4 Essential Skills That Will Make You The Best Nurse
By: Portia Wofford
Most nurses have excellent clinical skills that they learned both through their education and on-the-job. He or she is knowledgeable about various disease processes and can quote the side effects of medications verbatim. However, soft skills are usually traits that cannot be taught. Soft skills are innate components of an individual’s personality and core values - while some individuals may simply be born with these qualities, others can develop and master them over time.
The Value Of Soft Skills
Soft skills affect not only the patient-nurse relationship; these skills also contribute to the relationship of the nurse with other interdisciplinary team members as well as the communities, where the nurse practices. Therefore, it is vital for nurses to develop soft skills which will enhance teamwork and collaboration and lead to improving patient outcomes.
Soft skills are skills which characterize relationships with other people, or which are about how you approach life and work.
Top 4 Soft Skills That Help Nurses At Work
There are many soft skills and the following are the top four that nurses can develop to be great!
1. Effective Communication
Communication begins before you even speak. Peplau’s Interpersonal Relations Theory focuses on the nurse-patient relationship and the therapeutic process that takes place.
The three phases of this theory help to define that relationship and achieve a common goal:
- Orientation Phase: This is the introductory phase. The patient has been introduced to treatment and is longing to ask questions and receive information. This stage helps the patient develop trust. It is where the first impressions about the nurse and his or her healthcare team are established.
- Identification/Working Phase: The patient and nurse begin to work together. It accounts for the majority of the time that nurses spend with their patients. This is the time nurses put their communication skills to test. The patient becomes an active participant in his or treatment. The nurse must be able to actively listen. This is the time for the nurse to build a rapport of trust and convince the patient that he or she is competent and knowledgeable. This is the teaching phase.
- Resolution Phase: This phase allows the nurse to measure the success of his or communication skills. The success of the resolution phase is dependent on how well patients and nurses communicated during the orientation and working phases. As a result of effective communication, the patient’s needs have been met.
Of course, one way to decipher a patient's feelings is by listening and understanding their verbal cues; another valuable way is through the use of non-verbal cues by maintaining eye contact.
- Maintaining eye contact lets your patient know you are genuine
- It tells your patient that you respect them and are holding space for them
- You are acknowledging another person’s presence
- It shows your patients that you are interested in hearing what they have to say
Written communication is also important. Be sure your written forms of communication are clear, concise, and easy to understand. Write in complete sentences that are grammatically correct. When communicating with a patient use layman’s term. Only use approved abbreviations and terminology that is universal.
2. Practicing Empathy
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. As healthcare organizations become increasingly dependent on technology, it is important to realize that no amount of technology can compensate for an empathetic nurse.
An empathetic nurse can connect with his or her patient by understanding what the patient is going through. They are able to acknowledge their patient’s emotional state, listen, and engage the patient with open, unbiased communication. Empathetic nurses can empower their patients to express their feelings, fears, and concerns related to their healthcare.
3. Organization and time management
These two skills go hand-in-hand. Having organizational skills speaks to your ability to function effectively in the workplace. Nurses must learn time management skills to successfully handle their daily responsibilities while maintaining a professional environment during interactions with patients, family members, and colleagues. The ability to prioritize your workload and effectively multitask is essential. Let's not forget those last-minute assignments or schedule changes. As nurses, we must be able to adapt quickly, reprioritize, organize, and manage these changes. Having great organizational and time management skills will lessen those burdens.
The healthcare industry is all about collaboration and an interdisciplinary approach. Developing the aptitude of networking and being able to work in groups and contribute seamlessly, is excellent for career advancement and improves the level of care for patients. Honing in on your networking skills will prove beneficial, not only for the benefit of your patients but for the benefit of your professional career. The nursing world is small. You never know when you'll apply for a new position, and a former colleague is the hiring manager. Networking can help nurses achieve the fundamental knowledge required to take the next step for career advancement. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 70% of jobs are found through professional networking.
Identify, understand, and incorporate some soft skills into your expertise. Using some of these can help relieve stress, boost your confidence, and affect your overall career as a nurse. What soft skills do you use?
Portia Wofford is a nurse, millennial strategist, healthcare writer, entrepreneur, and micro-influencer. Chosen as a brand ambassador or collaborative partner for various organizations, Wofford strives to empower nurses by offering nurses resources for career development--while providing organizations with tools to close generational gaps within their nursing staff. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for her latest.