In the previous blog post, the online CE course experts at Provider Skills discussed some of the most common mistakes nurses and nursing students students can make. We’ll continue on that topic here, with even more mistakes that nurses can be aware of, learn from, and hopefully, avoid altogether.
You don’t look things up.
It’s pretty much impossible for a nurse to keep every single medical condition and rare procedure locked down in their brain all the time—there wouldn’t be room in the brain for anything else. While some nurses might try to lock everything down and trust their intuition when they’re unsure about a particular topic, the best nurses will go the extra mile and turn to a textbook, manual, guide, or medical journal to be sure they have the right answer. This might take extra time out of your day, but it will help you do your job at a higher level, and ultimately, increase the amount of nursing knowledge that is second nature to you.
You can’t handle constructive criticism.
Nursing is a constant learning process—and part of that process is taking criticism and instruction from people who know more than you. We hate to break it to you, but not all of that criticism is going to be sugar-coated and super nice. This is nursing—while there’s always time to learn and improve, there isn't always time to beat around the bush or say things in a super polite way. You’ll need to take criticism on the go, and you’ll need to realize that those giving the criticism aren’t trying to be mean—they’re trying to help you learn and improve the health of their patients at the same time. That’s not an easy task.
If you have trouble taking criticism, it might feel natural for you to act like you already knew about the criticism given to you, or to dismiss the criticism like nothing ever happened. This will ultimately alienate your coworkers and make it harder for you to learn and improve your skills. The best thing you can do when you’re being criticized (no matter how fair or unfair it may be) is to smile, say thank you, and move on.
Don’t take what patients say too seriously.
When patients have things to say about their physical condition or overall health, take what they say seriously. However, if your patients say things about you personally that are unsavory, impolite, or downright mean, don’t take it to heart. Your patients are in need of medical care for a reason—they’re probably experiencing a solid amount of pain, discomfort, or stress, which can lead them to say some strange and rude things. Don’t hold it against them—you wouldn’t be in the best mood either if you had a serious viral infection or a ruptured gallbladder. Once you’re a nurse for long enough, you’ll develop a thick skin and a great deal of empathy for what your patients are going through—so no matter what they say to you, you won’t be fazed by it.
Don’t be shy.
Nurses do not have the luxury of being shy, quiet, or reserved—they’re not accountants or bloggers. Nurses must deal with the general public on a daily basis, helping them with some of their most painful and complex health problems. They must take charge in terms of voice, body language, and quality medical care to do the job at their very best.
It doesn’t matter if it’s your first day in nursing school or your first day on the job in a medical center—being shy will do you no favors. In the school setting, taking initiative and being vocal will help you learn more and connect with your classmates, which is crucial for your grades, learning permanence, and overall success. In the clinical setting, being assertive, friendly, and confident will give you an air of credibility with patients, which will allow them to have a solid level of trust when it comes to their medical care. Even if you’re the most knowledgeable and experienced nurse on the planet, having a shy, quiet, or nervous demeanor with patients will make them feel like you’re not confident in your nursing abilities, which could make them nervous and lower the quality of their healthcare experience.
There’s no point in being cocky or pretending you know everything around patients—that will make patients doubt you even more. But if you are friendly, positive, and honest with your patients, and approach healthcare with some vigor and passion, you’ll have more comfortable patients and you’ll provide better healthcare services.
You don’t connect with your patients.
Charming your patients is not part of your objective as a healthcare professional—not all of your patients will love you, and some of them won’t even like you. However, your patients should at least know you to some extent. This is not the time to share your life story—but introducing yourself to your patients, telling them what you do as a nurse, and letting them know why you’re in their room is important for their overall comfort. Setting expectations for your patients and making them feel comfortable should be one of your highest priorities—so don’t forget to ask your patients about their day, about what they do for a living, or about the medical problems they face while you’re providing them with medical care. The more they connect with you and feel familiar with you, the more they will trust you—and that will make your job as a nurse a whole lot easier, even in those not-so-easy moments.
You stop learning.
There will never be a point in your nursing career where you’ll be able to stop learning. There are constant changes in best practices, medical technology, and the ailments that affect people across the nation—and you must stay on top of all of this information to remain relevant and effective as a nurse. Always take workshops and online classes to learn more about nursing and the medical world, ask your more experienced peers for advice, and review textbooks and medical journals to refresh your mind on old topics. Learning more will keep your brain sharp, and improve your nursing skills, no matter if it’s your first year or last year in the business.