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Stand out in healthcare: Nine essential skills for advanced nursing

The pandemic has made people more health-conscious than before. Health consciousness has remained at an all-time high, according to a 2023 webinar by Global Data and reports by Global Food Industry News. In addition to an aging population, all this has led to nurses being needed now more than ever. The demand for advanced practice nurses is increasing too.

Nurses provide care and support but are also the vital link between doctors, patients and their families. Exceling as an advanced practice nurse means developing a variety of skills and this can be done by enrolling in a program from an accredited institution. In future, nurse practitioners may need to complete a DNP for entry level advanced nursing practice roles. Baylor University’s course provides the higher level of knowledge and leadership skills that nurse practitioners need in order to deliver high-quality patient care.

Today, we will discuss nine of the most essential skills required for advanced practice nurses to become successful healthcare professionals.

Clinical expertise

Clinical expertise is the knowledge, skills and judgment nurses need to provide safe and effective patient care. This includes a strong foundation in nursing procedures, techniques and the best practices for good health.

This knowledge equips nurses with the ability to provide high-quality patient care and ensures they understand and apply the latest evidence-based practices. A nurse with a strong clinical background can quickly identify a deteriorating patient and take the necessary steps to stabilize them, potentially saving a life.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to analyze situations, assess patient needs and make informed decisions. This skill is essential for nurses as they must constantly make decisions and solve problems in a fast-paced and often stressful environment.

For instance, a nurse may need to decide which intervention to prioritize when caring for multiple patients with competing needs. A nurse with strong critical thinking skills can make these decisions more efficiently and achieve better patient outcomes.

Communication

Nurses need to relay crucial information to patients and colleagues through clear and concise means, both verbally and in writing. This means communication skills are essential for success in the field. Aside from giving instructions, nurses must listen actively and empathize with patients’ concerns.

A nurse with excellent communication skills can listen to patient symptoms, evaluate pain levels and explain complex medical procedures in a way that patients and their families can understand. This helps foster trust and ease their anxieties.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence involves empathy, sensitivity to patients’ emotions, self-regulation and managing emotions. Nurses with high emotional intelligence develop better connections with patients, understand their needs and provide appropriate emotional support.

This skill is essential when dealing with challenging situations, such as delivering bad news or managing end-of-life care. Emotional intelligence is key to providing palliative care. Nurses must provide empathetic care, manage the patient’s pain and symptoms and provide emotional support to the patient and their family.

Adaptability

In the ever-changing healthcare environment, being adaptable is crucial. Nurses must be able to adjust quickly to the evolving healthcare environment and patient needs. They must also learn and implement new practices and technologies to consistently provide quality patient care.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses had to adapt to new protocols, increased patient loads and the constant use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Those who could adapt quickly were able to maintain high-quality patient and personal care during this challenging time.

Adaptability is also needed in scenarios where unexpected events occur. For instance, a patient who is undergoing surgery may experience a life-threatening complication. The nurse caring for the patient must be able to respond quickly to remedy the situation. This is why clinical expertise and adaptability are two of the most remarkable skills advanced practice nurses can have.

Teamwork

Collaborating effectively with colleagues is essential to providing the best possible patient care. Nurses must be able to work in interdisciplinary teams, share knowledge and support one another.

Nurses frequently work closely with physicians, pharmacists, therapists and social workers during a patient’s stay at a healthcare facility. Strong teamwork skills enable nurses to coordinate care, avoid errors and improve patient outcomes.

Attention to detail

Observing and documenting even minor changes in a patient’s condition is a crucial skill for nurses. Attention to detail helps to identify potential issues early on and respond accordingly. A nurse who notices subtle changes in a patient’s vitals or behavior may be able to prevent a medical emergency by intervening promptly.

This skill also entails paying attention to the patient’s condition and taking appropriate action without delay. This could include monitoring and reporting the patient’s blood pressure to the doctor in charge or adjusting medications to maintain stable blood pressure levels.

Technical skills

Proficiency in using medical equipment and electronic health record systems is a must for modern nurses. Nurses must stay up-to-date with the latest tools and techniques to provide the best care as healthcare technology advances.

Technical skills also assist in creating efficient and accurate documentation, enabling the healthcare team to make informed decisions based on comprehensive patient information. A nurse skilled in electronic health record systems can quickly access and update a patient’s medical history, ensuring that all team members, and affiliated healthcare institutions, can access the most accurate information.

Infection control

Infection control involves adhering to strict infection prevention and control protocols to ensure patient safety. This level of consciousness helps enhance diligence in nurses as they follow the necessary guidelines. Infection control is crucial in high-risk settings, such as operating rooms and intensive care units.

A nurse who consistently follows proper hand hygiene practices and uses personal protective equipment can help reduce the spread of healthcare-associated infections after surgery. This helps protect both patients and colleagues.

Conclusion

Advanced nursing programs provide the best opportunity to acquire essential skills and become more competitive. The above skills are essential for advanced practice nurses, as mastering these skills helps ensure nurses achieve success regardless of their chosen specialty.

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