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The 7 skills excellent nurses embrace

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Most of us became nurses because we wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. When I began my career, I didn’t anticipate nursing to be so multi-faceted. Not only do we care for patients, we also work with their families, physicians, administrators and regulatory agencies.

While many aspects of basic patient care have stayed consistent over time, we continue to grapple with the many changes in technology and regulator expectations and, at the same time, work to improve quality of care while providing a positive patient experience.

So how do we cope in this ever-changing environment? Author Jim Collins states in his book Great By Choice, “great organizations don’t thrive on chaos, rather, they thrive in chaos. Pitfalls and opportunities are at every turn and we need to seek out and embrace the opportunities.”

I’d like to share some of the ways I see excellent nurses embrace opportunities during these changing times. It takes daily focus to be a great nurse and much practice to put all the needed skills into place.

Excellent nurses have:

  • Great multi-tasking capabilities. You juggle patient loads, physician requests and care for frightened family members, all with an effortless smile.
  • Critical thinking skills. You make swift decisions on a daily basis because you know it can mean the difference between life and death for a patient. You know to trust your instincts when something seems wrong, and you’ve learned to read others.
  • Teamwork. You’ve learned that teamwork is essential in your success, supporting one another, covering for one another and having the ability to give and receive constructive criticism.
  • Customer service. You work with worried patients and families facing a difficult situation. Often the small kindness of giving a patient a warm blanket or keeping the family updated is what is remembered about you as patients leave the hospital.
  • Positive attitude toward change. While you can’t control all the changes around you, you choose to have a great attitude.
  • Desire to learn. You continue to look for ways to learn and are open to new ideas.
  • Flexibility. You are adaptable to change, which helps you manage time, get along in relationships and cope with disruptive events.

Thank you for continually making improvements for our patients. Thank you for the skills you’ve developed and for your flexibility. You make an amazing difference in the lives that you touch each day.

Judy Blair is the Senior Vice President of Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Officer at Glendale Adventist Medical Center in Glendale, Calif.

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