As you read this, there are hundreds of thousands of registered nurses all across the country caring for patients in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, schools, and doctors’ offices. Each of these dedicated professionals provides a level of care backed up by years of training and experience that makes them more than capable of doing their RN jobs.
That said, what is it that makes the registered nurse a good nurse? Most registered nurses will tell you that the education and training they received in order to be licensed seemed like a big deal at the time but turned out to be but a small part of a much larger equation. Being a good registered nurse is so much more than having a degree on the wall and a license in the back pocket. In fact, anybody can learn the information necessary to pass a licensing exam. Passing an exam does not make one a good nurse.
Here are the top three qualities necessary to be a good registered nurse:
Registered nurses often deal with patients at their worst. Sometimes they work with patients dealing with imminently life-threatening situations; other times they provide care to terminal patients whose remaining time is limited. Even when the registered nurse is operating in a primary care setting, patients are in the office because they are sick or injured. The good registered nurse is one capable of approaching all of these situations with a heart and mind of compassion.
Any of us who have spent time in a hospital bed know what a difference a compassionate nurse can make. Knowing that nursing staff genuinely care goes a long way toward peace of mind, comfort, and getting well.
Registered nurses often have to provide care in settings that are not ideal. Every day there are staffing shortages to contend with as well as government regulations, hospital policies, and doctors who see things differently. If nothing else, the nurse needs patience to deal with all of the outside influences that direct how he or she provides care. It is not always easy.
In critical care situations nurses also need to be patient when dealing with family members. Mothers, fathers, spouses, and children are often under heavy stress, ultimately leading to misunderstandings and conflicting objectives. Nurses have to be willing to roll with the punches, so to speak, in order to keep things calm.
Patience is a virtue for all of us. It is a necessity for registered nurses. The nurse who can calmly act and react without losing sight of the goal to care for patients is a nurse who stays in control of what he or she does.
3. A Teamwork Mentality
Lastly, registered nurses need to be able to work as part of a healthcare team to ensure the best possible outcome. The best registered nurses understand and embrace the team concept while at the same time avoiding the control issues that can sometimes be divisive within a facility. Their ultimate goal is to provide the best possible care for patients by working with other team members to do so.
To say that registered nursing is not for everyone is an understatement. It takes a certain kind of person to care for patients at their worst under conditions that many of us would find intolerable. We owe a lot to the army of dedicated nurses across the country who take care of us when we are sick. Without them, working through an illness or injury would be more difficult on so many levels.