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Are you thinking about pursuing a career as a Registered Nurse (RN)? Before obtaining the necessary credentials, it pays to consider whether you innately possess the qualities of a truly great RN. If you do, the journey will be much easier. If you don't, you should try honing them to lay the foundation for a successful nursing career.
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Nobody is perfect, but the best and most successful RNs typically possess all or most of the following qualities:
1. Communication skills
RNs constantly communicate with others. They must take and follow directions given by superiors, communicate clearly and effectively with colleagues, and of course, work closely and personally with patients. Perhaps most importantly, they act as advocates for their patients, ensuring superior care.
2. Physical endurance
One thing no amount of education will prepare you for is how physically demanding it is to be an RN. From lifting heavy objects — including people — to being on your feet for hours on end, the work is taxing on the body. Physical endurance is crucial, and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle goes a long way toward maintaining it.
The best RNs are naturally empathetic people. This empathy allows them to feel compassion for patients and to comfort them accordingly. It's not just about being sympathetic to patients' pain, either. It also means being sympathetic to their experiences as patients in general. All nurses eventually deal with so-called compassion fatigue, and the best ones develop strategies for coping with it.
4. Quick thinking and action
Great RNs are quick on their feet — and they think quickly too. Often, emergencies require nurses to perform their duties quickly and under pressure. They must be fast both physically and mentally to provide top-notch care. At the same time, they need to maintain their composure and stay calm, cool, and collected.
5. Detail orientation
With some professions, overlooking a detail here and there isn't a big deal. If an RN fails to be meticulous, however, the consequences can be dire. The best RNs take exceptional care while reading patients' charts, and they follow procedures and protocols to the letter to ensure that their patients' health and safety are maintained at all times. This quality also helps RNs rise through the ranks.
6. Emotional stability
Registered Nurses are often directly confronted with emotionally charged situations, including extreme suffering and even death. Under such trying and stressful situations, the best RNs keep their cool and focus on the task at hand. They take steps to avoid taking their jobs home with them. On the flip side, they often get to witness heartwarming scenes, and those occasions help them weather the more trying times.
As an RN, it pays to be respectful to others at all times, including colleagues and patients. Nurses encounter people from many backgrounds and cultures, and they can't allow personal biases to affect their performance. They must also be respectful of rules and procedures, especially when they concern confidentiality. Most importantly, nurses should strive to be respectful of patients' wishes at all times.
For RNs, no two days — or even two hours — are ever quite the same. Nurses typically have unpredictable schedules, including long hours that often stretch out overnight or over weekends. Many work overtime more often than not as well.
Based on the qualities above, do you believe you have what it takes to be a great RN? If so, you should get through your education and training with ease.