How Soft Skills Help Nurses Excel

by Howard Gerber on August 25, 2016

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nurse soft skillsIt takes a lot of different skills to succeed as a nurse. Some skills are technical, such as knowing how to start an IV or change a dressing. Other skills are intellectual including calculating medication dosages or interpreting lab results.

But there are also another set of skills that are equally important for nurses to have. Soft skills are not something you can easily measure, but they are an important part of being a good nurse.

If you have never heard of soft skills, you might wonder what they are.  Soft skills are personal attributes that help you interact effectively with others. Soft skills are essential in nursing to give it that human touch.

Of course, technical skills, such as drawing labs, inserting catheters and suctioning a tracheostomy are necessary for nurses to be qualified to work. However, it’s the skills you can’t measure or see that sometimes make a difference in a patient’s hospital stay.

Patients come into the hospital sick or injured and sometimes they can be scared or upset. It’s not just the medication and procedures they remember. It’s natural for patients to assess their hospital experience in part by the interactions they had with staff. This is where soft skills come in handy.

Soft Skills You Need

There are many skills that enhance your ability to work well with others. Consider a few soft skills below that can help a nurse be effective:

  • Communication skills: Communication skills are one of the most important soft skills a nurse can have. Effective communication helps prevent medical errors, improves patient care and builds strong working relationships. Strong communication skills help patients understand what’s happening with their care. But there is more to communication skills than talking. Good communicators also listen well. Patients need someone who will hear their concerns and address them appropriately.
  • Teamwork: Nurses need to work together with other professionals including doctors, therapists and support staff. Having the ability to work well with all types of people is a great skill for nurses to have.
  • Positive attitude: Having a positive attitude does not mean you have to be cheerful every minute. Just keep in mind that being enthusiastic about your job and having a positive demeanor can impact how your patients feel and improve their attitude as well.
  • Critical thinking: Critical thinkers know how to prioritize and solve problems. As a nurse, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to deal with dilemmas and difficult situations that require critical thinking skills.

The Importance of Soft Skills

So why are soft skills so important? Soft skills make working with other staff members more effective and enjoyable. If you have good working relationships, it makes your work experience better. But that’s not all. Having certain soft skills improves patient care overall.

It just makes sense that communicating well and working together as part of a team will enhance your ability to provide good patient care. Good communication helps improve the collaborative work between members of the healthcare team. Soft skills also help patients feel respected and heard, and sometimes that’s all they need to improve their overall satisfaction.

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