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Nursing Skills Checklist

Whether you are interested in changing specialties within the nursing field, or simply looking for your first job as a nurse, it is important that you know which skills are required for each specialty. By knowing and understanding the skills that are required for each position, this gives you the opportunity to grow and enhance on your current skill set level. There are certain things that you will be responsible for as a nurse and they differ depending on what type of task you are expected to complete. This nursing skills checklist will give you an idea of what to expect on your job.


  1. Cardiovascular: As part of the assessment, you will need to take note of heart murmurs and abnormal heart sounds; blood pressure; pulses and circulation checks; and rate and rhythm (auscultation). You will also be required to interpret lab results; assist with handling the equipment and certain procedures with the equipment; caring for the patient; and handling and being knowledgeable of the various medications being distributed.
  2. Pulmonary

  3. Pulmonary: When dealing with the pulmonary aspect of a critical nurse’s skills set, you assess the rate and work of breathing and rhythm; interpret arterial blood gas lab results; troubleshoot air leaks in the equipment; assist with chest tube insertion; establish an airway when needed by oral airway insertion; care of patients with COPD, acute pneumonia, lung transplants and tuberculosis; and deal with medications such as corticosteroids, Ventolin, Alupent and Bronkosol.
  4. Neurological

  5. Neurological: As a critical care nurse, you will also need to deal with neurological issues such as the assessment of cranial nerves, pathological reflexes and visual or communication deficits; assist with lumbar puncture, nerve stimulators, seizure precautions and spinal precautions; care of patients with spinal cord injuries, meningitis, closed head injury and basal skull fracture; and deal with medications such as valium, Phenobarbital, Dilantin and epidural administration.
  6. Gastrointestinal

  7. Gastrointestinal: In the gastrointestinal area of critical nursing, you will need to assess nutritional issues and abdominal and bowel sounds; interpret lab results; administer tube feeding, gravity feeding and manage gastrostomy tube; care of patients with blunt trauma, inflammatory bowel disease, hepatitis, liver failure and bowel obstruction; and deal with medications such as vitamin K, Vasopressin, Cephulac and Propranolol.
  8. Renal and Genitourinary

  9. Renal and Genitourinary: In the renal and genitourinary section of nursing skill requirements, you will assess fistulas, stunts and fluid status; interpret serum electrolytes results; work with bladder irrigation; insert and care for catheters in both male and female patients; care for patients with acute renal failure, hemodialysis, renal transplant, renal rejection syndrome and peritoneal dialysis.
  10. Endocrine and Metabolic

  11. Endocrine and Metabolic: Skills needed in the endocrine and metabolic portion of nursing include interpretation of lab results for thyroid studies and blood glucose levels; work with blood glucose monitoring devices in order to monitor the levels; care for patients with diabetes mellitus, drug overdose, insulin shock and thyroid issues; and medications such as the insulin pump.
  12. Wound Management

  13. Wound Management: Dealing with wounds as a nurse is crucial and requires skills that includes assessing skin for impending breakdown, surgical wound healing and stasis ulcers; deal with low air loss bed, sterile dressing changes and wound irrigations and care; and deal with patients who suffer from traumatic wounds. Surgical wounds with drains, staged decubitus ulcers, pressure sores and burns.
  14. Phlebotomy and IV Therapy

  15. Phlebotomy and IV Therapy: Skills in this portion of your nursing skill requirements include dealing with the administration of blood as well as blood products such as whole blood, plasma, packed red blood cells and cryoprecipitate; drawing blood from a central line; starting patients on IVs; drawing venous blood; and caring for patients that require dressing of the peripheral line and central line or catheter.
  16. Pain Management

  17. Pain Management: The skills in this portion of nursing skill requirements include the ability to assess a patient’s pain level and tolerance of pain; and care for patients with controlled analgesia, IV conscious sedation and epidural analgesia or anesthesia.
  18. Miscellaneous

  19. Miscellaneous: There are also other types of skills you will need to become familiar with and include the ability to deal with patients in anaphylactic shock, hypovolemic shock and septic shock; patients who are organ and tissue donors, have multi-system organ failure and disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC).

In addition to having a certain amount of skills, you will also need to provide age-appropriate care to your patients. These age groups range from newborns and infants up to older adults and the elderly.

  • Registered Nurses: This is a link to the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the U.S. Department of Labor that covers every aspect of a career in registered nursing from the nature of the work and educational requirements to wages and related occupations.
  • National League for Nursing: This links to additional information on a career as a registered nurse and overall nursing education requirements. This link also provides you with the latest news in nursing and gives you the option of becoming a member of a premier organization for the nursing industry.
  • American Association of Colleges of Nursing: This links to an informative website that gives you more information on nursing education at the baccalaureate and graduate levels as well as career options in nursing and financial aid information.
  • American Nurses Association: Self-proclaimed as the largest nursing organization in the United States, this link can provide you with an extensive amount of information on registered nursing careers as well as the credentialing involved.
  • National Council of State Boards of Nursing: This link provides you with all of the information that is needed in regards to the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN) as well as a list of the State boards of nursing for each individual state.
  • National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists: This link simply gives you a wealth of information on accreditation for clinical nurse specialists.
  • American Association of Nurse Anesthetists: This link gives you an extensive amount of additional information on nurse anesthetists and the accreditation standards.
  • American College of Nurse Midwives: This link is especially helpful for those seeking more information on becoming a nurse-midwife as a specialty.
  • American Academy of Nurse Practitioners: This link gives you access to a wealth of information on becoming a nurse practitioner as a specialty.
  • American Society of Registered Nurses: This links to information that every registered nurse can benefit from. It includes an extensive amount of information for all specialties and fields of nursing.