We know what you’re thinking. Aren’t all nurse skills hard? Yes, nursing may have challenges, but it comes with numerous rewards.
First, let’s break down what we mean by “soft” and “hard” skills because these terms aren’t referring to difficulty levels. Hard skills are tangible—the clinical skills and knowledge needed to be a nurse. Soft skills are those intangible characteristics of a nurse. Everyone has natural strengths that they can hone to become even better at patient interactions. Let’s delve into exactly what these so-called “hard” and “soft” nurse skills are.
Nine soft skills every nurse should develop
What makes a good nurse? Having all the nursing qualifications and skills to provide solid patient care. What makes a great nurse? Also, having the passion and interpersonal skills to truly shine at work. So if the following skills pertain to you, don’t forget to add them to your resume when applying for jobs:
Face it—you’re good at what you do. Now don’t be afraid to show it. When you’re confident in your decision-making processes and clinical tasks, patients will feel more comfortable receiving treatment.
Nurses are liaisons between patients and physicians and are often part of a larger team. They’re constantly required to break down complex medical concepts for patients and comprehensively explain treatment plans, so strong communication skills are key.
Nurses have to be able to assess complex medical problems, know what to prioritize and help develop and implement (along with their team members) a treatment plan. Strong critical thinking skills are therefore essential to the nursing profession.
Nurses not only have to think critically, but they also need to think quickly, especially if they work in critical care or the emergency room. The prompt decisions they make in these settings can be life-saving.
Nurses are an essential part of a team of medical professionals. They work with physicians, clinicians and other nurses to create and implement care plans. So nurses should (and must!) get along well with others.
This goes hand in hand with teamwork and effective communication. By demonstrating your strength of character when working with your patients and peers, you’ll help foster a respectful and effective working environment.
Empathy is a must in any nursing career. Of course, you’ll need to keep a bit of emotional distance to think clearly, but you’ll improve your patients’ experience if they feel you’re able to morally support them.
A day at the hospital rarely goes as planned, so be prepared to think on your feet (and we mean that literally because nurses stand a lot, too) and ready to adapt to whatever situation comes your way.
Regardless of the healthcare environment you work in, you’ll need to have strong time management skills to ensure you don’t fall behind while attending to patients or keeping up with administrative work.
Five hard skills every nurse should acquire
Again, “hard skills” refers to essential nursing skills you need to know how to perform to do your job well. These can range depending on your specialty and nursing level (nursing assistant, registered nurse, nurse practitioner, etc.), so be specific on your resume. Here are some of the top nursing skills to show off (you’ve earned it!) when applying for jobs.
Quick, informed decisions could potentially save a patient’s life in nursing, so it’s of utmost importance that you know how to make them. Even if you don’t work in an acute or urgent care environment, you’ll still find yourself moving fast, whether changing a wound dressing at top speed or attending rapidly to a patient’s needs to make them more comfortable.
Taking a patient’s vital signs is a fundamental skill at the heart of nursing—literally. Knowing how to check a patient’s heart rate, breathing, body temperature and blood pressure are essential to the job. Why? These data points are elementary to understanding your patient’s status and establishing an appropriate treatment plan.
As a nurse, one of your core tasks is to help patients get better while simultaneously mitigating and minimizing their risk. Patient safety tasks range from preventing falls to avoiding (and correcting) medical errors. Patient safety skills are critical for employers as they help ensure quality care and alleviate liability.
Chances are you didn’t go into nursing to become a teacher; however, being able to explain complex concepts in a way that patients and their loved ones can understand is inherent to the role. By educating your patients, you set them up for success as they manage their conditions by thoroughly explaining their treatment plans and symptoms.
In the 21st century, technology plays a role in nearly everything we do (both on and off the clock). When on the job, you’ll be interacting with different software and tools when you take vital signs, perform treatment, keep records and communicate with patients and their families. We understand if tech isn’t your thing, but we recommend making an effort to at least try cozying up to the concept. Employers are relying on technology more and more, especially healthcare, which means they need nurses who feel comfortable with this ever-evolving world.
Think you’ve got the nursing skills—both hard and soft—to pay the bills? We sure do! And we’re here with all the scrubs and accessories to help you feel and look your best at work. We’re here to support healthcare professionals like you as you provide quality care to those who need it most.