Wondering if nursing could be the right career for you, but not sure if you’d be a good fit? Asking these questions as you prepare to commit to a nursing career is important. After all, not everyone is cut out to be a nurse. Here are 12 qualities that all successful nurses must have:
You can adapt to non-traditional schedules.
Most nurses work three 12-hour shifts per week, not counting overtime. If you’re lucky, you get the day shift, but many nurses have to work nights at one point or another in their careers. Nurses need to be able to adapt to these unusual schedules and still be well-rested for their next shift.
You can stay on your feet for 12 hours or more.
Nursing is a very physical job. You have to lift objects and turn patients constantly, and nurses can walk up to five miles in a hospital’s corridors per shift. If you already have physical health issues that limit your mobility, such as back pain or weak knees, nursing will exacerbate them no matter how comfortable your nursing shoes are.
You’re okay with handling bodily fluids.
How much nurses have to work with bodily fluids varies a lot depending on their specialty and department, but suffice it to say that you need to be comfortable handling and cleaning various bodily fluids, including blood, saliva and urine—all while wearing examination gloves, of course. If you get woozy at the mere sight of blood, becoming a nurse is probably not the best career path for you, unfortunately.
You’re comfortable with autonomy.
If you’re the type of person who waits to be told what to do, nursing isn’t going to be a great fit for you. Even though beginning nurses do report to more senior nurses or doctors, nurses still have a lot of autonomy out of the gate. Being proactive and making good decisions on your own will take you far and earn you a lot of goodwill among your coworkers. And the autonomy (and responsibility) for patient care decisions only grows as you gain experience.
You think critically and quickly.
Because of that autonomy, nurses need to be able to think critically on the spur of the moment. They must be able to take in a bunch of information, break it down, sort it out and then draw a conclusion based on the evidence. For example, they must decide whether the symptom a patient reports is major, minor or a side effect of medications, sometimes within a few seconds.
You know when to follow the rules.
That being said, nurses also need to be able to comply with the rules when necessary. Most of the time, medical rules and procedures enhance patient care rather than hindering it, so it’s very important that nurses follow the standards set by their profession and their employer. However, sometimes rules do need to be broken for the sake of a patient’s health, and that’s why nurses must have sterling judgment as well as the ability to comply with the rules.
You’re skilled at prioritizing.
Due to the nursing shortage, most nurses have more tasks than they can complete in any given shift, so they must be adept at prioritizing the most important ones and getting them done first. This skill is especially critical in certain departments like the ER, where nurses help to triage patients, sometimes a true life-or-death situation.
You stay calm under pressure.
Granted, not every nursing specialty is as pulse-pounding as the ER, nurses in every department and specialty face high-pressure situations from time to time. No matter your job, there’s always the possibility that you’ll face a patient who refuses to take life-saving medication or a family member who berates you. Nurses need to be able to stay calm and deal with these situations with equilibrium and patience.
You love to keep learning.
Your nursing education doesn’t stop when you graduate from nursing school. Nurses keep learning all the time, from the latest techniques to training for a new specialty. Since healthcare is advancing all the time, nurses and other medical professionals must work to keep up with changing best practice guidelines to ensure they’re always at the forefront of the best patient care.
You’re great at listening and communicating.
Communication is a two-way street. Because nurses spend so much face time with patients, they must be experts at listening to the patient’s concerns and then clearly explaining the care plan to them. Nurses must also interact well with everyone on the patient care team, from the lead doctor to technicians, making communication one of the most-needed soft skills.
You’re very observant.
Patients don’t always know how to express what’s wrong with them (and in some cases, they may not even know that something is wrong). Nurses dial into their patients and look for potential warning signs that others might miss. After all, that mole the patient didn’t mention might be nothing, or it could be the beginning of skin cancer.
You can stand up for yourself when necessary.
There’s a common saying among the nursing profession: “Nurses eat their young”–meaning that older, more experienced nurses have been known to bully newer recruits and make them “pay their dues.” Hopefully, you never have to be on the receiving end of that treatment, but unfortunately it happens. Some doctors also exhibit superiority over nurses because of their title, and patients and/or their family members can also mistreat nurses as well. If these situations arise, nurses have to be able to politely but firmly stand up for themselves and defuse the behavior rather than enabling it.
Last but not least, nurses have to be committed to caring for patients (but hopefully you knew that already!). If these qualities all describe you, then you’re probably a great fit for a nursing career—just make sure to do your homework to determine whether or not nursing is also a fit for your career goals.
This article was provided by American blog, RealCareGivers.