Nursing is a highly valued profession, and we will all benefit from a nurse’s hard work and dedication at some point in our lives. But what’s it like to put on the uniform and devote your entire life to caring for others – to be with one person on their very first day and another on their very last?

A nursing career can be enriching, but it is not for everyone. It requires a lifestyle change and a mental shift, and becoming a registered nurse is a journey in and of itself. It’s appealing to make a meaningful difference in people’s daily lives, but it’s not easy. Balancing compassionate service with precise science requires dedication, hands-on training and real-world experience.

Do we learn these things, or are we born with characteristics that make certain people more suited to being nurses? Contrary to what some people believe, we can certainly be taught these skills through nursing programs.

You may have a host of questions when it comes to nursing education. What kinds of skills are taught in nursing schools? How do nurses apply these skills in their daily work? What advantages does a formal education bring to a nursing career? Any nursing program’s goal is to prepare students to assist doctors and other healthcare professionals in providing patient care. The specific program content may differ slightly. However, all accredited nursing programs help future professionals in adhering to the standards and principles of the American Nurses Association.

Let’s use Baylor University’s online DNP programs as an example. A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is a terminal degree that provides advanced training to nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). The DNP is a practical degree that enables nurses to acquire advanced skills and knowledge in the nursing field. These skills can be used in the workplace in the following ways.

Dealing with stress

You must be able to deal with stressful situations as a nurse, which you may well encounter every day. It’s important to take the time to decompress and discover the best ways to reduces your stress levels, whether it is a spiritual ritual of prayer, time alone, talking to someone about your situation or exercise.

Managing your time

You may be surprised on your first day on the job to discover that you need to rethink your approach to time management. This is due in part to long nursing shifts. Many nurses find it challenging to work for 14 hours a day, but you will have to struggle through these long workdays until you learn how to organize your day, prioritize your tasks and chart efficiently. It also means that you must make sure to take the necessary breaks to do your job well. When things get hectic, its’ important to speak up to ensure you have enough time away from the floor.

Communicating with others

Taking care of a patient frequently entails monitoring vital signs, reading and interpreting doctor’s orders and performing various clinical tasks. However, the profession also necessitates a quick mind, excellent communication skills and the ability to focus under duress. You may not be born with these abilities, so you will need to develop them during your time in nursing school. Direct and effective communication and good organization are essential nursing skills that can help you master various tasks and improve a patient’s experience while in your care. The ability to calm and reassure patients and act as an effective communication link between healthcare providers and patients is critical to improving and maintaining health.

Thinking on your feet

Another essential nursing skill is critical thinking. A nurse’s days are never the same. Nurses are constantly confronted with new patients, conditions and symptoms, not to mention that a current patient’s health conditions could be continually changing. Existing patients may develop new symptoms or have an adverse reaction to a treatment or medication. Registered nurses must be able to think on their feet to deal with whatever comes their way.

Learning everyday

A week’s worth of study cannot be crammed into a few hours on the weekend. Commit to spending a little time each day on your nursing studies, even if it means breaking it into smaller increments. You’ll feel less overwhelmed and remember more.

Helping others

As a nurse, you’ll have to deal with seriously ill people, both children and adults. In addition, you’ll need to comfort worried loved ones and give them updates on the patient’s condition. However, the adage that the most challenging jobs are the most rewarding is correct. There is no better feeling than a patient thanking you for assisting them during some of their most vulnerable and frightening hours.

Showing empathy

Great nurses are sensitive to their patient’s pain and suffering. They can feel compassion and offer comfort. But be prepared for the occasional compassion fatigue; even the best nurses experience it. Learn how to identify symptoms and deal with them effectively. Patients see nurses as their advocates – the softer side of hospital administration. Being sympathetic to the patient’s hospital experience can help to improve patient care.

Final thoughts

Nurses must be able to perform a wide range of skills while on the job. While these fundamental skills of the profession can be picked up in nursing school, working nurses will quickly realize that the job entails continual learning and the pursuit of further knowledge in order to provide the best care for their patients.

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