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Nurse First News Blog

4 Skills Every Nurse Should Have

Posted January 4, 2021

These four skills are more than just skills your middle school math and english teacher preached about developing throughout your adolescence. These are skills that could be the difference between misdiagnosis and a successful treatment plan for a patient. They overlap with one another so much throughout the course of a shift. Below we discuss the four skills every nurse should have.

Communication skills

Nurses, you bridge the gap between the patient and their main healthcare provider. The patient’s care plan and the overall patient experience hinges on your ability to communicate effectively both verbally and nonverbally. Good communication skills create greater happiness and a smoother patient experience.

When you first set foot in a patient’s room, you set the tone for the patient’s visit. Simply making eye contact, actively listening, and smiling when appropriate are great non-verbal communication tools that will set the patient at ease and allow them to open up. Keep in mind that not all patients communicate the same. Take a few minutes to get to know the patient so you can make a personal connection and adapt your communication style to suit theirs.

Organizational skills

Staying organized is a skill needed to be a nurse. Nurses constantly juggle tasks and patients all day long so organization and time management is a necessity. Try to prioritize your most time-sensitive and important tasks by creating a checklist. This helps keep you on track during your shift and prevents forgetfulness during especially chaotic days.

Critical thinking skills

Nurses are great problem solvers and critical thinkers. Being able to see a patient, analyze their symptoms and medical history, and create a plan of care for the patient is important during every shift. Whether you work in the ER stitching a sliced finger or in Pediatrics going through a common check-up, you’ll have to assess and formulate conclusions based on different patient needs.

Decision-making skills

Most decisions in nursing are not black and white. This is where decision making and critical thinking skills go hand in hand. To make the best decision for your patient, you must be able to make decisions quickly and thoughtfully. If you are new to a unit do not be afraid to ask questions if you are not sure about something. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Finding a nurse mentor on your floor is also a great way to build confidence in your decision-making skills.


These four skills that are sometimes easily dismissed are the skills that can mean the difference between a good nurse and an exceptional nurse. Communication, organization, critical thinking, and decision-making skills create a solid foundation to help ensure tasks get prioritized and completed in a shift, a patient has a good experience with you, and decisions are made based on all the information available!

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