they are making.
Although your online nursing programs are going to allow plenty of flexibility and you can study at your own pace (which is why they are so ideal for those who have other responsibilities or a job they can’t afford to quit in order to study), this is not the same as it will be when you’re a nurse. Nursing requires a lot of versatility since you will need to work a variety of different shifts, including night work and weekends, and you might not receive a lot of notice before being scheduled to work.
The work-life balance is very important, and it is a good idea to try to keep a balance where you can, but it is also important to remember that nursing is a 24 hour profession and that sometimes there will be emergencies that require you to be there to help out. Whether a colleague is sick and can’t work, or there has been a major incident that needs as many nurses as possible in the hospital to assist, being able to be there when needed is what makes a great nurse.