Characteristics of Highly Effective Nurses
Nursing is such an amazing occupation, and for most of us who hold the title it's a calling. There has been tons of great press for nurses lately concerning how this occupation has been elevated to one of the most admired and trusted professions. Also, nurses are one of the few professions that has the true ability to affect great change at the individual level with chosen actions. So what type of nurses are those that patients and families remember with fondness? It would be great to say that about every nurse, but having worked in the capacity of a nursing leader for a number of years that isn't always the case. As a leader I like to work with staff to avoid those type of perceptions, and have tried to support the personal and professional growth of my teams to reduce those type of outcomes. The truth is that as a leader I'm the one in the background, and the true stars are the nurses delivering the care. As a manager and nurse I've realized that the nurses who are the most effective often possess the 7 qualities that create an amazing impact on those we serve.
They're Positive - Each of these nurses in whatever specialty they've chosen can see the reality of the challenges they face, but they choose to maintain a positive perspective. With this "half-full" attitude they have a much better chance at influencing the depressed patient, bringing hope to that family who just got bad news, or providing encouragement for the patient discharging who needs to remain compliant to minimize the progression of their illness. These nurses understand that a positive outlook impacts their interactions with others, and ultimately can be the difference in creating a good experience for that patient and family during a difficult circumstance.
They're Flexible - How many times as nurses have we come to work to find out that assignments have been changed, or we're going to be doing something we didn't have in our plans? That is called change, and it is an ever-present reality in life. Nurses who can rise above this, and remain flexible are able to have a greater impact because they do what is needed in the moment. These highly effective nurses step up and provide the influence necessary to drive the positive changes that are needed to make health care reform a reality.
They're a Learner - Do you know everything? None of us do, and never will. Nurses who understand that just because they've doing the same role for years doesn't mean they know it all. Nurses who can look for opportunities to grow in their current role, and understand that each day creates the opportunity to learn something new are those who have the greatest impact. The new knowledge can seem to be unrelated to the delivery of care to a patient, but may be something like (mindfulness) that impacts stress levels by improving the ability to handle challenging situations which ultimately allows better care for patients because the staff member can think more clearly in tough times.
They're a Team Player - Each of us are unique individuals with varying talents and personalities, but as nurses we work as a team that cares for those who are looking to us to meet their needs. Nurses who are highly effective realize that they need to use their skills and talents to benefit the team in meeting the needs of the patients. They don't come to work with their own agendas, but understand they may have to sacrifice what they believe is most important at times for the team to reach their common goals.
They're the One with Integrity - Leaders like to hire competent professional nurses who have the ability to function successfully in their autonomous nursing roles. This only happens when those functioning in these roles act with complete integrity. Nurses who are highly effective choose to do the right thing every time they're confronted with an ethical dilemma where there is the ability to go the other direction.
They're Passionate - Nursing is not just a job, but it's about having the privilege of meeting people at some of the most difficult moments in their lives by creating a better outcome with the care provided. Nurses who are highly effective come to work each day with their game face on because they understand the importance of the role they play, and strive to make a difference in the lives of others who come into their path. They believe that they have a greater calling, and want to change things for the better for each and every patient by delivering both empathetic and compassionate care.
They're Striving for Excellence - Finally, highly effective nurses are those individuals who choose to perform their duties to the best of their abilities each day of their nursing career. Whether it is something menial, or something that carries great responsibility it is completed with the highest level of dedication to quality. Nurses who carry this belief have the ability to reduce poor outcomes for patients because they choose to follow best practice, they impact their peers by instilling an example of always striving for excellence, and they stand out as people who need to be promoted to positions where they can expand their impact by leading others with the mantra of "excellence everyday".
It doesn't matter if you're a new grad, a seasoned nurse, or a nursing leader because these 7 characteristics of highly effective nurses can apply at all the levels. As Gandhi stated,