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A skill is an ability and capacity acquired through deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to smoothly and adaptively carryout complex activities or job functions involving ideas (cognitive skills), things (technical skills), and/or people [interpersonal skills]

In the development of skills, one should consider 2 groups of skills: which is firstly hard skills e.g. skills relating to any specific task; they are usually easily quantifiable and tend to be knowledge-based, such as proficiency in a subject and technical skills. Secondly, soft skills relating to personality and tend to be transferable, such as communication, leadership, time management, stress management, decision making, adaptability, ability to deal with adversity, and networking (https://personalexcellence.co/blog/skills-development).

Registered nurses (R/N), are the backbone or flagship of the healthcare system. Although it is assumed that the doctor is the head of the multi-disciplinary team, it is indeed the professional nurse in charge of the unit/ward who is the generalist, who receives all the orders and requests from all the other team members (for each patient) who has to coordinate these orders/requests into a sensible nursing care plan that will facilitate high-quality nursing care. It is she or he who manage the daily schedule of the patients. They are the healthcare contributors, who analyse and help the patients. They also act as a mediator between the doctor and patient’s family. These professionals provide knowledge about the patient’s medical condition, treatment and the physician’s instructions to the family members. They generally work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing centres and medical centres. Along with the basic educational requirements, an RN is required to possess certain qualities and skills to become a successful nurse. These traits are acquired in the classroom or at the time of a clinical program.

It is not an easy task to identify the most important skills of an excellent nurse practitioner. In order to do so, one has to consider the characteristics of nurses. Personality is deemed to play a part in the choice of work, with individuals preferencing a profession or field of work that will satisfy their personal needs. Personality testing enables the identification of an individual’s personality characteristics. These characteristics can inform how an individual is likely to respond or cope when exposed to different situations (Osipow, 1973:2)

It is well known that personality has an influence on the way an individual interacts and deals with the outside world, and in turn, influences their ability to cope and deal with stressful situations. Personality characteristics have the potential to provide an explanation as to why some individuals manage to deal with stress and continue to function effectively, while for others, the same situation may cause major disruption to their physical and mental wellbeing (Lawler: Volz, Marti &, Jones, (2005: 3)

It is interesting to note that leadership supplicate a variety of thoughts and relationships, which may include power, influence, followership, dynamic personality, charisma, goals, autocratic behaviour, innovation, cleverness, warmth and kindness. When analysing different definitions of leadership, it is evident that a common theme seems to run through many definitions that leadership involves influencing the attitudes, beliefs, behaviours and feelings of other people (Spector: 2006). In view of the above information, the following skills were identified as key skills in rendering safe nursing of a high quality.

1. 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. They are able to follow directions without a problem and can easily communicate with patients and families. While only a few nurses will hold designated leadership roles at a facility, hiring managers are looking for nurses who lead in other ways. Nurses always need to be on top of their game and make sure that their patients are clearly understood by everyone else. A truly stellar nurse is able to advocate for her patients and anticipate their needs. We call these “intangibles,” and they’re not easily found within the confines of a job description. As we’re conducting our interviews, we—and lots of other employers—are looking to see evidence of these five skills:

2. 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. That’s not to say that there aren’t heart-warming moments in nursing. Helping a patient recover, reuniting families, or bonding with fellow nurses are special benefits of the job. Just don’t come to expect it.

3. Empathy

Great nurses have empathy for the pain and suffering of patients. They are able to feel compassion and provide comfort. But be prepared for the occasional bout of compassion fatigue; it happens to the greatest of nurses. Learn how to recognise the symptoms and deal with it efficiently. Patients look to nurses as their advocates — the softer side of hospital bureaucracy. Being sympathetic to the patient’s hospital experience can go a long way in terms of improving patient care. Sometimes, an empathetic nurse is all patients have to look forward to.

4. Flexibility

Being flexible and rolling with the punches is a staple of any career, but it’s especially important for nurses. A great nurse is flexible with regards to working hours and responsibilities. Nurses, like doctors, are often required to work long periods of overtime, late or overnight shifts and weekends. Know that it comes with the territory. The upside is that a fluctuating schedule often means you’re skipping the 9 to 5, cubicle treadmill. Sounds perfect, right? Run errands, go to the movies, or spend time with the family — all while the sun still shines!

5. Attention to Detail

Every step in the medical field is one that can have far-reaching consequences. A great nurse pays excellent attention to detail and is careful not to skip steps or make errors. From reading a patient’s chart correctly to remembering the nuances of a delicate case, there’s nothing that should be left to chance in nursing. When a simple mistake can spell tragedy for another’s life, attention to detail can literally be the difference between life and death.

6. Interpersonal Skills

Nurses are the link between doctors and patients. A great nurse has excellent interpersonal skills and works well in a variety of situations with different people. They work well with other nurses, doctors, and other members of the staff.  Nurses are the glue that holds the hospital together. Patients see nurses as a friendly face and doctors depend on nurses to keep them on their toes. A great nurse balances the needs of patient and doctor as seamlessly as possible.

7. Physical Endurance

Frequent physical tasks, standing for long periods of time, lifting heavy objects (or people), and performing a number of taxing manoeuvres 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!

8. Problem-Solving Skills

A great nurse can think quickly and address problems as — or before — they arise. With sick patients, trauma cases, and emergencies, nurses always need to be on hand to solve a tricky situation. Whether it’s handling the family, soothing a patient, dealing with a doctor, or managing the staff, having good problem-solving skills is a top quality of a great nurse.

9. Quick Response

Nurses need to be ready to respond quickly to emergencies and other situations that arise. Quite often, healthcare work is simply the response to sudden incidences, and nurses must always be prepared for the unexpected.
Staying on their feet, keeping their head cool in a crisis and a calm attitude are great qualities in a nurse.

10. Respect

Respect goes a long way. Great nurses respect people and rules. 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 (Cutis, de Vries & Sheerin: 2011).

The trained nurse has become one of the great blessings of humanity, taking a place beside the physician and the priest (William Osler)

11. Positivity

Hospitals and doctors’ offices can be difficult places to work, especially during flu season or at other times when you’re caring for numerous people who are very sick. The job can be stressful and depressing at times. That’s why hospitals need nurses who can maintain a positive attitude and uplift others who may be feeling down.

Though this trait is hard to convey on a resume, you can show positivity in the interview. You should ensure that your responses to interview questions are positive and that you remain upbeat and happy throughout the interview process. A bright outlook will help you push through hard times at work and help your patients be more positive as well.

Every nurse is exhausted after a 10- or 12-hour shift, and rightfully so. But if you’re sitting down after only a couple hours at work, your leaders and co-workers will notice.

Again, stamina is a trait that isn’t easy to include on a resume, but you can take a more active role in your physical health and mention steps you’re taking to improve your fitness. For example, you might list your participation in marathons or 5Ks among your interests or, better yet, get involved with a run sponsored by a local hospital and show you’re interested in both leadership and fitness.

12. Compassion

The best nurses are those who truly care about their patients and want to make a difference in their lives by providing the most quality care possible.

When you land a phone or in-person interview, talk about patient experiences that stand out to you and what you find most rewarding about being a nurse. Beef up your resume with other causes you’re passionate about, such as a Relay for Life program or supporting a local oncology clinic. Even if your interests don’t directly relate to your career, employers will notice that you care about others and strive to make a difference.

Though job requirements for nurses differ between specialities, having stamina, compassion, positivity, flexibility and leadership skills will give you an advantage as you’re searching for your next job—and help you make a good impression once you’re hired.

Eric Darienzo is president of RNnetwork, a travel nurse staffing company based in Boca Raton, Florida.