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Developing Important Nursing Skills

Nurses play a vital role in healthcare. They are highly skilled professionals trained in caring for patients. Often, these individuals spend more time with patients than physicians and other healthcare personnel, making them largely responsible for patient experience. Though nurses gain much of their knowledge and education from nursing programs, they should take advantage of other opportunities to learn and develop their skills. While some of these are more traditional learning opportunities, other opportunities to grow as a nurse exist in daily activities and the relationships individuals choose to cultivate.

Finding a Mentor

Nursing graduates should seek out a competent mentor for advice and support. Working closely with a experienced nurse will help one to learn all the things that are not taught in nursing schools, as well as provide one with a friend who understands how overwhelming and frustrating work can be as a new nurse. Choosing a mentor who works in a specialization that is of interest or who has valuable expertise is an additional benefit. Many experienced nurses are willing to offer assistance, especially if they have a desire to become a leader or educator in the field. A mentor can also help one to network and make friends in nursing.

Staying Current

Medical professions continuously evolve, making it necessary to stay current on new technologies and methods, along with any other changes relevant to nursing. Reading and subscribing to peer-reviewed nursing journals and periodicals is one way in which nurses can do this. Alternatively, the workplace may have optional materials available to help individuals stay up to date. The internet also offers a number of websites and online support groups aimed to keep nurses current within their targeted field. In addition to these resources, attending nursing seminars is a great way to fulfill continuing education requirements and to learn about new discoveries and changes in nursing.

Joining Professional Groups and Associations

One great way to stay informed and network among nurses is to join national organizations and local chapters of groups that organize nurses within an area. Conducting research to discover the most prominent and trustworthy organizations or associations is a good first step. It may be especially useful to join nursing organizations centered on one's specialization, such as oncology or critical care nursing. Some of these organizations also offer certification in their specialty area.

Enrolling In Continuing Education

Many states require that nurses complete a certain number of continuing education hours within each licensing period in order to be eligible for relicensing. Regardless of whether or not this is true of a given state, it is still beneficial to continue education. This can be done through individual courses and seminars, but returning to school to earn an advanced degree is also a great option. Nurses should speak with their employers about whether or not they reimburse for continuing education or participate in student loan forgiveness.

Performance Evaluations

If an individual's employer does not provide periodical performance evaluations, it may be useful to ask for them. These evaluations can include patient comments and evaluations by supervisors and co-workers. Nurses can also ask for informal evaluations in the form of constructive criticism. Constructive criticism will enable nursing professionals to be aware of areas in need of improvement and to use this information to better their work performance. For those who receive formal evaluations, it is important to read these documents and take the comments and advice seriously. Saving a copy of each evaluation will help nurses track their progress.

Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal communication is one of the most important non-medical skills in nursing. Certain facilities conduct assessments that grades how well the nurse carries out certain communication-related tasks, such as mentally preparing patients for procedures, explaining the various treatment options, and requesting consultations from a superior when needed. Other levels of the interpersonal assessment will measure the nurse's ability to relate to the patient.

Interpersonal communication is important for the patient's wellbeing, in addition to a nurse's success on an assessment. Having a positive connection with another human being can help one to feel better and assist in recovery. In addition, good communication between patient and nurse can help the patient feel comfortable in what can sometimes be an uncomfortable situation. Patients without family may benefit even more, as they may feel alone during treatment.

These interpersonal skills should be practiced through role playing and evaluated by peers and clinical instructors to ensure satisfactory results in the workplace. Interpersonal skills should also be used in communication with other nurses to promote a positive work environment.