Being a nurse is already one of the most honorable and caring career paths that you can choose. Many people go into the job, not for themselves, but to help other people. This also means that they want to do the best job that they can in service of their patients and colleagues. No matter what career path you embark on, there are always going to be ways that you can improve your abilities and become better at the role. With this in mind, this article is going to discuss some of the ways that you can become a better nurse.
First of all, there are plenty of courses out there like a DNP, which can boost your skills to move further along in the profession. There are also lots of personal qualities that you can work on to enhance your so-called ‘soft skills’.
As we have just mentioned, a DNP is a highly popular course option if you are advanced in your nursing career, but there are also plenty of other courses that can improve your skills and boost your career trajectory. In fact, it is advisable that you are always seeking to keep learning as nursing techniques adapt and change all the time, and you need to know the latest practices to keep up with your colleagues, as well as providing the optimum level of care for your patients. Having the right attitude to learning is also important. Even if you are highly skilled in your profession, having the humility to understand that there is still more to learn can end up going a long way.
Take Another Course
While specific nursing courses like a DNP are obviously going to help you no end, so too is taking courses that are not specifically based on nursing. There are plenty of training courses and webinars out there that can improve your talents and skills in other areas. For example, you could take a leadership or public speaking course to improve your confidence, which is a highly important ‘soft skill’. Perhaps you could start learning another language, which could prove to be particularly useful if you encounter a lot of patients from another country or if you work with bilingual colleagues. Many places encourage, if not expect their employees from health care workers, nurses, to the top consultants to constantly be updating their personal development and professional practices.
Attend a Conference
While there may not be as many face-to-face conferences as there once were, you may be able to find virtual events taking place. Hopefully, the in-person events will return in the near future, and it is certainly worth attending whatever you can whenever you can. Ultimately, the opportunity to interact with your fellow nurses and hear from expert speakers can prove to be a highly worthwhile event. If you attend an international event, you will even get the opportunity to learn how other cultures approach nursing, which may give you some ideas that you can bring back to your own job. Interacting with people in your profession can be a highly rewarding experience and be one that can leave you with some new contacts and perhaps even some lifelong friends. Referring back to the point above, you could also look at attending a conference that is not specifically centered on nursing as a way of becoming more well-rounded as a professional.
Learn Stress Management Techniques
There is no doubt that a nursing career can prove to be one of the most challenging career paths that you can embark on – full of daily obstacles and situations of extreme stress. Finding a better way to manage this stress can go a long way to making you a better nurse. When you are at work, engaging in some simple breathing exercises can help to calm you down. The de-stressing that you do at the end of the day is just as important. If possible, try to find an activity that takes your mind off the events of the day. Active pursuits such as walking, running, and swimming can help to get your endorphins flowing, as well as keeping your body in good physical shape. It could be that you have a hobby like painting or playing a musical instrument that engages your brain. Sometimes, it is the little things like the time spent with friends and family that can make the biggest difference. Knowing that you have that support network around you is invaluable. If you are taking a course like a DNP,
Get into a Good Sleep Routine
Closely linked to the stress management section above, the act of getting into good habits will help to keep your mind and body on an even keel. This certainly starts in the bedroom, by which we mean getting a good night’s sleep! When you work irregular hours and shifts, it can prove to be a particular challenge to keep a regular routine, so you need to practice other techniques. You should avoid eating too much or drinking stimulating liquids like alcohol and caffeine in the hours before bed. It would be best to avoid your devices like your smartphone as much as possible if you also tried to avoid your devices. Looking at social media and playing games can have the opposite effect on the one you were originally intending. It would help if you also looked at your sleeping environment and how you can make it more restful. Many nurses find that blackout blinds are a highly worthwhile purchase as they keep out the light during the times that you have to sleep in the daytime.
What you put into your body can go a long way towards making you a better nurse. When you work in a stressful career like nursing, it can be all too tempting to fall back to relying on junk food as a way of getting you through. However, in the long run, all of this stuff is just going to make you feel worse. At the start of the day or the night before, it is a good idea to make yourself some healthy snacks for hours ahead. This way, you are less likely to turn to the vending machine as a means of stress management. At the end of the day, focus on easy to prepare, healthy food. If you have someone who can cook for you, this is even better! A better diet will help with your concentration and energy levels – both of which are certainly going to add up to making you a better nurse. Another useful technique is to plan out your meals in advance and go to the supermarket with a list rather than just buying whatever your eyes wander over towards, which are often the unhealthy snacks.
Work on Your ‘Soft Skills’
So far, we have alluded to the ‘soft skills’ that you can work on to be a better nurse without mentioning specifically what they are. Well, there are various things that you can work on. The most obvious is your empathy – or bedside manner – which can go such a long way towards helping your patients feel at ease. Then we have teamwork and communication, which are both vital when you are working in a busy environment in which everyone is pulling together towards achieving collective goals. Confidence is another quality that is worth working on, which many people find to be difficult. Improving your knowledge with a course like a DNP can go a long way towards boosting your confidence, but it also tends to come with increased experience.
Conflict resolution is also what may be described as a ‘soft skill’, but it is also one that can prove to be invaluable in helping you to manage difficult patients and get along better with colleagues who you don’t necessarily always see eye-to-eye with. Next, we have adaptability and flexibility, which are essential when you are working in a career in which things can change at the drop of a hat, and you need to be ready when they do. Also, the ability to handle criticism is highly important – particularly when it is coming from a senior position. Handle it well, and you have a fantastic opportunity for a learning experience, which you should grasp with both hands.
Working on your leadership abilities will also help if you are looking to advance to a more senior position by enrolling in a DNP or similar accreditation course. Ultimately, the ability to pass on your knowledge to those who are developing in the profession can prove to be an immensely rewarding experience from a personal perspective. You can also learn a lot from the younger nurses coming through the profession as they are likely to be taught differently than yourself.
Spend Time with Colleagues
We have just talked about the importance of teamwork to a nursing career, but one of the best ways of forming stronger bonds with your colleagues is by speaking to them and ideally spending some time together outside of work. When you get to see a person outside of a professional setting, you learn about an entirely different side of them, proving to strengthen the bonds you have with them. If you have someone you do not always get along with, it can prove to be a highly rewarding experience to get to know them in another setting and see the other facets of their personality. Another way of spending time with colleagues outside of work is by embarking on a professional course like a DNP together. Having someone to hold you accountable in your learning can help you to boost your grades. It is also a nice experience to have a study buddy who can test you on what you have just learned.
Network with Others
The wider your social network, the more likely it is that you are going to find out about the kinds of new opportunities that can advance you to a further stage in your career. At the very least, you will meet people who are in a similar situation to yourself who can share and empathize with your position. Nowadays, networking has been made significantly easier thanks to platforms like LinkedIn, so it makes sense that you utilize them wherever you can. Networking can also happen when you take on a new professional qualification like a DNP.
Reflect on Past Experiences
When you are a nurse, you see and experience all sorts of different things – many of which can be highly traumatic. Rather than bottling them all up, you should try to talk about them, whether this is just with someone close to you or with a trained professional. It can also help to talk with your colleagues and fellow nurses as they can empathize well with what you have been through. By learning from what has happened in the past, you are in a much better position to be able to develop your nursing abilities.
Becoming a better nurse is a lifelong journey and not something that can be done with a ‘quick fix’. In this blog post, we have tried to split it up between some of the different areas that you can work on. First of all, there is the professional development, which involves taking courses like a DNP, but also non-related courses can prove to be useful too. Then, there are the networking activities that you can engage in, which are helpful in digging up new opportunities, but also in interacting better with your colleagues. Finally, there are the things that you can work on yourself, like seeking out improved stress management techniques, improving your diet, and working on your own set of soft skills.
Ultimately, nursing involves a combination of personal development with the kind of selflessness that you need to succeed in a career in care. It can sometimes feel like a difficult balancing act, but it also provides a great sense of personal satisfaction and achievement.