Qualities of a ‘GREAT NURSE’

As our nation’s largest healthcare profession, Australian nurses are showing no signs of slowing down especially in terms of job growth and demand. Given the significant high demand for nurses in Australia, understanding the qualities of being a great nurse is invaluable to healthcare frontline like Best Practice Nursing Agency aiming to attract and retain some of the best nursing talent. Nursing is one of the most demanding careers to get into, but also one of the most rewarding. Nursing is actually an incredibly difficult and taxing job, and it takes a special kind of person to be a great nurse. Not everyone can handle the hard work, stress, pressure and demands. Becoming a great nurse requires more than working long shifts and having practical knowledge and skills; it takes a particular set of talents and personality traits such as compassion, commitment, character and spirit.

Nurses are the life and soul of the healthcare profession that do amazing life changing things. The best nurses are considered exceptional because they have a thirst for knowledge, continual skill development and gain lots of experience. As a nursing recruiter, I have interviewed many nurses over the years and one of the questions that I do ask the applicants, is ‘Why did you decide on a career as a nurse?’ I can honestly say about 80% of nurses have answered, it is because they had been inspired by a nurse they had encountered at a young age whilst that nurse cared for a family member.

When I was younger, I was visiting my grandmother in hospital and I noticed that another patient in the room was in a lot of pain, and I just wanted to help them. When the nurse came to assist the patient, I found myself intrigued and I decided then and there that I wanted to be a nurse”   BPNA RN D.K. Florence

My main source of inspiration to become a nurse comes from an innate desire to help people and care for them in times of need, just like the nurses who took care of my grandfather when I was ten. I knew then, I also wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. Now as a profession nurse, I deal with many aspects of patient care and it is satisfying when I impact someone’s life for the better”  BPNA RN M. Shrestha

“I have been an Enrolled Endorsed Nurse for the past 2 years. I chose nursing as my career path because I have always wanted to help people ever since I was a young girl. I wanted to understand how I could help a person not only get healthy but stay healthy. That’s what we nurses do”   BPNA EEN B. Dalakoti

A great nurse is able to do their job effectively and devote time and energy to their career, so they feel a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment in the lives of the patients they touch. Great nurses work hard to make a difference every day, they also give a piece of their heart to each and every patient under their care. While each nurse brings their own unique qualities to their work, here are some qualities of a great nurse that make them perfect for the job.

GREAT NURSES ARE CARING: What a good nurse is more than practical knowledge. The number one quality of a good nurse is caring, and without a foundation for caring, you cannot be compassionate and provide quality care to others. A great nurse is able to do their job effectively while also showing empathy, concern, and sensitivity to all patients they serve. The lack of compassion has a negative impact on patients, particularly the elderly and those suffering from terminal illnesses. A nurse showing a natural tendency to truly care about how their patients feel, will have a significant impact on their success in the nursing field, which makes caring a key indicator of a nurse’s success.

GREAT NURSES ARE EMPATHETIC: Not to be confused with compassion, empathy is the ability to relate to what someone is feeling or going through. A characteristic of a great nurse is one that shows empathy to each patient, making a true effort to put themselves in their patients’ shoes. By connecting emotionally and personally with patients, you open up the opportunity for a patient to feel comfortable to share with you their own emotions and personal experiences. Gaining the trust of your patients and taking the time to understand where their thoughts and emotions, can help to defuse stressful situations or identify areas where you should focus your patient care. When patients are fortunate enough to encounter these characteristics of a great nurse, it makes their care experience that much better.

PATIENCE IS KEY: Patience is a part of the emotional stability necessary to work in the field of nursing. Nursing can be a high stress job, whether you’re in a fast paced emergency room, proving critical care or community In-Home care, it’s essential to practice patience. Nurses must be patient and help people overcome anxiety, stress and fear. It goes without saying that you will have difficult patients, family members who believe they know more than you. You’re going to spend a lot of time educating patients and their families on their health. Enter every situation with a calm attitude at all times is good for patients, but it’s also good for you too. Which brings us to the next important nursing trait.

 GREAT NURSES COMMUNICATE WELL: A major component of nursing is being able to work with a variety of people, and that requires excellent communication skills. Working in the healthcare system requires consistent and clear communication, both written and verbal. As a liaison between other nurses and allied health workers, patients and their families, nurses never stop collecting and relaying critical data. Without the ability to interpret and convey communication correctly, medical errors are more likely to occur which could mean the difference between life and death. To communicate clearly, nurses need to be comfortable reading, writing and presenting information to others verbally. Remember, listening is as much a part of communication as speaking. Pay attention during every conversation you have, taking a moment to listen and talk can help avoid mistakes. A great nurse is aware that communication skills help gain the trust of their patients and other staff.

GREAT NURSES PAY ATTENTION TO DETAIL: Nurses have a wide variety of responsibilities, all of which require strong attention to detail. Even in the most busy, hectic environment, it is very important for nurses to have a strict attention to detail so that they don’t make mistakes. From administering medications and other treatments, monitoring patients’ conditions, educating patients and their families or reading a patient’s chart correctly, there’ s nothing that should be left to chance in nursing. Having a strong attention to detail is one of the nurse personality traits that can easily and quickly determine how successful a great nurse will be in their role.

GREAT NURSES ARE CRITICAL THINKERS: Critical thinking skills is essential for nurses and a necessity for the provision of safe, high-quality clinical care. Nurses today are caring for patients who have complex, culturally diverse health care needs, making the importance of critical thinking in nursing even more paramount. Nurses must be able to think critically in order to anticipate patient needs, by assessing a situation  quickly, make crucial decisions on the spot, analysing the situation, and coming up with a solution with no time hesitate. It includes questioning, data collection, analysis, synthesis, interpretation, inference, inductive and deductive reasoning, intuition, application, creativity, and verification.

GREAT NURSES HAVE THE ABILITY TO PROBLEM SOLVE: Problem solving is defined as a response given in an important and difficult situation, where critical thinking is required for a solution.  While clinical knowledge and training is taught throughout a nurse’s education, on the job training is the most effective way to help a nurse’s problem solving skills. These skills are essential, as nurses generally have the most one-on-one time with patients and are often responsible for much of the decision-making related to their care. By thinking creatively, asking the right questions and considering multiple options, great nurses will be able to solve problems more effectively. Those who use problem-solving skills, see problems not as obstacles but as opportunities to improve their patients’ health and well-being.

GREAT NURSES HAVE A WILLINGNESS TO LEARN: Healthcare is constantly evolving and a great nurse changes with it, staying up-to-date and knowledgeable. One of the most important nursing strengths is a desire to keep learning.  As medical knowledge and technology is advancing rapidly, a great nurse must  keep working on their professional development, improving their skills and learning new things. Great nurses never stop learning, are willing to learn and continue education to reach full competency.

Some other qualities of a great nurse is: patient advocacy, time management, leadership, attention to detail, physical stamina,   open mindedness,  versability, respectfulness, flexibility, discretion, assertiveness, organised skills… this list of qualities that great nurses tend to share is long, but it shouldn’t be intimidating. While each nurse brings their own unique qualities to their work, the qualities that make a great nurse can be learnt, encouraged and grown.

If you take the time to follow these tips to improve your knowledge and skill development, your reward will have better outcomes for your patients and more confidence in your abilities as a great nurse.


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