The top 10 qualities of an exceptional nurse


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Nursing is undoubtedly a tough job. From the long hours spent on your feet to the patients who don’t even give you time to complete one task before demanding another, there are trials and tests every single day on the job! That’s why so many nurses believe that it’s not merely a career―nursing is a calling. But which traits make up those who are called to the profession? We asked you for the number one quality of an exceptional nurse; read on for your moving, inspiring and seriously motivating responses!

The top 10 qualities of an exceptional nurse

1. What’s the number one quality of an exceptional nurse? Patient care; good, quality patient care. I don’t care if you have all the knowledge in the world―if you can’t convey compassion at the bedside, then it’s all for naught. As a nurse, when I leave a patient, I want them to feel like they are the only one I have and that I’m there to take care of all of their needs. At times it can be trying, but to the patient, it can make all the difference in the world. Isn’t this why we all became nurses anyway?
Cradiacrenee, winner of our Littmann Stethoscope Giveaway!

2. As a future nurse (starting her program this fall!), I believe the number one quality of an exceptional nurse is humility. Although excellent nurses must think critically, observe keenly, practice skillfully, I chose humility because, ultimately, nursing is relational, occurring at the most intimate level of care. C. S. Lewis, the great apologist of the 20th century, said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” An exceptional nurse is one who has perfected the art of forgetting oneself for the betterment of the patient, the family and the success in providing care through the healthcare team and organization of which he/she is a part.

3. It’s not a personality trait…it is the capability of connecting on a whole different level. The nurse/patient relationship is like no other, and an exceptional nurse can get past the “What do you do for a living?” surface relationship and touch people’s lives and give them hope in a way no one else can. An exceptional nurse does this with every patient, no matter their race, religion or socioeconomic status…because when you connect on a deeper level, none of that matters.

4. A nurse who can see the big picture of his or her role in the healthcare team is an asset to any treatment team. This nurse can plan and prioritize care efficiently, can collaborate with other members of the team to provide the best care and can ultimately place the patients’ needs first. Nursing is ultimately not a tasky profession, as it is often made to seem on television and in movies. Nursing requires the ability to see the greater scheme of patients’ needs and to provide care based on broad-spectrum issues.

5. I think the number one quality of an exceptional nurse is RESPECT. When a patient sees that their nurse respects them and their opinions on their own healthcare, a bond is formed, which makes for better patient relations and outcomes.

6. To be an exceptional nurse, one must have as much patience as the day is long, empathy, compassion and an understanding of the patient’s individualized needs. One of my favorite instructors once told me, “Pretend that the patient in that bed is one of your loved ones.” To me, that makes for an exceptional nurse. Treat every patient as you would hope someone else would treat YOU or your family if they were in need of care.

7. Knowledge; refusing to be stagnant. This is the number one quality in a nurse. While possessing the most caring heart and the most diligence, and being the best at time management and prioritizing is wonderful…if you do not seek to grow your mind, you will falter.

8. I believe what makes an exceptional nurse is the smile. The nurse should be able to morph into what makes the patient feel most secure and safe, and give that comforting smile that lets them know that they are the nurse’s priority. As a prior patient myself, I found that the best quality for me was the nurse who came in and seemed genuinely happy to see me and proud of my progress. A smile is contagious and can heal things that medicine cannot.

9. Unconditional empathy. As a student nurse, I have seen a lot of nurses who failed to understand the full scope of their patients’ health. They often ignored the psychosocial issues that play such a huge part in a person’s physical health. It is often easier to make assumptions about our patients based on their chart than to build an honest and open rapport with them. But it is that rapport―built from trust, honesty and respect―that makes the biggest difference in patient care. Unconditional empathy allows the patient to feel cared about, not just cared for.

10. I think an important quality for a nurse to have is the ability and strength to know that she won’t know all the answers, will be challenged daily and might feel in doubt about her capabilities as a nurse, but in the end, maintains the confidence and takes on the challenge of growing and learning each day in the profession. If a nurse believes this inside, it will only make her a better nurse for her patients and enhance the compassionate person already inside.

What’s the number one quality of an exceptional nurse? Know a nurse who fits the bill? Nominate him or her for the 2013 Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award!

Sponsored by Cherokee Uniforms


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