What makes one a good nurse?
So what makes one a good nurse and what nursing qualities should a good nurse possess? Let me start with my personal story.
Why? Well, definitely not for money or the “convenience” of nursing schedules. See, I grew up in Moldova, a small country (part of the former Soviet Union) and high pay was not even a thing. Nurses get paid a very minimum salary that is not enough to survive on, not to mention to live on.
Partially it was because my dad was a paramedic and I was just fascinated by anything medical: the tools and equipment, the white coats of the doctors, the thrill of the emergencies, etc. However, this is just a small part of my reasons. The bigger part was my personal experience and the attention I got from nurses when I was sick. At age four I was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and had to spend a lot of my time at the clinic appointments, lab for blood draws, and the hospital. It is during my hospital stays I fell in love with nursing profession. There were some nurses who just did their job, and they were ok (after all they did what they are supposed to do, right?). And then there were the ones who actually cared. These nurses came and spent time with me when my parents were not around, they tried to cheer me up by telling a funny story or just listened to what I had to say. It is then, I decided that I wanted to become a nurse and to be just like those good ones!
So, if you are considering becoming a nurse, please think about these few things:
- Do you like people? (realize there are kinds of different personalities, ages, and social groups that you may be working with, but they are all PEOPLE). Good interpersonal skills are essential in nursing.
- Do you have good communication skills? Solid communication skills are a basic foundation for any career. But for nurses, it’s one of the most important aspects of the job. A great nurse has excellent communication skills, especially when it comes to speaking and listening. Based on team and patient feedback, they are able to problem-solve and effectively communicate with patients and families.
- Are you flexible? (are you prepared to start working the schedule that no one wants, start on a night shift, start on the unit that was not your dream job? Because most likely, you’d have to start there).
- Do you actually care or are you thinking nursing is a good profession for money and job security? (you are not going to make a very good nurse if you do not have genuine compassion, empathy, patience, and care)
- Do you have emotional stability? Nursing is a stressful job where traumatic situations are common. The ability to accept suffering and death without letting it get personal is crucial. Some days can seem like non-stop gloom and doom.
- Do you have physical endurance? Frequent physical tasks, standing for long periods of time, lifting heavy objects (or people), and performing a number of taxing maneuvers on a daily basis are staples of nursing life. It’s definitely not a desk job. Always on the go, a great nurse maintains her energy throughout her shift, whether she’s in a surgery or checking in on a patient. Staying strong, eating right, and having a healthy lifestyle outside of nursing is important too!
- Do you know how to show respect? Respect goes a long way. Great nurses respect people and rules, they also respect human life and diversity. They remain impartial at all times and are mindful of confidentiality requirements and different cultures and traditions. Above all, they respect the wishes of the patient him- or herself. Great nurses respect the hospital staff and each other, understanding that the patient comes first. And nurses who respect others are highly respected in return. That, in my opinion, is one of the most important nursing qualities.
So, now what?
There are many other important qualities a good nurse should possess. I suggest before applying for the nursing program do your research, ask nurses around you, and if you ever have a chance follow a nurse for a day or two DO IT, so you can really get an idea what nursing is like in real life.
Finally, don’t get discouraged. Nursing is great! I still love it with all my heart. Sure, it is a lot of work and hard work, but this work is rewarding. So, if you still considering nursing, I wish you all the best throughout the school and your career path.