Becoming a nurse takes a lot of hard work and dedication. School and clinical hours add up to a lot of time spent learning what it takes to be a nurse. There are a lot of tests, and a lot of practical exams you have to be prepared for.
When you’re immersed in all of that it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the fact that someday you’ll be done with nursing school and will actually be a real nurse. The skills you’ve learned in school are a good foundation but they aren’t always the exact things you’ll need when it comes to going from a capable nurse to a great nurse.
Since no one thinking about becoming a nurse wants to be considered just a capable nurse, there are some things you can do to up your game. These are things that go beyond your basic nursing training and will make you really exceptional at your chosen career. Here are five things you can keep in mind that will help you become a great nurse.
1. Ask Questions, A Lot
Learning how to be a great nurse doesn’t end the day you pass your NCLEX exam. You should be learning your entire career. This means when you are working and don’t know the answer to something, or are new to a type of procedure you should be asking questions. Take the time to learn whenever you have the chance.
You should also keep this tip in mind when you’re talking to patients or working with doctors. You are sometimes the final line of defense in patient safety and hospital related errors. If you read an order and notice the doctor chose a medication the patient has listed as an allergy, verify everything. Ask questions every time you see something that doesn’t make sense.
Doctors can be intimidating but most of them are willing to admit they’ve made a mistake and rewrite orders or change up a procedure. Everyone wants to help the patient remain safe and get better. Remember that you aren’t asking questions about something a doctor has ordered because you doubt their skill, you’re just verifying things to keep your patient safe.
2. Use Your CNAs Effectively
CNAs work hard, and they really do care about your patient as much as you do a lot of the time. Chances are they may even be working towards becoming a nurse themselves and you were probably in their position not very long ago. Don’t discount their desire to help give good care to your patients. They can be an extra set of eyes for you to make sure things are going well.
Encourage your CNAs to report things like even a minor red spot on your patient’s skin. Something like bed sores can get out of hand quickly. It’s better to hear about every read spot than to intimidate your CNAs so much that they don’t report anything they see.
If they don’t feel they can approach you and you miss the chance to stop a pressure ulcer (skin sore) before it gets out of hand your patient is the one that suffers. This is just one example of a way a CNA can be extremely helpful to you and your patient.
Keep in mind that depending on how many patients you have, they are more likely to see your patient more during the day. Listen to what they have to say and always encourage them to come to you right away with any concerns they have. You’ll never regret being the nurse CNAs love to work with. They can be a real lifesaver, figuratively and literally sometimes.
3. Listen To Your Instincts
This doesn’t mean you should make major medical decisions based on a gut feeling. Rather, this is a tip about making sure you don’t ignore a gut feeling that something just isn’t quite right. You spend a lot of time with your patients, so if you feel something is off it’s okay to take a moment or two and listen to your gut instinct.
Take a minute to do a mental checklist. Ask yourself if something has changed since the last time you saw the patient. Are they suddenly disoriented? Has their respiration rate changed? Is their demeanor drastically different? Something is tipping you off and telling you to pay extra attention so give yourself a chance to listen to that instinct.
If you do identify what has changed, you can take appropriate action more quickly which means the patient’s health and safety are going to benefit from your quick actions. If you can’t immediately see something that is a red flag, keep the feeling you have in mind and check on the patient again sooner than you otherwise might have.
Extra caution when your gut is telling you something is off is never going to be a bad thing. If nothing ever comes of it, then you haven’t lost anything by taking a few minutes to be extra vigilant. You might be surprised how often that tiny feeling you have is actually right and results in taking an action that really helps your patient.
4. Showing Emotion Is Okay
This doesn’t mean you should break down sobbing every time a patient passes away. As a nurse, you most likely understand that this is part of your job. It’s going to happen. Things don’t always go well in the medical field. It’s a painful reality of your job, and it’s okay to show that you’re upset by something, within reason.
Depending on where you choose to work you could spend a lot of time with your patients and become very attached to them. Their families may also get to know you very well sometimes. If something does happen to a patient you’ve been close to it’s okay if you feel sad about it. It’s okay if you cry a little bit. Empathy and your caring personality are assets to your career.
As a nurse, you should always feel passionate about your patients and your career. That passion invites emotion. The important thing is to remember is you do need to show restraint, at least while at work. You can cry, you can be upset, you can show that you care about your patients. Just don’t let that part of you make you completely unpredictable as a nurse.
Balance with emotions at work is key. You shouldn’t ever be a robot as a nurse so showing your human side is a good thing. It’s what is going to keep you focused on giving your patients the best care possible.
5. Take Care Of Yourself Too
Burn out in the nursing profession is very high. You are constantly caring for other people, and it’s often in a very high-stress environment. Patients come to hospitals on some of the worst days of their lives and you’re the one they are asking for help on that day. As a nurse, you probably care about them a lot and put a lot of your heart into giving everyone great care.
Giving your all at work is a wonderful thing to do, especially as a nurse. Just keep in mind that self-care is very important to avoid reaching a point where you no longer care about anything. If you find yourself starting to get short-tempered or feel like you are starting to not care as much about your patients it’s time to take a break.
Be clear with your boundaries. If you have picked up a shift the last 10 times you were asked to, it’s okay to think of yourself the next time you’re asked and say you can’t do it this time. Giving yourself time to recharge and decompress doesn’t mean you don’t care about your job or your patients.
Remember that you can’t help anyone if you’re so exhausted you stop caring. The moment you stop caring you are risking not catching possible medication errors, providing sub-par care to your patients, and even making your co-workers pick up your slack. Take care of yourself. You work hard, so you deserve to enjoy some “me time” too.
Becoming a great nurse will happen over time. You’ll start to develop your own rhythm and personality while on the job. The more time you’ve spent working as a nurse the better you can become. Keep these tips in mind and always remember to keep improving your skills. Your patients, your fellow nurses, and your career will all be better off because of your efforts.
This post has been sponsored by Nelson Internet Marketing
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