What Skills Are Needed to Become a Nurse?

Every day, patients rely on nurses to treat their physical, mental, and emotional needs. The career of nursing requires several skills, such as technical abilities, interpersonal skills and critical thinking. Read on to learn more about the skills required to become a nurse. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

According to the American Nurses Association (ANA, www.nursingworld.org), registered nurses (RNs) work to prevent disease and injury through health education, such as an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing, which is required to become licensed and work in the field. Your career as a nurse can take many directions. You may, for example, become a pediatric nurse, an emergency room nurse, or a geriatric diabetes management nurse working with the elderly. All types of nurses have skills specific to their nursing specialty. General domains of nursing skills that cross each specialty are technical, interpersonal, and critical-thinking skills.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Median Salary (2014) $66,640 per year
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 19% (for all registered nurses)
Licensure Required in all states; must pass the NCLEX-RN exam
Professional Certification Allows a nurse to specialize in an area; voluntary, but may be required by some employers
Work Environment Hospitals, doctors' offices, nursing facilities, patients' homes, jails, clinics, schools
Similar Occupations Licensed practical or vocational nurse, dental hygienist, physician assistant

Source: U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics

Technical Skills

Technical nursing skills relate to competence using the technology and procedures particular to your specialty and demonstration of basic patient care. Your nurse training includes learning to perform basic medical tasks, such as administering medicine intravenously, positioning patients on hospital beds, applying bandages, and helping patients perform everyday procedures when necessary. Personal qualities that benefit you as a nurse include being responsible and detail-oriented. Nurses pay special attention to documentation of their patients' health status. Some nursing skills required across all nursing specialties include:

  • Assessing your patients' physical, mental, and emotional state
  • Diagnosing your patients' diseases and injuries
  • Implementing a recovery plan
  • Evaluating your patients' recovery

Interpersonal Abilities

Because nurses often act as liaisons between medical specialists and patients, your interpersonal skills are critical. Establishing trust and rapport between the healthcare team and patients may facilitate healing. As a nurse, you often provide education about health conditions and translate test results and other types of medical information. Patients appreciate nurses who take time to get to know patients and who have strong listening skills. Though nursing training addresses these abilities, some personal qualities that enhance your interpersonal skills as a nurse include being caring and emotionally mature.

Critical-Thinking Skills

Nurses are problem solvers. In your work shift, you may be called on to solve several types of problems, including interpersonal and technical problems. Perceiving and defining problems, identifying goals, generating alternatives, taking action, and evaluating solutions are problem-solving steps that can be learned and applied to any type of problem that requires critical thinking. You may often find yourself in situations in which you need to exercise careful judgment based on evidence. Several models have been developed for nurses to develop critical-thinking skills applied to a variety of case situations, which you're likely to encounter in your nursing training. Reflectiveness, self-confidence, and inquisitiveness are among the traits that can enhance your critical-thinking skills.

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